WARNING - It has been brought to my attention by an alleged victim that there is a man in NC claiming to be Rance Richardson that is using our pictures to sell pigs he does not have. Please do not send money up front to anyone that you cannot verify through the association or by other means.:
A Note from the Wolfe family -
After more than a decade of raising and selling rare endangered heritage pigs, Ken and I are retiring. When we started this many years ago, our goal was to introduce as many people to these great pigs as possible and to ensure their survival. Along the way, we had many articles published about the pigs which is how some of you came to learn about the Large Black and the Old Spots. We also exported pigs to a foreign country to start a herd there. We were instrumental in establishing the Large Black Hog Association along with a handful of wonderful friends, most of whom are no longer running the association. We have met so many wonderful people through the years and a few weirdoes! Most of all though, we enjoyed our time with the pigs immensely and feel that we have met our goal and now it is time to quit.
As many of you know, we were faced with a challenge a few years ago when Ken became disabled. We thought we would have to sell the herd back then but managed to move a few to Texas with us where we ventured into the farmer’s market business. Ironically, it was not Ken’s health that forced us out of business but government regulation and the ever rising cost of feed. It was simply no longer profitable to sell pork here in South Texas where you will find some of the most impoverished counties in the country.
I don’t think we are the only ones challenged by the economy etc. right now. My fear is for the survival of all rare breeds held by small farmers. Direct selling is an uphill battle when you have to compete with the likes of Wal-Mart but the biggest threat is the constant rise in the cost of feed. Unless you raise your own feed year round, you are at the mercy of the market. Corn prices have sky rocketed due to the weather but mostly due to the demand from ethanol production. You will pay for this in many ways. First, your tax dollars pay the oil companies to put ethanol in our gas, yes, we pay them to sell it to us. You will pay your mechanic to fix the damage the ethanol does to your small engines and in lower fuel efficiency in your vehicles. You will also pay in inflated prices at the feed store and grocery store. I for one have cried “uncle”. I cannot fight it any longer so we have gone out of the pig business. I refuse to eat that fake food from the grocery store though so we will continue to feed out a pig or two each year for our own consumption.
I want to thank all that have purchased from us in the past, and the many people who were inspired by this web site. Thanks goes to those that contacted us by email. You let me know you were listening and appreciated what we were doing. So, on behalf of those who still want to use this web site we will leave it up. And as always, I still check my email weekly so if you have a question that is not covered here, please let me know. May God bless you and your family and may he protect and prosper these wonderful heritage animals he has entrusted to us.
Thanks from the Wolfe family
The Large Black Pig is a true grazing pig perfect for sustainable agriculture's "pastured pork." Once you experience the joy of raising such a docile pig on open pasture and taste the exquisite pork it produces, you too will be sold on the Large Black Hog. Although the name "Large Black Hog" certainly describes this breed, it's not just a description, it's the registered breed name for this rare heritage hog.
My husband and I have raised other hogs but have found the “heritage” breeds to be the easiest to raise and the best tasting. Heritage breeds are the many breeds of old time hogs used in Europe and early America such as the Large Black. Of all the heritage breeds, the Large Black is probably one of the largest. They were selected for their taste, ease of rearing, and hardiness. These breeds are mostly foraging hogs in that they will glean a great amount of their feed from pasture vegetation. They are now rare and hard to find because they aren’t used by the commercial breeders since they are slower to mature. Although this web site is named after the Large Black, we have expanded our herd to include the Gloucestershire Old Spots and are trying to increase the use of this breed too so please check out their page.
The History of Large Blacks
The Large Black is believed to have been developed in the late 1800's from Chinese breeds brought to England. They are of the "bacon" type, or meat producer, instead of the "lard" type common of that day. They became known as the Devon or Cornwall pigs from their area of origin before becoming just the "Large Black." By the 1900's the Large Blacks were spread throughout Britain in outdoor pork production operations. They were favored for many reasons including their hardiness, mothering ability, milk production and prolificacy. The Large Black is a very efficient pork producer because it can glean a large portion of it's food from grazing. Unlike many breeds of hog, their black skin protects them from sunburn and enables them to live outdoors on open pastures.
The Large Blacks were imported into the U.S. in the 1950's and again in the 1990's where they were breed by a hand full of breeders for the exquisite and unique taste of the Large Black's pork. When processed at around 200 pounds, the pork is lean yet micro-marbled for a moist product on the grill or in the oven. The texture of the pork is extra tender due to the short muscle fibers which has earned it a place in some of the most exclusive restaurants in New York and Europe. Large Blacks are also famous for their excellent bacon.
The Large Blacks are aptly named large since they can reach weights upwards of 700 pounds. They have long deep bodies with strong backs and are always solid black. Their ears are large and hang forward covering the eyes and most of the face. They are among the most docile and friendly breed of hogs alive today. The pigs start out shy but soon bond with people to the point of following them around until they give in and scratch their bellies. We have seen children play with the Large Blacks without a problem and have never had one make an aggressive move toward a person yet. Our mother sows are protective yet tolerant of our gentle handling of their young.
Heritage Hogs Are The Breed For Today
Small farmers and sustainable agriculture enterprises are looking for a pig that can be raised outdoors and then pastured to produce a quality product for an ever increasing niche market. The Large Black and the Old Spot meets that need on many levels. First, the taste and quality of this pork guarantees a steady stream of customers who are willing to pay a premium for all natural pastured pork. Second, these hardy breeds were created for outdoor pasture hog operations over a hundred years ago so they are perfect for the sustainable movement of today. These hogs don't "root" the way most other breeds do as long as there is vegetation above ground for them to graze. We never ring their noses and have had no pastures destroyed.
Third, they both have a docile temperament which makes them a joy to raise. They are safe on family farms where they will gladly interact with children and other animals. Unlike many breeds that can become aggressive, these two breeds seem to enjoy human contact and we have never had one turn on us in an aggressive or dangerous manner. Temperament was the least of our concerns when we selected these breeds but it has proven to be invaluable in the care and raising of this majestic hog.
It's not too late
Many times we discover that progress is not progress at all, but by then it's often too late to go back. Well, it's not too late for Heritage Hogs, yet. Most of us were not even aware of the changes to the hog industry until the change was complete. We just knew that pork was economical and readily available at the local market. It was only later that we began to notice that it had lost it's taste and worse yet, was full of chemicals. There is a back lash taking place across America now where people are demanding tasty and safe pork again. The Heritage Hog can fill that need whether you want to raise your own meat on a few acres or want to raise natural pork to fill a local niche market.
These amazing breeds are listed as Critically Endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, of which we are a member. Because of our love of this animal, we have made it our mission to keep this breed pure and help others obtain their own breeding herds.
By Kay Wolfe