Open main menu

Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/699

This page has been validated.
617
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE COMMON HOG

cracass of the pig is converted into something useful. The skin can be tanned, when it is used to cover saddles, it is also capable of being dressed and pressed in imitation of well-nigh all fancy skins, crocodile and other, then it is used in the manufacture of purses, bags, port-manteaus, the covering of chairs, etc., and even a patent has been taken out to utilize the skin of the hog in place of the rubber tyres on the fashionable carriages of the monied classes. The hair of the wild pigs, and even of the semi-domesticated pig in Russia, Servia and other countries is still used in the making of brushes, as it used to be largely utilized by shoemakers in the sewing and stitching of boots and shoes. Prior to the Americans keeping such vast herds of pigs, which they feed largely on Indian corn or maize, the value of the fat of the pig was greater than of any other portion, as this was used in the manufacture of lard for domestic use. Now millions of fat pigs are annually slaughtered at Chicago and five or six other centres in the States, where the fat of the pig is rendered and, report has it, mixed with a considerable proportion of cotton-seed-oil, and exported to this and other countries as lard. This and the great change in the tastes and habits of the inhabitants of the British Islands has led to quite a different type of pig being kept, and to a shortening of the life of an ordinary pig by at least one-half.

Varieties of the Domesticated Hog.—The distinct varieties of English hog are comprised in those having their interests looked after by societies formed for the purpose, amongst others, of keeping a register of the breeding of the pigs of the following breeds: Berkshire, Large Black, Tamworth and Yorkshires, subdivided into the large, Middle and Small White breeds. There are other local breeds of more or less importance—the Sussex, the Dorset, the spotted black and white sandy pig in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, the Cumberland, the Lincolnshire or Cambridgeshire, the Welsh and the Essex. Foreign breeds of pigs, such as the Chinese or the Neapolitan, the Poland China, have been imported into this country, but they have been absorbed into the English breeds.

There has not perhaps been so great a change in any of our domesticated varieties of stock as in the pig. This is due to many causes, of which the two chief are the great change in the style of living amongst residents in both town and country, and the introduction of the system of mild curing bacon and hams. Both of these changes date from about the same period, some thirty-five years ago. The enormous increase in trade and the consequent large addition to the salaries of the employees of all classes led to a desire for more expensive kinds of meat, small joints of finer quality beef, mutton and pork in lieu of the very general salt pork which used to do duty in the homes of a large portion of clerks, artisans and mechanics. The system of mild curing bacon and hams enabled the bacon curers to carry on the manufacture of cured meats all the year round, so that no difficulty