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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/702

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HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

set up by the British Berkshire Society, a black pig, having a white mark or blaze down the face, four white feet, and a white tip to its tail; indeed, so strong are the prejudices as to colour, that it is quite an unusual thing to find a Berkshire judge giving a prize to a pig of the breed which fails in its "markings."

The breeders of Berkshires have considerably altered the type, form and character of their favourites during the last thirty years. The present day pigs are shorter and deeper in the carcass; they have shorter and heavier heads, and are altogether more compactly built; to such a state of this kind of perfection have the breeders brought their pigs, that a well-fattened Berkshire is one of the most successful fat show pigs of the day. A cross between the Berkshires and the Middle Whites is very common and very successful for breeding London porket pigs; the white pig is considered to be more prolific, and the cross-bred pigs grow faster when young than the pure bred Berkshires.

The admirers of the red-haired Tamworth pig claim that some of the good properties of the old-fashioned Berkshire were obtained from the infusion of a considerable portion of the blood of the bronze coloured pig, which was extensively kept in olden times in the forests of the midland counties, where they picked up their living during the greater part of the year. These pigs were of a tawny or sandy colour, with black spots on the skin when young, but gradually assumed a grizzly bronze hue as they grew older; they were very prolific, and the sows were good sucklers—qualities which are not so much in evidence amongst the present fashionable light red pigs, which still retain the long snout, somewhat thick shoulders and short backs, with drooping rumps. Their aptitude to fatten has been greatly increased, and the disposition of the sows has been much improved. Some few years since considerable numbers of the improved type of Tamworth were used to cross on the black sows in those counties which supply the Calne and other bacon factories with fat pigs; this is not so general now, since the crosses were found to be too short from the shoulder to the hip and too light in the flank to furnish enough of the so-called streaky part of the side of bacon, which realizes much more money per lb. than any other cut.

A new candidate for public favour in the form of the so-called Large Black pig has been considerably boomed during the last five or six years. At present the type is not quite fixed; the sources from which the material from which the breed has been evolved are mainly two, Cornwall and Essex, but the type of Large Black pig found in the two counties varies greatly. At the present time the lop-eared, somewhat heavy jowled, thick shouldered and round boned Cornwall type is most successful in the show yards. The sows are prolific and first-rate mothers, and the young pigs are hardy and quick growers, whilst the matured fat pig is of great weight, but there is still room for im-