From a domestic colonial giant at the start of the century to a modern-day medium-sized muscle machine, the Duroc pig breed (or Jersey Duroc as it was formerly known) has been an industrial icon for more than a century in the American agricultural community.
Commercially bred for their rapid growth and relatively large size, this characteristically muscular and docile breed quickly became the breed of choice for the majority of American swine farmers around the 1930s.
The Famous T. J Tabasco
One of the most famous Durocs on the planet was a special pig by the name of T. J. Tabasco who gave her life to science as the first female big to have her entire genome sequenced, having immense beneficial research potential.
The knowledge gained from studying the pig genome will indirectly help scientists to battle serious diseases in humans and other unforeseen possible benefits.
The Duroc as we know it today is a simple mix/bred between the Jersey Red and New York’s older Duroc.
The lineage and fate of pigs prior to these breeds are a complex story of animal trade and socio-economic history which seems well beyond the scope of this article.
The information pertaining to where these specific breeds originated from leaves us with the conclusion that the true origin of the Duroc breed remains somewhat of a mystery.
Some theories include the fact that certain large dark African breeds were shipped to America from the coast of Guinea at the time of the slave trade, and that these pigs could have been bred with rustic short-coated swine from England and Spain to produce the Duroc as we know it today.
The rapid growth rate and smooth characteristics of the carcass meant that the breed quickly spread across the country and soon became a popular export breed to global markets.
Physical characteristics of the Duroc including a thick auburn skin allow them to survive harsh environments both cold/hot and wet/dry, making them ideal for keeping as outdoor pigs.
They have naturally drooped ears and medium length with a slight concavity of the face. They are known for having high-quality meat and the coat colour varies from yellow sunburn to auburn red and brown.
In a video posted on YouTube by Akudinulo Farms, the farmer explains that these animals are often used as a paternal sire for a terminal crossbreed system.
Often the characteristics associated with the Duroc, such as rapid growth and effective feeding turnover rate, are cross-bred with breeds such as the Large Black known for its sweeter, fattier meat, to create new landraces for commercial use.
Duroc Pig Fact Overview table
|Of the most docile and well-adapted breeds of pigs available commercially. When given the right amounts of attention these animals have the capacity to form social bonds and be affectionate.|
|Although muscular and medium to large-sized, these pigs are only defensive when protective during the youngest stages of rearing their young. Outside of maternal instincts being the exception, they are incredibly docile.|
|As with any big mammal if not properly socialized or given the right amount of care these animals can turn into aggressive ones. However, considering proper care and environment are in place, these pigs are not considered dangerous to humans.|
Tendency to root?
|Rooting occurs as a result of exploratory behaviour in adolescent stages, where pigs require destructible material to interact with as a means of social and cognitive development. If properly socialized from a young age and given sufficient space and stimulation, the pigs are not prone to root without reason.|
Despite their large size and social needs, these animals are hardy and adaptive and require relatively low maintenance.
These animals can make great pets when given the appropriate treatment from a young age. They need space and social stimulation, without which they can grow up to be quite aggressive. Thus, the quality of pet the animal will make is highly dependent on the owner’s resources/efforts
|Like all pig breeds, the Duroc is an intelligent animal with the capacity to form social bonds with humans as well as other animals.
A large mammal with the capacity to grief for a lost one and form social bonds that they are especially sensitive to is a large responsibility and should be handled as such.
|Durocs have been house trained and it can be done effectively, however, when kept outside in an appropriately sized pen the pigs will meet their exercise needs when surrounded by open spaces and other pigs.
Additional items such as toys and food dispensers are always helpful as obesity is a serious concern for these animals when being kept as pets.
|When it comes to the health of your Duroc pig it will largely rely on the diet being supplied by the owner.
Because pigs have a naturally varied diet, this leaves them vulnerable to multiple sources of dietary infection.
A very good precaution is to never feed your pig any meat or any food that has been in contact with meat, as this will greatly decrease the chances of infection from food.
|The price will vary according to the breeding history as well as where you buy the animal.
Low range: 50-100 USD
High range: 500-1000 USD
Pros of Duroc Pigs
Purebred Heritage Pig
The rarity of pure Duroc genes combined with the iconic rustic red coat and succulent meat has made this breed an icon of rugged sustainability in the US.
The pure Duroc genes are to thank for the rapid growth of lean pork meat in a super hardy swine that survives and produces meat both in the hotter and colder parts of the world.
Where the ancestor of this beast most probably stems from Africa, the wild nature of the animal was tamed and bred to perfection by the might of the American agricultural machine.
High-quality Meat Increases Price
When compared to other breeds of swine, the Duroc’s meat trends towards the leaner side, which is why it is often cross-bred with other breeds such as the Large White to obtain a higher fat content.
Purebred Duroc, however, is dark in colour and famous for maintaining moisture and marbling throughout.
Thus, the purebred Duroc basically set the standard for highly desired qualities in pork meat. Duroc pig meat is sought after for its crisp clean appearance and approachable taste on the palate.
The large litter sizes and rapid growth of these pigs have secured them as America’s second most consumed type of pig.
The crossbreeding that has occurred up till today has seen this breed enjoy the qualities that make it the standard for efficient pig farming.
With an approximate growth rate of 750 grams per day, it is vastly superior in terms of growth rate when compared to other breeds. Duroc Pigs tend to reach their full size within the first three years.
The fact that their bodies are machines that turn economically sustainable feed into extremely high-quality protein means that they are relatively cheap to grow on a relatively short time scale.
Long Life Span
To have a hardy animal that can produce big litters that grow quickly is very beneficial, but to be able to do so over a long time is taking another perspective to the sustainability and longevity of your product.
The Duroc can survive anywhere between 15 to 20 years in captivity, providing the owner with at least more than a decade’s worth of opportunities to live with the animal.
If you do not plan on keeping the animal for traditional consumption purposes, the potential for having a life-changing pet in a Duroc is immense.
Their large brains and massive capacity for emotional experience means that they can experience emotions in extremes (both very positive and very negative), making them potentially unique and special pets.
Not only are these animals known for being highly adaptable and very hardy, but the meat also they produce have better marbling, meaning that the nutrients ingested by the animal are finding their way into a consumer’s body way easier than with other breeds.
The ability of the Duroc’s fat to store vitamins is increased when compared to other breeds, undoubtedly adding to the nutrition and characteristic flavours associated with the Duroc’s high-quality meat.
Another quality the Duroc breed has is the tendency to not over-eat, a habit that plagues other pig breeds when offered conventional self-feeder mechanisms.
Instead, Durocs tend to have an instinct and ability to sufficiently convert feed into muscle and nutrients.
Breed Well with Other Pig Breeds
The docile nature of the animal along with its inherent social needs makes this breed an ideal candidate for cross breeding with others.
If the interbreed dynamics are studied well beforehand, the Duroc should not be the reason for a failure to crossbreed, as they are shown to be social and docile creatures that welcome others into the pen if the social hierarchy is not purposefully upset by the owner.
Across the United States, this breed is held in spacious pens for commercial use with other breeds among them including Large Whites, Berkshires and Gloucestershire Old Spots.
Other beneficial characteristics
When the very reasonable and low maintenance needs are met of this breed, the owner is rewarded with an animal that can cope in a wide variety of conditions and temperatures, as well as an animal that can be a pet and friend.
These animals have an underappreciated sense of awareness that can be worked with to produce connections between humans and animals far more complex than that of conventional pets such as cats and dogs.
These animals are available at a reasonably economical price and the return on investment has incredible potential. They are known to be great mothers and produce large litters of up to 15 piglets.
Cons of Duroc pigs
Can Be Expensive
As with any large mammal, the investment in both time and money needs to be significant if a beneficial return is to be expected.
Pigs tend to need and want social interaction, thus keeping more than one is advisable and in a significantly large space where it can play in terrain that consists of mud and dirt preferably in proximity to water and vegetation.
When supplied with sufficient stimulation in the form of toys or vegetation, other destructive tendencies will be kept at bay, (tendency to root).
Consequences of insufficient care/space/stimulation
In the case that the animal’s basic needs are not being met, one can expect certain adverse behaviors where the animal will try to perhaps uproot parts of the infrastructure it is meant to leave alone (housing and fencing).
If pigs are kept solitarily and without enough social interaction, they can become aggressive and prone to behaviour such as nudging and charging and it bad cases serious bites and scrapes from tusks and teeth.
These animals are not particularly difficult to keep, and human interaction can substitute other pigs if done frequently enough.
Tips for raising a Duroc pig
Although they are hardy animals, you still need to take care of them properly.
They need a lot of food and water and a muddy patch to play and cool off in and a straw patch to lie on if it’s cooler.
Contrary to what public perception of pigs might be, Duroc pigs are actually very clean. For instance, they will choose a toilet area and then only do their business there.
So you don’t have to worry about having to run around picking up after them.
From feeder of the nation to potential contender for man’s best friend, our relationship with the humble swine has been erratic, to say the least, but when it comes to which of them reigns true as the prince of pigs, the sultan of swine’s…, no other breed can best the humble and hardy Duroc.
With an iconic red coat and adorably drooped ears, the large land mammal has made a name for itself in every corner of the globe.
Today we can celebrate this spectacular animal for its robust nature, its ability to thrive around the globe and the unexpected moments of brilliance we get to experience from the humble ham.