Small Animal Barn, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
Several breeds of pigs and their piglets are the highlights of the Museum’s swine barn (a section of the Small Animal Barn). You may see a sow and litter in our farrowing pen from any one the breeds we keep.
Litter sizes vary from sow to sow. The usual range is 8 to 12, but there can be as many as 15. Just imagine 15 piglets scrambling around their mother to nurse and piling on top of each other at nap time!
Care and Feeding:
Pigs get sick quite easily — they can even catch a cold from people and spread it to the rest of the herd. They also have two rows of teeth that can easily bite curious fingers. As a precaution, we keep most of our pigs just out of your reach.
Pigs in Canada:
There are approximately 10 million pigs on 30,000 farms across Canada. Of these, roughly 60 percent are in Eastern Canada. Ontario and Quebec are the main swine-producing regions. On commercial farms, most pigs are cross-bred to capitalize on “hybrid vigour.” Hybrid pigs grow faster and have better feed-to-weight conversion. About 70 percent of Canada’s processed meats (sausage, cold cuts, etc.) are made from pork.
Originating in the United States, Duroc pigs were introduced to Canada in 1894. Brown in colour and solidly built, Durocs produce high-quality, tender meat. The piglets are strong and hardy, and they grow rapidly.
Of English origin, the Hampshire pig was imported into Canada in 1906. The breed is black with a white belt around the shoulders and forelegs. The meat is lean and known for good pork loin.
The Lacombe breed is named for its place of origin. It was founded through a breeding program at the Lacombe Research Station of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lacombe, Alberta. The parent breeds were Berkshire, Chester White, and Landrace.
Lacombe pigs are known for their docile nature and rapid weight gain, particularly the sows. These pigs have long bodies, short legs, and drooping ears. They are white in colour, medium in size, and meaty in shape. With an efficient food conversion ratio, Lacombes yield good-quality carcasses.
Having been specifically developed for Canada, the Lacombe breed remains popular across the country.
Imported from Denmark in 1934, the Landrace is white in color with semi-lopped ears. The sow has excellent mothering abilities and produces large litters of big piglets. This breed produces a high percentage of ham and bacon. Landrace pigs were used in the breeding program that produced the Lacombe breed.
Developed in the Staffordshire area of England in the early 1800s, Tamworth pigs were first imported to Canada around 1870. They have since become one of the best bacon-producing breeds. The Tamworth is more closely related to the old English forest pigs than to other modern English breeds. Its smaller size and golden-red to dark-red colour distinguish it from the Museum’s other breeds.
The first Yorkshire pigs were imported from England in 1835. The breed is now the most popular breed in Canada. Yorkshires have upright ears and a structurally sound large frame. They are white in colour. The sow carries large litters of 12 to 14 piglets and is very docile. Yorkshire pigs are renowned internationally as excellent producers of bacon.