The Building Blocks of Modern Pig Breeding and
For over 100 years British pedigree breeding stock have been the
foundation of pig breeding programmes around the world. The British
Pig Association, formerly know as the National Pig Breeders
Association, was established in 1884, ten years before the opening
of Tower Bridge in London. Before the end of the 19th century
renowned breeders such as Sanders-Spencer were exporting breeding
stock as far a field as North America, Russia and Australia.
Breed improvement in those early
days before computers was achieved by the skill of pedigree
breeders, with an eye for good stock, selecting within their own
herds and then testing their animals in open competition at
livestock shows and carcase competitions. This knowledge and
experience was passed on from father to son over generations.
Governmentís role was to licence all boars that were to be sold for
breeding and all these boars had to be pedigree registered.
After the Second World War, when backyard pig keeping had been
encouraged, there was a move to introduce more technology into breed
improvement. The Pig Industry Development Authority was established
to run a network of testing stations carrying out progeny testing
programmes that included performance testing and carcase evaluation.
Ultrasonic testing on live animals was introduced as the Meat and
Livestock Commission central testing programme took over the role of
PIDA. As part of this programme the highest indexing boars off test
were offered to public AI centres to raise the overall performance
of the national herd. This programme, established in the 1960ís was
the model for pig improvement programmes around the world.
During this time several new pedigree breeds were imported to the
UK. These breeds were incorporated into the national breeding
programme and selected under British testing regimes. The Landrace
was the first to be introduced followed by the Hampshire, the Duroc
and most recently the Pietrain.
father passes on his experience to ensure that the
traditional art of breeding combined with the modern science
of genetics goes from generation to generation.