476 AGRICULTURAL REPORT
WHITE CHESTER BREED OF SWINE.
BY PASCHALL MORRIS, PHILADELPHIA, PENN.
The most approved and desirable points of the white Chester breed of swine are length and depth of carcass, breadth of back, small bone, very small head in comparison with the size of carcass, full ham, shoulders full and well pushed towards the head, leaving little or no neck, heavy jowl, dished face, thin skin, straight hair, and straight back.
The engraving represents a large and fine animal, combining in considerable perfection all the above points. He will be sixteen months old on the 1st of January, 1867, and is estimated to weigh at that time, when he will be slaughtered, at least 550 pounds. His face is remarkably small. This is one of the most difficult points to secure, and is often an indicator of the rest of the figure, as well as of fattening properties. I have always found that a hog with a dish-face, short nose, small head, and breadth between the eyes, is right nearly everywhere else, and is an easy and quiet feeder. On the other hand, a long nose, and a long and large head, indicate, in a general way, a hard and uneasy feeder and a great consumer.
The white Chester breed of swine is not an original, but a “made-up” breed, being a cross between the best native stock of Chester county and an imported Bedfordshire boar. He was imported by Captain James Jeffries more than forty years ago, and his stock was well distributed over the country. The differences now observed, sometimes, in the white Chesters, so that they can hardly be identified as one breed, are owing to the extra care taken by some farmers in selecting their breeding stock, or to their various fancies. Some prefer an erect ear, others a lop-ear; some prefer a slight curliness or wave of the hair, others to have it perfectly straight; some do not wish a large carcass, but a small and compact one, attaining a weight, at a year old, of about 300 pounds. The western farmers, living where corn is plenty, require a very large animal. These differences do not detract from the merits of the Chester county hog, as regards good general figure, easy feeding, and capacity to return a greater weight and value for food consumed than any breed now known. Farmers who breed for weight usually estimate a gain of one pound per day till they are two years old, and these very often far exceed this. They have attained a weight of over 900 pounds, and 500 to 600 pounds is very common.
That the Chester county pig is not an original, but a mixed breed, is proved in the very great variety in their appearance and in feeding qualities. Like does not produce like in all cases; and what is called “breeding back’ is quite common. ‘There is no absolute certainty of the offspring being like either sire or dam. Very fine and perfectly-shaped sows often have indifferent pigs, and very fine pigs are also occasionally produced from ill-shapen mothers. Sometimes blue spots on the skin and black spots in the hair occur. These are probably to be traced to a cross of Berkshire, a breed at one time quite common in Chester county. Improved stock of every description, to be kept up to a certain standard, requires continuous care in breeding and feeding. Hence the common saying, as respects swine, that “the breed is in the trough.” While it must be admitted that the good points and properties of the Chester county breed are not so confirmed and established, that like will always produce like, there is yet, taking the best samples, so full a development of nearly perfect figure, quiet habits, and fattening tendencies, as to make a capital ground-work; which some energetic farmer may use as a starting point, as Bakewell, and Ellman, and Webb did with sheep, and bring up the white Chesters to a still higher standard and a more determined type.
The hog is often the poor man’s main reliance, every portion of it being susceptible of use; and if his weight at a given age can doubled on the same amount of food, a vast benefit will be conferred on the economic interests of the masses, and a large addition to the aggregate wealth of the country.