Swine have been a part of the American agricultural landscape since the arrival of New World colonists. Swine indigenous to Europe were brought with immigrants during the colonization of America, and the many different types of swine they brought have provided pork, lard, pest control, and land improvement services for centuries. Modern breed associations maintain pedigree registries of purebred animals for each breed that descends from these colonial, as well as later, introductions. Registration of animals destined to become breeding stock is essential to the long-term security of the breeds. Registration validates purebred status of animals and assures their availability for conservation by future generations.
Many swine breeds that were once core components of regional cultures are now in danger of extinction. As cultures are homogenized and historic agricultural traditions abandoned, the flavors and food traditions that revolved around specific breeds are threatened as well.
In response to this threat, The Livestock Conservancy is defining Heritage Swine, and the Heritage Pork products that come from them. This ensures that the legacy left to succeeding generations has as much genetic breadth and biological robustness as the current generation has itself inherited from previous generations. The definition draws attention to endangered breeds of swine, supports their genetic integrity and long-term conservation, encourages management strategies that are biologically appropriate and agriculturally sustainable, and celebrates the cultural and culinary traditions of these breeds. Swine and pork products marketed as Heritage must meet all of the following criteria.
Heritage Swine must adhere to all of the following:
Purebred Status. Heritage Swine must be registered purebred animals or immediate offspring of registered purebred animals. Swine that are the result of a breed association sanctioned grade-up program must have obtained purebred status.
Heritage Pork and products must come from:
Note: Terms like “heirloom,” “antique,” old-fashioned,” and “old-timey” imply heritage and are understood to be synonymous with the definition provided here
Endorsed by the following individuals:
D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD., Technical Advisor, The Livestock Conservancy, and Professor, Veterinary Pathology and Genetics, Virginia Tech;
Tim Safranski, PhD, State Swine Specialist, University of Missouri; Board member, The Livestock Conservancy