The Mulefoot is an American hog breed named for its most distinctive feature: the solid, non-cloven hoof similar to a mule’s hoof. This characteristic occasionally occurs as a single gene mutation, producing “mulefooted” pigs within a variety of other breeds. In contrast, the Mulefoot hog is consistent in appearance and behavior, with qualities that have made it valuable in American history and a conservation priority.
The origin of the Mulefoot is unclear and multiple theories have arisen about its links with mulefooted stocks in Eurasia. The breed is more likely to descend from the Spanish hogs brought to the Americas beginning in the 1500s. It shares some attributes with the Choctaw hog and the two breeds likely come from the same ancestral stock, which was loosely selected and managed until the late 1800s.
By 1900, the Mulefoot became a standardized breed. It was valued for ease of fattening and production of meat, lard, and especially hams. Mulefoot hogs were distributed throughout the Corn Belt, but were also common along the Mississippi River Valley. Farmers ranged their hogs on the islands along the river, putting them out to forage in the spring and collecting them in the fall. In the early 1900s, there were two Mulefoot breed associations and over 200 herds registering purebred stock.
Mulefoot hogs are compact in appearance and weigh 400 to 600 pounds. They’re solid black with white points occurring rarely. The ears are pricked forward. Some pigs have wattles on either side of the neck, though not common. The breed forages well and thrives under extensive husbandry. They have litters of 5 to 6 piglets but may have as many as 12. The sows make excellent and calm mothers.
The Mulefoot breed is critically rare. As of 2006, there are fewer than 200 purebred hogs documented. Most of these originated in the Holliday herd of Missouri, which is believed to be the last purebred herd in existence.
Did you know:
The Livestock Conservancy is America’s leading organization working to save over 150 heritage breeds from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants, and donations from the public to raise the $700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare breeds of farm animals. Click here to learn how you can help.