The Red Wattle is a large, red hog with a fleshy wattle attached to each side of the neck. These wattles are a single gene characteristic with no know function and usually pass to crossbred offspring. The breed is unique to North America making them especially valuable genetically.
The Red Wattle comes in a variety of shades of red, from light blond to almost black. The color is consistent throughout the animal. Animals with black spots may be registered as long as they’re small in size and only appear on the belly area.
Hair can be short and straight or long and wavy. The head and jowl are clean and lean, the nose is slim with a slight curve, and the ears are upright with drooping tips. The body is short-coupled and the rump or rear end is slightly arched.
Mature animals weigh 600 to 800 pounds, but can go as big as 1,200 pounds. They measure up to four feet high and eight feet long when fully grown. Most breeders now prefer butcher weights of around 300 to 325 pounds, with hanging weights from 220 to 245 pounds.
Red Wattle hogs are known for hardiness, foraging activity, and rapid growth rate. They produce well-marbled, flavorful meat that’s described as similar to beef. Sows are excellent mothers, farrowing 7 to 12 piglets and providing good quantities of milk for their large litters.
Red Wattles adapt to a wide range of climates. Their active foraging makes them a good choice in outdoor or pasture-based swine production. They have a mild temperament and their gentle nature lends well to the small-scale, independent producer.
The origin and history of Red Wattles are obscure, but red hogs with wattles have been in North America since at least the mid-1800s. It’s believed that these ancestors were introduced through the Gulf of Mexico and spread throughout the country. The modern roots of the Red Wattle hog trace to 20th-century descendants of these wattled pigs in Texas.
In the mid-1980s, The Livestock Conservancy facilitated a meeting of Red Wattle breeders to encourage them to unify their efforts to benefit the breed. The breeders preferred to continue with the three registry system. The Conservancy’s 1990 census reported 272 purebred registered offspring. In 1999, Jerry Russell began to search for Red Wattle hogs, but only found 42 breeding animals belonging to six breeders. None of the three registries had registered stock in years.
The Red Wattle Hog Association was founded in 2001 with the support and encouragement of The Livestock Conservancy. Beginning with only 8 members, the breed association continues to grow and support the breed throughout America. Currently, there are approximately 100 members with more than 100 purebred hogs registered annually.
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.