Quatre Saisons - natural sustainable farming
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Piglets have a range of names- this is your quick guide to the nomenclature of the porcine world.....

A Gilt is a young female pig, that has not been bred.
A Sow is a female pig that has produced piglets.
A Shoat is a young male pig that has not been bred
A Barrow is a male pig that has been desexed in order to allow it to grow out to a larger size, and not be a nuisance with other stock, thereby preventing any risk of ‘boar taint’ in the pork meat as a result of hormone activity as the boar reaches sexual maturity.
A Boar is a sexually mature male pig.

Berkshire Pigs

Berkshire pigs are one of the oldest identifiable British breeds.

They were documented as a distinct breed in the Medieval Shire of Berks over 350 years ago and became common after being 'discovered' by Cromwell's troops while they were stationed at Reading during the English Civil War. 

Berkshire pigs are compact, with thick muscling, short legs and deep, grey black bodies  and white areas on their feet, snout and curly tail. 

Berkshire's are boisterous alert pigs with pricked eyes and slightly dished faces.

Prince Albert, husband of the young Queen Victoria, maintained a large herd of Black Berkshire on the 'Home Farm' 300 acres that is still maintained today as a working farm at Windsor Castle.  All modern Berkshire genetics can be traced back to these animals.  Thanks to the loyalty of a few dedicated Australian producers, small numbers of pure Black Berkshire still survive in Australia today.

Quatrè Saisons pigs are outdoors on pasture from birth with their sows and have a diet of cracked corn, barley grain, vinegar, garlic, molasses, seasonal fruit and vegetables and allowed to grow out naturally. When we have extra, we also feed milk from our Jersey cows. (well it made sense to add pigs to the menagerie with all that luscious milk!)

Not only are they hardy and active foragers, Berkshire sows are also excellent mothers. Berkshire litters tend to be a little smaller than some other breeds and they have a slightly longer gestation. 

Thanks to their black coat, Berkshires don’t tend to get sunburned like light-coloured pigs.

The Royal family, dating back to pre Victorian times, kept a large Berkshire herd at Windsor Castle.  They're famous Berkshire boar named Windsor Castle, weighed in around 450 kg at maturity and was the genetic line exported to the America’s in the mid 1800’s.

Their meat is darker than commercial pork and far more flavourful than the pork found in your supermarket or most butcher shops in Australia. They have played a major part in the Australian pig industry producing high quality ham and bacon and often used in cross breeding programs.  

Initially the Berkshires thrived once the move to commercial indoor farming began, thanks largely to their exceptionally tasty meat, but as the pork industry consolidated under the control of just a handful of large corporations in the 1980s and 1990s, and efficiency of production became the name of the game, the Berkshire population plummeted.  

The “pork industry” simply wasn’t interested in Berkshires because they were slower growing, didn’t produce as much lean meat (which the industry believed was the only thing consumers would buy) and didn’t perform as well in confinement as the Duroc, Hampshire and Yorkshire breeds.  They have undergone a recent resurgence due to the popularity of Berkshire pork in Japan. Even so, their numbers are still critically low.  Berkshire pork, prized for juiciness, flavor and tenderness, is pink-hued and heavily marbled. Its high fat content makes it suitable for long cooking and high-temperature cooking.

We chose Berkshire pigs because of their superior taste, quiet nature and suitability to free range.  They produce marbled meat that contains good fat that breaks down in the cooking process, enhancing the flavour and tenderness-you get a nice edge of light fat and a little marbling, so it has good, juicy flavour throughout. 

Kagoshima Kurobuta (かごしま黒豚, lit. black pig)

Kurobuta Pork is the most highly prized pork in Japan and comes from the ancient breed of pig known as Black Berkshire. The meat from the pure oriental strains of Black Berkshire, found in Japan, is regarded as the highest quality pork in the world.

Today's animals all around the world descend from the herd maintained by the House of Windsor 300 years ago and the strains of the breed now found in Japan, trace back to a gift from the English royals.

The breed did look very different back in 1820-which is why cross bred animals can be pink or spotted or red.