The Meishan breed was introduced into the United States under a cooperative effort of the USDA, the University of Illinois, and Iowa State University. This effort also imported Fengjing and Minzhu pigs from China. In 1989, a total of 144 pigs from these breeds were shipped to the United States. Of the 144 pigs, 99 were Meishan pigs. The Meishan pigs imported were equally divided between the USDA, the University of Illinois, and Iowa State University.
Meishan pigs come from the region of lakes and valleys in China. They are considered Taihu pigs, deriving their name from the Taihu Lake in their region of origin. This region lies in the Mid Subtropic Belt, a narrow region between North and Central China, in the lower Changjiang River Basin and Southeast Coast. This area has a mild climate.
The breeds imported from China are slow growing and fat, but have a very good taste. They are considered to be resistant to some diseases and are able to consume large amounts of roughage. Meishan pigs are well fed and managed, being fed farm by-products and water plants, as well as concentrates.
The Meishan breed is known for its wrinkled face and skin. Sows grow to be about 57.8 cm high, 100 cm around the chest, and 61.1 kg in live-weight. They have a backfat thickness of 2.5 cm and a dressing percentage of 66.8%.
Meishan pigs are perhaps one of the most prolific breeds of pig in the world. They reach puberty at 2.5-3 months of age, achieve high embryo survival rates, and a large litter size of 15-16 pigs. It is quite common to have two litters per year. Third and later parities of this breed had 17.0 pigs born, with 12.9 being weaned. Their 240 day weight was 170.5 lbs., with an ADG of 0.75 lbs.
Information compiled by Marcus Johnson, Freshman Honors Student, working with Paul O. Brackelsberg, Professor of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames, from Breeding and Reproduction, ASL-R644.
Article and photographs contributed by Max F. Rothschild, Professor of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames.
Further information from FAO Animal Production and Health Paper 46, Livestock Breeds of China, by Cheng Peilieu, Institute of Animal Science, Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences, Beijing.