The Welsh is the third ranking breed of swine in Britain. The registrations totaled 1,341 in 1981. Welsh swine are a droop or lop-eared white breed with slightly dished faces. They have shorter legs than most other popular breeds, but have very long bodies, especially considering the length of leg. They are also quite muscular and lean.
Welsh pigs were known to be in Wales from the earliest records that are available. The source of the original stock is not known. The breed attracted very little attention for years before it was realized the breed had some valuable characteristics. Among these were their ability to thrive under farm conditions, good sized litters, fine mothering instincts and desirable carcass characteristics.
Careful breeding programs retained those traits as special breed improvement started in the 1950's. There were infusions of imported Landrace blood through a register controlled by the National Pig Breeders' Association. The original society of the breed had previously amalgamated with the National Pig Breeders' Association. Then the breed began to get attention outside its native area, and is now well known for its characteristics and performance in the eastern counties of England, in the Midlands section and in Yorkshire. These are the good swine producing areas of England where the majority of England's two dominant breeds, the Large White and British Landrace, are found.
Commercial producers have used the Welsh as a white breed in crossing programs because it is not closely related to the better known Large White and British Landrace breeds. This practice has increased the breed's popularity rather rapidly in England. There have been only limited exports to other countries.
The carcass quality of the Welsh has attracted notice in interbreed competition. At the Royal Smithfield Show during the years 1972-1981, its record has been most impressive. The breed has had the champion pork carcass five of those years and reserve four times. In on-hoof classes, the Welsh has also done well. Of course, show winnings alone do not make profits in pork production, but they do call attention to desirable characteristics and help advertise a breed. In this case, the breed seems to be actually performing in such a manner that its popularity has increased. In a recent report from over 3,000 farrowings, Welsh sows farrowed 9.75 pigs per litter. That, combined with general adaptability, good gain performance and high carcass quality, will always attract swine producers.
The breed is recorded by the National Pig Breeders' Association, 7 Rickmansworth Road, Watford, Herts WD1 7HE, England.
Briggs, Hilton M. 1983. International Pig Breed Encyclopedia. Elanco Animal Health