Apparently the Internet likes Duroc pigs.


Because that’s one of the top search terms that brings people to my blog. I was surprised — I kind of assumed some of my more controversial posts would be what drew people in. I mean, they do. But apparently as far as long-term searchability goes, people are always talking about things like mental health and the self esteem of young women in today’s society. Controversial subjects get talked about a lot.

Duroc gilt pig

A Duroc gilt, or a female pig who hasn’t had a litter of piglets yet — image courtesy of Taking Stock and fwi.co.uk. Not all Durocs are quite this color — they range from very bright rust-red to dark red (almost black) with lighter red markings on the legs and stomach.

Apparently, Duroc pigs are not so common — or rather, they’re not so common to write about, but are very common to Google.

Now, I like Duroc pigs. Have I ever knowingly eaten one? Have I ever set out on a quest for pork and said, “Only Duroc will do!” Nope. I like Durocs because they’re pretty. Yes, it’s just as superficial as that. I like their forward-flopping ears, and their unusual red coloration. It’s such a nice pop of color against the muted pinks and blues and occasional blacks that you see in most cases. (The extent of my swine experience generally comes from what I’ve learned from others, and the fact that the hog barn was attached to the rabbit barn at the county fair where I grew up. Since I showed and raised rabbits, I got to know the swine-raising kids pretty well…and some of their animals.)

If I had to pick two runners-up for favorite breeds of pig, I’d say Poland China and Hereford. I like the markings. I’m a sucker for good aesthetics. That’s probably why I’m never going to be trusted to run a farm singlehandedly. I like pretty things, and agriculture that fulfills all of our needs ain’t always pretty.

Poland China boar pig

A Poland China boar (or, intact male pig) — photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University.

Hereford boar pig

A Hereford boar — photo courtesy of the National Hereford Hog Association.

Wheat fields are breath-taking to me. Really. I’ve been surrounded by them most of my life and I could still stare out over a wheat field and find something captivating about it. Corn fields are beautiful to me. Bean fields are okay, but they don’t have the same impact on my as wheat and, to a lesser extent, corn. Don’t even get me started on the beauty of sunflowers in bloom, or groves full of nut and fruit trees.

Shot with an upper-end consumer camera. Harvest 2010, Exline, IL.

See? Corn is beautiful. I snapped this during harvest 2010, outside of Momence, IL.

And have you ever seen a well-bred dairy cow? I once laughed, before spending time getting to know the dairy industry, because of the words people used to describe dairy cows. “She’s feminine.” “She’s leggy.” “She’s elegant.” Now, I know. Even growing up around agriculture, even having hands-on experience with our own cattle, I hardly thought cows were “feminine” or “elegant.” Especially not the beef cattle I grew up around. They were…beefy. And tasty. Now, as an adult, I have a whole new perspective on how gorgeous livestock really can be.

Obviously, there’s a lot of beauty to be found in agriculture. In the land, the crops, the animals. In the people. Yeah, the people. Those hard-working, persistent, tough-as-nails people. The people I’m so proud to be able to work with each day, in one way or another.

I think Duroc pigs are attractive. A lot of people agree with me. So, why aren’t they more common? Why don’t all farmers who own pigs, just own “pretty” pigs like Durocs?

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I remember having a debate with a hog-savvy friends about why Blue Butt Pigs (a Yorkshire/Hampshire cross, which generally results in a white (a.k.a. pink) pig with a blueish-colored spot over its back) were the most beautiful pigs she could think of. Now, I was thinking, aesthetic. To her, though, from her lifetime of hog experience, a York/Hamp cross was what equated to “beautiful” livestock — in that, the livestock served a function, and served it well. In this case, Blue Butt Pigs (or rather, the mixing of Yorkshire and Hampshire pigs) created piglets that were easy for mothers to raise and easy for farmers to feed and nurture. To another farmer, that beauty might come in the form of some other pure-bred pig, or a different mix of breeds. Durocs may not fulfill all the needs that farmer or his customer base may have. To other farmers, their niche market might call for something a little more pastoral, like a heritage breed such as Red Waddle pigs. (If you want to know more about these bad boys, my friend Megan is pasture-raising some and blogs about them all the time!)┬áBeauty comes in many different forms.

Baby Blue Butt pigs — photo courtesy of an ad posted on BestFarmBuys.com.

See, even though I say agriculture isn’t always “beautiful” — that’s a lie. It has its less-aesthetically-pleasing moments. It’s really hard to feel beautiful, as a girl, when you’re coated with manure from cleaning out pens. It’s really hard to find the beauty in euthanizing an animal that should have had a good life. But, the big picture tells a different story. The big picture shows us a finely-woven tapestry that includes an amazing combination of many colorful threads. Whether it’s Duroc pigs or Blue Butts or Yorkshires or Hampshires or Red Waddle pigs, they all help contribute to a massively-productive, typically safe and efficient and healthy pork industry. Beauty comes in many different shapes, and sometimes beauty comes in the form of efficiency, diversity, and wonderful flexibility. And that goes for all of agriculture.

And the next time I end up covered in livestock urine while wearing high heels, I’ll be sure to remind myself of that.

To learn more about different breeds of pigs (a.k.a. swine), please see The Pig Site here!

To learn more about how purebred swine can impact our food, please read my friend Amanda’s blog post, here.

8 thoughts on “Apparently the Internet likes Duroc pigs.

  1. Tams are my favorite, but I *am* a sucker for some floppy ears.

    And for the record, I sometimes feel my sexiest when I’m out working in the pens. There’s something inherently sexy about strength to me so while I may not smell the best, when I’m working hard I still feel pretty great.

    • I just find something really endearing about pigs with floppy ears. I mean, I DO love non-floppy-eared-pigs. I mean, tasty food is tasty food regardless of whether the ears are floppy or not. I hear Tamworths are GREAT for tender pork, though.

      I’ll agree on the strength thing — feeling empowered CAN lead to feeling sexy. But, the experience I have in mind involved date night, wearing pumps to go out to dinner (I think a skirt, too), swinging by the rabbit shed to check on kindling does and getting sprayed by a buck. You’d be amazed at how much urine comes out of a 10-pound rabbit. Oy. I miss the feeling of that sort of work, though. You know? I miss getting my hands dirty and being involved in farming.

    • “The Black Angus of Pork” — that made me chuckle. Nicely done!

      I get the productive benefits of some other breeds, and mixing different breeds. But, it’s not my job to care about that so I like the pigs that I think are cute. And Durocs win! Thanks for sharing your story and website, it’s a great resource!

  2. I guess the next time cook up some bacon or a little ham or sausage , I’ll be wondering how
    “pretty” my food was. Thank you for some new knowledge,that I ‘ll always remember.

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