Breeds of Swine: Duroc
By Abigail Wehrbein
There are around 73 different breeds of swine according to The Pig Site. Each breed varies in special characteristics that make that breed more valuable over others when selecting for certain traits. For instance, Berkshire is one of the best for meat quality while the Yorkshire breed is one of the best for maternal traits. Throughout the next few blogs, I’ll explain a few different breeds and their special characteristics, starting with the Duroc.
Genetics are most important when it comes to swine. These would include how the pig looks, like muscling, body characteristics and how it performs on feed efficiency, maternal traits and disposition. In the swine industry, both commercial (for market) and competition (show pigs), genetics are the basics for growing successful animals. Without knowledge of genetics in swine, producers would have more lost opportunities than a prosperous herd.
Purebred Duroc swine present a yellowish red to dark red color hair and skin. This color makes them, in my opinion the cutest piglet of all the breeds because they look similar to chocolate lab puppies. One distinguishing feature is their drooping ears that often cover their eyes. Duroc’s durable skeletal structure, combined with natural leanness, produces a fast growing, efficient pig. When breeding with purebred Duroc boars in commercial operations, producers can maximize the heterosis that is generated by crossbreeding pure genetic lines. Heterosis means to increase in growth, size, yield, or other characters in hybrids over those of the parents.
The Duroc breed does carry some maternal traits. Duroc sows fall second in passed on traits including the number of litters and litter size at birth. However, they do have the highest birth weight of piglets. These traits happen more frequently when Duroc boars are crossed with sows of other breeds, meaning crossbred. Duroc swine are very popular for crossbreeding and improving other breeds of swine. The sows are also known for taking very good care of their young.
Duroc swine are one of the most popular breeds within the United States and other countries. They are known for having advantages in muscle quality. This combined with their high ability to grow fast with an excellent feed efficiency has placed the Duroc breed as an outstanding terminal sire choice. The purebred Duroc is recognized for breed strength in the future of swine improvement, usefulness and value.