Yorkshire Pig Characteristics

Yorkshire pigs are the most popular breed in the world. This has been attributed to their excellent genetic potential for high production. The Yorkshire breed was developed in the York county of England in the 19th century, hence the name Yorkshire. The name was later changed to ‘Large White’ but Yorkshire has remained widely used throughout the world. Yorkshire pig characteristics are most striking, their size and weight among other features make them stand out from other strains of pigs. The breed has the most desirable production traits and therefore assures high economic rewards to farmers hence their popularity. For this reason, it is of utmost importance for pig breeders to have an in-depth understanding about the characteristics of Yorkshire pigs in order to maximise the quality of their output.

Table of Contents

Physical Appearance

Yorkshire pigs, or rather Large White as they are formally called are a well fleshed white breed with erect ears. As a matter of fact, they are light pink in colour making them appear like a white pig from a distance. The head is medium sized with a broad forehead and a long clean face. The neck is short and masculine but long and clean as well. The snout is long giving them a good sense of smell. They have broad and fleshy shoulders, their blades are without cavities, and hams are large indicating that they have a lot of meat. They are large and long in stature with a strong back. Some Yorkshire pigs have blackspots on their skin. Yorkshire pig characteristics also include a good hip structure with long, developed muscle and seven teats on each side that are well spaced and prominent. They have short tails that curl slightly; they also have big even toes. Due to the striking characteristics of Yorkshire pigs, they are widely used in breeding to create and improve other breeds.

Size and Weight

The Yorkshire pig is a large breed. They have rather long bodies and solid legs and feet. A mature sow (female pig) can weigh up to 295kg while a mature boar (male pig) weighs up to 340kg. Although they are large, their size to length ratio is quite proportionate which allows them to be active and healthy. The torso is elongated but unlike most pigs, it does not sag. Instead, it is voluminous and dense. The large sizes of Yorkshire pigs makes them unsuitable for small farm areas. They need plenty of room to run around and receive adequate exercise. Although they require more space than other breeds, the positive Yorkshire pig characteristics make them an ideal choice for most farmers; for example, their ability to easily adapt to new environments. Impressive characteristics of Yorkshire pigs also include their well textured bacon and lean meat. Yorkshire pigs are regarded as the best breed for the production of fat and meat. They have a large percentage of lean meat with an average daily gain of 800 g/day. Yorkshires are also known for their muscle, with a high proportion of lean.

Behaviour and Temperament

Yorkshire pigs are regarded as outdoor breeds. While they can be confined in small spaces without much complications, they are quite agile thus need adequate space to be housed. When being housed in smaller spaces, it is crucial to strike a good balance so as to maintain their optimal health. The Yorkshire pig is an intelligent breed that is quite easy to tame.  When they relax, these pigs love to wobble in the mud. Despite their fun and active nature, they are calm, friendly and generally well mannered. Characteristics of Yorkshire pigs also includes their keen sense of smell. The snout of the Yorkshire Pig helps for their excellent sense of smell.

Productivity Rate

The remarkable characteristics of Yorkshire pigs make them excellent at breeding. The sows have a high fertility rate producing litters of 10 to 13 piglets which is slightly higher than average. The Yorkshire piglets mature very fast as compared to other breeds of pigs. Sows have great mothering abilities and produce a good amount of milk therefore eliminating any nursing or weaning challenges. Yorkshire pigs have a high reproductive capacity and are well known for their good maternal instinct.

Climate Tolerance

Strong and thick-skinned are some general characteristics of Yorkshire pigs. They are hardy and robust allowing them to withstand harsh weather conditions. Yorkshire pigs tend to thrive in varied weather climates. They have a reputation for enduring and adapting in different ecological environments with ease.


Yorkshire pigs have an estimated life expectancy of between 6 to 10 years. However, due to their large stature, they are prone to different pig illnesses such as bronchial issues, pneumonia, and parasite infections. These illnesses drastically decrease their lifespan especially if there is poor care of livestock. Although the life expectancy seems higher, Yorkshire pig characteristics such as their excellent quality of meat are also a leading factor to their shortened life span. Yorkshire pigs usually do not live past 1 to 2 years.  This is because they are slaughtered for bacon and leans cuts of meat at an early age.


Yorkshire pigs are omnivorous. Similar to other types of pigs, plant matter and carcasses are a big part of their diet. They also feed on stubbles of cultivated crops, tree leaves, fodders and grains including berseem, wheat straw, millets, maize, and barley.



The Yorkshire breed is one of the most profitable livestock worldwide. Acquiring a comprehensive understanding of different types of pigs is therefore an essential step towards high productivity. It is the most important criteria in the selection of pigs for breeding and livestock production. Pigs generally display enormous phenotypic diversity in terms of shape, colour, size, weight, climate tolerance, production as well as reproduction abilities. Superior breeds like the Yorkshire pigs, if fully understood, can be exploited to help increase the productivity of inferior breeds. In addition, gaining knowledge on the characteristics of Yorkshire pigs aids in the provision of appropriate care for different breeds hence getting a higher improved output.