The Large White originated in Yorkshire, England. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was crossed with various breeds, including Cumberland, Leicestershire, Middle White and Small White (pig). The resulting individuals showed to advantage at the Windsor Royal Show in 1831, and the breed gradually took off.
In 1883, the breed was registered with the National Pig Breeders’ Association, formalising its status as a breed in its country of origin. It was also during the 1880s that the first animals were imported into France. The breed was very successful there and a herd book was created in 1926. Today, there are about 66,000 animals in the country, and the Large White is the leading French breed in terms of numbers.
The Large White has an elongated, parallelepipedal body, erect, open-fronted ears and strong legs. The coat is uniformly light, white, without any markings, with white bristles on a white rind2. It is a very active pig, despite its long body. The parallelepiped shape of the body gives it good balance.
The Large White is a large pig. The boar measures 105 cm at the withers and weighs 380 kg and the female measures 100 cm and weighs 320 kg.
The Large White is a breed that is particularly appreciated by breeders because it combines very good maternal qualities with equally good fattening abilities without showing any notable defects. It is an early and prolific breed that produces an average of 14.9 piglets per sow per litter. In addition, it has good performance in terms of growth (a young castrated male reaches 100 kg in 145 days) and feed conversion. For example, castrated males for fattening have an average daily gain of 944 g per day and a feed conversion ratio of 2.69. The Large White produces very good quality meat with a low fat content (9.9 mm back fat). It is free of the halothane sensitivity gene.
In addition, it is a very hardy pig, with strong legs, which can adapt to a variety of farming systems, both in the open air and in buildings. It adapts well to warm countries, especially in West Africa.
It is mainly used in crossbreeding, notably with landrace boars for the production of hybrid breeding sows, which are particularly appreciated by breeders, and with piétrain sows for the production of terminal boars.