The Lacombe is a native of Canada and is the only breed of pig developed in the country.
The Canadian pig is white in colour and medium-sized, with large drooping ears. It is well-muscled and docile in nature.
Today, breeding stock is held largely by private corporations. It is categorised as critically endangered by Rare Breeds Canada and sadly, Heritage Livestock Canada reported only an estimated nine registered Lacombe pigs left this year.
The breed was named after the Canadian Department of Agriculture Research Station at Lacombe, Alberta, where it was first developed, starting in 1947.
Top-class Berkshire sows were mated to Landrace-Chester White crossbred boars from the United States and are considered the foundation stock of the Lacombe pig.
Pigs were selectively bred for growth rate, feed conversion efficiency, carcass quality and docility. Maternally, traits such as litter size and weaning weight were paid particular attention to.
In 1954, all pigs that entered the herd were then backcrossed with purebred Berkshires and those that produced any pigs with black hair were discarded - insuring genetic purity for the white colour.
From 1954 to 1957, the Lacombe was evaluated in 60 commercial herds in Alberta, proving itself in production performance and carcass quality. At this time, it is reported that the Lacombe carried 56% Landrace, 23% Berkshire and 21% Chester White blood.
Lacombe boars were offered to pig producers in 1957 and the first Lacombe sows were made available the year after. The breed was accepted for registration by the Canadian National Livestock Records in 1957.
According to the Oklahoma State University breed profile, the Lacombe boar was the highest indexing sire tested in Canada in 1981.
The Lacombe was popular throughout Canada and had also been exported to the United States and as far as Japan, Russia, Mexico, Italy and the UK.
More information about the Lacombe can be found on the Pig Site.Photo credit: Canada Agriculture and Food Museum