Ark of Taste
The Mulefoot Hog is an American breed that descended from the hogs that the Spanish brought to Florida and the Gulf Coast in the 1500s. The most distinctive feature of the Mulefoot hog is the solid hoof, which resembles that of a mule. It was bred to have a solid hoof rather than the typical cloven hoof to eliminate the threat of foot rot, thus making it suitable for wet areas. In the 1800s there was a huge demand for hogs to help fuel westward expansion. However, the hogs that were wanted needed to be much larger than the Spanish hogs. As a result farmers started crossing the Spanish hogs with larger hogs such as the Berkshire and Poland China.
The Mulefoot hogs have a soft solid black coat with white points occurring occasionally. The hogs have medium flop ears and a fairly gentle disposition. They fatten quite easily and a mature hog weighs in at the 500-600 pound range. Because of the high fat content, this breed is particularly good for high quality ham.
The Mulefoot peaked in popularity about a century ago with breeders found in most Midwestern and some southern states. But as the amount of area for foraging decreased and the practice of feeding hogs in pens increased, the breed fell out of favor since other breeds of hogs grew faster in that type of situation. It came to a point where there was only one remaining breeder, R.M. Holliday of Missouri. Holliday’s strong and consistent production selection has maintained a generally uniform and characteristic herd. In the fall of 1993 Mark Fields, in cooperation with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, contacted Mr. Holliday to purchase a few animals and begin a Mulefoot herd. The Mulefoot is the most rare of American swine breeds. Because of its endangered status, historical value, and superior flavor, conservation is essential.
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