In 1812, early "Red Hogs" were
bred in New York and New Jersey. They were large in size. Large
litters and the ability to grow quickly were characteristics Durocs
possessed from the beginning. The foundation that formed today's "Duroc"
was comprised of Red Durocs from New York and Jersey Reds from New
In 1823, Isaac Frink of Milton in Saratoga County, New York,
obtained from Harry Kelsey of Florida New York, a red boar, one of a
litter of ten pigs. The sire and dam of these pigs were probably
imported from England. Kelsey owned a famous trotting stallion named
Duroc, so Frink named his red boar in honour of the horse. This boar
was known for his smoothness and carcase quality.
His progeny continued the Duroc name and many of them inherited his
colour, quick growth and maturity, deep body, broad ham and
shoulder, and quiet disposition. The Duroc was smaller than the
Jersey Red, with finer bones and better carcase quality. Beginning
in the early 1860s, Durocs were made from a systematic blending of
the two very different strains.
The first organization for the purpose of recording, improving, and
promoting Red Hogs was the American Duroc-Jersey Association, which
was established in 1883. At the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Durocs
gained wide popularity at the first successful Duroc Hog Show.
The Duroc made two attempts to gain a foothold in this country; the
first in the early 70s was not very successful, although some of
those pigs were exported on to Denmark. They were re-imported in the
early 80s and a comprehensive trial was undertaken by the MLC to
assess the merits of the Duroc as a terminal sire. It was found that
in the British skin-on fresh pork market the Duroc could not be used
as a purebred but only as component of a crossbred boar. The
development of Duroc crossbred boars produced large numbers of
crossbred gilts. A market was found for these due to a resurgence of
interest in outdoor pig production. This has resulted in breeding
and selection programmes for the British Duroc focusing on female
line characteristics rather than the traditional terminal sire
traits associated with the breed. The Duroc has now found a special
niche in the British industry and a unique British version of the
breed has been developed.
Their thick auburn winter coat and hard skin allows them to survive
the cold and wet of the British winter. This coat moults out in
summer to leave the pig looking almost bald, but as a consequence it
can cope with hot dry summers equally well. All purebred Durocs are
red in colour and the development of a so-called “White Duroc” has
only been achieved by crossbreeding with a white breed.
Its tenacity in looking after its young combined with its docility
between times makes it an ideal candidate for an outdoor pig, either
as a dam or sire line, and its succulence and heavy muscling makes
it very suitable for anything from light pork to heavy hog
Further research funded by the MLC has investigated the Duroc’s
claim to produce high levels of tenderness. This has led to a
recommendation to include Duroc genetics as part of the meat quality