Pietrain, Belgium, the village from which the breed
takes its name, was the birthplace of the breed. The exact origin is unknown but the local
breed was "brought to the fore" during the difficult period of the swine market
in 1950-51. The breed became popular in its native country and was exported to other
countries, especially Germany.
The breed is of medium size and is white with black spots. Around the black spots there
are characteristic rings of light pigmentation that carries white hair. This, coupled with
the fact that the black hair is not as deeply pigmented as on black breeds, or the black
spots on some spotted breeds, leaves them with less than the most attractive coats. The
breed is commonly referred to as being of piebald markings. The ears are carried erect.
The type of the breed is quite distinct. They are shorter of leg than most breeds,
stockier in build, and quite broad along the back. The hams are extremely bulging and
muscular. They carry an extremely high proportion of lean to fat. When compared to the Belgian Landrace which is itself known for its meatiness, they
excelled in usable lean, having 66.7 percent as compared to 63.2 percent; in defatted loin
they cut out 24.5 percent as compared to 23.4 percent; their hams averaged 24.6 percent as
compared to 23.4 percent; and in lean to fat ratio, the breed had 9.2 to 1 while the
comparison was 6.3 to 1. These comparative figures, and its reputation for very high
quality lean, makes the breed a desired one for fresh meat processing. And, most pork is
sold as fresh meat in Belgium.
The breed has developed a reputation for improving the quality of market swine when the
boars are used on sows of other breeds, especially the Belgian
Landrace. While the sows of the breed are prolific, they lack some in mothering
characteristics and in milk production.
Pietrain swine were imported into Germany in 1960-61. The main breeding areas in that
country are Schleswig-Holstein, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Wurttemberg-Baden. They are
commonly used in crossbreeding in Germany to improve the quality of pork produced.
While the Pietrain has recently been loosing popularity in its native country, it does
have the potential for providing genetic improvement in carcass quality. In Belgium, the
breed is tested regularly for the selection of superior performing lines of swine in the
eight test stations that are scattered over the country.
Briggs, Hilton M. 1983. International Pig Breed Encyclopedia.