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 pork 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. The breed is commonly referred to as being
of piebald markings. The ears are carried erect.
The Pietrain is very popular as a terminal sire in two of Europe’s
largest pig producing countries, Germany and Spain. The first
importation of pigs into the UK was carried out by the Pig Industry
Development Authority in 1964. After quarantine 84 pigs were
available for distribution. Six boars and a selection of gilts were
retained by PIDA for crossbreeding experiments with British breeds
as well as the establishment of a purebred herd for study purposes.
The remaining animals were despatched for experimental programmes
run by the Animal Breeding and Research Organisation at Edinburgh,
Wye College in Kent and T. Wall and Sons. The latter made use of the
Pietrain in a synthetic line based on a Pietrain / Saddleback. This
was used by the Walls Meat Company in one of the earliest examples
of a breeding programme specifically designed for integrated pork
The Pietrain is renowned for its very high yield of lean meat but
this is often associated with the presence of the halothane gene for
Porcine Stress Syndrome. For this reason the use of purebred
Pietrain in British pig production is relatively rare and it is most
commonly found in crossbred and synthetic terminal sire lines. A
small number of purebred herds are maintained to supply stock for
these breeding programmes.