Mulefoots are named for their unique trotters because instead of the usual cloven foot, they have a single hoof. They are a lovely black color with a thick thatch of fur to keep them warm during the winter months. Occasional anomalies are a small pink mark on their nose (we refer to them as ‘a kiss’) and small white socks. Most of the herd grows to be between 400-600 lbs. They are wonderfully social animals which makes it much easier to work with them, especially the boars. Sows typically have 6-8 babies and tend to be excellent mothers.
The origin of the Mulefoot is unclear, and many theories have arisen about its links with mulefooted stocks in Asia and Europe. The breed is most likely to have descended from the Spanish hogs such as the Black Iberian pig of Iberico ham fame and were brought to the Americas beginning in the 1500s. It shares some attributes with the Choctaw hog, and the two breeds likely come from the same ancestral stock, which was loosely selected and managed until the late 1800s.
By 1900, the Mulefoot had become a standardized breed. It was valued for ease of fattening and production of meat, lard, and especially hams. Mulefoot hogs were distributed throughout the Corn Belt. They were also common along the Mississippi River Valley, where farmers ranged their hogs on the islands in the river, putting them out to forage in the spring and collecting them in the fall. In the early 1900s there were two Mulefoot breed associations and over 200 herds registering purebred stock. As of 2006, there were less than 200 registered purebreds. These days though, Firefly Farms alone has 100!
Tri-Heritage: The breed that started it all. Originating at Footsteps Farm, this is a unique combination of Tamworth, Berkshire, and Large Black. On the Livestock Conservancy website, the Large Black is listed as critically endangered and the Tamworth is listed as threatened. They come in a huge variety of colors; red, black, black with socks, red with black spots, and the lovely golden with black spots. They carry the best traits of their combined breeds.