The Berkshire pig is one of the oldest English pig breeds and originates from the British county of Berkshire. English statesman Oliver Cromwell was already praising the Berkshire pigs for their excellent meat quality some 300 years ago. He used the pigs to feed his army. The breed later gained in popularity among the English aristocracy, including Queen Victoria. She owned the most famous of Berkshire boars 'Ace of Spades'; the first boar in the world's first herd book for pigs.
Berkshires are large pigs; the sows average some 300 kg, the boars 400 kg. They have short, black hair, with white-haired trotters, snout and tip of the tail. This almost completely black purebred animal had almost disappeared. Even now, there are only 300 left in Europe. In 2002, Kees brought the last 20 sows on the European mainland to the Netherlands and started preserving the pure line Berkshire pigs.
The purebred boars that are bred by Kees are used on other pig farms for the breeding of Duke of Berkshire® pigs. This is a crossbred between a Berkshire boar and an English Large White Land race sow. This cross provides the optimum fat to meat ratio.
To breed Duke of Berkshire® pigs Kees has a close collaboration with Stefaan Lambrecht and his employees of the Belgian family business Danis and the German pig farmers Johannes Erchinger from Leer in Ostfriesland an Jens van Bebber in Grafschaft Bentheim.