The Meishan breed was introduced into the United States under a cooperative effort of the USDA, the University of Illinois, and Iowa State University. This effort also imported Fengjing and Minzhu pigs from China. A total of 144 pigs from these breeds were shipped to the United States. Iowa State University received 22 Meishan females and 10 Meishan boars from this shipment on July 27, 1989.
Meishan pigs come from the region of lakes and valleys in China. They are considered Taihu pigs, deriving their name from the Taihu Lake in their region of origin. This region lies in the Mid Subtropic Belt, a narrow region between North and Central China, in the Lower Changjiang River Basin and Southeast Coast. This area has a mild climate.
The breeds imported from China are slow growing and fat, but have a very good taste. They are considered to be resistant to some diseases and are able to consume large amounts of roughage.
They have the lowest environmental impact of any hog breed on pastures. Meishans do not test fences. Meishans do not harass or attack other livestock. Meishans can survive and thrive on a diet much higher in roughage. Adult Meishans do not squeal or scream.They are an incredibly sedentary pigs that sleeps most of the day.
While they do not grow as fast as commercial breeds their growth typically outpaces that of popular heritage breeds.
Meishans are old fashioned type pigs, which results in a more red, marbled meat and firm, flavorful, creamy fat. The meat has a rich and complex taste profile, that some describe as being halfway between pork and beef.
The Meishan pig is a delicacy in China and Japan. Some chefs describe the pork as being the “Kobe beef of pork”.