American Mulefoot Hogs
Heritage Ranch Co. owns the largest herd of American Mulefoot
hogs in existence and we have started over 40 breeders with
our pigs areregistered with:
The American Mulefoot
Hog Association & Registry
Mulefoots are classified as "Critical" by the
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy & are the rarest
American pig breed. There are about 300 purebred, registered
Mulefoots, all with pedigrees tracing back to the RM Holliday
Mulefoots from Maveric can be seen around the country
at many breed preservation facilities, public zoos and
sustainable farms. See our How
to Buy Livestock page for available stock and start
raising this truly American breed today!
most distinctive feature of the American Mulefoot hog is
the solid hoof, which resembles that of a mule or horse.
Pigs with solid hooves (a physical characteristic called
syndactylism) have attracted the interest of many writers
over the centuries, including Aristotle and Darwin. The
American Mulefoot is the only syndactyl breed with a documented
history & breed standard. Mulefoots are solid black
with occasional white points (feet or nose), medium flop
ears & a soft body coat. They are typically docile,
friendly & exceptionally intelligent animals.
In the early 1900's, Mulefoots were considered premium "ham-hogs",
and were fed to great weights before slaughter. A typical
Mulefoot today will reach 400-600 pounds by age 2.
A Brief History of Mulefoots:
remnant population of the American Mulefoot has been owned
by R.M. Holiday of Louisiana, Missouri, for nearly forty
years. He remembers from boyhood that his family and others
raised these hogs by putting them on islands in the Missouri
and Mississippi rivers to forage during the summer and then
rounding them up in the fall for slaughter. This practice
was terminated by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950's.
In 1964 Mr. Holiday gathered together stock from all the
known breeders and established his herd. During 1976 he
swapped animals with a breeder in North Dakota, which introduced
some undesirable traits such as prick ears, wattles and
Nevertheless, Holliday's strong and consistent production
selection has maintained a generally uniform and characteristic
herd. After his experience with this "exotic"
animal dealer he sold no more stock except those contracted
During these years, the Mulefoot registries folded and all
known copies of the herd books were lost.
About Maveric Mulefoots:
In 2001, we added Mulefoot hogs to our ranch. From the moment
the piglets set hoof on our ranch, they were handled, spoiled
and looked upon with awe. These pigs were different than
the market hogs we'd raised, and not just in their appearance.
The mulefoots were docile, easy to manage, and very entertaining.
They didn't get sunburned, enjoyed grazing and were gentle
enough to hand feed. Our core group of pigs grew rapidly,
and the following spring, they were mature enough for breeding.
The first litter of piglets born on our ranch were met with
nervous anticipation. We'd read everything we could find
about farrowing. But, when the time came, we did little
more than ooh & ahh. The mulefoot mothers gave birth
with ease, & the hardy piglets were nursing within minutes.
At about 2 days old, the little ones were crawling out of
the nest & exploring their pen.
The piglets grew rapidly, and each developed a distinct
personality. We were so enamored with them, we decided to
seek out more breeding stock & increase our herd. The
following winter, we added six more females from two different
that point, all our stock was 2nd & 3rd generation Holliday,
and came from breeders who had started with pigs from the
RM Holliday herd. I'll admit, I was a bit jealous of the
folks who had been to the Holliday farms and started with
Foundation stock. In the late 1980's, the RM Holliday herd
of Mulefoots was the last documented herd known to exist.
This herd has become the Foundation stock for all registered
Mulefoot hogs. I had been told that no more pigs were available
from Mr. Holliday. Still, I thought I'd take a chance, write
RM Holliday a letter to tell him about us.
I'd heard many a tale of Mr. Holliday, including how he
disliked people from the parks and conservation groups.
Some people told of how they'd tried to buy stock from him
for years, to no avail. Yet others told of his sense of
humor, friendliness, & how he loved to reminisce about
his 40+ years raising Mulefoot hogs. I sent my letter and
hoped. To my surprise and delight, I received a call from
RM Holliday a few days later. We had many more phone conversations
over the next few months, and became fast friends. I made
plans for us to visit his farm in Missouri. Mr. Holliday
also agreed to sell me a couple of gilts. I was thrilled
with the opportunity to meet the Legend and to obtain Foundation
stock of my own.
It was well below zero degrees when we arrived at the RM
Holliday home in February 2006. We chatted about the pigs
we already had, and shared pictures. Mr. Holliday told me
the familiar stories of his grandfather, and the pigs being
raised on islands in the Missouri River. He talked about
his other two farms, his daughter and deceased wife. He
made mention of the fact that he would be turning 89 years
old in June. We took lots of pictures. Then we made a makeshift
alleyway to round up the pigs and sort off the ones we were
taking home. Mr. Holliday let me choose any and all I wanted.
I was very pleased to head home with 8 gilts, 1 sow, 1 boar
and two bonus piglets. In essence, we'd just doubled our
Mulefoot hog herd.
Shortly after returning home, I sent Mr. Holliday a thank
you letter and some of the pictures we had taken. He was
deeply touched by this gesture, and said as much the next
time we talked. I told him that if he ever decided to "officially"
retire, we'd be interested in the rest of the hogs. He must
have already been thinking about it, because he told me
to come and get them! In April '06, we made a second trip
from South Dakota to eastern Missouri to purchase the remaining
While there, we had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Holliday
for several hours, and he told us many more stories of his
childhood, hogs, neighbors and more. He was deeply concerned
for the welfare of the Mulefoots, and their continued survival.
When it came time for us to load up and leave, he handed
me his notebook. This worn and tattered notebook was precious
to Mr. Holliday, as it contained original registration paperwork
for the first Mulefoot hogs he owned, details of the pigs
he had sold, pictures and correspondence dating back to
1961. This notebook was a treasure trove of Mulefoot information,
and a peek into the world of a man who felt deeply committed
to raising this breed for more than 40 years. I was honored
by the gift.
We truly enjoy raising Mulefoot hogs. Raising them can be
challenging and a lot of hard work. But, every piglet that
becomes an adult, and later produces offspring, enhances
the gene pool, and adds to the assurance that the Mulefoot
breed will survive. Proper nutrition, living conditions,
planned matings & human interactions are part of the
daily routine at our ranch.
Mulefoots are a very serviceable animal. Raised on pasture,
alfalfa and minimal grain supplementation, the Mulefoots
are a low input livestock. In the early 1900's, several
farm publications, school books and farm animal judging
booklets gave detailed breed standards for the Mulefoot,
and referred to them as a Premium Ham hog. These quality
hogs commanded a 10-20% mark-up over the current hog market
prices. Mulefoots do grow slightly slower than commercial
hogs, but it is well worth the wait. The pork has time to
mature into flavorful, rich and nutritious meat. Recently
nominated to the Slow Foods Ark, the meat from the Mulefoot
hog is increasing in popularity with chefs and connoisseurs
of fine food.
We are working diligently to educate the public about these
great animals, and tell all we meet about the importance
of saving Heritage Breeds of livestock. Touting an end use
for these rare breeds, ie: meat, milk, eggs, companions,
etc., will hopefully encourage people to raise them. Heritage
breeds are not only a vital part of our history, and deserve
to be saved on that merit alone, but they offer a genetic
diversity that may be invaluable in saving animals and humans
in the future. Although the Mulefoot is still considered
critically rare, there is hope for it's future. Today there
are nearly 300 purebred Mulefoot hogs registered with the
American Mulefoot Hog Assoc. Granted, 300 pigs is not a
population explosion, but it does show that the integrity
and commitment of the Mulefoot breeders is having an impact
on the overall global outlook.
In 2006, we contracted with two State Universities to obtain
DNA samples of the Mulefoot hogs. We felt that the testing
would help us to identify family groups in the pigs, and
to determine which of the six original bloodlines were still
in existence. Additionally, the DNA results will allow us
to track certain characteristics of the Mulefoots, look
at the heritability of these traits, and allow us to plan
matings with the most genetic diversity. We also collected
hair samples for DNA research for a project coordinated
by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC). This
study will determine the origin of the Mulefoot hog, a part
of Mulefoot history that is still unclear.
All hogs at Maveric Heritage Ranch Co. are now DNA tested.
Each animal can be traced back to its original bloodline.
Aside from determining parentage, the DNA results will also
offer us a look at a breed that has been largely left in
its primitive state. Purebred Mulefoots of today look nearly
identical to the ones raised 100 years ago. Their hardiness
and disease resistance are of great interest to other hog
breeders. Our commitment to the conservation of this breed
is getting a little help from science, and we are most grateful.
We have established a wonderful relationship with the Registrars,
Mark & Jessica Dibert, of the American Mulefoot Hog
Association (AMHAR). The Diberts are truly committed to
preserving the Mulefoot hog, and have offered immeasurable
advice and support right from the start of our interest
in this breed. We would encourage anyone interested in saving
Mulefoot hogs to join AMHAR, and enjoy the camaraderie of
this dedicated group of people.
We are not much younger in age than RM Holliday was when
he started raising Mulefoot hogs. Our personal history with
this breed is just beginning. If you are considering adding
hogs to your farm, homestead or ranch, we would encourage
you to consider Mulefoots. Lets contribute to the conservation
of the Mulefoot Hog and make history together!
We typically have mulefoot piglets available from unrelated
bloodlines. Sows, bred sows, gilts and adult boars are available
occasionally. If you are interested in starting your own
herd of this exciting breed, raising a mulefoot for freezer
pork or would like a large and loving pet, please visit
our How to Buy Livestock