The Kolbroek pig is a medium-sized pig – smaller in size than modern European breeds – and is predominantly black. Lighter pink spots and patterns are fairly common. They are hairy, have short tails, short snouts and medium-sized erect ears, a dish-faced head. They are hardy, which makes them ideal for the small-scale farmer. The hams are fairly well developed and the legs, although slender, are sturdy with particularly strong feet. The Kolbroek is an early maturing breed that grows slower than modern breeds and has a higher back fat thickness at 222 days. It is a locally adapted pig that has not been genetically improved for nearly a century. Their smaller size and non-aggressive personalities makes them easier to manage than most pig breeds. They do best in free range and free farrow conditions and have excellent mothering abilities.
The Kolbroek pig is recognized as a traditional and an indigenous breed by the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. There are different hypothesis as to the origin of the pig and how it arrived in South Africa: some historians state that the pig was introduced by the Portuguese traders in the 15th century and others that these pigs were aboard a ship called the “Coalbrook” that was wrecked in 1778. Pigs were often transported on ships in order to provide fresh meat while traveling the seas, since there was no refrigeration. It is generally agreed that, like most pigs, these pigs originated in China. Another theory supports the claim that the name is derived from the brighter spots on the hams: kol (spot) broek (ham).
In former days, the pig could be found on small farms across South Africa, and it was favored by the Afrikaans farmers. Today it is possible to find very scattered and isolated populations of this pig in KwaZulu Natal, the Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.The Kolbroek has dark flavorful meat and depending on the management system can be very fatty. It is generally used for its fresh meat, but also sausages, bacon, ham and soap making in the olden days. Several producers have kept the breed since 2007 as an example of the benefits of farming with an indigenous breed of pig on a small-scale farm. It does not meet the requirements of industrialized piggeries because of the relatively small litter size and fattiness as well as its overall size, which is much smaller than commercial breeds.