Before the turn of the nineteenth century, grading of breeding pigs in the Netherlands was mostly done in an unofficial way: a breeder went to the market or to the farm of a colleague, and by using his ‘breeders’ eye’, an embodied skill he had developed through years of experience in breeding pigs, he chose a boar or sow which he thought would improve his own breeding stock. With the establishment of the herdbooks around 1900, it became necessary to quantify the grading process because all pigs had to be evaluated according to the same criteria. The quantification of breed characteristics however turned out to be difficult and, as it eventually turned out, the best way to grade pigs could not do without the breeders’ eye.
|Fig. 1. The Yorkshire. (Notice erect ears, low shoulders.)|
|Fig. 1. German Landrace. (Notice floppy ears.)|
|Fig. 3. Evaluation form.|
It may seem rather curious why Dommerhold, and also veterinarian Hendrik Kroon, both leading figures in the world of pig breeding, were of the opinion that this grading method allowed for more “precision” and less “bias” in the grading of pigs, as it was based on thoroughly subjective notions like excellent and bad.  Their reason for not recommending measuring every part of the pig for grading purposes, was that it did not take into account that the individual parts of the pig had to form a “harmonious” whole, as Dommerhold put it. This is also why in the grading system 25 points were reserved for “general appearance”. Although people like Dommerhold and Kroon thus had a very definite idea about the ideal type for a particular pig breed, as is evident from their elaborate quantitative descriptions, they knew that the evaluation of individual pigs and deciding whether they resembled this ideal type, was a task that could not be accomplished by measuring rods and weighing scales. Measurements could not tell if the individual parts of a pig had the right proportions. The breeders and herdbook officials did have this ability and that is why people like Dommerhold and Kroon deemed the subjective breeders’ eye to be indispensable in the grading of pigs.
 J. Timmermans, as cited by A. Paridaans, 75 jaar varkensfokkerij in stamboekverband (Veldhoven 1987), p.20.
 E. Dommerhold, Het uitwendig voorkomen van het varken (Maastricht 1920).
 H. Kroon, Het Varken (Deventer 1924), p. 47.