The American Pig, Swine & Hog

The American pig, also called swine or hog, is related to the wild boar, and now entirely domesticated. Learn more about this intelligent animal.

American Pigs or "hogs" are domesticated members of the swine family. In the United States, young hogs not ready for market are termed "swine." The British refer to all members of the Suidae family as swine. Theoretically, there is little difference between wild pigs, boars and domestic members in the family.

HISTORY

It is thought that the common American pig is a descendant of two wild swine. History shows us that one European species of hog bred with a Southeastern Asian hog and were domesticated in China some 9000 years ago. Europeans continued the breeding process until Christopher Columbus introduced the domesticated animal into the States in 1493.

CHARACTERISTICS

The American pig is a heavy animal with a large, round, stout body. They have short legs, thick skins and short, coarse, bristles of hair sporadically scattered about their body. Hooves have two digits that are functional, and two that are not. Snouts are short and pliable. Tails are small when cut and long, when not cut. Contrary to their appearance, pigs are quick thinking, fast moving animals.

There are three types of domesticated American pigs, categorized by size and weight. The large, lard pig carries a thick layer of fat and weighs a minimum of 220 pounds. Bacon pigs are 150 pounds. Pork pigs weigh 100 pounds.

Pigs are intelligent, highly trainable animals. The American pig is used routinely in animal shows around the world, where pigs have been taught to follow a series of commands.

FEEDING

The American pig is an omnivorous animal which enjoys scavenging for food. For this reason, breeding pigs as a commercial venture is both popular and beneficial. Pigs are known for their ability to eat almost anything, so maintaining weight and body size is never a problem.



PRODUCTS FROM SWINE

A large variety of products are produced from the American pig each year. Pigs in the United States are raised primarily for sausage, bacon, pork and ham production. Outside of being a food source, pigs are used for :

LEATHERS-Pig hide is used to make large amounts of luggage, footballs and gloves.

BRISTLES-used in commercial brushes.

LARD

American pigs have become a valuable resource to farmers. American pigs are raised in almost all parts of the United States. The largest concentration of pigs comes from the Midwest, which is known as the chief hog raising area in North America.

BREEDING

The American pig is bred almost entirely using technological farming tools. Female pigs can give birth to many litters in one year and especially productive, healthy females are often kept alive longer than those which are not. Only pigs which remain in the wild breed in the traditional fashion. The American pig, which is now entirely domesticated, is bred through the usage of science and tools.

HEALTH

American pigs are susceptible to the greatest number of diseases of any other domesticated U.S. animal. Respiratory ailments and parasitic infestations are common, and major concerns to U.S. farmers. Limited exercise and lack of exposure to sunlight seems to be the cause of the pig's lowered immune system and high mortality rate. It's estimated that up to 85% of U.S. herds are exposed to swine pneumonia each year. Diseases like brucellosis, trichinosis and cysticercosis are transmissible to humans.

LIFE EXPECTANCY

Pigs were are raised for food value are often slaughtered between the ages of 3-6 months. In the wild, pigs live 25 years or more.

TODAY

American pigs today are entirely domesticated pets or livestock. British scientists are now experimenting with the American pig, with the hope of breeding a newer, leaner animal. New vaccines now keep many diseases at bay, though the pig continues to suffer from lower resistance levels than any other animal.

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