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About Pigs

The words pig, hog and swine are all generic terms without regard to gender, size or breed. A male pig is called a boar. A female pig is called gilt if she hasn't had piglets yet and a sow if she has. Pigs are affectionate, protective, playful, intelligent and social animals. Most people don't have the privilege of getting to know a pig. For most of us, the thought of pigs conjure images of dirty, greedy animals living in their own waste. We couldn't be more wrong! Pigs don't perspire, and so wallow in mud to keep themselves cool. They are naturally very clean animals and, if given the choice, they prefer to cool themselves down in fresh water. When in a natural environment, pigs build communal nests and toilet areas away from their sleeping area.

Playful Pigs

Pigs develop highly complex social structures and form strong bonds with other members of their group. At the age of around 3 weeks, piglets begin to play with other piglets, and for the majority of weeks thereafter will interact more with each other than with other members of their herd. It is during this time of play and interaction that strong bonds are formed, often lasting the duration of their lives.

A Healthy Appetite and Feeding Pigs:

Most of a pig's day is spent foraging and eating. The end of their snout contains has many tactile receptors as the human hand, and is a highly specialized and sensitive tool. This, along with their exceptional sense of smell, enables pigs to locate and uncover tasty treats such as seeds, roots, and truffles. Unlike dogs or humans, pigs never dangerously overeat-even when given access to unlimited food.


Pigs are non-ruminant animals. They have a single stomach in contrast to such animals as cattle and goats. To grow rapidly and efficiently, swine need a high energy, concentrated grain diet that is low in fiber (cellulose) and is supplemented with adequate protein.

Farm grains are the most common and best source of energy feeds for swine. Corn is an excellent energy feed, and is ideal for finishing feed because it is high in digestible carbohydrates, low in fiber, and is very tasty to pigs! But corn alone will not keep pigs growing and healthy. Corn must be supplemented with vitamins to keep pigs healthy.

Other good sources of feed are barley, oats, and wheat. But like corn. all these sources should be supplemented with protein supplements. Some people add antibacterial compounds to their feed to slow the growth of harmful bacteria that occurs naturally in most feeds. In low levels, these compounds increase the growth of pigs and lower feeding costs. They benefit younger pigs (under 100 to 125 pounds) more than finishing hogs. If you decide to use an antibacterial compound, make sure that you pay attention to the withdrawal period listed on the label (the withdrawal period is the amount of time that medicated feeds must be removed from a hog's diet before slaughter).

Pigs weighing 40 to 125 pounds are referred to as growing pigs. From 125 pounds to market weight (about 230 pounds) pigs are called finishing pigs. As a pig grows, the total amount of dietary protein it needs each day also increases; pigs should be switched from the grower (nutrient dense/more protein) to the finisher (less dense) diet when they weigh about 125 pounds. Pigs should be self-fed (given all the feed they will eat) throughout the feeding period. Self-feeding allows a pig to grow as fast as possible.

Water is the most important part of a pig's diet. One-half to two-thirds of a pig's body is made up of water. Pigs should be supplied with as much clean, fresh water as they will drink. Pigs can live longer without feed than without water.