Fun Facts About Pigs and Pig Farming

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Pigs are a curious animal. They’ve been a stable part of human diet for many years and they’re a common sight on many fields and farms up and down the land. Yet there are plenty of things most people don’t know about our four legged friends.

The following are some fun facts you might not have known about pigs and modern pig farming:

  • Modern pigs stem from a long line of wild ancestors who spent all their days dwelling and foraging for food in forests and wooded areas. These ancestors were made up of a mixture of wild boar and pigs from the Asian continent who once cross-bred they became the modern pigs we know so well.
  • 75% of modern British pigs are cross-breed or a mix of breeds. This is actually a practice to improve reproduction and growth rates that improve pig rearing and farming experience.
  • Historically the female pig would produce around 4 off-spring a year. A modern farmed pig, by comparison, will average around two litters a year equating to approximately 8 to 12 extra piglets each (around 20 baby pigs per annum!)
  • Male pigs (boars) are obviously an essential part of the breeding process, but they also gain weight and size more quickly that sows – meaning they also eat more food and cost the farmer money. This is a point to consider when farming and breeding your own pigs.
  • Pigs are very intelligent and adapt to their environment. You might be surprised to learn that in some tests pigs have been shown to learn more quickly than dogs.
  • Like with cats and dogs, you can tell a lot about a pig’s mood by the movement of their tail. Curly tails often mean the pig is happy, while tucked between their legs points to stress and unhappiness.
  • Male pigs (boars) often live a solitary life and prefer their own company. Conversely, sows and piglets prefer to live in the family unit with small groups who are weary of other animals.
  • Despite the common misconception, pigs are actually very clean animals and will purposely keep their sleeping area clean.
  • As a pig farmer, you can save money on food waste by feeding pigs from dedicated troughs at the edge of the field. These troughs are less likely to result in feed being stolen by birds and other pests.
  • Using healthy cereal based feed that’s high in nutrients and goodness will produce better results from your breeding – helping to grow healthy pigs with far less waste.
  • Organic pigs and those raised outside are far more likely to produce a better quality meat. Happy pigs and naturally healthier and with exposure to the elements including sun and fresh air, their meat has shown to be tastier.
  • Pigs are easily distracted. Research has shown this is because their vision includes very wide angles (over 300 degrees!) but even so it’s pretty difficult to distract them from their food.
  • Pigs (much like elephants) are thought to have very good memories. This is great for pig farmers who can develop safe routines for management, feeding and moving the pigs when they need to.
  • Pigs do not have sweat glands, so like dogs they lose heat through their mouths and through panting in hot conditions. It’s important to keep pigs cool in hot weather and pig farmers need to watch out for signs of heatstroke in their herd that can include excessive panting, lack of coordination, convulsions, vomiting and unconsciousness.
  • Pigs like to try to keep themselves cool by rolling around in mud to help cool their skin and reduce their body temperature – it’s not because they’re dirty, it’s survival!
  • It’s important to keep your pigs happy! An unhappy pig can squeal so loudly they can really hurt your ear drums! In fact pigs have been known to reach the same decibel output as a jet airplane that’s powering to take-off (around 115dB – also the same level as a live rock band).
  • Pigs can (and will) swim if given the chance and the water to do so. A great way for them to cool down in the warm summer heat.
  • Pig manure and toxic gases caused by their digestive systems can lead to health problems in humans if not handled properly. Which is why good ventilation is essential when pig farming.
  • Despite their intelligence, pigs will (if not monitored correctly) stay out in the sun so long they’ll get sunburn – as much as second degree burns.
  • Pigs are said to have the best sense of smell in the animal kingdom, yet they also give off the worst smells around!
  • Around 9 million pigs are slaughtered in the UK every year to provide for our needs of bacon, gammon, sausage and ham for our sandwiches.
  • Miserable pigs that are confined in a factory have a tendency to chew off the tails of their fellow pigs.
  • Pigs are happiest when living in small groups, but with plenty of space to roam, explore and root in the earth.

So there you go, hopefully you’ve learnt plenty about pigs and why they’re such an interesting creature. If you’re considering getting into pig farming, you can discover more about pigs, pig farming and how to get into pig farming as a business with Fresh Start Pig Academy.