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Domestic pig

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) is usually given the scientific name Sus scrofa, though some authors call it S. domesticus, reserving S. scrofa for the wild boar. It was domesticated approximately 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Pigs are found across Europe, the Middle East and extend into Asia as far as Indonesia and Japan. The distinction between wild and domestic animals is slight, and domestic pigs have become feral in many parts of the world (for example, New Zealand) and caused substantial environmental damage.

Sus scrofa has four subspecies, each occupying distinct geographical areas:

  • Sus scrofa scrofa (western Africa, Europe)
  • Sus scrofa ussuricus (northern Asia and Japan)
  • Sus scrofa cristatus (Asia Minor, India)
  • Sus scrofa vittatus (Indonesia)

Pigs are one of the oldest forms of livestock, having been domesticated as early as 5000 BC [1]. It is believed to have been domesticated either in the Near East or in China from the Wild Boar. The adaptable nature and omnivorous diet of the Wild Boar allowed early humans to domesticate it much earlier than many other forms of livestock, such as cattle. Pigs were mostly used for food, but people also used their hide for shields, their bones for tools and weapons, and their bristles for brushes. Pigs were brought to southeastern North America from Europe by De Soto and other early Spanish explorers. Escaped pigs became feral and were freely used by Native Americans as food.

As food

Intensively farmed pigs in batch pens
Intensively farmed pigs in batch pens

The domestic pig is farmed for its meat called pork. Products made of pork include sausage, bacon and ham. The head of a pig can be used to make head cheese. Liver, chitterlings, and other offal from pigs are also widely used for food.

In some religions, such as Judaism and Islam, there are religious restrictions on the consumption of pork.

In industrialized nations, domestic pigs farming has shifted away from the traditional pig farm to large-scale intensive pig farms where meat can be mass-produced. This has resulted in lower production costs, but more significant animal welfare concerns.

Pigs in an extensive farm
Pigs in an extensive farm

In developing nations, and some parts of developed nations, the domestic pig is frequently raised outdoors in yards. In some cases pigs are even raised in open fields where they are allowed to forage; they are watched by swineherds, essentially shepherds for pigs.

As pets

Pigs are known to be intelligent animals and have been found to be more trainable than dogs or cats. Asian pot-bellied pigs, a smaller subspecies of the domestic pig, have made popular house pets in the United States beginning in the latter half of the 20th century. Regular domestic farmyard pigs have also been known to be kept indoors, but due to their large size and destructive tendencies, they typically need to be moved into an outdoor pen as they grow older. Most pigs also have an extreme fear of being picked up, but will usually calm down once placed back on the floor.

Breeds of pigs

Champion Berkshire boar at the 2005 Royal Adelaide Show
Champion Berkshire boar at the 2005 Royal Adelaide Show

Pigs are exhibited at agricultural shows, judged either as stud stock compared to the standard features of each breed, or in commercial classes where the animals are judged primarily on their suitability for slaughter to provide premium meat.

Breeds within the UK

In the UK, pig breeds are generally classified into two groups:

  • Traditional
    • Berkshire
    • Hampshire
    • Large Black
    • Large White
    • Middle White
    • Tamworth Pig
    • Wessex Saddleback
    • Chester White
    • Gloucestershire Old Spots
    • Oxford Sandy and Black
    • British Lop
    • Welsh
    • Essex
Gloucestershire Old Spots pig
Gloucestershire Old Spots pig
  • Modern
    • Duroc
    • Landrace

List of domestic pig breeds

  • American Landrace
  • American Yorkshire
  • Angeln Saddleback
  • Arapawa Island
  • Ba Xuyen
  • Bantu
  • Bazna
  • Beijing Black
  • Belarus Black Pied
  • Belgian Landrace
  • Bentheim Black Pied
  • Berkshire
  • Black Slavonian
  • Black Canarian Pig
  • British Landrace
  • British Lop
  • Bulgarian White
  • Cantonese
  • Chester White
  • Czech Improved White
  • Danish Landrace
  • Dermantsi Pied
  • Duroc
  • Dutch Landrace
  • Fengjing
  • Finnish Landrace
  • French Landrace
  • German Landrace
  • Gloucestershire Old Spots
  • Guinea Hog
  • Hampshire
  • Hereford
  • Hezuo
  • Iberian
  • Italian Landrace
  • Jinhua
  • Kele
  • Krskopolje
  • Kunekune
  • Lacombe
  • Large Black
  • Large Black-white
  • Large White
  • Lithuanian Native
  • Mangalitsa
  • Meishan
  • Middle White
  • Minzhu
  • Mong Cai
  • Mukota
  • Mora Romagnola
  • Moura
  • Mulefoot
  • Neijiang
  • Ningxiang
  • Norwegian Landrace
  • Norwegian Yorkshire
  • Ossabaw Island
  • Oxford Sandy and Black
  • Philippine Native
  • Piétrain
  • Poland China
  • Red Wattle
  • Saddleback
  • Spots
  • Swabian-Hall
  • Swedish Landrace
  • Tamworth
  • Thuoc Nhieu
  • Tibetan
  • Tokyo-X
  • Turopolje
  • Vietnamese Potbelly
  • Welsh
  • West French White
  • Wuzhishan
  • Yanan
  • Zungo

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Sus domesticus
  • Taboo meat
  • Exotic pet
  • Factory farming
  • Intensive farming
  • Extensive farming


  • Pigs & Peccaries Specialist Group (1996). Sus scrofa. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
  • The Humane Society of the United States
  • Facatory Farming Photo Gallery
  • Factory Pork Production

External links

  • British Pig Association
  • Factory farming pigs - animal welfare site
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