Have you ever wondered about pigs? Most people usually just think of them as animals we butcher into bacon and ham, but have you ever thought about them as something more? Well, here are some interesting facts about pigs that you probably never knew.
Pigs are mammals just like us
They gestate for 3 months 3 weeks and 3 days. Boars, the male pigs, are ready for service at 30 weeks of age and they retire after 3 to 4 years. They can service 10 to 20 female pigs, or sows. But the ideal is 16 sows. Sows are usually the ones who seek out the boars. The females are the ones who look for males to mate with unlike most animals. And a sow can have 2 litters each year with around 10 piglets per litter. But the average survival rate of piglets per litter is at around 8.5.
The scientific name of domesticated pigs is Sus scrofa domesticus. The term pig is from the Anglo-Saxon, or Old English, language. The term pork is from the French. In 1066, after the Norman conquest of England, wealthy French-speaking landowners would call pigs in their French name when they are served as food. This is why we have the term pig for the live animal and pork for the butchered meat. The same goes for cow and beef, sheep and mutton, and calf and veal.
The term bacon was a Middle English word used to refer to pork products in general up until the 16th century. Bacon is the cured and smoked product from the side of the pig. Before refrigeration was invented, the ham and the belly were smoked and cured in order to preserve the meat for a longer time. And even before, bacon was primarily a breakfast food.
Pigs are much like humans
They are more similar to us than we would like to think. For one, pigs are also monogastric animals, meaning they only have one stomach. Their gastric system is much like our own. No wonder many people are compared to pigs when they’re eating. Other than our stomachs, pigs and humans also have similar hearts. If a pig were to stand on its hind legs, you will find its heart in the same place as you would find your own heart when you stand tall yourself. The heart valves of a pig’s heart are very much the similar to the ones in a human heart. Sometimes, these heart valves are used to replace damaged or diseased human heart valves. Again, it’s no wonder that the huntsman fooled the evil queen in the Grimm Brothers’ Snow White.
Some more facts on pigs are:
• Pigs don’t have sweat glands meaning they don’t sweat, which is why they have to dip themselves in mud to stay cool.
• Pigs are quite smart. They are considered as the 4th smartest animal after chimps, dolphins, and elephants.
• They are smarter than dogs which is why it is easier to train pigs.
• Pigs are highly social animals. They form close bonds with fellow pigs and other species. And they love sleeping in close together.
• Contrary to popular belief, pigs are quite clean. When they need to relieve themselves, they go far away from their living and eating area. Even few hours old babies would leave their nest to excrete wastes.
• Pigs are actually lean by nature. Owners just over feed their pigs to get them fat.
• Pigs have highly sensitive sense of smell which is why they are used to find truffles.