Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pigs 101

If I just wanted to phone it in, I could post adorable photos of pigs, give them a cute caption like, "I can has pork chop!" and call it a night. But this is a FULL SERVICE BLOG, run by a professional communicator. So there will be a message.

Welcome class to Pigs 101. You'll note in your syllabus that we'll be covering race, gender issues, reproductive culture, and species anatomical priorities.

I. Race
Note how the little Hampshire piglet, is devoted to his Yorkshire "step-mother." Pigs will take on the offspring of other mothers without regard to breed. I guess if you weigh 400 pounds and have six kids, you think, "what's one more."

II. Gender
Female swine are called gilts when young and sows once they have their first litter. Males are boars and barrows if/when they lose their "manhood." Your bacon and ham comes from barrows and gilts who are raised for six months to a weight of around 270 pounds.

III. Mating
It only takes one boar to mate with many sows and gilts. In many cases, the boar and his mate never meet--his contribution arrives in a clear bottle, delivered overnight by UPS.

IV. Little Known Facts

Pigs don't like to be dirty. They will designate a part of the pen for pooping, a part for eating, and a part for sleeping. They have no ability to sweat or really cool themselves, so when they get hot, they look for crystal clear pools of water but since that's not usually available, they settle for mud.

Pigs are also very smart. Farmers are able to use complex feed bins and waterers that the pig has to "activate" with his nose in order to use. Cows and sheep are way too dumb to do that.

Pigs have pedigrees, like show dogs and horses. They have a registering body called the National Swine Registry, just like the AKC. My husband raises purebred hogs and most of his have registration papers.

In fact... ring, ring, ring

See you next semester for Pigs 201. We'll be learning about the farmer's secret pig code, the finer points of pig transportation, and how to distinguish between a pig that's worth $100K and one that's your next dinner.

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