The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974



by Kathy Wolfe

October is National Pork Month, the perfect time to focus on pigs! Follow along as Tidbits rounds up the facts on these little oinkers.

• There are about 55,000 pig farms in the U.S., supporting more than 800,000 jobs. About 115 million hogs are marketed each year in the U.S., producing 22 billion pounds of pork.

• The most common breed of swine in North America are Yorkshire pigs, a breed that is white with erect ears. Although Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio have the most Yorkshires, they can be found in nearly every state.

• A female pig is called a sow or gilt, depending on whether she has ever given birth. A sow has had piglets, while a gilt is a young female who has never given birth. The sow gives birth twice a year after a gestation period of 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days. Her litter will be about 12 piglets, with each weighing approximately 2.5 lbs. Within a week, that weight will double. The sow will nurse the babies for three to five weeks, and after being weaned, the piglets are referred to as shoats.

• At as young as two weeks, newborn piglets can recognize their mother’s voice and will run to her when called.

• A female wild pig’s litter can be up to 14 piglets, which will remain in the nest for their first ten days. Wild pigs can live up to 20 years.

• Once a pig reaches 120 lbs., it becomes known as a hog. The boar is an uncastrated male domestic pig that is used for breeding. If a male pig is neutered, it’s called a barrow. The term boar can also refer to a wild pig of any gender.

• During its growth phase, a pig will consume 6 to 10 lbs. of corn and soybean meal feed daily. A fully grown pig can weigh between 300 and 700 lbs. But pigs typically go to market at around 250 to 280 lbs.

• A pig’s hoof has four toes, and they use just two toes per foot to walk.

• A farm-raised pig’s diet is mostly corn, but a wild pig has a wider menu, including leaves, roots, fruit, rodents, and small reptiles.

• Even with their size, adult pigs are able to run at speeds of up to 11 mph, the equivalent of a seven-minute mile.

• Pigs are noted for their intelligence, are smarter than dogs, and smarter than three-year-old children! They can be trained to do tricks and can be taught to use a litter box. They continually communicate with other through more than 20 different methods, from oinks to grunts to squeals, all of which have specific meanings – everything from mating calls to expressing hunger.


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