Pig Facts and Pig Trivia

I like pigs.
I like pigs.

“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals” - Sir Winston Churchill

Let me illustrate what Winston meant. Suppose you own three pets: a cat, a dog and a pig. You are away from home for ten days on a business trip. Upon your return, you walk in the door. The cat is indifferent – it couldn’t care less that you were away. The dog is delirious with joy that you are home again. But the pig gives you a look as if to say, “So, where were you all this time? And why didn’t you write?”

Did you know that pigs are ranked #4 in animal intelligence? Chimpanzees are ranked at the top together with the gorilla, orangutan, baboon, gibbon and monkey. Dolphins and killer whales are ranked #2. Elephants are #3. Pigs are #4 because they are very intelligent and can learn to do tricks faster than dogs. They have learned to push a lever in the barnyard to get a drink of water or a dish of food, and have been taught to tumble, race, pull carts. and dance.

My favorite song is "Pig of My Heart."
My favorite song is "Pig of My Heart."

We generally call a pig either “pig, hog, porker or swine” without regard to its size, gender or breed. But to be more precise, a male pig is a boar. A castrated male is a barrow. A female pig who has not been bred yet is a gilt. And a female pig who has had piglets (baby pigs) is a sow. You may hear the word, “porcine,” which means relating to swine.

 

I wrote a Hub recently on cows who are very interesting creatures (see “Cow Facts and Cow Trivia”) but my heart belongs to pigs. I collect pigs every time I travel - not real live pigs, just pig souvenirs. But that’s another story.

Pig facts you may already know:

Pigs were one of the first animals to be domesticated and raised for food by the Chinese around 6,000 years ago. They originated from Eurasian wild boars.

• Hernando de Soto, the famous Spanish explorer, brought the first pig to North America in 1539. (Cows didn’t get here until 1611 with the Pilgrims).

• There are 15 different species of pigs (Sus domestica). The Duroc is reddish brown in color and the most popular breed in the U.S.. White colored farm breeds include the Yorkshire and Chester White, both with erect ears, and the Landrace, with ears that fall over its eyes. The Spotted Poland China is a white pig with black spots. Many commercial pig farmers cross several breeds together so there is great variation in color.

• There are around 2 billion domestic pigs on the planet.

Why am I called a glutton? I only eat until I am full.
Why am I called a glutton? I only eat until I am full.

• Pigs are omnivores and despite a reputation for gluttony, they do not overeat. They eat only until they are full.

• Domestic pigs are rarely aggressive. The only exceptions are sows with a young litter and boars if provoked.

• A full grown pig can drink up to 14 gallons of water a day.

• A pig has a snout for a nose, small eyes, and a small tail, which may be curly, kinked or straight. It has a thick, stout body, short legs, and coarse, bristly hair.

• A mature pig has 44 teeth. The canine teeth, called tusks, grow continuously and are sharpened by the lowers and uppers rubbing against each other.

• Pigs have four toes on each foot and each toe ends in a hoof. They only walk on the two middle toes on each foot so they look as if they are on their tiptoes.

• Pigs use grunts to communicate with each other and will often bark and squeal when agitated.

• Pigs are gregarious and very social animals. They form close bonds with each other and other species. They enjoy close contact and will lie close together when resting.

• A sow can give birth to a litter containing 7 to 12 piglets about twice a year. Giving birth to baby pigs is called farrowing. The gestation period of a sow is 114 days – a little less than 4 months.

• A baby pig, or piglet, weighs about 2 ½ pounds at birth and will double its weight in just seven days.

• Weaning occurs at three months of age, but young pigs continue to live with their mothers. Two or more sows usually join together in an extended family.

Mud is good for you. It's good for me.
Mud is good for you. It's good for me.

Pig facts you may not know:

• Swine have been maligned. We think of them as dirty, but pigs are very clean animals. They keep their “toilets” far from their living or eating area. Even piglets only a few hours old will leave the nest to go to the bathroom.

• Pigs probably got the reputation as dirty animals because they like to wallow in mud. There’s a reason. Pigs do not have functional sweat glands, so they can't perspire to cool themselves. They roll around in the mud to cool their skin.

• They also use a layer of mud as sunscreen to protect their skin from sunburn. Mud also provides protection against flies, parasites and insect bites.

• Pigs are very good swimmers and prefer water, if it’s available, to mud.

• People around the world eat more pork than any other meat, but n the U.S. pork ranks behind beef and poultry.

I'm so fast I practically fly.
I'm so fast I practically fly.

• Did you know a pig can run a 7-minute mile?

• Pigs have a powerful sense of smell. Their snout is a highly developed sense organ and very sensitive to touch. Some farmers put rings in pigs' noses to keep them from rooting, or digging up the earth with their snouts. In the wild, pigs feed themselves by digging for roots to eat. This causes a lot of damage on a farm.

• When fully grown, boars may weigh more than 500 pounds, and sows may weigh from 300 to 500 pounds.

• Most pigs are sold when they are 6 or 7 months old and weigh about 210 to 250 pounds. If pigs are kept longer they are usually used for breeding.

• A pig's squeal can range from 110 to 115 decibels. Compare that to the take-off sound of a jet engine - about 112 decibels.

• Baby pigs appear very greedy when they are competing for food from their mothers. For this reason the words “pig” and “hog” have become associated with greedy behavior.

• Pig farmers are very careful about what they feed their animals - corn, wheat and soybean meal. Vitamins and minerals are added to increase growth and improve health.

• Pork provides protein, B-vitamins and thiamin to our diets. Pork has three times as much thiamin as any other food. Thiamin changes carbohydrates into energy.

• Pigs have such a well developed sense of smell that they can easily find things underground.

• Soldier pigs have gone to war. On battlefields, they have used their sensitive snouts as mine sniffers.

• Pigs are curious and like to keep busy. Some farmers entertain their pigs with beach balls and old tires.

Pigs also enjoy listening to music.

I like hogs.
I like hogs.

"No man should be allowed to be President who does not understand hogs." - President Harry Truman

Pig Trivia

• The ancient Chinese were so reluctant to be separated from fresh pork that the departed were often buried with their entire herd of hogs.

• Wild hogs are strong and fierce and live in forests and jungles in many parts of the world. Razorbacks (wild hogs with sharp, narrow backs) live in the Southeastern U.S. and the West Indies.

• During the War of 1812, a New York pork packer named Uncle Sam Wilson shipped a boatload of several hundred barrels of pork to U.S. troops. Each barrel was stamped "U.S." on the docks. The "U.S." stood for "Uncle Sam" whose shipment seemed large enough to feed the entire army. This is how "Uncle Sam" came to represent the U.S. Government.

• In some areas hogs would roam freely, eating what they could find – acorns from the ground or roots which they dug from the ground with their snouts. In Manhattan, New York City, hogs ravaged grain fields until farmers were forced to build a wall to keep them out. The street running along this wall became Wall Street.

• Some pigs are trained to root for truffles, a delicacy that grows underground in temperate forests in Europe and North America. Caution: Don't let Porky off the leash - pigs love eating truffles.

• The saying "living high on the hog" started among enlisted men in the U.S. Army who received shoulder and leg cuts of pork while officers received the top loin cuts. “Living high on the hog" came to mean living well.

• Have you ever heard the saying, "Don’t buy a pig in a poke?" In 17th century England, it was a common trick to try to give away a cat to an unsuspecting shopper buying a suckling (young) pig. When he opened the poke (sack), he "let the cat out of the bag," and found he had been cheated.

 

If it's good for pigs it's good for the country!
If it's good for pigs it's good for the country!

• The phrase "pork barrel" politics" is derived from the pre-Civil War practice of distributing salt pork to the slaves from huge barrels. By the 1870s, congressmen were referring to regularly dipping into the "pork barrel" for obtaining funds for popular projects in their home districts. None of this goes on today, of course. That’s a joke, son.

• The highest known price ever paid for a hog was $56,000 paid for a cross-bred hog named Bud on March 5, 1985.

• Pigs are brave. A pig named Priscilla saved a boy from drowning. She is in the Pet Hall of Fame.

• Raising pigs became an important commercial enterprise during the 1800s when Midwest farm regions were settled. The new Erie Canal gave farmers a way to get their pigs to the cities back east. Farmers started calling their pigs, “Mortgage Lifters,” because the profits from their sales paid for the new homesteads.

• The largest pig to date was a Poland-China hog, named "Big Bill". It weighed 2,552 pounds. It was 5 feet tall and 9 feet long.

• The largest litter of piglets ever born included 37 piglets, out of which 36 were born alive and 33 survived.

• Pigs can live from 9 to 15 years. If we let them.

Pig products

Pig heart valves have been used to replace damaged human heart valves.

Insulin and more than 40 other pharmaceuticals and medicines are derived from pig products.

Pig fat and other pig products are used in cosmetics, floor wax, crayons, chalk, weed killers, anti-freeze, glass, china, adhesives, plastics, paint, chewing gum, shoes, and hundreds of other items.

And one of your favorite protein-filled foods - the other white meat - may be pork chops, pork roast, spare ribs, bacon, ham, sausage or hot dogs.

© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011. All rights reserved.   Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So" - a serious book about proven job search strategies written in a light-hearted fashion.  

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Comments 58 comments

jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

I love your writing,a very interesting hub


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, jayjay - I love your name. If you like reading unusual stuff with what I like to think is wry humor, take a look at my hubs on Crazy Laws, Part 1 & 2. Here's my favorite pig joke just for you:

A man was driving down a country road when he saw a cute little piglet by the side of the road. There was no farmhouse nearby so he picked up the pig and put it in his car. Later that day as he is driving in the city a cop stops him and pulls him over. "What are you doing with that pig in your car?" asks the cop.

The man says, "I just found this pig beside the road out in the country."

The cop says, "I don't care where you found it. I want you to take that pig to the zoo right now." The driver agrees and drives off.

The next day the cop sees the same guy driving around again with the pig and pulls him over. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO TAKE THAT PIG TO THE ZOO!"

The driver replies, "I did. I did. We had such a good time that today I'm taking him to the movies."

As you may have guessed, my motto is "He who laughs, lasts!"


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

Brilliant Joke, love your motto


person 6 years ago

you are very purtty!!! I LOVE YOUR HAIR BYE NOE


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thanks for the (?) compliment. Are you referring to the young woman in my avatar or the old crone?


BJBenson profile image

BJBenson 6 years ago from USA

I'm so glad you found me because I really like your hubs .Yes, BJs should stick together!


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

We could even begin a very elite, restrictive club: the BJ Bunch. Only those named BJ can join. They also have to be super-intelligent, perceptive and all-knowing - like us.

Wanna sign up? Initiation fee is only $500.


BJBenson profile image

BJBenson 6 years ago from USA

$500, is that enough?


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Oh, BJ - I like the way you think. You can be the treasurer.


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

Wow...I knew almost all of this but I did not know that a pig can run a seven minute mile! What? That's faster than me and I'm a runner. lol That's crazy!


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

It is amazing, herbi..., isn't it?

Maybe instead of horse races and dog races, some enterprising entrepreneur should consider pig races.

Appreciate your visit.


WildIris 6 years ago

Terrific fun facts about pigs and great explanations of political idioms we may hear everyday but don't know their origin. So what about the idiom "Hogs on ice"?


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Iris. Thanks for visiting end enjoying the pig fun facts.

The expression I have heard is describing someone as "like a hog on ice" - meaning independent but helpless. It's not a widely used colloquialism but fairly popular in the south.


WildRoseBeef profile image

WildRoseBeef 6 years ago from Alberta, Canada

There's not much I can think of to add at the moment (it's too hot here today to think straight, lol), but the gestation period of sows is commonly remembered as 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days for a total of ~114 day gestation period.

I'll come back later if I come up with more additional facts. :)


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you WRB, for your visit and comments. You are now my go-to person for additional bovine and porcine facts and info. Come back any time. :)


pigsrockz! 6 years ago

wow! i really admire pigs! i can't believe some but WOW! very interesting..


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, pigsrockz, love your name. I admire pigs, too. Especially spare ribs and pork chops.! :)

Thanks for visiting - come back any time.


Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

What an interesting Hub. I like pigs, little piglets are too cute! I have threatened to have to catch a 'greased pig' when I was younger. Whew... glad that never happened.

I love all the trivia! I always wondered about that 'Pig in a poke' a friend owns an antique shop with that name.. Hmmm now you got me thinking...


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Yes, susie, little piglets are cute and pink and lovable. Too bad they grow up to be hogs. Until I did the research for this hub, I had heard most of the adages about pigs but didn't know what they represented. Now I'm a pig proverb person.


PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 6 years ago

I love this hub for all the information it contains. Reminds me of 'Babe'. Thank you for this. I just hope that more people will read this so they will not think of pigs as merely food sources.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

I agree with you PaperNotes. Pigs are far more significant in our lives than we realize. Thank you for your visit and your perceptive comments.

Wasn't "Babe" a great movie? I saw "Babe in the City," too but liked the first film the best.


dudewerecvcgdfgfdghdrgdhgfhh 5 years ago

that hurts my brain


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida Author

So sorry it hurts your brain but have you considered that the ache may be caused by attempting to type your name correctly? :)


pigseat 5 years ago

thanks i haven't read any thin more interesting and entertained than that in month...


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, pigseat, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for that GREAT comment - wow! Interesting and entertaining is what I hoped this would be! :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I thoroughly enjoyed this dose of Pig Facts. A pig can run a seven minute mile!? There have been pig soldiers?! Armed with this new knowledge, I am ready to live high on the hog if you won't let the cat out of the bag.

Brilliant work! As usual.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida Author

Delighted you found this pig sty, James, I mean pig hub. Great comment. You came mighty close to mixing metaphors but I'm happy to say, you didn't horse around. If you had, I would have had a cow. Doggone it.

Thanks for the gracious words.


Miss Lil' Atlanta profile image

Miss Lil' Atlanta 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Wow, I had no idea that there were so many interesting facts just on pigs! I love hubs like these!

~ Miss Lil' Atlanta


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida Author

How nice to meet you, Miss Lil' Atlanta. Deligted to meet a fellow lover of pig-facts. I have always admired them despite most people's negative opinions.

If you love hubs like these, then I love you! Take a look at my hub on 'Cow Facts," too.


djtm 4 years ago

cool


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, djtm, so are you!


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 4 years ago

Great story. Thank you for all those tidbits of information


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, mljd - it was my pleasure to find all these tidbits of information for you. Delighted you found them. Did you have pigs on the dairy farm you grew up on?


:D 4 years ago

Piggies are very cool so we dont need to kill them


HUNTER 4 years ago

I do not think that little piggies should be killed. I think the old and juicy ones should be killed to eat. Pigs don't bath in mud they lay in it to get cool on hot days.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Yes, :D, piggies are cool. So we should not kill them, at least not when they are small. I would keep a small potbelly pig myself for a pet but they are not allowed in the building where I live. BTW, :D is a fantastic pen name. No pun intended.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

As far as I know, HUNTER, pigs that are raised as food are not killed when they are small. Too little meat on their bones.

And you are spot on about pigs lying in mud. They do not have sweat glands so lying in cool mud cools them off. You are clever to know that.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Haha Drbj, I'm all pigged out! Love this and all the little piggy facts with your inimitable introduction too. Got to put this two cents in here: there was a farmer castrating the weeny boars when a momma sow hopped the fence and tore Mr. Farmers arm up pretty good when he fell backwards trying to get out of the pen. A neighbor popped momma upside the head with a sledgehammer, but when she came to she went back to rooting like nothin had happened at all!


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Alastar, Delighted you are all pigged out and that you enjoyed all these porcine facts and my intro.

That's some story about the momma pig recovering from a sledgehammer blow like that. Was that a true story? If so, that's one powerful momma sow. Imagine the piggie progeny she could produce.


alastar packer 4 years ago

Yea Drbj, she was three hundred pounds and jumped over the corral fence . That's some momma sow alright. The story is true. Check Bobcats and Cottonmouths: Life on a Georgia Farm if you get a chance sometime.:)


HEHE 4 years ago

Im in school YAY!


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, HEHE, so you are YAY! excited to be in school? Then I am happy for you.


bre 4 years ago

i love pigs


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Hey, bre. You love pigs? Imagine that? So do I!


Tinker3587 4 years ago

I lov pigs


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Welcome to the Pigs Fan Club, Tinker. I love pigs, too.


jade 4 years ago

i love pigs they are so cute i want one when i get one im going to roll in the mud with it, im a country girl by the way


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Little pigs are cute, jade. Although they lose some of that cuteness as they grow. Good luck rolling in the mud with your lil pig. You will be a cute but muddy country girl.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

I am in the unfortunate position of really admiring pigs and liking eating them at the same time.

Thanks for telling me more about one of my favourite animals.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

I knew, christopher, we had a lot more in common besides our unique story-telling capabilities. Me, too. I do admire pigs - even collect the non-animate kind as souvenirs when I travel. But I also love eating pork products like spare ribs, pork chops, and barbeque pulled pork sandwiches. I try not to be conflicted about it. It was my pleasure to have you read about one of OUR favorite animals.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Brilliant/unique and so very interesting.

You are so very talented my friend;take care and enjoy your day.

Eddy.


sholly 4 years ago

dogss are loved but pigs are hated! Its actually mystical


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

You are so good for my ego, Eddy, with your gracious comments: 'brilliant. unique. interesting and talented.' May the force be with you, my friend. Enjoy your day, too. And your night!


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Isn't that strange, sholly? Maybe it is mystical. Why do so many folks love dogs and dislike pigs? Maybe dogs just have smarter press agents. As for me, I love dogs ... and pigs.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

Loved this! I learned a lot too. Like why they roll in the mud. When I was a kid, after my dad slaughtered a hog, I was right there to get the hog's bladder. Yep, they make the neatest ball. You get a bicycle tire pump and blow it up, tie it off, and use it to play with. It lasts a long time!

I like my piggy bank as long as people drop coins in it, otherwise, I'm not really fond of them.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Thanks for making the trip, mary, happy you loved this and learned a lot. I did, too, while doing the research. I'm fond of pigs for a very personal reason but not sure I would want to watch one being slaughtered. Might well affect my subsequent desire for pork chops and ribs.

Piggy banks are good! :)


bitchplease 4 years ago

I love pigs too! do u know anything about famous pigs in mythology like Gold-Bristle or Kamapua'a?


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Author

Delighted that you love pigs, too, bitchplease. With reference to your question, I know that Gold-Bristle or Gold Mane is the golden boar in Nordic mythology who belonged to Freyr, the god of the sun, rain, fertility, earth and peace.

And Kamapua'a in Hawaiian mythology was a god wih the body of a man and the head of a pig. His 'girlfriend' was Pele.

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