Swine farming, also known as hog farming or pig farming, consists of raising and breeding domestic pigs mostly for food (pork products, bacon) and also for their skin.
Swine Farming Terminology
Like many areas of agriculture, swine farming has its own unique vocabulary, making it easier to communicate with others involved in the raising and breeding of pigs.
While pigs are still on the farm:
Pig, hog or swine – refers to the species as a whole
Shoat or piglet – refers to any immature pig
Sucker – a pig between birth and weaning
Boar/hog – male pig of breeding age
Barrow – a male pig that’s been castrated before puberty
Stag – a male pig that’s been castrated later in life
Gilt – young, female pig not mated or farrowed
Sow – a breeding female
After pigs have been sent for processing:
Dressed weight – carcass weight after being partially butchered
Suckling pig – a piglet processed for its meat
Feeder pig – a weaned gilt or barrow between 6 and 8 weeks old to be sold for finishing
Porker – market pig having a dressed weight of approximately 119 lbs
Baconer – market pig having a dressed weight of approximately 180 lbs
Finisher – a pig weighing about 150 lbs
Types of Swine Farms
There are five common types of swine farms, each with their own unique characteristics and specialties.
- Farrow-to-Finish – These farms manage the pig for the duration of its growth and development. The farm raises the pig from breeding to finishing and to market with a weight of around 285 lbs.
- Farrow-to-Nursery – These farms specialize in breeding sows and raising feeder pigs weighing about 50 lbs. The pigs are then sold to farms where they specialise in feeding pigs until they reach an acceptable market weight.
- Farrow-to-Wean – These operations oversee the breeding of herds and raise pigs until they are weaned between 10 and 15 lbs. When the pigs reach the goal weight, they are sold to wean-to-finish farms.
- Wean-to-Finish – These farms buy weaned pigs from farrow-to-wean farms and care and raise them until they are at an acceptable market weight.
- Finishing – Finishing farms purchase feeder pigs that weigh between 40 and 50 pounds from farrow-to-nursery farms. The farms continue to raise the pigs until they reach market weight.
Keeping Pigs Happy and Healthy
Like all other farm animals, pigs need to be kept healthy and happy to ensure its comfort and that its products are of the highest quality. By following some simple tips, farmers can keep their pigs as happy and healthy as possible.
- Pigs do not sweat and therefore needs lots of fresh water every day to keep cool. If a pig is seen rolling around in the mud, that’s also a tactic used to keep themselves cool.
- Like some other animals, pigs will wag their tails when they are happy and content. If the pig’s tail is between its legs, it could indicate stress or fear.
Keep the pig’s water and food away from the pig’s manure to avoid the food becoming contaminated.
- Even though pigs will eat any food scraps, it’s important to add vitamins and nutrients to its diet keep it healthy.
- Keep water troughs high enough that the pig can put its snout in to drink and not climb in, resulting in dirty water.