Pig Definitions

Pig Definitions

We often forget when writing posts on our website, or talking to people who have not been around pigs that, people don’t often understand the different classes of pigs or terms used in the industry. We thought we would provide a list of the different names of pigs according to their age and gender and some of the terms used in the pig industry.

Ad Libitum (Ad Lib): Feeding pigs as they desire rather than on a schedule.

AI: Artificial Insemination. The process of collecting sperm cells from a boar and manually depositing them into the reproductive tract of a female pig.

Barrow (Castrate): A male pig castrated before reaching sexual maturity.

Breeding Herd: A group of pigs that consists of gilts, sows and boars used to breed more pigs. As opposed to a fattening herd.

Boar: A male pig that is used for mating in the breeding herd.

Colostrum: The first milk produced by the sow; rich in antibodies it provides the needed nutrients for piglet survival.

Creep Feed: A high protein diet fed to piglets.

Creep Feeder: An area designed to allow piglets to enter and feed while excluding large pigs such as sows.

Cross Fostering: Removing a piglet from her mother at birth to be raised by a surrogate mother. Usually done in large litters when a piglet is faced with too much competition for feed.

Culling: Removing any undesirable animals from the herd. Normally for health or performance issues.

Dressed Weight (Carcass Weight): cut in half lengthwise, with head still attached. Dressed weight refers to the weight of an animal after being partially butchered, removing all the internal organs and often the head as well as inedible (or less desirable) portions of the tail and legs.

Dressing Percentage: Percentage of the butchered carcass that is usable, compared to live

Drift: See Litter.

Drove: See Litter.

Dry Sow: A breeding female that is currently not pregnant.

EID: Electronic Identification. Usually in the form of an ear tag, this device marks each pig with its own, individual identification record.

Electrolytes: Minerals and salts that dissolve in a pigs bodily fluids creating electrically charged ions. This helps to repair problems associated with dehydration, diarrhea, and fever.

Estrus: A period of sexual excitement and ovulation during which the female will accept the male and is capable of conceiving. The pubertal or first estrus usually occurs at about 170-210 days of age in gilts that receive boar stimulation. In mature sows, estrus normally begins 3-5 days postweaning. Also known as “going into heat” or “in heat” it usually happens every 21 days.

Farrow to Finish: Raising a pig from birth to butchering size.

Farrowing: Giving birth to pigs.

Feed Efficiency: Body weight gain per unit of feed consumed.

Finisher: A pig that has been raised to market weight and is ready or close to being ready for butchering.

Finishing: Feeding a pig out to butchering weight.

Gestation: Pregnancy. Lasting about 114 days in swine. An easy way to remember is that it lasts 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days. Although can generally be from 112 – 115 days.

Gilt (Maiden Gilt): A female pig that is in the breeding herd but has not yet mated with a boar.

Grower: Any pig from weaning to butchering size.

Hot Wire: The electrified wire on a fence.

In Pig: When a pig is pregnant.

Lactation: The secretion of milk from the sow in order to feed her piglets.

Litter: The progeny from a single farrowing. Sometimes also called a Drift or a Drove.

Mummy: A piglet that is born dead, but hasn’t fully developed. The piglet died too late in the pregnancy for the sows body to reabsorb it.

Offal: The entrails and internal organs of a butchered pig. There are many uses for offal but it is mostly not used.

Overlaying: Commonly called a “roll on”. This is when a sow lays down on top of her piglets crushing them.

Pig Board (Bluff Board): Made from plastic of plywood they are used to guide pigs when they are being moved.

Placenta: An organ within the uterus of the sow that nourishes and maintains the piglets during pregnancy. After all the piglets have been farrowed, the placenta is passed.

Rotational Grazing: The practice of moving pigs from one pasture to another to maximise feeding and minimise parasites.

Runt: A small pig, especially the smallest in the litter.

Scours: Diarrhea. Severe scours can cause death.

Service: The introduction of semen into the uterus of a sow or a gilt. This can be natural (done by
a boar) or by artificial insemination (AI).

Snare: A device that is put around a pigs snout to restrain the pig.

Sow: Any breeding female that has been served and is in pig.

Standing Heat: A regularly occurring state of sexual receptivity during which the female will accept the male. You can tell a sow is in standing heat if you apply pressure to her back and she maintains a rigid posture.

Swill: Pig swill is kitchen refuse used to feed pigs. This practise is banned because of links to foot and mouth disease including the catastrophic epedemic in the United Kingdom in 2001.

Vulva: The exposed portion of a sows genitals. Changes in the vulva are useful in determining heat or preparation for farrowing in a sow or gilt.

Walllow: Roll about or lie in mud or water, especially to keep cool or avoid biting insects.

Weaning: Removing young from their mother. Weaning can take place anywhere from
3 to 8 weeks depending on the farmers growing system.

There are lots more different terms used around pigs and this is not an exhaustive list but we will keep adding to it over time. If you have heard a term let us know in the comments below and we will add it to the list with an explanation.

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