Domestic pig
The domestic pig is a domesticated
Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

 animal that traces its ancestry to the wild boar, and is considered a subspecies of the wild boar or a distinct species in its own right. It is likely the wild boar was domesticated as early as 13,000 BC in the Tigris River basin. Pigs are farmed for the consumption of their flesh, but some cultures have religious dietary laws that forbid the consumption of pig meat. The animal's bones, hide, and bristles have been fashioned into items for human use such as brushes, and pigs have been kept as pets, especially the pot bellied pig. Miss Piggy
Miss Piggy
Miss Piggy is a Muppet character who was primarily played by Frank Oz on The Muppet Show. In 2001, Eric Jacobson began performing the role, although Oz did not officially retire until 2002....

, Babe
Babe (film)
Babe is a 1995 Australian-American film directed by Chris Noonan. It is an adaptation of the 1983 novel The Sheep-Pig, also known as Babe: The Gallant Pig in the United States, by Dick King-Smith and tells the story of a pig who wants to be a sheepdog...

, and Porky the Pig
Porky Pig
Porky Pig is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He was the first character created by the studio to draw audiences based on his star power, and the animators created many critically acclaimed shorts using the fat little pig...

 represent the domestic pig in entertainment and "The Three Little Pigs", Charlotte's Web
Charlotte's Web
Charlotte's Web is an award-winning children's novel by acclaimed American author E. B. White, about a pig named Wilbur who is saved from being slaughtered by an intelligent spider named Charlotte. The book was first published in 1952, with illustrations by Garth Williams.The novel tells the story...

, and The Sheep-Pig
The Sheep-Pig
The Sheep-Pig is a novel by British author Dick King-Smith. It was first published in 1983, retitled Babe The Gallant Pig in the U.S., and adapted for the screen as the 1995 film Babe. The book is set in rural England, where Dick King-Smith spent twenty years as a farmer. The book won the Guardian...

are prominent examples of the domestic pig in literature.


Most domestic pigs have rather sparse hair
Hair is a filamentous biomaterial, that grows from follicles found in the dermis. Found exclusively in mammals, hair is one of the defining characteristics of the mammalian class....

 covering on their skin, although woolly coated
Woolly-coated grazing pig
Woolly-coated grazing pig is a breed of woolly-coated domestic pig, originating from the Danube region. They are rather small, dark and have characteristic long hairs on their backs. The wool and small size make these pigs very well adapted for grazing. They were widespread in Switzerland in the...

 breeds, such as the Mangalitsa
Mangalitsa , Mangalitza or Mangalica is a name for three breeds of pig grown especially in Hungary and the Balkans known also as a curly-hair hog. It belongs to European unimproved lard-type breeds that are descended directly from wild boar populations...

, are raised.

The domestic pig is most often treated as a subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 of its wild ancestor, the wild boar, and in this case it is given the scientific name Sus scrofa domesticus. Some taxonomists treat the domestic pig as a separate species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, when it is called Sus domesticus, and wild boar is S. scrofa. Wild boar were in human association as early as 13,000–12,700 BC. Escaped domestic pigs have become feral
A feral organism is one that has changed from being domesticated to being wild or untamed. In the case of plants it is a movement from cultivated to uncultivated or controlled to volunteer. The introduction of feral animals or plants to their non-native regions, like any introduced species, may...

 in many parts of the world (for example, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

) and have caused substantial environmental damage.


Archaeological evidence suggests that pigs were domesticated from wild boar as early as 13,000–12,700 BC in the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

 in the Tigris Basin
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 being managed in the wild in a way similar to the way they are managed by some modern New Guineans. Remains of pigs have been dated to earlier than 11,400 BC in Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 that must have been introduced from the mainland which suggests domestication in the adjacent mainland by then. There was also a separate domestication in China.

DNA evidence from sub-fossil remains of teeth and jawbones of Neolithic pigs in Europe shows that the first domestic pigs there had been brought from the Near East. This stimulated the domestication of local European wild boar resulting in a third domestication event with the Near Eastern genes ceasing in European pig stock. Modern domesticated pigs have involved complex exchanges with European domesticated lines being exported in turn to the ancient Near East. Historical records indicate that Asian pigs were introduced into Europe during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The adaptable nature and omnivorous diet of the wild boar allowed early humans to domesticate it readily. Pigs were mostly used for food, but early civilizations also used the pigs' hides for shields, bones for tools and weapons, and bristles for brushes. In India pigs have been domesticated since a long time mostly in Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

 and some rural areas for pig toilet
Pig toilet
A pig toilet is a simple type of toilet consisting of an outhouse mounted over a pig sty with a chute or hole connecting the two. The pigs consume the faeces of the users of the toilet....

s. Though ecologically logical as well as economical pig toilets are waning in popularity as use of septic tank
Septic tank
A septic tank is a key component of the septic system, a small-scale sewage treatment system common in areas with no connection to main sewage pipes provided by local governments or private corporations...

s and/or sewerage
Sewerage refers to the infrastructure that conveys sewage. It encompasses receiving drains, manholes, pumping stations, storm overflows, screening chambers, etc. of the sanitary sewer...

 system is increasing in rural areas.

Pigs were brought to southeastern North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 from Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 by de Soto
Hernando de Soto (explorer)
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who, while leading the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States, was the first European documented to have crossed the Mississippi River....

 and other early Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

s. Escaped pigs became feral
A feral organism is one that has changed from being domesticated to being wild or untamed. In the case of plants it is a movement from cultivated to uncultivated or controlled to volunteer. The introduction of feral animals or plants to their non-native regions, like any introduced species, may...

 and caused a great deal of disruption to Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 cultures who had no domesticated livestock.


The domestic pig is mostly used for its meat, pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

. Other products made from pigs include sausage
A sausage is a food usually made from ground meat , mixed with salt, herbs, and other spices, although vegetarian sausages are available. The word sausage is derived from Old French saussiche, from the Latin word salsus, meaning salted.Typically, a sausage is formed in a casing traditionally made...

, bacon
Bacon is a cured meat prepared from a pig. It is first cured using large quantities of salt, either in a brine or in a dry packing; the result is fresh bacon . Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, boiled, or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon must be cooked before eating...

, gammon
Gammon may refer to:* Gammon bomb, a type of grenade* Gammon Technical Products, A US Company specializing in aviation fuel quality control and handling equipment* SA-5 Gammon, the NATO designation for the Russian S-200 'Volga' surface-to-air missile system...

, ham
Ham is a cut of meat from the thigh of the hind leg of certain animals, especiallypigs. Nearly all hams sold today are fully cooked or cured.-Etymology:...

 and pork scratchings. The head of a pig can be used to make a preserved jelly called head cheese
Head cheese
Head cheese , or brawn , is a cold cut that originated in Europe. A version pickled with vinegar is known as souse. Head cheese is not a cheese but a terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig , and often set in aspic. Which parts of the head are used can vary, but the...

 (brawn). Liver
Liver (food)
The liver of mammals, fowl, and fish are commonly eaten as food by humans. Domestic pig, ox, lamb, calf, chicken, and goose livers are widely available from butchers and supermarkets....

, chitterlings
Chitterlings are the intestines of a pig, although cattle and other animals' intestines are similarly used, that have been prepared as food. In various countries across the world, such food is prepared and eaten either as part of a daily diet, or at special events, holidays or religious...

, blood (blood pudding or black pudding) and other offal
Offal , also called, especially in the United States, variety meats or organ meats, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. The word does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, which varies by culture and region, but includes most internal organs other than...

 from pigs are also widely used for food. In some religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s, such as Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 and Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, there are religious restrictions on the consumption of pork
Religious restrictions on the consumption of pork
Religious restrictions on the consumption of pork are a tradition in the Ancient Near East. Swine were prohibited in ancient Syria and Phoenicia, and the pig and its flesh represented a taboo observed, Strabo noted, at Comana in Pontus A lost poem of Hermesianax, reported centuries later by the...



In developing nations, and often in developed nations, the domestic pig is a native species raised outdoors in yards or fields. In some cases pigs are allowed to forage
- Definitions and significance of foraging behavior :Foraging is the act of searching for and exploiting food resources. It affects an animal's fitness because it plays an important role in an animal's ability to survive and reproduce...

 in woods, where they may be watched by swineherd
A swineherd is a person who looks after pigs. The term has fallen out of popular use in favour of pig farmer.-Swineherds in literature:* Hans Christian Andersen wrote a Fairy tale called, "The Swineherd"....

s. In industrialized nations, domestic pig farming has shifted away from the traditional pig farm
A sty or pigsty is a small-scale outdoor enclosure for raising domestic pigs. It is sometimes referred to as a hog pen, hog parlor, pigpen, pig parlor, or pig-cote. Pigsties are generally fenced areas of bare dirt and/or mud. Both "sty" and "pigpen" are used as derogatory descriptions of dirty,...

 to large-scale intensive pig farms
Intensive pig farming
Intensive piggeries are a type of factory farm ' specialized in the raising of domestic pigs up to slaughter weight...

. This has resulted in lower production costs, but significant animal welfare
Animal welfare
Animal welfare is the physical and psychological well-being of animals.The term animal welfare can also mean human concern for animal welfare or a position in a debate on animal ethics and animal rights...


Pigs are particularly valued in China and on certain oceanic islands, where their self-sufficiency allows them to be turned loose, although the practice is not without its drawbacks. With managed rotational grazing techniques pigs can be raised in an environmentally sound manner on pasture much like grazing sheep, goats and cows without high grain inputs.


Pigs are known to be intelligent
Animal cognition
Animal cognition is the title given to the study of the mental capacities of non-human animals. It has developed out of comparative psychology, but has also been strongly influenced by the approach of ethology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary psychology...

 animals and can be trained similarly to dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

s, though they may excel in different tasks. Asian pot-bellied pig
Pot-bellied pig
The pot-bellied pig is a breed of domesticated pig originating in Vietnam.-Description:Considerably smaller than standard American or European farm pigs, most adult pot-bellied pigs are about the size of a medium- or large-breed dog, though their bodies are denser at 8 to 136 kg...

s, a small type of domestic pig, have made popular house pet
A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful...

s in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 beginning in the latter half of the 20th century. Domestic farmyard pigs have also been known to be kept indoors, but due to their large size and destructive tendencies, they typically need to be moved into an outdoor pen as they grow older. Most pigs have a fear of being picked up by the stomach, but will usually calm down once placed back on the floor. Pigs are rarely used as working animals. An exception is the use of truffle pigs
Truffle hog
The truffle hog or truffle pig is a domestic pig used for locating and extracting a type of fungus known as truffles from temperate forests in Europe and North America. The pigs have a good sense of smell and are able to identify truffles from as low as three feet underground...

 – ordinary pigs trained to find truffles.

Miniature pig
Miniature pig
A miniature pig is one of the breeds developed and used for medical research or developed for use as a pet. These smaller pigs were first used for medical research in Europe before being introduced to the United States as pets in the 1980s. Since then, the animals have been used in studies by...

s, also called micro or teacup pigs, which are specifically bred to be small (from 29–65 lbs) gained in popularity in late 2009 after several mainstream press articles claimed they were a popular pet to celebrities such as Rupert Grint
Rupert Grint
Rupert Alexander Lloyd Grint is an English actor, who rose to prominence playing Ron Weasley, one of the three main characters in the Harry Potter film series. Grint was cast as Ron at the age of 11, having previously acted only in school plays and at his local theatre group...

 of Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

 fame. Despite claims that the pigs will remain small their whole lives, however, these pigs may eventually grow to a large size comparable to other pet pigs.

Breeds of pigs

Pigs are exhibited at agricultural show
Agricultural show
An agricultural show is a public event showcasing the equipment, animals, sports and recreation associated with agriculture and animal husbandry. The largest comprise a livestock show , a trade fair, competitions, and entertainment...

s, judged either as stud stock
Stud (animal)
A stud animal is a registered animal retained for breeding. The terms for the male of a given animal species usually imply that the animal is entire—that is, not castrated—and therefore capable of siring offspring...

 compared to the standard features of each breed, or in commercial classes where the animals are judged primarily on their suitability for slaughter to provide premium meat. According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a nonprofit organization focused on preserving and promoting genetic diversity among rare breeds of livestock...

, seven breeds of swine in the US are critically rare (having a global population of fewer than 2000). Outside the US, the Auckland Island Pig
Auckland Island Pig
The Auckland Island Pig is a feral breed of domestic pig found on subantarctic Auckland Island, New Zealand. Various introductions of pigs were made to the uninhabited island as a source of food for stranded sailors or visiting whalers, the first in 1807 with further liberations in 1840, 1842 and...

 (New Zealand) and woolly-coated grazing pig
Woolly-coated grazing pig
Woolly-coated grazing pig is a breed of woolly-coated domestic pig, originating from the Danube region. They are rather small, dark and have characteristic long hairs on their backs. The wool and small size make these pigs very well adapted for grazing. They were widespread in Switzerland in the...

 (Danube area) are known to be critically rare.

See also

    ECODIPTERA project, co-financed by the European program LIFE , aims at showing an innovative method of treating pig manure...

  • Exotic pet
    Exotic pet
    An exotic pet is a rare or unusual animal pet, or an animal kept as a pet which is not commonly thought of as a pet.The definition is an evolving one; some rodents, reptiles, and amphibians have become firmly enough established in the world of animal fancy to no longer be considered exotic...

  • Extensive farming
    Extensive farming
    Extensive farming or Extensive agriculture is an agricultural production system that uses small inputs of labour, fertilizers, and capital, relative to the land area being farmed....

  • Factory farming
    Factory farming
    Factory farming is a term referring to the process of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory — a practice typical in industrial farming by agribusinesses. The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption...

  • Intensive farming
    Intensive farming
    Intensive farming or intensive agriculture is an agricultural production system characterized by the high inputs of capital, labour, or heavy usage of technologies such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers relative to land area....

  • Taboo meat
  • Truffle hog
    Truffle hog
    The truffle hog or truffle pig is a domestic pig used for locating and extracting a type of fungus known as truffles from temperate forests in Europe and North America. The pigs have a good sense of smell and are able to identify truffles from as low as three feet underground...

External links

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