Modern domestic swine breeds can be traced back to wild boars of Europe and China. These wild boars were wild night creatures, sporting tusks and rough hair on their backs, usually in dark colors, they have the same poor eyesight of todays swine breeds.
Pigs were brought to America during colonization, and allowed to roam free and wild. Colonists would hunt the wild swine in the fall for meat. Every part of the pig was useful from the bristles to make brushes to the pigskin to make leather products. Intestines were used then and still are for sausage casings. Lard was used for cooking, soap making, candles and fat lamps. The old timers always said everything on a pig is usable except the squeal.
The pigs of colonial times were shorter fatter pigs, providing lots of lard necessary for living. These pigs were small about 200 lbs. Todays pigs are long lean meat hogs with more intestines for better feed conversion and far less lard, these pigs are frequently called "bacon pigs". Todays swine are much bigger, a boar can top 1000 lbs and some sows may be 800 lbs.
Now pigs have even more products and by products. Pigs provide skin for burn victims, heart valves, and insulin. Pigs are raised in France to hunt truffles. The bristles are still used for brushes, and of course lots of us eat "the other white meat".
Each year we buy 3-5 piglets in April or May, they are usually about 7-8 weeks old and only about 10-20 lbs. We look for a cross bred pig that will be long and lean. This is usually a cross between Landrace, and Yorkshire or Duroc. The hybrid vigor provides a piglet that will grow fast with lots of lean meat. The little pigs bought in April will be about 400 to 500 lbs by October.
We get pigs from the same litter so they will all get along, sometimes they will be red, black, spotted, or all white. Piglets raised in large groups will frequently have their tails docked when they are just one day old, this prevents other pigs from biting the tail, and then picking on the wounded one.
Pigs love fresh foods, apples and excess garden produce is speedily dispatched with much grunting and slurping. Our pigs are fed grain and milk and have a automatic water fountain that they will quickly learn to use within hours of being in their new pen. It is very true, in raising pigs, as in other things that, what you put in affects the quality of what you get back. Pigs raised on spoiled food and garbage not only are inferior in quality but can pass diseases to humans.
Potbelly pigs are native to the jungles of Vietnam and China. The Miniature variety were developed in the 60's out of the breed from Vietnam. The first pigs were brought to US in 1986, as Zoo specimens, and some exotic pets. The price of Potbellies was Exceptionally high sometimes as much as $25,000. Now many are advertised free.
The fad of buying little cute baby potbelly pigs has somewhat faded. These pigs grow up to be rather large pigs anywhere between 40 and 150 lbs. Close to one million pigs are now in Shelters or abandoned. The suitability of pigs to most peoples houses is questionable, and many local ordnances classify the Potbelly pig as a swine/farm animal and do not allow residents to keep them.
Pigs are unusually smart and can be trained to do many things including be house broken. Pigs that are pets should be neutered so they don't become aggressive. Our Potbelly pigs Rosemary and Thyme love popcorn as a treat, they also like veggies, greens and crab apples from the crabapple tree right next to their pen. They have an automatic water so they have fresh water at all times and get fed a 12% protein food twice a day.
Many people over feed potbelly pigs, the excess fat bulging out on a overweight potbelly is just as bad for it as it is for humans. Overweight pigs will have trouble with their legs, lack of proper exercise will contribute to their obese condition.
During the winter the potbelly pigs are in the barn with all the other animals, they love to build a huge straw mound and crawl under it to sleep until dinner time.
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