Swine, Pigs and Hogs The basics



Animal terms:

Boar entire male pig

Castrate/ Barrow male pig castrated

Gilt female from birth to having her first piglets

Sow a female who has had piglets

Piglet young pig which has not been weaned

Weaning Removing the piglets from the lactating sow

Weaner a pig after weaning generally 18-24 days of age until 30 kg (66 lbs)

Grower a pig older than 30 kg (66 lbs) feeder pig

Finisher a pig older than 60 kg (120 lbs)

Farrowing giving birth - parturition

Lactating producing milk

Gestating the period from weaning to giving birth (dry sow period elsewhere)

Litter each group of piglets from a sow

Parity each parity refers to each separate farrowing a 3rd parity sow has had three litters

Mummified piglet fetus which died during gestation born in a state of mummification

Stillborn piglet born dead but otherwise normal

Fostering moving piglets between sows to assist them getting enough milk

Colostrum the first milk after farrowing full of antibodies

Processing the variety of procedures carried out on piglets castration, tail docking, teeth clipping, ear notching and an iron injection.

Pre-weaning mortality the number of piglets who die in the farrowing house

Post-weaning mortality the number of weaners/grower or finishers who die in the post-weaning period until slaughter

Breeding/service the mating process

Weaning to breeding interval the days between weaning until the next breeding

Repeat a sow or gilt who fails to conceive

Conceive to become pregnant

Farrowing rate number of animals bred / number of animals who actually farrow

Culling removal of an animal from the farm

Body condition score a method of estimating amount of body fat 5 point scale 1-5

Food conversion ration FCR the rate of growth (g) / amount of dry food eaten (g)

Growth rate number of grams increase in bodyweight per day





Types of production:

Farrowing house the room where sows and gilts give birth and lactate

Gestation barn / dry sow house where the sows live while pregnant

Nursery the room where pigs live from weaning to about 30 kg

Grow/finish the room where pigs live from 30 kg until slaughter

Wean to finish a room where pigs live from weaning to slaughter

All-in/all-out the process where buildings are emptied of one group of pigs, thoroughly cleaned and then populated with a new group of pigs

Batch one group of pigs

Batch farrowing a group of sows and gilts breed to farrow in a group

Three site production a system where pigs are reared on three separate farms classically gestation and farrowing on one farm/site : nursery on another and grow/finish on a third site.

Two site production a system where pigs are reared on two separate farms classically two forms a) gestation, farrowing and nursery on one farm/site and the grower/finisher on another farm/site.

b) gestation and farrowing on one farm and wean to finish on another

Some variations in gestation housing:

Crates/stalls, ESF (Electronic sow feeding), trickle feeding (feeding small amounts over a short period of time), outdoor housed outside in arcs.


Some basic facts:

Age at breeding varies: for a gilt 220 days; for a boar about 7 months

Estrus cycle 18-24 days three weeks

Gestation 115 days three months, three weeks and three days

Breeding season generally none poorer in the summer and early autumn

Slaughter weight about 114 kg (250-280 lbs) at about 26 weeks of age