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Saturday, 10 January 2009 13:14

Introduction to pigs

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  • Pigs are very social animals that prefer to live in small groups.
  • They are very clean animals not dunging in their eating/lying area. Piglets learn their toilet habits from their dam. As pets they can be house trained!
  • Pigs prefer scrub or light woodland rather than open range where they feel more vulnerable to predators.
  • Pigs forage and root for food and will eat a wide range of vegetable and animal products, including carrion.
  • In the wild, males fight only during the mating season. Juvenile males are tolerated within the family before being banished. Old non-mating males usually become solitary and dangerous.
  • Pigs are very sensitive to extremes of climate. Pigs have no sweat glands, no thick hair cover and they rely on fat cover for insulation.
  • Pigs are sensitive to temperature and have sweat glands in their skin. They huddle together to keep warm and wallow to keep cool.
  • In temperate climates pigs have diurnal habits but in hot climates they are more nocturnal. If they have been hunted they will confine their activities to darkness.
  • Pigs are very curious animals, and very adaptable and smart, so they learn quickly. They love to investigate situations with a very sensitive nose and strong neck muscles.
  • Their bodies are designed for pushing through scrub relying on scent rather than vision. They have a very well developed sense of hearing and communicate with a wide range of vocalisation calls.
  • They have a very acute sense of smell and they use it in recognition of other pigs, and in teat location by suckling piglets.
  • Pigs have a highly developed eye that sees colour, but vision can be restricted by their floppy ears.
  • They have acute hearing and loud unfamiliar noises easily panic them.
  • Pigs have clear taste preferences. Suckling pigs are attracted by sweet creep feeds and mature pigs show a preference for apple flavours.
  • Pigs use a wide range of sounds to communicate. Young piglets squeak, grunt, bark and squeal, and older pigs use various grunts and squeals to indicate hunger, thirst, alarm, fear, terror, affection, calling piglets to feed, courtship and many more.
  • Pig squeals can reach 112 decibels and can damage human hearing.
  • Any noise if spoken softly to pigs will aid friendship with pigs.
  • Pigs loved to scratch and be scratched, but surprisingly don’t do a lot of mutual grooming.
  • Sows on heat seek out a male. Mating is a prolonged affair compared to other farm animals.
  • Sows are nest builders and produce litters, individual piglets being very specific to which teat they suckle. There is close body contact during suckling.