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The domestic pig (Sus scrofa) has been a domesticated animal for approximately 5,000 to 7,000 years. The animal is found across Europe, the Middle East and extends into Asia as far as Indonesia and Japan. The distinction between wild and domestic animals is slight, the wild animals are usually referred to as boars.

Sus scrofa has four subspecies, each occupying distinct geographical areas. They are Sus scrofa scrofa (western Africa, Europe), Sus scrofa ussuricus (northern Asia and Japan), Sus scrofa cristatus (Asia Minor, India), and Sus scrofa vittatus (Indonesia).

Many different words in English identify different types of pig:

  • adult male pigs are called boars
  • adult females are called sows
  • juvenile animals are called piglets and farrows
  • young pigs between 100-180 pounds are called shoats
  • a gilt is an immature female pig
  • a barrow is a castrated male pig
  • hog is used as a synonym of pig in the United States; in its originally sense it means a castrated boar.
  • swine is a plural noun meaning pigs

Larger sow with piglet

Pigs (or swine) that are allowed to forage may be watched by swineherds. A litter of piglets typically contains between 10 and 12 animals. Meat from pigs is called pork in general and ham or bacon in some cases. Both Islam and Orthodox Judaism forbid the eating of pork in any form. The American pig-raising industry calls pork a white meat, as opposed to beef; "white meat" (such as poultry) is often considered healthier than "red meat." While pigs are raised mostly for meat, their skin is used as a source of leather.

Pigs, like humans, are omnivores, making them easy to raise: on a small farm or in a large household they can be fed kitchen scraps as part or all of their diet.

The pig is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. Believers in Chinese astrology associate each animal with certain personality traits. Pigs are commonly associated with greed and with dirt; the latter probably comes from their habit of wallowing in mud.

See also:

Photos of pigs and piglets

Larger piglets Larger more piglets
Larger physiologist with piglets Larger sow and five piglets
Larger piglet Larger pig litter

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