Pigs

"If utility were indeed the cause of beauty, then on that principle, the wedge-like snout of a swine... would be extremely beautiful."

Edmund Burke, British political writer in The Sublime and Beautiful. (1756).

 

TERMINOLOGY
Male pig, intact: boar
Male pig, castrated: barrow
Baby pig, before weaning: piglet
Female pig, preparturient: gilt
Female pig, postparturient: sow
Pig less than 25 kg: weaner pig
Pigs 2.5 to market weight: grower-finisher pig

A lot of information on all aspects of pigs on:
www.thepigsite.com

 

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Mouth & Teeth
Pigs’ lips are firm, as are those of a cow, and just open and shut, in contrast to lips of sheep, goats and horses, which they can use to pick up food.

Pharynx
Pigs have a pharyngeal diverticulum that opens into the dorsal wall of the pharynx at the beginning of the oesophagus. When giving pills or putting in a stomach tube, care is needed not to enter this diverticulum.

Stomach
The oesophageal region is small in a pig’s stomach.

Large Intestine
The large intestine varies in structure between species. In pigs, a notable feature is the ascending colon, which is in coils, in a spiral arrangement.

 

MALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM
The boar’s testes secrete large amounts of unsaturated androgens which act as pheromones when they are excreted in the boar saliva, they cause the sow to adopt a mating posture. When these androgens are excreted in the urine they contribute to the odour of boar urine and are also responsible for the undesirable flavour of boar meat.

 

FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM
Vagina
In the pig, in contrast to most other animals, the caudal end of the cervix is continuous with the vagina — there is no fornix (angle formed by the projection of the cervix into the vagina).

Estrous cycle
Sexual maturity is usually at about 7 months, but is delayed by inadequate diet.
Average estrous cycle is about 21 days, ranging from 11 - 41 days. (18 - 24 days is normal).
Length of estrous — Average 40 - 46 hours (may range from 15 - 96 hours).
The first estrous after weaning is usually longer, around 65 hours, occurs about 7 - 9 days after weaning.
In many sows, there is a nonfertile estrous 1 - 3 days after parturition, when ovulation usually does not occur.
Time of ovulation — during latter part of estrous, about 2nd day of the cycle.
— 10 - 25 ova are shed, average, 16.4.

Gestation period 114 days
Placenta — indeciduate (little or no maternal tissue is lost at parturition).
The placental attachment is epitheliocorial (the epithelium of the endometrium of the uterus is in contact with the chorion of the fetal placenta) and diffuse (chorionic villi, which cover much of the fetal placenta, project into crypts scattered over the entire endometrium of the uterus), the same as in a horse.

Parturition progesterone concentration in the plasma gradually decrease from 4 - 5 days before parturition, then abruptly decrease in the last 48 hours. Oestrogen levels increase for a week before farrowing, and corticosteroids increase during the last 2 days. The young are carried in both horns of the uterus and may be presented either cranially or caudally with equal facility. Pigs should average one offspring at least every hour.

Mammary Glands
Normal number of teats in a domestic hog is 14 - in 7 pairs.
The first pair is just behind the junction of the sternum and ribs and the last pair in the inguinal region.
Actual number can vary from 4 to 9 pairs, and supernumerary teats are sometimes found between normal teats.
Sows average 2.5 more teats than the number of pigs in their average litter.
The blood supply to the caudal mammary glands is similar in sows to bitches.
The teat of the sow contains 2 streak canals and 2 teat cisterns, one cranial to the other. Each teat cistern is continuous with a gland cistern. There is hair at the base of the teat but not on the teat.
   
Litter size 7 - 12
Average birth weight 1.5 kg
 


PIG NUTRITION AND FEEDING MANAGEMENT
The pig industry is a very intensively managed enterprise, usually with separate breeding-farrowing and growing enterprises. Feeding groups are segregated according to nutrient requirements, with diets for lactating and gestating sows and gilts, boars, nursery pigs and growing pigs.

As pigs are omnivores, their digestive tract can accommodate a certain level of dietary fibre. Pigs are generally fed grain concentrates, mainly barley with energy, protein (meat & bonemeal, fishmeal, soymeal, milk powder), mineral and vitamin supplements rather than forages, to maximise growth rate.

Pigs, commercially are generally kept in small pens in sheds on concrete floors. We wont go into crating. However, pigs are naturally foraging, rooting animals. They use their long snouts to dig and find roots to eat. The range of nutrients and micro-organisms they ingest from roots and soil helps to keep them healthy — particularly the antibiotics released by some soil organisms. This is why pigs, particularly sows, kept free-range, are generally healthier than those kept inside.

 

BREEDING & GROWING MANAGEMENT
Colostrum — Intestinal absorption of colostrum antibodies finishes about 24 hours after birth, so it is important that piglets start nursing within 12 hours from birth.

Hypothermia can be a problem in new-born piglets. Body temperature is 39 deg. C at birth, but decreased to 37 deg. in a few hours. An environmental temperature of 30 - 35 deg C should be maintained with heat lamps and heat mats.

Weaning — at 5 - 8 kg weight.
The diet is changed from milk to highly palatable, digestible food. Conventionally, piglets are often vaccinated at this time and feed-grade antibiotics are usually added to the diet to improve metabolism of feed.

Administration of oral medication
Restrain pig by:
- Place left thumb caudal to the pig’s right ear (assuming handler is right-handed).
- Place left index finger in the corner of the left side of the mouth, bringing the lips inside the pig’s mouth caudal to the needle teeth to protect the handler from the sharp teeth. Placing the finger inside the mouth also encourages swallowing.
- Place the remaining fingers under the jaw to support the pig’s weight.
Caution: piglets can be choked if the remaining fingers are placed around the throat instead of under the jaw.

 

DISEASE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
New Zealand pig producers generally have fewer disease problems than some overseas pig producers. The main problem is E. coli infection.

 

HOMOEOPATHIC TREATMENT OF PIGS:
A difficulty in treating pigs by homeopathy is that oral administration is difficult in adult pigs.
Prophylaxis is the best approach,
- ensuring good housing and management with good ventilation and not overcrowding, to avoid stress.
- use of nosodes and oral vaccines.

Vaccination
For piglets up to weaning — Give a single dose, preferably in powder form — night and morning for 3 days, followed by 1 x week for 4 weeks. For young pigs kept for breeding, extend this with a further monthly dose for 6 months.

Stress
Pig stress is shown in:
- tremors of the tail and muscles.
- laboured breathing.
- pale and reddened areas, cyanosis.
- temperature rise.
Treatment — Aconitum
E. coli infections
Occurs under stress, e.g. damp, cold weather, deprivation of colostrum in piglets.

Enteric Colibacillosis
Litters from gilts more susceptible than those from sows.
Signs
- Diarrhoea from 2 - 3 days after birth to post-weaning.
- Creamish to light brown faeces vomiting in some animals, loss of body weight dehydration, flaccid abdominal muscles.
- Bluish or grey skin.
- Older pigs less severe diarrhoea but may have haemorrhagic stools.
Prevention — E. Coli nosode
Treat all in-pig sows and gilts twice weekly during last month of pregnancy.
Treatment
Coli-Gaetner — combined nosodes of E. coli and Gaertner.
China Off. — dehydration and weakness, loss of fluid.
Arsenicum Alb. — light brown diarrhoea with or without vomiting.
Lachesis — purplish or dark blue lesions on he skin.

Bowel Oedema
- From absorption of toxin produced by various strains of E. coli.
- Enterotoxaemia producing increase in fluid content of stomach mucous membrane.
- In pigs 4 - 12 weeks 1 - 2 weeks after weaning.
- Low morbidity but sometimes 50 - 90%.
Signs
Groups of pigs stagger about, then become recumbent, paddling of limbs, loss of appetite, severe diarrhoea, Hyperexcitability and nervous twitching in some, swollen eyelids, later stages difficulty breathing, normal temperature. May be wasting of muscles.
Prevention
E.Coli nosode on a herd basis.
Treatment
Agaricus — most useful when staggering and ataxia.
Arsenicum alb — diarrhoea esp. if contain flecks of blood.
Phosphorus — excitability, vomiting, nervous twitching.
Apis Mel — subcutaneous oedema.
Cicuta virosa — to control nervous symptoms e.g. circling movements, lateral deviation of the head.
E. coli — give in conjunction with indicated remedy.

E. Coli mastitis (Coliform or puerperal mastitis)
- Infection of the mammary gland at parturition.
- Low sow mortality but piglets die from lack of milk & possible infection from dam — Non-contagious.
Signs
- Loss of milk, rise in temperature, listlessness soon after farrowing.
- Difficult breathing, increased heart rate may occur.
- Skin over mammary area becomes inflamed ad congested.
- Mammary glands firm and painful on pressure.
- Inflamed inguinal glands, Serous, or creamy secretion from teats.
Prevention
Polyvalent E. coli nosode on a herd basis.
Treatment
Phytolacca — well-proven for mammary gland infections.
Bryonia — hardness or firmness of the glands.
Belladonna — heat in gland, systemic involvement.
Urtica Urens — to promote milk supply.
Pyrogen — for discrepancy between temperature and heart rate.
E. Coli — one dose every 4 hours for 3 days.

Antim Crud is the homeopathic ‘constitutional’ for pigs.

 

A little on the New Zealand Pig.
What is a kune kune pig?

New Zealand's kune kune pig is a friendly, compact animal with short, stumpy legs, a round, sturdy body, a short upturned snout and two tassels hanging from its lower jaw. The breed has been described as a 'Walt Disney cartoon version of a pig', with adult pigs generally not growing larger than 120kg (260lb) and coming in a wide variety of colours, patterns and hair types.

 

Although once very rare, the world population of purebreds is increasing all the time, with these unique little pigs living all over the world from Wales to America. So what is it that makes these pigs so special?
The word 'kune' literally translates from Maori as 'fat and round', which is a very apt name for this breed. This name was originally used by the Maori to distinguish the kune kune pigs from the Captain Cooker breed also present in New Zealand, which are rather more long and lean than the Kune.

Captain Cookers are sometimes confused with the kune kune, but there are many differences, the most obvious being that Cookers are generally feral and larger with considerably longer snouts.

Like all pigs, the kune has a large head with no real neck, well muscled shoulders and a mobile snout which can be used for rooting up food or turning over logs, and a powerful, stocky body covered with hair. The one most distinctive feature of the kune kune is its piri piri or dew laps that hang from the lower jaw. These are a feature found nowhere else in pigs except in Polish black and white pigs. The exact function of these structures is as yet completely unknown.

The kune kune is smaller than commercial breeds of pig — neither sexes grow much higher than 60cm (24"), longer than 80cm (31"), or heavier than 120 kg (260lb). Although the breed shows a lot of genetic diversity, the pig's body is usually quite rotund, stocky and stolid, with short, thick legs and a coat of bristly or soft hair of many possible colours, including pure black, tortoiseshell, ginger, and 'smoky blue'. The snout is short in purebreds and can be upturned to varying degrees, and the ears can be pricked or flopped depending on the particular animal.

Almost all kunes display a very good temperament, which is no doubt a result of the breed's long domestication.
Kune kunes develop tusks, the males much more so than the females. They start growing when the pig is about twenty two months old, but will not develop much beyond the upper lip in sows.

The breed was prized by the Maori for their ability to fatten on little more than a subsistence diet of grass, their placidity and disinclination to roam and their good quality meat and fat.

Until recently purebred kune kunes were in grave danger of becoming extinct in New Zealand, and as recently as 1988 there were only about 160 purebreds left worldwide. Luckily in the late seventies two wildlife park owners realised the danger of extinction these pigs were under and bought as many specimens as they could find from around the country to a breeding colony in the South Island with the aim of increasing the size of the dwindling population and distributing the pigs to other breeders around the country. Spreading the breed throughout the country, and later on, the world, helped to keep up numbers and ensure against localised catastrophe decimating the breed.

In 1989 the New Zealand Kune Kune Breeders' Association was founded to preserve this wonderful breed of pig. Although the kune kune is still a registered as a rare breed, there are at least two thousand now worldwide, with hundreds in the UK, US and other countries.

This unusual pig's diet is also notable in that they are grazers rather than foragers, and are able to live happily on a low protein diet of grass alone. In colder climates, however, kune kunes will often require supplementary feeding over the winter in the form of grain or pellets, but a constant diet of ordinary commercial pig food is not a suitable alternative to fresh grass.

Despite years of intensive research by historians and biologists, no one really knows where the kune kune pig originated. It is widely assumed the breed was originally from China, because of the Polish pigs still found there today which have the characteristic chin tassels of the kune kune, but the matter is still under debate.

Check out websites for more information that will suit your Lifestyle Block.

 

 

 

Pigs A Charles Chigna Poem

 

Pigs are playful,

Pigs are pink,

Pigs are smarter
than you think.

Pigs are pudgy,

Pigs are plump,

Pigs can run
but never jump.

Pigs are loyal,

Pigs are true,

Pigs don't care
for barbecue.

 

 

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