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Center for Food Animal Wellbeing




Welcome to the Center for Food Animal Wellbeing's website. Information on this site will change approximately every two weeks, so that updates in a variety of areas of interest including new research, legislative initiatives and other issues can be presented in one location.

Facts about Swine

Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, PhD
Professor & Director
Center for Food Animal Wellbeing


Did you know that pigs were domesticated around 6,000 years ago?  The Chinese were the first to raise wild pigs for food.  They also started salting pork bellies as early as 1500 BC, so bacon is a historic food.  Pigs came to the Americas on a boat with Hernado DeSoto in 1539. 

A sow is a female pig and a boar is a male.  Giving birth to piglets is called farrowing.  A litter of pigs usually has 8 to 12 piglets in it. The newborns stay with their mother until they are 2 to 4 weeks of age when they are moved to a nursery becoming “nursery pigs.”  Their next stage of life begins when they are about 50 pounds.  Instead of teenagers, they are commonly called “growing or finishing pigs.”  A full grown pig weighs 240 – 280 pounds and is then called a “hog.”

Modern pigs and hogs are fed carefully controlled diets of corn, wheat and soybean meal with vitamins and minerals added to further improve their health.    These carefully formulated diets along with improved housing and use of natural selection have resulted in larger, healthier animals with more lean meat than ever before.