Swine Terminology

Abattoir A slaughterhouse
AIartificial insemination. The process of breeding a sow by using semen extracted from a boar instead of natural mating. This is a good way to add better genetics to a herd without raising multiple boars.
AnthelminticA drug treatment used to expel parasitic worms. An example of a typical anthelmintic is Ivomectin.
Barrowmale pig castrated before reaching sexual maturity.
Blind TeatAn irregular teat that is sometimes removed to prevent piglets from attempting to nurse on a useless teat
Boarmale hog or pig with intact testicles.
Body CapacityThis term describes the shape of a pig in relation to growth, health, feed conversion, and the quality potential of the carcass.
BoneThis describes the diameter of the bone in the legs, jaw and the width of the head. Good bone is important for determining how well the pig will carry it’s weight.
BulkRefers to a pigs diet. Bulk is the fiber added either separately or mixed in the pigs feed
Breeding HerdConsists of gilts, sows, and boars. Including replacement gilts that are used
maintain a herd of pigs
Butcher HogA butcher hog, also known as a market hog, is a pig that weighs between 220 and 260 pounds, is approximately 6 months old, and was raised to for slaughter.
Carcassthe carcass is the body of a pig after it has been dressed out(butchered)
Castrateremove testicles by surgery.
ChitterlingsThe small intestines of a pig. Can be prepared for consumption.
Colostrum first milk produced by the sow; it provides immunity to the baby pigs for the
first few weeks
Cracklingscracklings are the by product of rendering lard. They are pieces of skin and meat that were browned. Also referred to as pork rinds.
Creep Feedcreep feed is a starter ration for for piglets. It is high in protein, usually from sugar and milk proteins for high energy.
Creep feederarea accessible to small pigs but not their dams, in which a high protein
supplement is provided.
Cross Breedingcross breeding is a method used to maximize the quality traits of different breeds into a faster growing market hog.
Cull sowfull-grown female sold for slaughter. Usually showing poor physical
characteristics that make her undesirable for breeding.
CullingThis is the process of removing any undesirable animals from the herd normally for
health or performance issues.
Dressing percentpercentage of the butchered carcass that is usable, compared to live
DroveA herd or group
Electrolyteselectrolytes are mineral salts that get absorbed into the body to repair problems associated with dehydration, diarrhea, and fever
EmbryoThis is a piglet in the very early stages og growth in the sows uterus.
Estrusalso known as “going into heat” or “in heat”, is the period when the sow or
gilt is sexually receptive. Usually every 21 days, with gilts starting
their first estrus between 5 and 8 months depending on the breed of pig.
F1 F1 is the first offspring from the crossbreeding of two pure-bred pigs from different breeds
Farrowto give birth to piglets.
Farrow to Finishthis means you raise the pig from birth to butchering size.
Feed EfficiencyThe amount of feed needed for a pig to gain one pound of weight. This is an important factor when choosing pigs for farrow to finish.
Feeder PigThese are young pigs, usually 6 – 10 weeks old that are produced by one farm then purchased and finished on another farm. It also refers to any piglet that is being raised for pork.
Finish Hoga pig that has been raised to market weight and is ready for butchering.
Finishing feeding a pig out to reach market weight.
FittingGetting a pig ready for a show or exhibit.
Following“This is a practice we do not use. And another why we’re glad we raise our own food.” Following is used by feed lots and cattle ranches. They turn pigs out to basically clean up any left overs found in the feed lots after the cows have been moved. Pigs feed on the excrement and loosen up the soil that the cattle had been using.
FrameThe skeletal system of a pig. Large frames are desirable in pigs. Also relevant to bone.
Flush feed increase feed to stimulate ovulation in females.
Full Feed(self feed)- animals are allowed to eat as much as they will clean up; feed is
available at all times.
Genotype the genotype represents the genetic makeup. This is very useful and increasingly important as many more farms are using artificial insemination.
Gestationpregnancy, lasting about 114 days in swine. Also known to some as 3 months, 3
weeks, and 3 days.
Gilt A gilt or gilts are young females that have not yet produced a litter.
Grading This is a system of sorting pigs according to the quality of the carcass. The U.S.D.A. has a standard grading system.
Grower Pig(finishing pig)- animal weighing between 40 and 220 lbs. that is being fed for
Hand Matingwhile you may think this refers to artificial insemination, it refers
to the practice of placing a boar in a pen with only one sow or gilt.
Heterosisalso known as hybrid vigor. This refers to the superior quality from crossbreeding.
HogA pig that weighs at least 120 pounds.
Hogging DownLetting pigs into a crop field to clean up or harvest the crop.
Hot Wire an electric fence
HurdleA gate or solid board used to direct the pigs when they are being moved.
InbreedingThis is the mating of two animals that are closely related in order to bring out the good traits. This doesn’t always work as hoped. Farmers call it Line breeding when it works and Inbreeding when it doesn’t.
In Pigwhen a sow is pregnant she is in pig.
Lactation this is the time when a sow is producing milk and feeding piglets.
Lardlard is rendered pork fat. There are many uses for lard besides cooking.
LibidoWhen a sow is ready for breeding she will show sexual interest.
Limit FeedingThis is simply restricting the feed of sows and boars alike to avoid obesity and lengthen the time they pigs will be able to produce.
Line A specific bloodline that can be traced to a specific animal or family group.
Line Breedingrepeatedly breeding a specific pig to generate offspring with specific traits. Breeding sibling to sibling or parent to offspring. Also called inbreeding.
Litterall the offspring from a single farrowing.
Market Hogsee Butcher Hog
Mashfeed that has been ground. Usually fed to young pigs and sick pigs.
Meal feed ground to a fine texture. Think cornmeal.
MummyA piglet that is born dead, but hasn't fully developed. The piglet died too late in the pregnancy for the sows body to reabsorb it.
Natural ImmunityThis is the ability an animal has to fight disease that it has gained over time. Some natural immunities are passed through a sows colostrum to the piglets.
Needle TeethThese are the two teeth on either side of the jaw that look like canine teeth. They are extremely sharp and can damage a sows teats. Many commercial farms clip the needle teeth at birth. They are also called eye teeth or wolf teeth.
Offaloften referred to as animal waste, offal are actually the internal organs of a butchered pig. There are many uses for the organs but or modern society rarely uses them
Openthis term refers to a gilt or sow that did not conceive at breeding or may have absorbed the pregnancy.
Overlayingwhen a sow crushes and kills her piglets by laying on them which results in crushing. This is quite common and results in many losses for pig farmers.
Oxytocina drug used to cause uterine contractions in sows and/or stimulate milk production.
Pathogena disease causing agent most commonly known as infectious organisms.
Phenotype the physical characteristics displayed by a pig, including hair color, height, weight, and well, you get the picture.
Piga young swine. See “hog”
Pig Boardsif you’ve been a fair and seen the swine show you have seen a pig board. They are made from plastic and plywood, between 30 and 40 inches high and have hand holes cut in them. Pig boards are used to guide pigs when they are being moved. See also “hurdle”
Placenta this is the sack within a sow that houses the piglets during pregnancy. After all the piglets have been farrowed, the placenta is passed.
Premixthis is a mineral pack that feed producers use to create a balanced diet in swine feed.
Prepotent the tendency of a boar to pass on specific traits to his offspring, such as large hams, big bones, etc.
Primal Cutsthis refers to large cuts during butchering such as half a pig or a quarter of the carcass.
Probioticsthese are beneficial organisms used to aid sick or recovering animals. Probiotics are also used to help stimulate nutrient absorption.
Prolificacyrefers to the number of piglets produced by a sow or boar. Boars and sows that are not prolific, are culled.
PurebredPigs that have been bred to members of their own breed and usually have pedigrees to prove their lineage.
Rendercooking down the fat remove impurities and moisture prior to storing.
Ringplacing a metal ring in a hogs snout to keep them from rooting.
Rotational Grazingthe practice of moving pigs from one pasture to another to maximize feeding, minimize parasites, and/or hog down a pasture
Runtsmall or weak pig in a litter. Runts should be culled
out of the herd.
ScoursDiarrhea. Severe scours can cause death.
Scrotumthe sac on a boar that contains the testicles. The scrotum expands and contracts to maintain temperature and preserve semen.
Servicethe introduction of semen into the uterus of a sow or gilt. This can be natural( done by
a boar) or by artificial insemination.
Settleafter a sow or gilt has taken to a pregnancy she is considered settled.
Shoat a young pig that has not yet reached 120 pounds
Shrinkweight loss, usually temporary.
Snare a device that is put around a pigs snout to restrain the pig.
Soft Porkbutchered pork that remains oily, flabby, and soft even after chilling. This meat is considered undesirable
Sow female which has farrowed at least once.
Staga boar that has been castrated after he was used as a stud or service boar.
Standing Heatis when a sow or gilt is ready to be serviced. She will aquire an rigid
posture when pressure is applied on her back
Swinea general term used for all pigs.
TerminalA boar that is used to create F1 crossbreeds(first generation cross) but not used to breed the resultant offspring as they are used for market hogs.
Top Dressmanually adding supplements to a hogs feed.
Underlinecommonly used to describe the underside or belly of a sow. This term is used to evaluate teat placement on the underline for adequate milk production and ability to feed piglets. It is also used to evaluate the penis placement and sheath of a boar.
Vulvathe exposed portion of a sows genitals. Changes in the vulva are useful in determining heat or preparation for farrowing in a sow or gilt.
Wallowwater-filled depression or container large enough for pigs to lay in to cool off
during warm weather.
Weaningremoving young from their mother. Weaning can take place anywhere from
3 to 8 weeks depending on the farmers growing system. Little Pig Farm
recommends leaving the piglets to nurse for a minimum of 6 weeks.
WeanlingA piglet recently removed from the sow ans typically weighing between 25 and 40 pounds.
Yieldpercentage of the carcass in the four lean cuts: ham, loin, picnic and Boston butt.