Homestead Animals

The Glossary of Pig Farming Terminology

When you’re a beginner in the hog industry, the lingo can be quite daunting. Educate yourself on these commonly used terms and hold your own when speaking with experienced farmers.

This article is part of the series The Complete Guide to Raising Pigs in your Backyard. Click here to check out the rest of the series!

Pig Classifications

I still remember the first time I called to inquire about purchasing feeder pigs from a local farmer. “Are you interested in gilts or barrows?” She asked me. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about and sheepishly asked what she meant by that. So, in an attempt to save all of the other clueless homesteaders out there from complete embarrassment, I have put together a list of commonly used terms in the world of pig farming.

Baconer – a finished pig ready for market typically weighing between 150-300lbs.

Barrow – a male pig that was castrated before reaching sexual maturity.

Dam – the female parent.

Feeder– a piglet weighing between 40-80lbs that is sold to be finished.

Gilt – a young female pig that has never given birth.

Grower – a pig that is intended to be raised/sold for slaughter.

Hog – a swine weighing over 120 pounds.

Pig – a young swine

Porker – a grower pig weighing between 80-150lbs.

Runt – the smallest pig in a litter.

Sire – the male parent.

Stag – a male pig that was castrated after reaching sexual maturity.

Swine – a term for pigs or hogs.

A drift of feeder pigs

Groups of Pigs

Drift – a group of young pigs.

Drove – a herd or group of pigs.

Singular of Boars – a group of boars.

Sounder – a group of feral swine.

Team or Passel – a group of hogs.

Breeding Terminology

Boar – a male pig over 6 months of age that can be used for breeding.

Breed – to allow a male and female animal to mate; a group of animals with the same characteristics and ancestry.

Castrate – to sterilize a male pig by removing the testicles.

Estrus – when a female animal is in heat and ready to mate.

Farrowing – birthing of a littler of piglets.

Gestation – the period of time between breeding and birth, approximately 114 days.

Heritage Breed – the pedigree of a purebred animal that descends from a time before industrial farming.

Heterosis – the process of cross-breeding pigs to produce more favorable breed traits such as litter size, conception rate, piglet survival rate and growth.

Litter – a group of piglets born to a single sow.

Sow – an adult female pig that has farrowed a litter of piglets.

Wean – to transition an animal from it’s mother’s milk to adult food.

A drove of pigs wallowing in the cool mud

Pig Behavior

Forage – when pigs attain their own food by searching their environment.

Rooting – when pigs dig up the earth with their noses in search of food.

Wallow – a muddy puddle pigs use to cool their body temperature in hot weather.

Pig Anatomy
Pork Cuts – Click here to purchase this poster!

Anatomy

Belly – The underside of a pig.

Dewclaw – the small appendage just above the hoof on the posterior side.

Hock – the back leg joint.

Leg – the leg of a pig from which ham is derived.

Loin – the muscles on either side of the spine which produces pork tenderloins.

Jowl – the underside of a pig’s neck.

Pastern – the bone that connects the hoof and leg joints.

Rear Flank – located between the ribs and stifle.

Rump – the area on a pig’s back just above it’s tail.

Snout – a pig’s nose.

Stifle – the “knee” joint in the hind leg.

Butchering Vocabulary

Cuts – the end products of pork after the butchering process is complete. Usually packaged into individual serving sizes.

Finishing – the phase between when a pig is born and when it is ready to go to market.

Hanging weight or dressed weight – the weight of a pig carcass after it has been gutted and prepped for butchering.

Processing – preparing a slaughtered animal for packaging or storage.

Don’t Forget

Catch the rest of this 6 part series The Complete Guide to Raising Pigs in your Backyard to learn the fundamentals needed to raise your own pigs.

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