When getting acquainted with something that is new to you, the terminology that comes along with it can sometimes be a lot to learn. It seems like there is jargon associated with everything we do, from the cars we drive to the computers we use for work and entertainment. Another thing jargon applies to is the animals in our lives, whether you have dogs and cats or cows and pigs. Even if you've had pigs for quite some time, there is bound to be a term or two here and there that are new to even you.
In an effort to shed light on some of these porcine terms, here are some it will behoove you to know:
A Baconer is a pig that is kept for a long enough period to produce bacon. This time period is longer than that of a porker or cutter and allows pigs to reach 200-220lbs.
Barrows are male pigs that have been castrated.
Boars are male pigs that have not been castrated.
Choppers are older pigs culled for small goods or byproducts.
Creep Feed is feed for piglets still with the sow, which she is prevented from eating herself.
A Cutter is a pig intended for pork that is more mature than a porker and reaches about 140-180lbs.
Dystocia is difficulty giving birth.
Estrous is the heat cycle of a pig, which begins usually at 3-5 days after weaning.
Farrowing is act of giving birth.
Finisher Pig describes the period between the nursery and market, which occurs when feeder pigs are bought and brought to market weight.
Fostering is when a mother with too many piglets has some removed and placed with a sow with extra udder space.
Gestation is the length of pregnancy (113 to 116 days).
A Gilt is a maiden female pig. She is referred to as a gilt prior to having her first litter.
A Herd is a group of pigs, although such a group is also referred to as a Sounder.
Hogs are domesticated pigs.
A Litter is a group of piglets all born at the same time.
Piglets are babies or young pigs. They are referred to as piglets until they are of weaning age.
Porkers are pork pigs which mature to about six months of age of 120-140lbs.
A Rig is a male pig with an undescended testicle; this type of pig is still capable of breeding.
A Runt is the smallest piglet present in the litter.
A Shoat is a young, growing pig.
Sows are female pigs of breeding age that have already produced a litter.
A Sucker is a piglet of any age that is still suckling.
Standing Heat is when a sow or gilt assumes a rigid stance when ready for breeding.
A Weaner is a young pig that has been removed from its mother. They are usually 6-10 weeks of age and eating on their own.
Weaning is the term for the act of removing piglets from their dam (mother/sow).
Depending on the type of pigs you raise and for what purpose, there may be other terms in existence that you may at some point come across. As we continue to delve into life with pigs, there will be old terms that are rarely used that we will eventually be introduced to and new terms we've never heard before. Raising pigs and knowing porcine terminology are parts of life in which continued knowledge is essential and beneficial. The more you know, be it about basic care, disease, or even what term applies to what, the more effective you will be in the long run, and thus the more you and your pig operation will be able to grow.