Pigs are also known as hogs or swine. Male pigs of any age are called boars; female pigs are called sows. Pigs are found and raised all over the world, and provide valuable products to humans, including pork, lard, leather, glue, fertilizer, and a variety of medicines. Most pigs raised in the United States are classified as meat-type pigs, as they produce more lean meat than lard, a fat used in cooking.
In the wild, pigs eat everything from leaves, roots, and fruit to rodents and small reptiles. In the United States, farm-raised pigs eat commercially made diets of mostly corn. In Europe, pigs eat barley-based diets. Pigs have sharp tusks that help them dig and fight. Farmers often take off the tusks to avoid injury to people and other pigs.
Sows give birth to a litter of young called piglets. They usually nurse the piglets for three to five weeks. Piglets weaned off their mother’s milk are not called piglets but are referred to as shoats.
Piglets weigh about 2.5 pounds (1.1 kilograms) at birth, and usually double their weight in one week. Fully grown, pigs can grow to between 300 and 700 pounds (140 and 300 kilograms), and sometimes much more. Pigs have poor eyesight, but a great sense of smell. The pig’s nostrils are on its leathery snout, which is very sensitive to touch. The pig uses the snout to search, or root, for food.
Pigs are among the smartest of all domesticated animals and are even smarter than dogs.