Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pig Latin

One key aspect of my business plan will be raising pigs.  I love their temperament, their foraging abilities, and most of all - their meat.  I've raised pigs for the past few years and visited lots of different pig farms.  What I didn't realize until trying to explain the whole system, was that their is a good deal of hog-specific lingo that comes with being familiar with raising pigs.  Pig Latin, if you will.

Here are a few key vocabulary words (I use the word pig in the definitions as a substitute for "swine," which is actually the correct term):

Piglet - young pig from birth to weaning
Shoat - young pig from weaning age to 100 pounds
Hog - pig that weighs more than 120 pounds
Butcher/Market Hog - pig that weighs 220-260 pounds and is ready for slaughter
Feeder - pig that weighs 40-70 pounds and is sold to a farmer to be raised and fed to market weight
Finishing Hog - pig that weighs between 100 pounds and market weight
Barrow - castrated male (males intended for eating are castrated as piglets because in a mature boar the hormones taint the meat, making it nearly inedible)
Boar - adult male used for breeding
Gilt - young female
Sow - adult female used for breeding
Farrow - to breed pigs
Finishing - toward the end of a market hogs life it is often fed corn, nuts, or high-calorie foods to enhance the layer of fat around the meat
Hog Panels - long, metal strips of fencing
Daylight - a pig with good leg length (so you can see daylight under its legs, important for some breeds used for authentic-style cured meats)

I'm sure there are others, but learning these basic terms is definitely a good start!

Main Varieties of Hog Breeds: Berkshire*, Chester White, Duroc, Hampshire, Hereford, Large Black*, Poland China, Red Wattle, Spotted, Tamworth*, Yorkshire (amidst hundreds of others, * indicates breeds I would select because of their good mothering, foraging skills, and lean growth).

And, while we're reviewing pig basics, below are the basic cuts of meat:

image from
Now you're all ready to talk hog!

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