According to information from the National Hog Farmer, the pig is one of the first animals to be domesticated over 6,000 years ago. The Chinese were the first to raise wild pigs for food. Pigs exist on every continent except for Antarctica.
The first pig was brought to the United States in 1539 by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Commercial pork production dates back to the 1800’s. Farmers used the Erie Canal system to ship pigs back to the East Coast. In Denmark there are twice as many pigs as people.
All pigs have small eyes and poor eyesight. A pig has 15,000 taste buds while humans have only 9,000. Pigs can drink up to 14 gallons of water every day. Pigs have excellent sense of smell. Soldier pigs have gone to war, using their snouts as mine sniffers. Pigs are not really a dirty animal. They roll in mud, if available, to keep cool because they have no sweat glands.
Pigskin, the traditional covering of a football, is one of the toughest animal hides. However, a pig’s skin is extremely sensitive to temperature and injury. Beyond meat, products from pigs can range from cosmetics, insulin and 40 other medicines to biological heart valves for humans.
At birth a baby pig will normally weigh around 3.5 pounds and will double in weight in 7 days. The largest litter of piglets ever recorded included 37 piglets, out of which 36 were born alive and 33 survived. When fully grown, boars (male hogs) may weigh more than 500 pounds, and sows (female hogs) may weigh from 300 to 500 pounds.
Pigs are efficient converters. Most pigs can eat 3.5 pounds of feed and gain 1 pound of weight. Pigs have a rapid growth rate under ideal conditions. They can normally gain 2 pounds per day. Pigs are intelligent. They rank third behind apes and dolphins. They may be the smartest animal on the farm.
The United States is the third-largest pork producing country, following China and the European Union. One market hog provides 371 servings of pork based on 265 pound market weight, a 70 percent yield and 8 ounce servings. Canadian bacon is smoked boneless pork loin. Bacon is one of the oldest processed meats. The Chinese began salting pork bellies as early as 1500 B.C.
Bacon is the top mentioned pork product on social media by Americans. Americans on average eat around 18 pounds of bacon each year. That is about 5.6 billion pounds for the entire U.S.
FEEDING A HUNGRY WORLD
The world population continues to grow, while the number of available acres to grow food stays the same or shrinks.
There are only 3.7 billion acres available for agriculture. That’s less than 3 percent of the world’s land-half the size of North America. The other reality – the demand for food will increase by 60 percent in 35 years.
The task sounds simple, but it’s monumental. Providing enough food for the world while protecting our resources at the same time.
Here’s what’s needed to sustain the population explosion: 1.5 times cereal production, two times meat production and two times oilseed production.
Can agriculture do it? Yes, it can. Farmers will continue to use very innovation available to enhance yields on existing farmland, from crop protection solutions to high-yielding seed varieties.
The world is hungry. More food is needed. The miracle of agriculture will continue to answer the dinner bell.