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The Story Of... Pigs

Domestic pigs are descended from wild relatives which still populate parts of Europe and Asia. Domesticated at least 7000 years ago in the Fertile Cescent and in China, the pig is of limited use compared to other Eurasian livestock and farmed primarily for its meat. Nevertheless, the pig is perhaps the easiest farmyard animal to look after, because, like humans, they are omnivorous and will eat practically anything --including scraps from the kitchen.

Pigs have been central to Chinese culture ever since, and the country today is the world's leading producer of pigs. Prized in some parts of Europe for their ability to hunt precious truffles, the pig is also the only large domesticable mammal to have provided traditional sustenance to the farmers of Papua New Guinea.

Contrary to popular assumption, pigs are in fact very clean animals. Their famous mudbaths are merely a way to cool themselves down, since pigs have no sweat glands at all.

However, like other domesticated mammals, pigs have been responsible for transferring some diseases to the human population, thanks to the proximity in which Eurasian farmers have tended to live with their livestock. Human diseases suspected of having evolved from contact with pigs include influenza and scabies.

Where to next?

Get more stories about animals including Cattle, Goats, Sheep, Horses, Llamas, or Zebra.


- Wheat
- Rice
- Corn
- Sorghum

- Cattle
- Goats
- Sheep
- Pigs
- Llamas
- Horse
- Zebra

- Smallpox
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- Steel
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