It seems that there are special days for all kinds of things to honor and celebrate. March 1st is National Pig Day. While this has not yet become a recognized Hallmark greeting card holiday, the pig is an amazing animal and does warrant celebrating. We do have a whole month reserved for celebrating pigs & pork during October Pork Month, but an extra day of attention on the pig won’t hurt.

The pig truly is an amazing animal; it’s where bacon comes from so how much more amazing can it be! There are many pork products and by-products that we use in our daily lives that come from pigs. So we wanted to share some information on pigs and how they are raised.

We need to state up front that pigs are not pets. They are raised for food and the many by-products that we get from the pig.

People that raise pigs for their job are called pork producers. Pork producers work 7 days a week, 365 days a year, on the farm providing the best care possible for their pigs.

Most pigs are raised in clean, indoor climate controlled hog barns so that we can better care for the pigs and they are healthier. Have you ever heard anyone say they sweat like a pig? That’s not true. Pigs can’t sweat – that’s why pork producers use misters in hog barns – like sprinklers in the summer – so they stay cool. In the winter, pigs are kept warm because the buildings have heaters, just like your house.

piggies, baby pigs, swine

Baby pigs are raised in special barns with their mothers, called sows. To keep the baby pigs from getting hurt or stepped on they are kept in birthing pens called farrowing stalls. When the piglets reach 10-15 pounds, they are weaned – taken off their mother’s milk and given solid food.

Pigs eat a balanced diet of corn, soybean meal, and vitamins. Pigs eat a lot.  It takes 5 billion pounds of corn and soybeans to feed all the pigs in Illinois each year. If you filled a big truck to the top, it would take 100,000 trucks to move all that grain! Put them end to end, they would stretch from Illinois all the way to Disneyworld!

Baby pigs weigh about 2 pounds when they are born. In only 6 months they grow to 270 pounds and are ready for market. The pigs are then transported to a processing plant, where they are harvested and then processed into the delicious pork that we eat such as – pork chops, bacon, ham, sausage, ribs, pork burgers, and more.

Pork is the most consumed meat in the world and American pork producers take pride in producing a food they feed their own family, as well as many families worldwide. From farm to fork, U.S. pork producers provide good food at a great value for families nationwide.

Pork is good for you and an important part of your diet. It provides your body with protein that builds muscle and helps your bodies grow. On average, the six most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner than 20 years ago, and saturated fat has dropped 27 percent. Including lean pork in the diet can help you lose weight while maintaining more lean tissue (including muscle).

There are also more than 500 pork by-products that come from pigs including life-saving items such as replacement heart valves, skin grafts for burn victims and insulin. Other pig by-products are used in making industrial products such as gelatin, plywood adhesive, glue, cosmetics, and plastics.

For more than 1,700 delicious pork recipes, tips on cooking pork and many other pork resources visit www.TheOtherWhiteMeat.com and for more information on the Illinois pork industry visit www.ilpork.com.

Tim Maiers, Communications
Illinois Pork Producers Association


  1. As a vegetarian i find this a very one-sided article.
    “The pigs are then transported to a processing plant, where they are harvested and then processed into the delicious pork that we eat” Makes it sound as though the pigs are nothing more than plants, when they are infact living, concious, smart animals that are killed infront of each other – and nomatter what way you say it there is nothing humane about slaughtering living creatures.
    Pigs have the mentality of a 3 yr old, just as smart as a dog, and are kept in tiny pens their whole lives, with their mothers literally not moving from her side; it is grostque and not what nature intended for these creatures. Yes we are omnivores, and yes pigs do provide food, but we are intelligent enough beings to realise they deserve to live the life they are capable of, and we are to respect that and thank god for the gift we receive everytime we kill to provide a meal. That goes for all animals.

    1. I don’t think you realize that we don’t just kill them for meat, as the great shepherds, of this earth, that we have become we use ALL of the pig making sure it doesn’t got to waste. Plus, pigs can be really vicious, they bite hard enough that you could lose a finger, staying in pens makes sure that the producer is safe. In fact, if you wish to argue that it is “not what nature intended” then you can go in the dead of winter and let them out, but I warn you nature will kill of several, which is more humane? Also, If we let them live like “nature intended” the already huge world hunger problem would claim thousands of lives, now ask your self an animal with a capability of only a 3 yr. old, or an animal(human) with capabilities to still be discovered, that could potentially save countless lives (human and animal). I don’t know if you believe in the Bible, but it states that God put animals on this earth for human consumption, and only asked that we be good shepherds, which would entail mass production to progress our own kind, and to reproduce their kind to ensure no extinction on either side.
      I don’t want to attack whether you eat meat or not, but it goes both ways. The “grotesque” production you talk about is actually a HUGE stereotype, that was just a skewed assumption of what we do. It’s as if I were to say all vegetarians are tree huggers. Plants are living to, in fact deforestation is becoming a huge problem, why is it ok to eat plants?
      Yes, there is a moral line which is walked, but in the end we need food.

      1. First of all, this reply has SO many problems that I’ll only try to attack the biggest ones. 1) If we stopped the mass production of pork world hunger WOULD NOT increase given that the main people who can afford to eat pork and do eat pork (Americans, Europeans) are not the ones in poverty to begin with. 2) Vegetarians don’t eat trees so that argument is invalid (but did you know that 80% of agricultural land in America is used to ONLY feed the animals you eat? Now who’s damaging the earth more again?). 3)Plants don’t have a beating heart nor do they bleed when you cut them open so that’s why we prefer them over meat. And finally 4) Pigs can do just fine in the wild if they’re allowed to reproduce at their natural pace and not forced to reproduce constantly and abundantly to feed your need for flesh.

  2. I can’t believe you eat plants. Is that humane? If you talk to plants, don’t they respond? If you don’t want to eat meat I can respect that. But don’t tell me what to do.

    1. No one is telling you what to eat or not to eat, but as a member of society you should be able to hear all the facts, this article makes what is a cruel life for a pig into roses and rainbows. Please stop believing everything you read!

      The greatness of a society and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.
      ~Mahatma Gandhi

  3. I am new to the pork business but I am pritty sure there are wild pigs they are called boars and are destroying all your presious plant and have killed people and animals we are at the top of the food chain for a reason we feed care and live for and by these pigs it is not wrong at all to slaughter them there could be more human was to go about this but then my prices go up and so does everyone elses there are a million hidden guidelines and processes us farm have to follow that noone that is not in the business will understand so before people decide to click on these links and criticize they way we make and liveing and care for are animals do your research there is more care for one of my pigs in one year then you put care towards the average household pet it is raised to slaughter but it is cared for andnot just drug out to the feild and shot and mounded on a trailer like seen on tv those opoperations are out there but not all farmers are inhumain like that so all I say is do your research before you make a fool of yourself

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