Pork, the meat from swine or hogs, was widely consumed throughout the ancient world and the Roman Empire. Swine were first introduced to North America in 1539 when Hernando de Soto brought 13 to the Florida mainland. Most of the swine in the United States are produced in the Midwestern states, including Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. Worldwide, China
is the country that produces the most hogs.
A female pig is called a gilt. After she has borne a litter she is called a sow. A neutered male is a barrow and the adult male is a boar. The offspring of a male boar and a female sow are called piglets, or just pigs.
Swine are sold at market when they weigh from 230 to 260 pounds and are about five to six months of age. Some gilts are usually kept in the herd for breeding to produce the next generation of pigs. Swine have a digestive system similar to humans. This is different from ruminent animals such as cattle (see Beef Cattle) which can eat forages or grasses. Pigs can only digest feed such as corn and soymeal which is ground into small particles.
In addition to meat, other products or by-products come from swine. These include insulin for the regulation of diabetes; valves for human heart surgery; suede for shoes and clothing; and gelatin for many food and non-food uses.  Swine by-products are also important parts of such products as water filters, insulation, rubber, antifreeze, certain plastics, floor waxes, crayons, chalk, adhesives and fertilizer.

Map - Hogs and Pigs, 1996Map - Hogs and Pigs, 1997

Pig (pork) production is widelay scattered across the state, as many framers keep a few hogs for personal use of for sale.  However, in Cass County, production of pork is highly concentrated and very important.  Here, hog farms are quite common.  However, a growing problem in the county centers around the hog manure, which infiltrates rapidly through the sandy soils and is contaminating groundwater supplies with nitrates.

michigan dec 1 hog inventory 1925-98.JPG (34750 bytes)

Source: Unknown

michigan hog price 1950-98.JPG (33990 bytes)

Source: Unknown

This material has been compiled for educational use only, and may not be reproduced without permission.  One copy may be printed for personal use.  Please contact Randall Schaetzl (soils@msu.edu) for more information or permissions.