Happy Year of the Pig!

Happy Year of the Pig!

Posted on Tuesday 5th February 2019

Categories: Farm Animals

To celebrate Year of the Pig with our huge Pan-Asia family of organisations, we thought we would kick off the year with some interesting facts about these cheeky, lovable creatures.

13 Pig Facts: Did you know?

  1. Pigs love to play

Pigs love playing with toys and have fun playing chase with each other, play is a very important part of development for all infants and pigs are no exception. Play is also important for adult pigs as it demonstrates that pigs are happy in the company of the other pig that they are engaged in play with.

  1. Pigs are clean animals 

Pigs like to keep clean and do not like to wallow in their own mess and they will therefore use a corner of their nest as a toilet to ensure they keep the rest of their nest clean

  1. Mother pigs build nests 

Ensuring their babies are comfortable is just as important for pigs as it is for human, to do this mother pigs will build a nest of straw and hay for their piglets to ensure they are comfortable and warm.

  1. Pigs are forest dwellers

The modern day pig is a descendant of the wild boar, a forest dwelling animal. Wild boar spend much of their day foraging and rooting for food. The modern day pig still shares much of its wild relative’s instincts and behaviours. 

  1. Pigs walk on two toes

Pigs have four toes on each foot but only actually walk on two of its toes as the outer toes as used for balance and will rarely touch the ground.

  1. Pigs are social animals

Pigs are extremely social, they form close bonds with other pigs and love close contact and lying down together. Pigs can recognise up to 30 other individual pigs, and are less stressed when in the presence of one of their companions.  

  1. Pigs ‘sing’ to their piglets

Pigs communicate constantly with one another. More than 20 of their oinks, grunts, and squeals have been identified for different situations, from wooing their mates to expressing hunger. New-born piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices, and mother pigs ‘sing’ to their young while nursing.

  1. Pigs have a great sense of smell

Their sense of smell develops early and is important for survival. They can and need to follow chemical cues learned early in life, such as the odour of their mother. Older pigs used their sense of smell as the predominant basis for individual recognition.

  1. Pigs have long term memories

Research demonstrated pigs can remember objects and actions for over three years. Dr. Stanley Curtis, formerly of Penn State University, put a ball, a Frisbee, and a dumbbell in front of several pigs and was able to teach them to jump over, sit next to, or fetch any of the objects when asked to, and they could distinguish between the objects three years later.

  1. Pigs are excellent problem solvers 

Pigs can identify and fetch objects upon request, they can understand commands which involve an action ‘push dumbbell onto the mat’ and make comparisons of objects based on colour, odour or location. Pigs can also do this with no instruction by being told’ figure out want you are supposed to do.

  1. Pigs can perform abstract tasks

Pigs are capable of learning how to use a joystick to move objects on a computer screen. When they move the object into the desired position they receive a reward. Pigs learn to do this as quickly as chimpanzees, demonstrating advanced cognitive ability

  1. Pigs can understand other pigs

Pigs are capable of assessing what information another pig has in relation to them with regards how to perform a task with a reward. They can then choice to follow the individual with more information than themselves to receive the same reward. 

  1. Pigs demonstrate empathy

Researchers carried out an experiment to determine whether pigs might empathise with each other. They played music to pigs and trained them to either expect a good experience (food) or a stressful experience (social isolation and handling). The researches then paired the trained pig with an untrained pig and played the music to them all. Trained pigs showed that they learned what the music predicted for them, showing either ‘happy’ behaviours or stress.  The non-trained pigs reacted to the behaviour of the other pig, showing signs of stress when paired with a pig trained to expect a stressful experience.