Ever wondered why the modern domesticated pig looks so different from its wild relatives? Animal domestication is the answer. Thousands of years of pig farming has changed the look, and taste, of pigs, making them more favourable for our purposes. How did it happen?
9000 years ago
While some research points to earlier beginnings, it is generally accepted that pigs were domesticated about 9,000 years ago. It appears that domestication began in two locations, once in China, and once in what is now modern-day Turkey. While it seems that wild bores first came to Europe from the East, others maintain that pigs may have originated in two places.
A Complex Process
When imagining domestication, we typically assume that domesticated animals were separated from their wild relatives. While domesticated pigs were certainly kept apart, genetic studies show that contact between wild and domestic pigs was not completely limited. Researchers are discovering similar cases in horses and dogs.
Pigs interbred with their wild counterparts fairly regularly throughout history. Yet, farmers kept selecting the most favourable, domesticated traits for breeding, which explains how the physical aspects of pigs changed so much as a result of their contact with humans.
The New World
The explorers brought domestic pigs along with them to the new world. Some escaped, becoming feral and caused extensive disruption. The same story is true in New Zealand and Australia. However, pig farming prevailed, and pigs are now an important domestic animal across the world.
The history of pigs and their domestication is complex, and scientists and researchers are still trying to understand it. Moving forward, we hope we can return domesticated pigs a greater sense of their roots by providing a free-range environment as they grow.
Ask us here at Spragg’s about our free-range production methods!
About Spragg’s Meat Shop Spragg’s Meat Shop is a family-owned and operated business located in Rosemary, Alberta. Greg and Bonnie Spragg raise hogs, process, and market their pork products direct to Albertan consumers. Spragg’s works hard to produce the best pork for Albertans, from the day the pigs are born, to the day the pork chops are cut, bacon is smoked, and the roast is marinated. The Spragg family hopes that you get as much enjoyment eating their pork as they do getting it to your table.