Iowa State Mammal
Domestic Pig (common name)
Sus domestica (scientific name)
Iowa has no official state animal, but with 14.5 million domestic pigs in the state, there’s little doubt that swine are both extremely common and important to the state’s economy. In fact, about a quarter of U.S. pigs come from the small state. Iowa has had an important swine farm industry since the late 1880s. Different types of wild pigs occur naturally all over the world, but pigs were probably first raised domestically in the near east, making their way to Europe and then America with Spanish explorers. Domestic pigs are raised for their meat.
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Pigs have little hair or fur, and their skins are often pink but sometimes black or white. A pig’s most distinctive feature is its truncated snout, which is adapted for digging. Pigs have small, round eyes and pointed upright or semi-upright ears. Their body shape varies by breed, but is usually a smooth oval. Pigs have hooves with four toes per foot and a small tail, which is often curled.
Up to 15 years. Most farmed pigs live 4–5 years.
Shaded or partly moist locations.
Conservation Status: Least concern
Because most domestic pigs have so little hair and do not sweat, they need to protect their skins from the sun and stay cool by staying in the shade and wallowing in mud. Some types of pigs were traditionally raised in orchards so that they were protected by the shade and could feed on fallen fruit. Almost all small farmers traditionally provided their pigs a suitable wallow.
Pigs are adapted for and enjoy digging. If they are partly free-range, then they dig for roots, nuts, and insects to eat. Most Iowa pigs, however, are fed specially formulated, commercially produced feed. Pigs are generally clever and can be kept as pets and trained like dogs, but they need sufficient outdoor space, and their tendency to dig makes them destructive in most settings as they get older.
Pigs generally have one litter of piglets per year in the springtime, but in large farm settings may give birth to up to three litters per year. They gestate for three to four months, and piglets suckle for three to five weeks. Farmers generally wean piglets early if they need sows to reproduce again quickly, and wait longer if they’re more concerned about having sturdy piglets. Young pigs reach full size when they are between three and five years old.
Top land speed recorded: 11 mph (18 kph). Pigs not bred and fed for weight can run up to 15 mph (24 kph).
Nuts, roots, and insects. Pigs on small farms were traditionally fed table scraps. Modern farms are typically very large, where pigs often have a grain-based diet supplemented with vitamins to help them grow quickly.
Breeding interval: Up to 3 times per year
Birthing period: Year-round
Average litter size: 8–12 piglets
Size at birth: 3 lbs (1.3 kg)
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Data Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Author: World Trade Press