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Pork Glossary

All-in, All-out production - A production system whereby animals are moved into and out of facilities in distinct groups. By preventing the commingling of groups, the hope is to reduce the spread of disease. Facilities are normally cleaned and disinfected thoroughly between groups of animals

Barrow - A neutered male is a barrow and the adult male is a boar.

Biosecurity - Diseases can be easily spread between herds and a strict isolation and sanitation program is normally practiced.

Boar - a term for a male domestic swine suitable for breeding.

Cooling - Cooling systems normally involve evaporating water to lower the temperature of the pigs. Generally used only for the breeding-gestation herd. Cooling also takes place by air movement in hot weather.

Corn Belt - The area of the United States where corn is a principal cash crop, including Iowa, Indiana, most of Illinois, and parts of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

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Denitrification - The biochemical reduction of nitrate or nitrite to gaseous nitrogen, either as molecular nitrogen or as an oxide of nitrogen.

Estrous - See Heat

Farrowing - The period from birth to weaning.

Farrow to Finish Operation - A production system that contains all production phases, from breeding to gestation to farrowing to nursery to grow-finishing to market.

Feeder Pig Operation - Breeder sells pigs out of the nursery phase to a finishing operation to grow them out to market weight.

Finisher Pig - Production phase between the nursery and market.

Finishing Operation - The operation purchases feeder pigs from a feeder pig operation and feeds them to market weight at 240 to 260 lbs. Historically, producers purchased feeder pigs at auctions, but because of disease transmission concerns, most operations now bypass auctions and buy all of their animals from the same supplier.

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Gestation - The 113 to 116 day period when the sow is pregnant from breeding until farrowing.

Gilt -Young female, up to about 6 mos old.

Grow-Finish - Pig between nursery and market, usually takes14-16 weeks.

Hand Mating - An individual female that is ready to be bred is exposed to an individual boar in a small pen for a few minutes, under the supervision of the producer.

Heat - Refers to the estrous period for the sow. The first estrous normally occurs 3 to 5 days after the pigs are weaned.

Hog - Generic term, usually applied to growing swine.

Hoop Structure - A low cost, uninsulated and naturally ventilated building used for older swine. The floor is mostly earthen and typically bedded with straw.

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Lactating - Period when a sow is providing milk to her pigs.

Legume - Any of thousands of plant species that have seed pods that split along both sides when ripe. Some of the more common legumes used for human consumption are beans, lentils, peanuts, peas, and soybeans. Others, such as clover and alfalfa, are used as animal feed. Legumes have a unique ability to obtain much or all of their nitrogen requirements from symbiotic nitrogen fixation.

Limit Feeding - Feeding strategy in which pigs are fed a specific amount of food in a specific time period Vs free access to feed. Limit feeding is common in Europe, but normally only used for gestation animals in the U.S.

Litter - The pigs that are born at one time to one sow - normally 8-12 pigs.

Marketing - When they reach market weight, the grow-finish pigs are sold for processing to the packing plant.

Market Weight - 240 to 260 lbs.

Mating - Breeding a sow or gilt after the onset of estrus and before ovulation, may include at least two services by different boars to ensure successful mating.

Mechanical Ventilation - The use of mechanical ventilation fans to pull air through the animal building.

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Natural Ventilation - The design and placement of the building to allow adequate ventilation by controlling wind blowing against the building.

Nitrification - The biochemical oxidation of ammonium to nitrate, predominantly by autotrophic bacteria.

Non-Productive Sow Days - Days a sow is neither lactating or gestating.

Nursery - The growth phase from weaning until they enter the grow-finish building.

Pen - Most swine are grouped together in pens, whether kept in a shelter or in a fenced open lot. The number of animals penned together may be less than 10 to several hundred, but is normally between 15 and 30.

Pen Mating - Boar is placed in a pen with group of sows to allow for breeding.

Pig - Term usually applied to young, immature swine.

Piglet - The offspring of a male boar and a female sow are called piglets, or just pigs.

Puberty - Time of first estrus in sows, usually occurring at 6 mo. of age.

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Segregated Early Weaning - Removal of pigs from mother at 10 - 14 days of age in order to reduce transmission of disease from the mother to her offspring. The milk produced immediately after birth helps to protect the pigs from disease, but this protection decrease over time.

Service - Breeding, the deposition of boar semen into the female. Breeding may be by done naturally by a boar or artificially by the manager, using semen obtained from a local boar or purchased from a supplier. Producers often use artificial insemination as a way to bring new genetics into their herd, without the biosecurity concerns involved with bringing new animals onto their farm.

Shoat - A growing pig. This term has been largely replaced with the terms nursery pig or grow-finish pig.

Slotted Floors - A type of flooring developed in the late 1950's. Narrow open slots in the floor allow manure and water to drain, keeping the floor dry and clean. Slotted floors for larger swine are normally constructed of concrete, but is normally plastic, wire or plastic covered wire for smaller animals. The manure that falls through the slots is collected in a gutter or pit and removed from the building periodically.

Sow - After a female has borne a litter she is called a sow.

Standing Heat - A sow or gilt will assume a rigid stance and maintain it during servicing if she is ready to be bred.

Supplemental Heat - Furnace or radiant heat provided to maintain a comfortable temperature for the animals

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Tunnel Ventilation - A type of ventilation system where air enters at one end and is exhausted by ventilation fans on the other.

Ventilation - Process of providing fresh air for the animals and removing stale air and moisture along with dilution of noxious gases, particulates, etc. in the room.

Weaning - The process of removing the pigs from the sow and moving them to the nursery.

Wild Boar - These wild hogs are still found in parts of the United States. Pigs used in modern pork production are thought to be descendants of the European wild boar. Wild boars are considered to be descendants of European wild boars introduced into the US for sport hunting, or the hybrid offspring of escaped domestic hogs.

Adapted in part from Pitcher, P. and S. Springer, 1997. University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

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