There’s one thing you can say for sure about keeping livestock, it is that you have to learn the lingo if you’re going to communicate easily and fluently with others on the same topic.
I guess you can say that about any profession or vocation, but it seems quite pronounced concerning our animals.
Listening to two veteran keepers discuss day-to-day happenings can sound a lot like a foreign language!
Let’s look at pigs by way of a for instance: what’s the difference between a hog and a pig?
Generally, a hog refers to any mature pig weighing more than 120 pounds, and sometimes one that is at least 2 years old.
So it turns out that lots of pigs can be hogs, but not every pig is a hog. Further complicating matters there are a lot more contexts in which the term hog might be applied to a given pig.
I promise it isn’t as confusing as it sounds! Keep reading, and I’ll tell you a lot more about pig naming conventions and terminology below.
Hog is Sometimes Used to Refer to all Wild Pigs
Further complicating matters, the term “hog” is often associated with wild pigs, Sus scrofa and used to refer to wild as opposed to domestic animals.
But “hog,” as we learned, can also apply to domesticated pigs, Sus domesticus. This leads to “hog” being used interchangeably with “wild boar,” which also refers to wild pigs: both do, in fact, belong to the family Suidae.
So, the term “hog” does not necessarily refer to wild pigs only, but it also includes domesticated pigs. Context is everything!
Understanding the difference between the two is crucial when discussing these animals. We’ll talk more about wild pigs a little later on.
Sometimes “Hog” Refers to Pigs of a Certain Age
In some contexts when referring to domestic pigs, hog might be used to refer to animals of a certain age regardless of other characteristics.
Used this way, hog might refer to any pig that is 2 years old, or sometimes 3 years old.
Depending on who you are talking to, this is just another way that hog can be confusing when you’re talking about pigs!
“Hog” May Also Describe Pigs of a Certain Weight
Similarly to the use of hog to refer to pigs of a certain age, hog might also refer to domestic pigs of a certain weight, specifically any pig that weighs more than 120 pounds.
You might have heard this referenced before in an old, and grim, aphorism: pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered.
It generally means that getting enough will let you keep going, but getting greedy will lead to disaster. Looked at another way, once a pig gets too big it is off to the slaughterhouse! Speaking of…
Hog Might Refer to Any Pigs Ready for Slaughter
Every now and then you’ll see farmers and other pig keepers use hogs specifically to refer to a pig, any pig, that is ready for slaughter.
When you think of it, this is a somewhat easy way to keep track of your inventory on the hoof.
Pigs are still growing and going to be kept around, but hogs are going to be sent off and turned into product, and that means money.
Are All Hogs Pigs?
Yes. All hogs are pigs no matter how you look at it. By virtue of domestic or wild pigs being swine, and any categorization of hog based on scientific fact, size, weight or anything else also being swine, and necessarily being a subcategory of pigs, we can safely say that all hogs are pigs.
Are All Pigs Hogs?
No. Not all pigs are hogs, but where the overlap is and where the distinction is depends on who you are talking to and how they use “hog.”
For instance, if a pig is referring to a younger animal, then it is a pig and not a hog.
Female pigs furthermore are never hogs unless you are talking to someone who uses hog to refer to any swine that are fit for slaughter or animals of a certain age or weight, although this is typically considered improper.
Now, wild pigs, or feral pigs, may or may not be considered hogs depending on how you classify hogs in general.
Some people lump true feral pigs and actual wild hogs in together! But you can refer to wild hogs as pigs, generally, and that is not inaccurate.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
Find out more about the team here.