Swine Smarts

Swine Smarts

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Pigs are one of the top 5 most intelligent animals on the planet according to Huffington Post.  That is something to squeal about for us swine owners and farmers!  Working with pigs involves a lot of communication.  Swine communicate amongst themselves and they have a lot to say to us.  Here are some ways we can better understand what our pigs are saying.

Sows are generous when it comes to farrowing, as those sows have a large job when it comes that time.  Yet, amongst the chaos of piglets and suckling you have most likely have heard a mother sow sing to her piglets.  This sweet song has a dual purpose.  First, it is for the piglets to be able to find their mother.  Because sows often collectively mother piglets due to number of piglets born at once, the biological mother sings her song as a suckling time announcement, thus allowing the piglets to choose the correct mother to suckle.  Secondly, the sow sings the song is for the piglets to stay calm while suckling.  Mother sows are notorious for being great mothers and often work collectively to raise piglets.  SOW POWER!

Pigs don’t just say “oink!”  Nursery rhymes fall short of teaching children how intelligent pigs are.  You don’t have to be around pigs very long to know that they love to communicate with sounds!  According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, pigs’ vocabularies average around 20 distinct noises including, grunts, snorts snarls, squeaks, singing and more.  Each sound has a specific meaning such us warning, calming, communicating mood, greetings, and feeding time announcements.  Each pig presents its own style of communicating and personality that keeps us in-tune with their needs, anxiety and happiness.  Not only have we learned what pigs are saying, but pigs have also taught us how to communicate with them and swine owners across the country use these calls for daily herding and feeding. They also they compete for the most exquisite swine call in the land!

Tails are telling when it comes to pigs!  Curly or straight, if your pig has a tail chances are you have seen it wiggle its tail with excitement.  Just like dogs, pigs often wag their tails in excitement and then droop their tails when they are down or ill.  What if their tail has been docked?  Well, luckily swine are transparent and vocal on how they are feeling, which makes it a bit easier on owners working to solve pig problems.  Psychology Today has even classified pigs as “sophisticated communicators,” as opposed to many other animals on the farm.

Psychology Today states that, “pigs are able to solve challenging problems, love to play and display a wide range of emotions and have unique individual personalities.”  Pigs are classified as being cognitively and emotionally complex.  They grieve, express happiness, communicate and can even be taught to play video games with a joystick and find food with a mirror that is not directly visible!  As we take a step onto our farms and hear the morning chatter of our swine or call them in to feed, their unconditional love, constant communication and productivity on our farms and homes makes them each one fine pig!