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|Country of origin||Vietnam|
Sus scrofa domesticus
Considerably smaller than standard American or European farm pigs, most adult pot-bellied pigs are about the size of a medium- or large-breed dog, though their bodies are denser at 8 to 136 kg (20 to 300 lb). There is a dispute between pig breeders and pig advocates over what the appropriate minimum weight of a healthy adult pot-bellied pig should be, with some advocates claiming that a pig under approximately 60 pounds would be severely malnourished or dangerously stunted, and some breeders claiming that it is possible to selectively breed a pig that will reach a healthy optimal weight at 20 - 30 pounds. Fat rolls over the eyes or a belly that touches the ground are visual indicators that a pig is overweight. In a pig of normal weight, hip bones can easily be felt with minimal pressure and the eyes (whole socket) should be easily visible. Pot-bellied pigs can be easily discerned from other pig breeds by their size, upright ears, and straight tail. Not all pure sub-species have a pot belly and a swayed back.
Boars, un-neutered male pigs, become fertile at six months of age, long before they are completely physically mature. Pot-bellied pigs are considered fully-grown by six years of age, when the epiphyseal plates in the long bones of the legs finally close.
Because pot-bellied pigs are the same species as ordinary farmyard pigs and wild boars, they are capable of interbreeding. Most pot-bellied pigs have been crossed with various farm pig species, which is why many are outsized in comparison to a true purebred Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pig. A 2004 study by Thuy revealed extreme genetic diversity in indigenous Vietnamese Pot-bellied pigs. The purebred pigs had more alleles per gene locus and a large range of allelic sizes. They were also genetically different from each other according to location of origin in Vietnam. Pig breeds from developed countries were refined over centuries to a specific genetic make-up. This means when you cross a purebred Vietnamese Pot-bellied with another pig type, its genetic material is more diverse and the offspring will resemble the more specific pig imports. The German Agriculture Ministry has been assisting Vietnam with its pork production by introducing large breeds of pigs into Vietnam since the mid-1980s.
Today, the Vietnamese and German governments have realized that the indigenous Vietnamese pig sub-species exist only in mountainous Vietnam and Thailand. The Vietnamese government has begun to subsidize local farmers that continue to raise the indigenous pot-bellied pigs because it realizes they are neither as prolific nor as large as other breeds.
Many breeders recommend the spaying or neutering of both genders at a young age if the owner does not wish to breed them. Many local laws also require licensed pet pigs to be neutered. The procedure is different from the method used in farm pigs. Neutering is said to reduce the aggression of boars and female pigs during estrus, as well as the risk of testicular cancer and uterine tumors. The hooves and tusks are also recommended to be trimmed.
The recent upsurge in the popularity of pot-bellied pigs as fad pets has led to abandonment when owners discover that the pigs actually grow to larger sizes and require more care than they believed. Others are forced to give up pet pigs due to local ordinances.
According to Adam Goldfarb, the director of the Pets At Risk program for the Humane Society of the United States, "Potbellied pigs are really emblematic of what happens to an animal when it becomes a popular or fad pet. We saw this in the '90s when there was the initial potbellied pig craze. A lot of people went to buy them because they are so cute when they are little but then they get big."
Pot-bellied pig associations recommend adoption from local shelters instead of buying. Others like the Southern California Association for Miniature Pot Bellied Pigs (SCAMPP) and the California Potbellied Pig Association (CPPA) are actively involved in housing abandoned pet pigs. Despite this, shelters often have difficulty in finding new homes for abandoned pigs.
- Domestic pig
- Ironwood Pig Sanctuary (a non-profit pot bellied pig sanctuary located in Pinal County, Arizona)
- Miniature pig
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- Huyen, Le Thi Thanh; Roessler, Regina; Lemke, Ute; Zárate, Anne Valle (2005). Impact of the use of exotic compared to local pig breeds on socio-economic development and biodiversity in Vietnam. Beuren, Stuttgart: University of Hohenheim, Institute of Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics; Verlag Ulrich E. Grauer;F. u. T. Müllerbader GmbH. ISBN 3-86186-496-7. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
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