Meishan pigs at the Meat Animal Research Centre in Nebraska
|Country of origin||China|
Sus scrofa domesticus
The Taihu pig (Chinese: 太湖猪) is a domestic breed from the narrow region of mild sub-tropical climate around the Taihu Lake region in the lower Yangtze River Valley of China. The breed is a large one, black in colour with a heavily wrinkled face. It has a large head with a broad forehead and large folded ears. The breed has a number of divisions, classified by some authors as strains and by others as separate breeds.
All the Taihu strains have a high rate of reproduction with litter sizes ranging up to twenty, but averaging fourteen live piglets. This characteristic, as well as their resistance to disease, has resulted in interest in the pigs for research into breeding and genetic engineering. Taihu pigs have been established in France, Albania, Hungary, Japan, the UK and the US.
Taihu pig strains
There are usually four main groups of the Taihu pig identified and these are listed below. Although many others are named by authors, it is debatable whether there is any substantial genetic difference as some variation is due to diet and environment rather than genetics. Taihu are kept well-fed on a vegetable diet with large amounts of roughage, which sometimes leaves them short of calcium for bone development.
Other named strains
Research outside China
Interest has grown in Western countries in the possibility of using this pig in the female line of a breeding program with the hope that they can improve the taste, disease resistance and litter size while retaining the fast growth of Western breeds, possibly using genetic engineering techniques. 144 pigs, mostly various strains of Taihu, but also some Minzhu, were brought into the US in 1989 under a United States Department of Agriculture scheme with the University of Illinois and Iowa State University.
- Mike R. Taverner, A. C. Dunkin, "Pig production", World Animal Science, vol.10C: Production System Approach, p.337, Elsevier Health Sciences, 1996 ISBN 0-444-88347-9.
- "Fengjing" @ Oklahoma State University: Department of Animal Science
- Taverner and Dunkin 1996, following Zhang, 1986.
- Flanders, 2009.
- "Taihu Pig" @ International Livestock Research Institute: Training Resource.
- James R. Gillespie, Frank B. Flanders, "Modern Livestock and Poultry Production", pp.396-397, Cengage Learning, 2009 ISBN 1-4283-1808-9.