Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

pig Sus scrofa, is the domesticated animal. The wild form of the species is wild boar. For ‘wild pigs’, other than feral specimens of the domestic breed, see also bush pig and warthog. Originally, the word pig denoted the young animal, but that is now a distinction maintained only in the USA, where the adult is universally termed a hog. In England, a hog is a castrated male.

The natural habitat of wild pigs is woodland. They are omnivorous, capable of living on anything from acorns to carrion, and were no doubt attracted to the crops and refuse heaps of early farming settlements. Piglets are easily tamed, and domestication of pigs may have begun as early as that of sheep and goats (the 8th millennium bc), in the same area; the bones of domesticated pigs are found at sites from 7000 BC onwards in the ‘fertile crescent’ of SW Asia. Domestication may have taken place in the Orient at something like the same time.