(Show/Hide Browsing Column ->)
|Written By: Elizabeth Barrette (Writer), Ellen Million (Editor)|
|The dairy sow is a domestic swine breed optimized for milk production (@ 6 gallons/day). Most animals are white with black spots or tan with brown spots, although some are solid-colored. They are excellent foragers.|
Animal Name(s): Dairy Sow (English), orsakorg (Torn Tongue)
Description: The dairy sow is a large domestic swine breed optimized for milk production. They have been bred for docile temper as well as high output. Dairy sows have longer legs and leaner bodies than most pigs, with very prominent udders and large teats, and weigh in as the largest of the swine. Their thick curly coat protects them from harsh weather. Most animals are white with black spots or tan with brown spots, although some are solid-colored.
Male piglets are customarily separated from the milking herd and raised for meat. After weaning, they are turned loose in orchard or forest space to forage for themselves. In autumn when the natural food supply dwindles, these pigs are rounded up and butchered.
Habitat: This breed developed in the Mruuna shard, after cattle died out. After the time barriers fell, the dairy sow was exported to other regions. They are particularly popular in areas where the pasturage is not good enough to support a herd of cows or goats for milk production, and in semi-rural areas where a family might not have enough room for a cow.
Breeding Habits and Family Units: Like other domestic swine, dairy sows are commonly kept in herds where one boar may service several dozen sows. The milking herd is kept under close human supervision. Young males may be gathered into herds and released to fend for themselves during the summer.
A young (8-12 months) boar can service about a dozen females in a pastured herd or about twice that many if mated individually in barn stalls. Older boars can service up to 40 females at pasture or 50 individually. A gilt (young female) matures around 5-6 months and becomes fertile for 2-3 days per 21-day cycle. Gestation lasts about 113 days.
An average litter is about 8 piglets, although litters up to 14 are not uncommon. Dairy sow piglets are born with a thick coat of fur. This helps keep their temperature needs closer to that of their mother, which means they are less likely to be crushed by a restless sow. A sow can typically produce two litters per year.
Ecological Niche: Some dairy sows have escaped to establish feral populations. These quickly lose the docility of the domestic stock and can become a hazard. Their sturdiness and foraging potential suit them well for life in the wild.
Swine are helpful for turning over the soil in reasonable numbers. Overpopulation can allow them to destroy the habitat by too much rooting, however. Piglets that stray from adult protection may fall prey to small predators. Adults tend to be safe from most Torn World predators because there aren't a lot of large ones left, but they are still vulnerable to those that remain and to packs of feral dogs.
Interaction with Humans: After the Upheaval, humans in this shard found themselves without cattle. There were still some pigs available, though, including rare breeds that were hardy and good at foraging. These pigs proved very useful in maximizing food production for humans.
Today dairy sows remain popular because they produce about as much milk as a cow (averaging 6 gallons a day), and their milk is quite rich and nutritious. They require less room and can subsist on poorer food. They have developed a pleasant temperament and are smarter than most livestock, so can be trained to behave nicely for milking.
One interesting thing is that dairy sows have 14 teats instead of a cow's 4 or goat's 2. Therefore, farmers customarily place teams of two or three milkers on a single sow to milk her efficiently. This drains the milk faster, so overall, the process is comparable to the labor-hours needed to handle other dairy animals. Milking is done from a sitting position, or with the sow elevated on a milking platform.
Local cuisine includes many recipes that combine pork (such as bacon or sausage) and dairy (milk or cheese) products. Sausages made with cheese chunks inside are especially popular.
The curly hair of the pigs is not good for spinning, but its springy texture makes excellent filling for pillows or stuffed toys. The hides make good leather and are sometimes tanned with the hair on for novelty.
Lore: There is a legend about the Upheaval in which a clever farmgirl managed to fool Trickster into creating the dairy swine. Trickster said that people would only be allowed to keep one kind of livestock: the cow, the sheep, or the pig. She described an animal with the sweet milk of a cow, the warm coat of a sheep, and the rich meat of a pig -- and so the dairy sow was made.
Relatives: Dairy sows are somewhat related to other breeds of domestic swine, though not very closely since most surviving breeds derive either from exotic pets or from commercial meat animals. They are more distantly related to wild swine such as the Snowshoe Boar and Sand-Pig.
This article contains extra material for our contributors only!
(There are no stories or poems related to this article.)
All Related Articles:
Domestic Animals of the Empire:
Mruuna: An assimilated culture, primitive in technology.