Sows are ready to breed by the age of six months. The gestation period is three weeks and three days. Young sows have litters of eight to ten piglets, while older sows may have between ten and twelve. Young males are castrated after birth (within the first fortnight), as their meat tastes unpleasant when they reach about 80 kg. A piglet weighs around 1.5 kg at birth. Young male piglets already weigh 20 kg at the age of ten weeks. Five or six months later, they weigh 100 kg and are ready to be slaughtered at an abattoir or by a traditional butcher. In terms of which parts are edible, as Brillat-Savarin said, “Every part is the best part!” You can eat the shoulder, rump, neck, tenderloin, belly, ribs, thighs, shank, trotters, hocks, head, fat and even the tongue and liver. Pigs’ intestines are also used to make sausages.
There are 4 main breeds of pig farmed in Switzerland:
The Large White, maternal line (characterised for its high fertility): white, upright ears, top breed;
The Large White, paternal line (characterised by its fattening performance and high meat yield): white, upright ears, boar for reproduction of porkers (pigs reared for meat production);
Landrace: white, drooping ears, breed in decline;
Duroc: reddish brown, they are crossed with white sows to produce pigs fattened for eating (porkers).