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The pig was a forest-dwelling animal from the beginning of its history. In some parts of the world it has been domesticated for at least 7000 years. The European breeds of domestic swine were derived from the local wild pig, Sus scrofa. Herds ranged in pastures and forests and kept indoors only for fattening. The breeds in the Far East were derived from another wild pig, Sus vittatus, a smaller animal with shorter legs and a higher reproductive ability (Mohr 1960; Zeuner 1963). The two types interbred readily. The modem breeds of pig evolved from different crossings between the two original types. They form a rich diversity of genetic material and more than 200 breeds have been catalogued. Certain wild types of pig-like animals, such as the African bush pig (Pontamochoerus larvatus) and the wart hog (Phacochoerus aethiopecus), have never been domesticated.

The basis of the social structure in feral swine is the matriarchal herd: one or several females with their offspring. The males are not permanently associated to such herds, often ranging solitary or in 'bachelor' groups (Fig. 52). Under domestication the pig has been modified from a pugnacious, free-ranging, foraging beast to a more docile animal which is handled readily in large groups under conditions of confined rearing. The behavioural plasticity of swine is emphasized by the rapidity with which wild pigs have adapted to rearing in restricted conditions. Although most of our knowledge of the behaviour of swine has been gained from data collected incidentally to research on nutrition, breeding, physiology and management, a number of experimental studies have recently appeared in learning, adaptation, social, sexual and maternal behaviours, making the pig the best known species among domestic mammals, from the point of view of behaviour.


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