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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/697

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GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE COMMON HOG.

 
CHAPTER XX
 

General Observations on the Various Breeds of Home and Foreign Pigs, Manner of Cutting Up, Table of Prices, etc.


The hog belongs to the class Mammalia, the order Ungulata, the genus Sus Scrofa, or swine, and the species Pachydermata, or thick-skinned. Its generic characters are a small head with a flexible snout. When fully matured, say at twenty months old, it has 44 teeth. viz. 24 molars, 4 canine teeth, 4 tusk, 4 corners and 8 incisors. The hog is one of the few animals which possess teeth at birth. These number four above and four in the lower jaw, and are so sharp when the date of parturition exceeds the normal period, that it is frequently necessary to break them off in order to prevent the little newly-born pig biting the udder of its mother or the cheeks of its young neighbour. By the time the pigling has arrived at the age of four or five weeks, twelve of the temporary molars will have appeared, and the eight temporary incisors be developed. The principal changes in the dentition of pigs take place at periods of about three months, so that all the temporary teeth will be present by the time the pig is a year old, and all the permanent teeth in evidence at eighteen months, although these will not be fully grown until the pig has reached the age of about twenty months. Our veterinary surgeons declare that the variations in the detention of pigs are less than in any of our domesticated animals, but this opinion is strongly contested by exhibitors of pigs.

From the number and position of the teeth physiologists are enabled to define the nature and functions of the animal; and from those of the hog it is evident that he is as much of a grinder as a biter, or can live as well on vegetable as on animal food, though a mixture of both is plainly indicated as the character of food most conducive to the proper maintenance of its physical system.

Though the hoof of the pig is as a general rule cloven, there are several remarkable exceptions, as in some of the pigs in the United States, Norway, Illyria, Sardinia, etc., in which the hoof is entire and uncleft.

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