Good Great question!
She kinda hated to ask. I am so glad she did! There are so many phrases, breeds, and terms that are unique to each livestock species. It gets confusing. For example:
a castrated male in cattle is a steer
pigs? a barrow
horses – gelding
goats – wether (I think this is the same for sheep, as well).
When we added goats to our farm, I had to refresh my knowledge. Well, actually, learn new information as I knew very little about goats. The inconsistent vocabulary goes on for the females, young ‘uns, and breeding males.
Why can’t the livestock linguists be consistent?? Maybe it is a way for seasoned farmers/ranchers to quickly discern the newbies to the field? But, I digress.
Farrowing is the birthing process for sows having their piglets. Some farms are not set up to farrow, so they buy their pigs, usually in the 40-60 pound range, then “feed them out.” Some people like to buy one (or a few) feeder pigs in order to be able to raise their own meat. A “finished” hog (one that is ready for slaughter) is approximately 250-260 pounds. Most of the pigs that you see at a fair are at/near finishing weight.
On our little farm, we have pigs because of Pig-farmer and his crazy love of pigs. He loves the whole process, from farrow to finish. We would like to offer people the option of buying a finished hog from us and we would deliver it to the meat processor for them. They would have the opportunity to choose a 1/2 or whole hog, the cuts of meat they want, etc. The benefit would be that they know their meat was raised humanely and locally; plus the Berkshire breed is known for its high quality of meat. It just tastes better. (Like you see Angus beef being touted at restaurants and stores? Angus is a beef breed recognized for its meat quality.)
I love the questions. Don’t be afraid to ask!