Pigs were among the first of all animals to be domesticated about 6,000 years ago. The Chinese were the first to raise pigs for food, and bacon is one of the oldest processed meats in history. Pigs were introduced to the New World in 1539 by a Spanish explorer named Hernando DeSoto.
Colonists in Pennsylvania developed the practice of “finishing” hogs by feeding them only corn in the few weeks before butchering them. By doing this, the quality of pork was improved and the foundation for the modern pork industry was set. During the 1800s, once the Midwest farm regions were settled, hog raising was an important commercial enterprise.
Today’s swine producers are very careful about what they feed their pigs. They eat a diet of corn, wheat, and soybean with vitamins and minerals added to increase growth and improve health. Hogs today weigh more in comparison to earlier times because their diets are carefully planned, they grow more efficiently, and they yield more lean meat.