Swine Breeding

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Swine Breeding


a branch of livestock breeding concerned with breeding swine for meat, lard, leather, and other products. Of great significance to the national economy, swine breeding accounted for more than 20 percent of the gross livestock output and 10 percent of the gross agricultural output in 1974.

The high rate of fertility, short gestation period, and early maturation characteristic of swine make it possible to obtain as much as 2.5 tons of pork in live weight annually by breeding one female. A young animal being fattened for meat has a live weight of 90–100 kg by the age of six to seven months. Swine have a high dressed weight, equal to 70–85 percent of the live weight before slaughter. The carcasses of swine slaughtered at a live weight of 100 kg contain on the average as much as 52 percent (in some animals more than 60 percent) meat and as much as 38 percent subcutaneous fat.

Pork and lard are highly nutritious; the digestibility of pork is 90–95 percent, and of lard 98 percent. Pork may be well preserved, and when salted and smoked it can be stored for long periods of time. There are many pork products on the market, including sausages, gammon, ham, roulades, spareribs, and briskets. Pigskin is used in manufacturing footwear and saddles, while bristles are used in manufacturing brushes and intestines in making sausages and strings for musical instruments. Sausages, blood albumin, and blood meal are prepared from swine blood, while bone meal is prepared from swine bones. Pork accounted for more than 40 percent of the meat consumed in the USSR in 1975. Swine are primarily bred for meat, bacon, and lard.

Man first bred swine during the period of the primitive communal system. In the third millennium B.C., the tribes living in the basins of the Dnieper, Iuzhnyi Bug, and Dnestr rivers (Tri-pol’e culture) raised swine for meat and lard; developed slave-holding countries, such as Egypt, Greece, and India, bred swine. As late as the feudal era, only primitive swine breeding was practiced in Western Europe, with swine being grazed in the woods in large herds and kept in the simplest sties. Swine breeding developed significantly during the era of capitalism in connection with the growth of cities and the sharply increased demand for meat and other livestock products.

In the 19th century, many countries in Western Europe started improving local swine breeds and developing new ones. As a result, local unimproved swine almost disappeared from Europe, being replaced by highly productive breeds, many of which, especially the English Large White, are still important today.

In Russia, swine were raised on small-scale subsistence farms in numbers large enough to meet peasant requirements. Most peasant farms raised local breeds having low productivity. Improved breeds, for example, the Large White, Middle White, Berkshire, and Tamworth breeds, were raised only by a few landowners. Accompanying rapid industrial growth, commercial swine breeding developed at the end of the 19th century in the Ukraine, the central chernozem and central zones, the Northern Caucasus, and the Baltic Region. Improved hybrids were bred at this time. The swine population in Russia increased slowly, numbering 23 million in 1916.

The decrees issued by the Soviet government in 1918 and 1919 on the breeding of pedigreed livestock, the protection of pedigreed animals, and the organization of specialized sovkhozes laid the groundwork for the reproduction and improvement of swine breeds. The breeding of pedigreed swine was first conducted by the Plemkul’tura Association (later Gosplemku’-tura). In 1922 and 1923 a cooperative production and marketing association for livestock breeding on peasant farms was established; the association was important in the establishment of nonprivate swine breeding. By 1928, the swine population had increased to 27.7 million. In 1930 and 1931, during the period of the mass collectivization of peasant farms, commercial swine-breeding farms were organized at kolkhozes.

Swine breeding simultaneously developed at sovkhozes. In 1930 the Swine-breeding Union was created, which included 350 sovkhozes, with 218,000 swine. Numerous swine sovkhozes were organized during the first five-year plans in the central industrial regions and the zone of developed swine breeding—in Byelorussia, the Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus, and the Volga Region—and also in Kazakhstan and the Urals, where there had been almost no swine breeding. In 1940 sovkhozes accounted for 36 percent of the pork production in the USSR.

Nonprivate swine breeding suffered greatly during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), when 20 million swine were destroyed. In 1946 there were 4.4 million swine at kolkhozes, sovkhozes, and on other state farms. The number of purebred and upgraded animals sharply decreased. In the following years, swine breeding was completely reestablished (Table 1). The prewar level of development was surpassed by 1953, when the swine population totaled 28.5 million.

In the USSR, pork production in all farm categories in 1940 totaled 1.7 million tons in dressed weight; in 1945, 0.6; in 1950, 1.5; in 1960, 3.3; in 1970, 4.5; and in 1974, 5.5.

The complete cycle of pork production is carried out on most swine-breeding farms, with swine being bred and fattened on feed grown right on the farm. On such large farms the responsibilities of rearing young swine and fattening swine are usually distributed among divisions, sections, smaller farms, and

Table 1. Number of swine in the USSR (in millions)
YearSovkhozes and other state farmsKolkhozesPrivate subsidiary farms belonging to kolkhozniki and other population groupsAll farm categories
1974 ............................24.432.113.570.0

teams. At some kolkhozes and sovkhozes, pork production is specialized, with the young being bred on certain farms and swine being fattened on others. Large state, interkolkhoz, and kolkhoz specialized swine-breeding complexes are constructed, including the Kuznetsovskii Complex in Moscow Oblast, the Il’-ina Gora Complex in Gorky Oblast, and the Gubkino Complex in Belgorod Oblast. Kolkhozes and sovkhozes are modernizing and building large multipurpose mechanized pork-production farms that have a complete production cycle and are designed for fattening 6,000–12,000 or more swine annually. The artificial fertilization of swine is becoming common, with 1.1 million swine artificially fertilized in 1974.

Swine are raised and fattened almost everywhere in the USSR, with the exception of the Far North, the Far East, the taiga regions of Siberia, and the mountainous regions of the Caucasus and Middle Asia. Developed swine breeding is practiced in approximately 80 percent of the kolkhozes and more than 50 percent of the sovkhozes. The largest kolkhoz swine farms and specialized swine-breeding sovkhozes have been established in the economic regions of the RSFSR, including the central chernozem zone, the Volga Region, the Northern Caucasus, and Western Siberia, as well as in the Ukrainian, Moldavian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian SSR’s.

In 1975 the USSR had 362 sovkhozes, kolkhozes, and interkolkhoz enterprises with swine populations of more than 12,000 in each. The kolkhozes and sovkhozes raised 22 highly productive breeds and nine breed groups that were adapted to local environmental conditions. Swine bred for meat and lard include the Ukrainian White Steppe, Ukrainian Spotted Steppe, Breitovo, Livny, Mirgorod, Northern Siberian, and Northern Caucasus breeds. Swine bred for meat and bacon include the Estonian Bacon, Latvian White, Lithuanian White, and Urzhum breeds. The Large White breed, which accounts for 86 percent of all pedigreed swine, has been greatly improved. Pedigreed animals constitute 99.7 percent of the swine (25.7 million animals) at kolkhozes and sovkhozes. Imported breeds raised in the USSR include the Landrace, the Large Black, the White Short-Eared, the Long-Eared White, the Berkshire, and the Pietrain. In 1974 pedigreed animals were raised on 115 pedigree farms, 82 swine-breeding sovkhozes, and 1,379 farms belonging to kolkhozes and sovkhozes.

Swine breeding is taught as a scientific discipline in the USSR at agricultural, zootechnical, veterinary, and zooveterinary higher and secondary educational establishments that train swine-breeding specialists. Scientific research is conducted by the Ail-Union Scientific Research Institute of Livestock Breeding, the Ail-Union Scientific Research Institute for the Raising and Genetics of Agricultural Animals, the Poltava Scientific Research Institute of Hog Raising, local and republic scientific research institutes, experiment stations, and laboratories at higher educational establishments. Scientific research is coordinated by the V. I. Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Swine breeding within and outside the USSR is discussed in the monthly journals Svinovodstvo (Swine Breeding) and Zhivotnovodstvo (Livestock Breeding).

In 1972 the world swine population totaled 680 million, and pork production totaled 40.1 million tons (Table 2). Between 1962 and 1972 the world swine population increased by 22.5 percent. In 1972 the countries with the greatest number of swine were the People’s Republic of China, 231 million; Brazil, 67 million; the USA, 62.5 million; the Federal Republic of Germany, 20 million; Poland, 16.9 million; France, 11.3 million; the German Democratic Republic, 9.9 million; Denmark 8.9 million; Great Britain, 8.6 million; Rumania, 7.7 million; Hungary, 7.3 million; Japan, 7.2 million; and the Netherlands, 6.2 million. World pork production during the period 1962–72 increased by 33.3 percent. The largest pork producers were the People’s Republic of China, 9.2 million tons; the USA, 6.1 million tons; the Federal Republic of Germany, 2.3 million tons; Greece, 2.3 million tons; France, 1.3 million tons; Poland, 1.3 million tons; Great Britain, 1.0 million tons; Brazil, 0.8 million tons; the German Democratic Republic, 0.8 million tons; the Netherlands, 0.8 million tons; Denmark, 0.7 million tons; Czechoslovakia, 0.7 million tons; and Rumania, 0.6 million tons.

Table 2. World swine population and pork production (excluding the USSR)
AreaSwine (in millions)Pork production (in millions of tons)
North and Central America ..90.17.3
South America..........81.31.4

In 1972 pork constituted 45 percent of the meat consumed internationally, with an average individual consumption of 9.5 kg. By country, the average individual consumption in the same year was as follows: the German Democratic Republic, 42.9 kg; Austria, 42.6 kg; the Federal Republic of Germany, 37.0 kg; Czechoslovakia, 34.2 kg; Poland, 34.0 kg; Hungary, 30.8 kg; the USA, 29.4 kg; Great Britain, 27.6 kg; the Netherlands, 27.6 kg; the USSR, 21.0 kg; Italy, 8.2 kg; the countries of Latin America, 6.8 kg; and Japan, 6.6 kg. Europe exports approximately 80 percent of the world’s pork in refrigerated and frozen form and in a fresh form and 96 percent of processed pork, including gammons, sausages, and smoked meat. The primary importers of fresh pork are Great Britain, France, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Japan.

On an international scale, swine breeding is rapidly becoming increasingly more specialized. In socialist countries specialization in swine breeding is associated with the consolidation and industrialization of socialist agricultural enterprises. In capitalist countries specialization is achieved through the horizontal and vertical integration of swine breeding, which often results in the ruin of small farms because these farms cannot compete with large specialized and industrialized enterprises.


Volkopialov, B. P. Svinovodstvo, 4th ed. Leningrad, 1968.
Dobrokhotov, G. N., and G. V. Golubev. “Sovremennye tendentsii razvitiia zarubezhnogo svinovodstva.” Zhivotnovodstvo, 1969, no. 7.
Savich, I. A. Svinovodstvo, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Svinovodstvo. Moscow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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