The Pig – A Natural History – Richard Lutwyche

I read a lot of books about livestock, some good, some less so. This one is excellent. It covers every aspect of pigs and the author’s comprehensive knowledge of the species shines through.

Starting with a discussion on the origins and domestication of the pig, the book goes on to explain their anatomy and biology, noting how they reproduce and how the species’ characteristic features, the snout and tusks, are used.

The chapters on how pigs behave and why they do the things they do are particularly fascinating, and it is made apparent they are far more sophisticated animals than many suppose.

I also enjoyed the section on pig’s relationship with humans. Apart from being the source of a variety of food, pigs have had a surprisingly large cultural impact, as the number of references in literature film and religious texts make clear.

The different ways in which pigs are kept are looked at in a fair and comprehensive way, with several pages on both industrial and extensive systems, though its apparent where the author’s own sympathies lie.

The book concludes with what I found to be an extremely useful overview of the various breeds including detailed profiles of 30 of them.

The book, although it includes much technical material is well written and accessible with ample pictures and diagrams to aid understanding. The design is particularly effective. The frequent use of boxed texts means the reader can chose to follow the text through or break off to read some captivating anecdote or point of detail.

What I particularly loved about the book is the author’s obvious respect for pigs as livestock; animals we use, but which we also must have respect for.  So many books about livestock either over sentimentalise them or treat them as mere units of production.  This book recognises them for what they really are and in an extremely engaging way.

Christopher Price

CEO Rare Breeds Survival Trust