From farm to fork and everywhere else: how pigs make the world turn

Externship Project

From everyday items such as soap, fabric softener, shoes, paper and pet food, to injectable insulin, paint, x-ray film and heart valves, it is quite amazing what the combination of some human ingenuity and a pig can create!

Ontario pork producers supplied 5.17 million pigs, that’s approximately 300 million kg of pork, in 2015. Veterinarians play an important role in ensuring the health of pigs who contribute in so many ways to the world we live in, from managing herd health, ensuring top-notch animal care and food safety, to upholding high biosecurity standards and reducing the spread of disease. Pigs are an important source of protein in our diets but the non-edible swine by-products are also used in a variety of ways.

Further processing of swine by-products using the technology we have today has allowed for the creation of items for use in the medical field or at home and these do not resemble its origins whatsoever! Good examples in medicine include replacement heart valves, gel capsules, injectable insulin, collagen and x-ray film. A few examples of at-home uses include bone china, crayons, soap, candles and paintbrushes.

I had some time to myself this week so I had a chance to do some light reading.

Written by Christien Meindertsma, PIG05049 takes the reader through the many uses of swine by-products that are left over once the meat (which is only 50% of the body weight) is harvested. After reading this book, I learned that as much as half of one pig can end up as products that are used by people daily, both non-meat eaters and meat-eaters alike. I am now much more appreciative of the veterinarians, farmers and the pigs themselves for their contribution to our everyday life.

If you would like to learn more, I recommend watching the following video.

Thanks so much for reading and following me @KashKuruppuOVC













Above are some examples from PIG05049 of various everyday products that are created using swine by-products. (Image adapted from