The story

Micro-pigs are the latest celebrity pet craze after Paris Hilton has been with a tiny pig in her handbag and Posh spice has reportedly bought two for David Beckham.  This may seem a solution to the ‘what to get the person who has everything for Christmas’ problem but a few of points that maybe you want to consider first:

– Micro pigs are being sold for upwards of £600.  A ‘normal’ pig will set you back £50.

– These tiny pigs measuring 10cm snout to tail are, in fact, micro because they are piglets and will grow to much bigger pigs that you would struggle to fit into a holdall let alone a handbag.  They will not be able to stay living inside your house and will require the same care that you would give a normal pig.

– You must apply for a livestock licence from DEFRA before you can legally own one and will need another licence if you want to transport the pig anywhere.

Looking less like an ideal pet now aren’t they?

Teaching idea

Most of the micro-pigs for sale have been selectively bred over several generations so they are smaller than average.  A fully grown micro-pig is around the same size as a medium sized dog which not exactly minute but still smaller than a normal sized pig.   The micro pigs sold at Little Pig Farm are a hybrid of 3 breeds – Kune Kune (a New Zealand breed with a hint of wild boar), Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot.

Introducing the micro-pigs as a way of teaching selective breeding of animals will inevitably be greeted with lots of ‘aahhs’ from the students and as they have been in the media a lot recently, students will be interested to learn about them.

Of course, people have been selectively breeding farm animals for generations.  Students can be shown images of an ancient and modern breed of pig and point out the differences between them.

They can then suggest  the advantages of the features of the modern pig over the ancient breed (less hair, more muscle and less fat, produces large litters, less aggressive) and suggest how the pigs have been selectively bred to produce these features.

Teaching resource

This Micro pigs PowerPoint can be used as a starter or a plenary.  It asks students to suggest to a farmer how he may go about breeding micro pigs in order to cash in on this new craze.  Students should suggest that he breed the smallest pigs together and after several generations he should start to have smaller pigs.  However, this is not going to make him rich quick as it will take several generations and by that time the craze will probably be over anyway!

Weblinks

BBC news story on micro pigs

Little Pig Farm’s website.

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