Tag Archives: pig

Does a pig have the right to play?

28 Nov

Last Friday we took the second half of our B.Sc. students (Course: Nutrition Ecology) on an excursion to a local commercial pig farm with about 2.000 swine. The course is built around a value chain approach to the food system and thus includes a ‘chapter’ on food production where we look at typical and alternative production forms. The piggies we saw had an outside stall area in addition to the inside stall. The outside stall had  playthings: a chain with a piece of wood on which the piggies can chew, which they like to do.project-buta-tot-zo-ver_001-540x405_klein

That pigs like to play is not new. Thus you can find many shops with hog toys such as this one. As a matter of fact there is a Dutch research project on this: Playing with Pigs. The project is an outcome of research on “Ethical room for manoeuvre in livestock farming”, a collaboration between the Utrecht School of the Arts, Wageningen University and Wageningen UR Livestock Research. Within the project, a game which allows interaction between pigs and people was developed; see it in a clip on vimeo here. The researchers say one of the things they’ve discovered is how much pigs like to play with light.

playingwithpigs_kleinNot just pigs like to play. Many animals have been observed, photographed and filmed at play – within their own and across species borders. I still have an old National Geographic edition with the title story Animals at Play.

23594676[1]One of the animals-at-play featured was a crow that was photographed lying on its back and sliding down a snow-covered incline, only to get up and repeat the process. This has been filmed and featured again and again, and many other stories too, such as here as well as this whole entry on tail-pulling by mischievous crows on Jenn(ifer Campbell-Smith)’s lovely Corvid blog here.



Beard to tail, anyone?

12 Jan

There I was just following up a short little mention of a pop-up restaurant in London called Beard to Tail, when I uncovered the biggest foodie-fight around (that’s what it felt like to me anyway) – on the etymology of the word barbecue! Intrigued by visions of animals with beards and managing to think only of goats, I decided to pursue this into the Interwebs. According to various media coverages of the restaurant, it gets it name from the French root of barbecue, i.e. barbe à queue, which literally means beard to tail. It certainly gives added depth to going the whole hog. Buuut, as you will discover, if you too pursue this, that is just one of two major and hotly contested schools of thought on the origins of the word barbecue. The other major school claims its derived from barbacoa, a word attributed to various peoples in the Caribbean (Guyana, Haiti, West Indies, depending on your source) which has something to do with a framework of sticks or a sacred fire, again, depending on your source. Actually, the BBQ explanation I like most of all is Bar,Beer,Cue,(Pig) – from a whiskey bar, a beer hall and a pool establishment which offered whole roasted porkeroos. If you have some time while your mustachioed spare ribs are slow-cooking you can visit a really comprehensive take here.