1. HEAD – the comestible elements of the head are brawn, ear and snout. Brawn consists of thin strips of muscle tissue overgrown with fat and fasciae. Ear consists of cartilage and fasciae, with fat tissue and skin. Snout is a layer of skin on a thick underlay of fat tissue. The food items of the head are suitable for cooking on broths and jellies.

2. JOWL – is a fat and muscle part of pork. It is suitable for rendering the lard and as an addition to the stuffings and pastries.

3. SHOULDER / NECK / BOSTON BUTT – this is the neck portion of the loin, a muscle tissue overgrown with fat and connective tissue. It is suitable for braising for zrazy or goulash, as well as for frying, steaks, chops and for cooking – before or after curing.

4. PICNIC SHOULDER – are the muscles of the shoulder, overgrown with connective tissue and covered from the outside with a layer of fat. Suitable for stewing and preparation of zrazy and braised roast, as well as for cooking, before or after curing.

5. BACK FAT – is the element obtained from the dorsal part of the half-carcase. The cutlines are along the cutlines for ham, then shoulder and jowl, and from the bottom - along the cutoff line of belly (bacon).

6. SHANK – these are small bunches of muscle overgrown with fasciae, ending in a layer of fat and skin. It is suitable for products from the ground mass and for cooking and roasting before or after curing.

6. HIND SHANK – the comestible elements are hind shank and leg (hock). Hind shank is a meat tissue overgrown with fasciae and membranes. It is suitable for products from the ground mass and for cooking and roasting, before or after curing. The hock consists of cartilage surrounded with skin. It is suitable for cooking broths and jellies.

7. LOIN – is the musculus longissimus of the back, thick, tender and uniform. On one end, it is attached to the vertebrae, on the other to the costal bones. Suitable for frying, fillets and cutlets, as well as for braising, roasting, and zrazy.

8. RIBS – they are covered with a thin layer of muscle overgrown with fasciae and fat. They are suitable for cooking – before or after curing.

9. PORK RUMP – these muscles are tender, uniform and juicy. They are used for frying, schnitzels, fillet, brisol and for stewing and roasting, as well as for the zrazy and piece of meat.

10. BELLY / BACON – is the fat portions interspersed with thin layers of muscle. It is suitable for roasting, cooking and for braising.

11. HAM – it consists of fricandeau I, II and III. Fricandeau I is a tender, finely fibrous and juicy meat tissue. Fricandeau II has a tender structure of the muscle, it can be divided into visible muscle bundles overgrown with fasciae. Fricandeau III consists of a layer of muscle interspersed with fasciae. Fricandeau I and II are suitable for frying, braising and roasting. Fricandeau III only for braising (roasts, zrazy).

12. BELLY STRIP – is the part cut off from ham, which contains caudal vertebrae, covered with muscular-fat tissue. Suitable for cooking broths and soups.

13. LEG / HOCK – is the element obtained from the fore and hind limb, separated in the radio-carpal joint so as the carpal bones remain with the leg.

14. PORK TAIL – a thin layer of muscle tissue covering the small vertebrae and covered with skin. It is suitable for cooking broths.


The ancestors of domestic swine were wild pigs inhabiting the areas of Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean region, i.e. the European wild boar (Sus scrofa ferus), Asian wild boar (Sus vitatus) and the Mediterranean boar (Sus mediterraneus). Those ancestors are the begining of all modern, pure breeds of pigs that have been obtained by their crossbreeding. The wild ancestors of these animals are still preserved in today's animals in, among others: multiparity, omnivorousness, well-developed senses of taste, smell and hearing, with a poor sense of sight. The domestication of pigs, on the other hand, has led to their ability to reproduce throughout the year, very good use of feed, the speeding up of their growth and the amassing of a large muscular tissue. Rearing and fattening of swine has always been, on a global and local scale, a highly significant component of agriculture; and the obtained meat is a valuable and high-rating article of food, both as culinary and process meat.

The distribution and the size of the pig population in the world is primarily dependent on religious grounds and the feed resources, as well as the demand for pork. Around the world, three pig breeding centers can be identified. The European Center is composed of: Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Germany, France and Hungary; the American one: The United States and Canada; while the Asian one - China. A significant producer of pork is also Brazil. The largest exporters of pork are: The United States, Canada, Brazil, the European Union (mainly Denmark). The primary recipients of pork meat are: Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe.

Breeding and rearing of pigs are strongly related to plant production, especially with the cultivation of cereals, which are the main ingredients used in feedingstuffs for pigs. The cereal prices strongly affect the profitability of production. An increase in grain prices leads to the decrease of production and the reduction of the pig population.
Earlier, the pigs were subdivided into 3 types: back fat, fat-meat and meat, the names of which clearly pointed to their intended use. The criteria of the categorization were the growth rate and early puberty age. The fat-meat type and meat type of pigs were characterized by the faster rate of growth with varied age of puberty. The back fat type of pigs included the slow-growing pigs, which also had varied puberty age. The ability to categorize a particular breed as a given type allowed for the application of the appropriate technology of fattening. This division was justified in the era before the First World War, in the interwar period, and even in the first years after the Second World War, when there was a varied demand for raw slaughter material. The back fat type pigs provided the raw material for the production of melted fats and for processed for the production of heavy porks which constituted the source of raw material for the production of quality smoked meat and sausages. With the increasing affluence and a higher level of consumption in Europe, the demand for lean pork meat produced by pigs meat type has increased. Today, most modern breeds of pigs are the meat type and they are characterized by a quick growth rate combined with intense build-up of muscle tissue. These breeds differ in growth rate, muscle build-up rate, the use of feed, resistance to stress, the quality of the meat (its usefulness as process and culinary meat). In many countries of Europe, the breeding programs of particular races of races prioritize the activities aiming at meat quality, as a complement of the activities aiming at the improvement of breeding performance, growth rate and slaughtering efficiency. The national program of improvement of pure breeds of pigs has, since 2004, incorporated the RYR1T gene test (the gene of pig susceptibility to stress, which is the factor responsible for the presence of faulty meat after slaughter, the PES type). Since January 1st 2009, in accordance with the appropriate provisions, the breeding flock repairs can only be carried out using only the animals free from stress susceptibility gene.

The Member States of the European Union are dominated by two groups of breeds of pigs:

  • Large white, from UK, and its derivatives,
  • the so-called country breeds (landrace), for example. Danish, Swedish, Belgian. This group also includes the Polish Biała Zwisłoucha.

In the commercial crossbreeding programs in the EU member states, the sows of domestic breeds are mostly used, while on the sire part - the duroc, hampshire and piétrain males.
Duroc and Hampshire – both pig breeds were developed in the USA. These are stock meat breeds imported to Europe as they are very good at breeding with the European breeds. The Duroc breed is characterized by a strong constitution, a broad back, and pronounced hams of various shades: from lightly gold, through to dark red (mahogany). The Duroc breed pigs are characterized by meat of good quality, genetically conditioned to a fat overgrowth called "marbled look." Such meat is tender and juicy. The meat of this breed is also characterized by good performance in processing. The Hampshire breed pigs are black-colored with a distinctive white stripe passing across the withers, shoulders, chest and fore legs. They have a good muscle build-up in the carcass, similar to the Duroc breed, also the pronounced hams and muscles with a high content of glycogen. The meat is a good raw material for the production of maturing raw cold cuts.
Pietrain – the pigs of this breed are characterized by the greatest muscle build-up and the smallest fat content of meat. They have spotted black and white or greyish-white coats with irregular spots (some countries have already bred herds of white color). It is a medium-sized breed, the trunk is medium length, broad and deep with exceptionally strong muscles of the back, shoulders and hams (which are very rounded and bulky). The growth rate is slower than in other European races. In view of the genetically conditioned susceptibility to stress, their meat was burdened with the PSE fault. Nowadays, a variety of the breed free from stress susceptibility gene has been obtained.

The purpose of the maintenance of the livestock (sows and boars) is the production of piglets, which are then passed to the fattening sector, where the final stage of production of the raw material for slaughter takes place. In the course of the fattening, the producer's activity is focused on the utilization of the swines' predispositions for fast muscle growth, with possibly lowest financial effort. The economic success of the fattening is the result of: the consumption of feed per 1 kg of pork's weight gain, feed price, the duration of the fattening period (depends on the rate of growth of porks), the quality of the raw material in relation to the settlement with the buyer. In the case of settlement of the manufacturer with the buyer on the basis of the pork's meat content, the carcass's meat content plays a significant role. The feed is the largest item in the costs of fattening, and its value can be up to 70% of the total expenditure incurred. Hence the profitability of swine fattening is mostly conditioned by the utilization of feed, that is its consumption per 1 kg of weight gain. Good use of feed is manifested in high daily weight increments of the pork.

In the initial phase of the fattening, the bones' weight is growing most intensively, later muscle mass, then, and at the end, the build-up of fat. At some point in life, the gain in muscle tissue reaches a maximum value, and from that moment the fat gain becomes predominant. The intersection of these two curves is referred to as "optimum meat content point".
For pigs of high meat content, it occurs around the age of 5-6 months, at a mass of about 90-100 kg. The 1980 introduction in the EU countries of mandatory swine livestock classification with EUROP system, based on the percentage content of meat in the carcass, resulted in a rapid progress in the improvement of MIESNOSC of mass swine livestock.
Depending on the genetic value, the type of feed used, the intensity of animal feeding, the fattening of swine may take longer or shorter and may lead to the production of carcasses of varying weight and composition of tissues.