Tuesday, January 25, 2011

German Pig Advertisement, Requests for Pig Photos

Someone in Germany is selling pigs. They took this photo. From what I can see, the piglet is biting the stick. The human is using the stick to get the pig to crawl up on its dam, making for a funny photo.

The picture of the pigs for sale reminds me of something odd. Every now and then, a person will contact me, wanting to buy breeding stock. He'll ask for pictures of the pigs.

He doesn't get it.

It isn't like we are Wu Tang Rottweilers, a company that markets a relatively small number of animals, which have individual names like Sookie Bear, Roxie and Isabella, and which are all special enough that they get their own webpages.

We market purebred Swallow-belly Mangalitsa pigs. The breed is very uniform; they look like clones. Any pigs selected for breeding will look like the others. Hence, a photo won't help.

Swallow-belly Mangalitsa piglets

If someone wants a bunch of gilts, the breeder will select them from the ones that have good pedigrees. He'll reject the ones that have faults, like bad feet. After that selection process, they are all expected to do about as well as each other.

A photograph certainly wouldn't tell you to reject one over another. E.g. you won't look at the photo and say, "hey, that gilt in the middle looks worse, get rid of her." Your reaction is more likely to be, "wow, the all look the same. How am I ever going to tell them apart from each other?"

Our business is primarily selling meat. So we raise a lot of pigs, most of which go to slaughter, despite being suitable for breeding. This isn't at all like the dog breeding business.

Given the large numbers of pigs that potentially could get sold, it isn't feasible to select the gilts and take pictures of them, in case someone comes along who wants to see photos and potentially buy some. Every few months we'd have to take a hundred or so photos. Most of the photos would never get looked at. Even if you did look at them, they'll look like each other.

When someone asks for photos, I try to explain why I don't want to take some photos of some candidate pigs. First, it is a lot of work to sort out pigs and take photos of them. Second, it does no good, even if the person wants to buy pigs. And finally, based on experience, most people who ask for photos aren't likely to buy, even if we provide photos.

The only thing I can figure is that maybe some people are afraid we'll promise people purebreds, but then deliver crossbred pigs. But if I did that, I'd get caught, and it would hurt my business.

In general, this irrationality isn't surprising. When it comes to exotic animals, people aren't logical. E.g. you can tell them that a 75% Mangalitsa, 25% meat-type pig is essentially the same, whether that 25% comes from a Berkshire or a Duroc, but that won't satisfy them.

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