December 17, 2013
Low-Quality Semen Leads To Two-Headed Pig
Ever look in the mirror and wish genetics had been just a bit kinder to you? Maybe you’re not a fan of your nose. Perhaps your chin juts out just a bit too far. It might be that receding hairline, or the excess hair on your knuckles. Few people are completely satisfied with their appearance, and genetics are often the ones that suffer the blame. Well, thank your lucky stars that all you have to worry about is a tendency towards pimples or a handful of freckles. You could have been born with two heads, like this Chinese pig.
Despite producing and consuming large amounts of pork, China is facing a problem with their current pig stock; the semen is of poor quality. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the specific rubrics with which they measure such a thing (though I imagine fertility and genetic stability plays a large part), but this poor little piggy stands as a stark example of the consequences. Born with two conjoined heads and three eyes, the suckling babe has a difficult time performing even basic tasks, such as feeding. According to Du Gensheng, the farmer raising the pig, the two heads sometimes have difficulty deciding which nipple to suckle. Sometimes they get confused and both try to go for different nipples. As you might imagine, that doesn’t work out too well. The veterinarians who have been observing the pig are not optimistic about its survival. Though it’s certainly possible, most animals suffering from such deformities find it very difficult to perform basic tasks necessary for survival.
This rare genetic anomaly, known as polycephaly, is perhaps one of the weirdest mutations I’ve seen to date. Obviously, not all of the problems that spawn from poor semen quality will be as grandiose as this, but according to the Huffington Post, it has pushed the Chinese to strike a bargain with the British. They’re buying British pig semen, and a lot of it — $73.6 million worth, to be precise. Four artificial insemination facilities have been devoted to fulfilling this quota, which will begin producing high-quality pork stock for the Chinese sometime next year. Also, according to DailyMail, Prime Minister David Cameron has also brokered a deal to export pig’s feet along with the semen. Apparently the British are much more squeamish about eating pig’s feet, even though it’s considered an exquisite treat in some areas of the world. To be honest, I’m with Cameron on this one. Call me elitist, but I’d rather have the $3.4 million annual income than a bunch of pig’s feet. Hopefully this deal will prevent such problems in the future, as well as increasing the general quality of China’s pork production. While the two-headed pig is definitely the most shocking red flag, poor stock can produce more subtle, insidious problems than polycephaly. It’s probably a wise move to get this taken care of as quickly as they are.
Image Credit: Thinkstock