As a biomedical research model, swine have physiological similarities to man. Crossbred strains, developed mostly as food animals, grow fast and develop into large animals. The size and weight of these animals often makes it difficult to handle and house them for laboratory purposes. In response to this drawback, smaller animals -- miniature pigs -- have been developed. The adult mini-pig weighs approximately 70 kilograms, about the size of an average person.
The body size, skeletal size, skin, teeth, gastrointestinal tract, heart position and blood supply are strikingly similar in humans and miniature pigs. Nutrient requirements and dietary ingredients have many parallels. These animals have a long life span, making them appropriate for studies of cardiovascular disease, gerontology and toxicology. Animals born by cesarean section can be used for germ-free or gnotobiotic studies. Other important applications include studies on reproductive physiology, endocrinology, dental research, effects of radiation and many others. Hairless strains have been developed for use in skin sensitivity tests.
The miniature swine can be handled under laboratory conditions, in appropriate cages and climate controlled facilities.
Vitamin D3 and Zinc Improvements to LabDiet® Swine Diets