Posted 11-30-2004 at 17:16:27
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SYRACUSE -- Norm is a pig of prodigious proportions.
He weighs an estimated 1,600 pounds, stands 4 feet high and measures 7 feet from snout to tail.
His owner, Bob Peterson, of Hubbardsville, Madison County, claims Norm may be the world's biggest pig. And the Yorkshire hog mix isn't even 3 years old yet.
"You've got to do some eating to put that much meat on in three years," said Peterson, who's been raising hogs for four years.
The retired state trooper from Connecticut moved to Hubbardsville five years ago. He's been raising prize-winning cows, which average 1,250 pounds apiece, for 12 years. Named for the "Cheers" TV show character, Norm was one of Peterson's first pigs.
"Oh, my God, that's an absolutely enormous pig," said Heather Sweeney, a dairy and livestock specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Oneida County. Sweeney said a 3-year-old pig normally would top out at 500 pounds.
Word of the enormous animal has spread from farmer to farmer, and Peterson estimates at least 100 visitors have stopped by to take a look.
"It's tough to get stuff done on the weekends," he said. "People keep coming."
A feed company salesman who stopped by the farm several weeks ago was flabbergasted at the sight of Norm.
"He goes to the big pig farms in the West," Peterson said. "And he said he'd never seen a pig this size."
The largest pig on record is a Poland-China hog named Big Bill, who tipped the scales at 2,552 pounds just before he was put to sleep after suffering a broken leg en route to Chicago's World Fair for exhibition in 1933. Big Bill's shoulder height was 5 feet, and he was 9-feet long, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Swine come in all sizes -- from the pygmy hog, which stands a foot tall at the shoulder and weighs an average of 13 pounds, to the giant forest hog, which can weigh up to 620 pounds. Domestic pigs can be much heavier, but Norm is an anomaly even within his own family: his brother, also nearly 3 years old, weighs about 500 pounds.
Farmers generally use a height and length formula to determine approximate weight of their pigs. Peterson tried that method on Norm.
"It wouldn't fit either way around," he said of the measuring instrument.
His next idea for weighing the creature involved putting Norm on a pickup truck and driving it onto a feed scale.
"We got (Norm) to the tailgate of the truck, and he turned around and looked at me," Peterson said. "Then he just started walking back to his pen. There wasn't much we could do after that."
So Peterson called an animal science professor for help. The educator offered another formula to estimate Norm's weight that involved measuring the pig's girth, length and height, resulting in the 1,600-pound estimate.
Peterson is hoping to borrow a portable scale from Morrisville State College to get an accurate weight. But he said he won't call them, or Guinness, for at least another six months.
"He'll get a little bit bigger," he said. "Come back in March."
Peterson knew he had something special soon after Norm's birth.
"He was a big eater," he said. "He'd push everyone away and wouldn't let anyone eat.
"He just eats and sleeps," Peterson said.