Symbol III, the U.S. pork industry’s “Standard of Excellence” for the modern market hog, was unveiled at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 10. 

“The Symbol tradition started in early 1980s,” says David Meisinger, NPB's assistant vice president of education.  “As part of what was then the Pork Value Program, we asked what the ideal pig would look like.  We called it the ‘symbol of perfection’.”

Symbol III represents today's vision of the ideal U.S. market hog. The illustration symbolizes profitability for every industry segment. The pig has correctness of structure, production, performance, function, attitude, health and optimum lean yield. It also produces the best quality, safest pork that provides the optimum nutrients for human nutrition, says Meisinger.

Symbol III has an extensive description that includes performance, carcass characteristics and meat quality characteristics.  “It was important for us to establish how this pig was going to perform before we created the icon,” says Meisinger.   “We do not want a visually perfect hog, we want one that performs efficiently and produces the quality pork that represents the product that the U.S. pork industry has to offer.”  This hog is a complete package, he adds.

Symbol III is the industry's third ideal pig.  Symbol I and Symbol II were unveiled in 1981 and 1995, respectively.

For a brochure on Symbol III, call NPB's Service Center at (800) 456-PORK or go to www.porkboard.org.

Here's a snapshot of Symbol III "job description":
Symbol III production characteristics

  • Live-weight feed efficiency of 2.4 
  • Fat-free lean gain efficiency of  5.9 (5.8) 
  • Fat-free lean gain of  0.95 pounds per day
  • Marketed at 156 (164) days of age
  • Weighing 270 pounds
  • Reared on a corn/soybean meal equivalent diet from 60 pounds onward. 
  • Free of all internal and external parasites 
  • Immune to or free of all economically important swine diseases 
  • Free of the stress gene (Halothane 1843 mutation) and all other genetic mutations that have detrimental pork-quality effects
  • Result of a systematic crossbreeding system emphasizing a maternal dam line and a terminal sire selected for growth, efficiency and superior muscle quality. 
  •  From a maternal line weaning >25 pigs per year after multiple parities
  • Free of all abscesses, injection-site blemishes, arthritis, bruises and carcass trim
  • Structurally correct and sound with proper angulation and cushion and a phenotype design perfectly matched to the production environment
  • Produced within an operation meeting Environmental Assurance program standards
  • Produced under Pork Quality Assurance and Trucker Quality Assurance guidelines
  • Produced in an operation which has been assessed through the Swine Welfare Assurance Program
  • Produced with in a production system that ensures the opportunity for stakeholder profitability from the producer to retailer while providing a cost-competitive product retail price in all domestic and export markets.
  • Produced from genetic lines that have utilized genomic technology to support maximum improvements in genetic profitability and efficienc

Symbol III carcass characteristics

  • Hot-carcass weight of 2-5 lbs
  • Loineye muscle area of 6.5 (7.1) sq in
  • Belly thickness of 1.0 in
  • 10th-rib backfat of 0.7 (0.6) in
  • Fat-free lean index of 53.0 (54.7)

Symbol III meat quality characteristics

  • Muscle color score of 4.0
  • 24 – hour pH of 5.9
  • Maximum drip loss of 2.5%
  • Intramuscular fat level of 3.0%
  • Free of within-muscle color variation and coarse muscle texture
  • Free of ecchymosis (blood splash)
  • Provides an optimum balance of nutrients important for human nutrition and health
  • Provides a safe, wholesome product free of all violative residues and produced and processed in a system that ensures elimination of all foodborne pathogens.

Note: all numbers in parenthesis represent gilt numbers corresponding to the barrow numbers shown. 

National Pork Board