18th February 2013, Umiam, Meghalaya
Pig bristles (hair) are usually discarded as animal wastes which result into environmental pollution. Therefore, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region (Division of Animal Production), Umiam, Meghalaya investigated the bristle properties, their processing and developed value added products in form of different types of pig bristle-brushes.
The NEH region of the country houses around 28 per cent of the country’s total pig population. According to estimates, around 15.35 lakh of pigs are being slaughtered in the organized sector annually. On an average, an indigenous pig produces 300-400g of high quality bristles, so the entire NEH region will produce around 10-12 thousand quintals of pig bristles in a year. ICAR-NEH developed a new methodology for collecting pig bristles through bristles-clippings in live pigs without affecting the growth performance. Quality production of bristles can be a source to enhance income of smallholder pig producers.
An in-house methodology for processing of bristles has been developed to remove dirt (epithelial scales and wax), destroying microbes and parasitic eggs. Before dying, bleaching is done for softening and colour removal. After processing, different products were made out of indigenous pig bristles. These products have been made using base, middle and tip portions of bristles, depending upon their uses for example, shaving brush, cosmetic brush, coat & jacket brush, washing brush, shoe brush, brush for carpet, furniture/equipment dusting brush, and hair comb for pet dogs.
The bristles obtained from local indigenous pigs had significantly higher modulation index as compared to exotic Hampshire and Duroc pigs. However, bristle properties may vary depending on breed, the part of body from which bristles were collected. Usually, the bristles with diameters of 210-320 µm have 5-8 times higher animal protein than their counterparts, for example sheep wool has only 25-35µm diameter. The tensile strength of bristles is 4-5 times higher as compared to human hair and other animal fibres. Local indigenous pigs have long bristles (5-7 inches) with greater density (150-188/cm2).
Compared with synthetic bristles available in the markets, the indigenous pig bristle-brushes are more durable, stable, and natural, hence more expensive than other brushes in western countries. In addition, they are more flexible, harder, and faster to remove dirt and dust even in deep or zigzag corners. Presently, China and European countries are producing different types of hair combs and cosmetic items made by pig bristles, but worldwide China is the primary producer of pig brushes in the world.
(Source: NAIP-Mass Media Project, ICAR-RC-NEH with inputs from Animal Production Division, ICAR-Barapani)