Domestic livestock were a crucial part of Mediterranean communities throughout later prehistory. In the first millennium BC, livestock mangement changed, and was changed by, the rise of cities in Italy. Italian prehistory has a rich zooarchaeological tradition, but investigation of the Iron Age has been regionally divided and synthetic works on the Po valley comparatively few. This article presents a pan-regional review of late prehistoric and protohistoric livestock exploitation that considers Northern and Central Italy together for the first time. Zooarchaeological comparison reveals an increase in the use of sheep/goat for secondary products, while cattle and caprines were subject to size changes that distinguish their management from that of pigs. A marked increase in pig husbandry is visible in both regions, but this shift took place earlier and more emphatically in Northern Etruscan centres than in Central Italy. After defining the main changes in animal management during the period under review, this article looks beyond population density to explore the wider environmental, economic, and cultural context of pork consumption and its relation to the development of urbanism in Etruria padana.