Sows on Pasture

“Bewilder” the Duroc boar, with a Duroc sow.  The sows are enjoying the pasture this spring.  I used to house them at my parents’ farm in concrete and dirt lots.

I’m still figuring things out.  One of the problems is “rooting,” or the digging behavior pigs exhibit.  Since this is permanent pasture, I hate to see the sod turned up, because I’m not sure how I’ll go about fixing it.  A sow can do the damage you see in the picture below in fifteen minutes.

I’ve tried “ringing,” putting a piece of metal in their snout to deter rooting.  It doesn’t seem to make much difference, and since it doesn’t seem very humane, I’m not doing that any more.

The biggest success I’ve had to reduce the rooting, is by reducing their daily grain feeding.  I’m feeding half the grain I used to.  The sows seem very satisfied to make up the difference grazing the pasture.  They spend hours every day grazing.  I think they were rooting more out of boredom.  Now they are required to work much harder for their daily calories, walking around in the process, and when they are full, they sleep.

I had to include one more picture of the Duroc sow below.  Isn’t she a beauty?  She is bred for her second litter.

Look at how well-muscled she is, yet still sound walking with femininity.  She is also an excellent grazer.  Thanks for indulging my bragging.

5 Responses to Sows on Pasture

  1. Jeanenne says:

    I wouldn’t say it is bragging. It is more accurate to say, a success! Farmers are up against so many challenging “head scratchers”. It is wonderful to see when you overcome a few.

  2. bc says:

    That’s some tasty looking pork there. I like the pastured pork idea because you get flavor and health at the same time. It is a shame to harm permanent pasture, though. Maybe it recovers well in a few months or a year? It isn’t like you lose material, it just gets shifted around a little and has its fertility improved.

    I’m curious to see how your experiment goes.

  3. Interesting solution to the rooting.

    What does it mean to say, “Look at how well-muscled she is, yet still sound walking with femininity”?

    In wild animals, I would expect that “sound walking” would be positively, not negatively, correlated with muscle. When a domestic meat animal is “well-muscled,” does that mean that they may be carrying more flesh than they can easily deal with?

    What is “femininity” in a non-human animal? Are you looking for physical traits that are found more frequently in human women than in men, like smaller relative size, fuller lips, wider-set eyes and thinner necks? An overall impression of daintiness and gentleness? Or are you looking for teats and an adequate pelvis?

    A friend of mine used to go to cattle judgings and said she picked up the desired qualities pretty quickly: a dairy cow should have a large udder, but not dragging on the ground; a straight back; and a pretty, “feminine” face. It seemed odd to me that a non-utilitarian trait like “looking like a pretty human woman” would get points at an agricultural competition. Dogs and cats are bred to look like human infants because their jobs are as human companions. I suppose that it’s the same issue for livestock — if you’re working intimately with them every day it helps to find them nice to look at?

  4. Thank you for your comments!
    I guess I was vague in my description of the sow. I thought I may bore people if I go into too detailed description, but now that I think of it, that may make a good post someday.
    As far as your questions, Allison: Yes, domestic animals are more muscled than the wild, and walk wider, which also increases meat yield. This can be a problem, though, which is why I thought it noteworthy she possesses these inversely related traits.
    As far as femininity, I’m specifically looking at the refined well-spaced teats, and her long-enough neck. Pelvis is important as well. Once had a too heavy-muscled gilt with a narrow pelvis which required assistance for every piglet.
    Overall it’s about proportions. She looks very proportional to me.
    Also there is a correct set to the legs. Any deviation will start to cause trouble, especially in your breeders, because it seems to amplify trouble in the offspring.

  5. Thanks for answering, curiousfarmer. That’s very informative.

    If the blog is to share experience with other farmers, then explaining basics would be boring. If the blog is to show curious non-farmers [that would be me!] what farmers care about, it’s hard to know what they would find interesting.

    Personally, I’m quite interested in the traits you look for. They show a way of looking and seeing that I don’t use (but maybe should).

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