Herd Boars


Tater, the best boar I’ve ever raised, and the pinnacle of my attempts to create an Oxford Sandy and Black for the midwest.  Alas, Tater had one crucial problem.  He was sterile.  Or at least he was functionally sterile.  He would make a few feeble attempts, but quit before achieving the proper insertion.

When I told me son about Tater, he said, “If he’s so good, couldn’t you collect his semen and use it to artificially inseminate.”

“I think that’s what has contributed to this problem.  Twenty-plus years of artificial insemination has led to the rise of problem breeders,” I said.

My memory may be fooling me, but it seems like boars used to do a better job with natural service.  Part of the problem may be I don’t keep enough boars around.  You would think I would be smarter than this with close to forty years of experience.  We always said it starts with the boars.  If you don’t get the sows bred, you are out of the livestock business.

Fortuitously I had kept a backup boar, just in case Tater didn’t work.  Chris is pictured below, half Yorkshire, half Landrace.  He sired all the winter/spring litters.


And then we come to Taiphan, pictured below.  Mean, ugly, difficult to be around, and he gets the job done.  I forgot what a truly aggressive breeding boar is like.

When a boar is sexually aggressive, you have to worry that he gets enough to eat.  I remember boars from years ago that we had to remove from the breeding herd to let them gain some weight.

Taiphan was in the first litter born in 2013 in a snowstorm.  Most of his littermates froze, so we know he’s tough as well as aggressive.  His dam was a Duroc sow and his sire was DRU semen from SGI.  So he’s 3/4 Duroc and 1/4 French Muscolor.  He sired the early summer litters.

DSCF1663I have some new litters out of Duroc and Landrace semen.  They look ok so far.  I kept quite a few boars, hoping I can keep from running short in the future.

It’s not easy.  You have to have some redundancy in case something goes wrong.  And if everything happens to be perfect, pour yourself a glass of lemonade and enjoy the two or three minutes while they last.


5 Responses to Herd Boars

  1. Chris Keller says:

    How is this a one-farmer farm? How does one person–you–handle these animals? Move them from here to there? Deal with “mean and ugly”? Or is it this kind of problem solving that is invigorating to you and farmers like you?

    • Chris, my Dad and I trade labor for those two-person jobs, like hog sorting.
      Moving from one pasture to another is easy and fun. I call my sows and my steers. Interestingly, I have a different call for each, but I think they would answer for both, kind of like me, “call me anything you like, just don’t call me later for dinner.”
      Yes, there is always problem-solving, but I think that is true of any business or creative labor. A job without it is probably pretty boring.

  2. wisetara says:

    Chris Keller asks some good questions. But mostly, I can’t believe we got a whole post about pigs, and not only did we get a post about pigs, but we got to read about pig sex and a rather good metaphor for what happens when there’s too much porn in a guy’s life. In any case, I loved it. Keep up the good work, and I really hope you get some Tater semen. That’s a sentence I never could have envisioned writing.

  3. sugarmtnfarm says:

    I’m incline to agree with you on the “don’t AI” to over come problems as it just propagates problems. We keep many boars. If a boar weren’t performing then he would get culled. Cull hard. Cull often.

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