Tag: pigs

Choosing a Replacement Gilt – Reproductive Soundness

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sow

There are a number of factors that are in play when looking at the reproductive soundness of a potential replacement gilt. No matter what, we all want our sows to be happy, healthy, and at the same time product healthy piglets. In this article we will discuss the various factors that a pig farmer or pork producer should look for when choosing a replacement gilt. If you haven’t read our previous article on Choosing a Replacement Gilt – Feet Evaluation and are interested in raising pigs for your own freezer or to send to market, I would recommend taking the time to read it. So let’s get started.

Reproductive Soundness – Underlines

The underline evaluation is another critical step in the evaluation of replacement gilt candidates. Each sow must have functional nipples to raise pigs and it appears that both genetics and selection play a role in determining the spacing, prominence, and location of the teats. As many of us know, these traits do have a direct impact on production and it is recommended that all replacement gilts are evaluated for reproductive soundness.

The ideal underline should have seven (7) or more functional nipples on each side and they should be well spaced and well developed. Blind or pin nipples should not be present. We all love our pigs but discrimination should be applies when fewer than seven functional nipples are present on each side, blind or pin nipples exist, there is poor spacing and/or placement is present, or inverted nipples are present. The initial screening of teat number, spacing, and quality can occur at birth, weaning, or in the nursery but the final evaluation should be made when the selection of breeding gilts occurs.

EvaluationScoreComments
Unacceptable1-3 PointsFewer than six functional nipples on each side or presence of inverted nipples or poor spacing and prominence
Good4-7 PointsSix or more functional nipples on each side with adequate spacing and prominence
Excellent8-10 PointsSeven or more functional nipples on each side, well-spaced and well-developed with no pin or blind nipples.

Reproductive Soundness – External Genitalia

The external genitalia should also be evaluated on all replacement gilt candidates. Gilts should have a well developed vulva that is not tipped up.

  • Cull gilts having an infantile vulva.
    • These animals frequently have an under-developed reproductive tract.
  • Gilts having a small vulva should be avoided.
    • These gilts could have difficulty mating (particularly in a natural mating setting).
    • Once mated, these animals could have farrowing difficulties.
  • Tipped vulvas should be avoided
    • Tipped vulvas may contribute to a higher incidence of metritis and cystitis.

Injured vulvas should be avoided as they could impair mating. Once the injury is healed the scar tissue that develops could also cause farrowing difficulties. You can allow the injury to heal and make an assessment at a later date, but ensure you use caution if you choose to let the injury heal and retain the gilt as a breeding herd female.

Other genetic conditions to avoid

Gilts producting offspring with these traits or that are from litters with the following conditions should not be selected as replacements.

  • Scrotal Hernia – commonly called a rupture.
  • Atresia Ani – missing the anus.
  • Cryptorchidism – has at least one testicle that has not descended.
  • Hermaphrodite – has both female (vulva) and male (penis) reproductive organs.
  • Tremors – uncontrolled shaking.
  • Splayleg – at birth, legs are straddled to the sides and the animal cannot stand on its rear feet
  • Bent legs – pigs that have legs that have grown in an abnormal direction. Can be causedd by genetics or nutrition.
  • Polydactyly – pig is born with extra feet, legs, and/or dew claws.
  • Syndactyly – (mule foot), pig is born with one or more of its toes fused together.
  • Thickened forelegs = pig is born with one or both front legs that are unusually thick (approximately twice as thick as normal)

Conclusion

Increasing the number of traits that are evaluated and used as selection criteria increases the number of potential canidates taht are needed to achieve the desired number of replacements.

If gilts are home-raised, the number of candidate females needed to supply replacement gilts to the herd determines the number of grandparent females needed in an internal multiplication system. The number of gilt candidates may not be a large problem if producers are purchasing their replacement females. Hopefully, most , if not all, of the culling has occurred prior to delivery of the replacement gilts to the producers farm. However, purchase gilts should still be carefully scrutinized before a producer places them in the breeding herd.

I hope you found this article helpful and would love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment below and if you did find it helpful please share it on social media.

What are the Benefits of Raising Pigs?

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Happy-Pig

I always have people ask me the same question, “Why do you raise pigs?” This can be a hard question to answer. I can’t use the response “because they’re awesome” because that won’t answer their question. So I’ve sat down and taken the time to write out a number of the reasons I love raising pigs to give you an idea if it’s something you should consider doing.

Pigs are social animals

Pigs are very social animals. Every day when I head down to their pen they get excited to see me. Not just because they want to be fed but also because they love the social interaction that they get when I’m there. I like to spend as much time with them as I can because it keeps them happy. Just a simple scratch behind the ear (which they love by the way) can do wonders for your relationship with them. While it is true that they are raised for meat I’m still a firm believer that a happy pig is a flavorful pig.

Pigs Love to Play

Pigs love to run around and play almost as much as they love to eat. It’s not uncommon to see them chasing each other around or playing tug-of-war with their favorite feed barrel. You have to be careful though because they can play pretty rough. If you are in the pen with them they can and will knock you over and trample you. This is one of the reasons I don’t allow children around the pigs. Right now my pigs are around 300 pounds and I bet you can image what that feels like when they run into you.

Farm Raised Pigs taste so much better

The flavor from farm raised pork is so much better than anything you can buy in the store. It doesn’t just look better but the taste is amazing. There are many different things you can feed your pig but my favorite is a mix of various grains. This allows them to put the weight on and ensures that they are getting the Vitamins and Minerals that they need to be healthy.

Should I Raise Pigs?

By now your probably asking yourself if you should raise pigs. The short answer to that question is, it depends. There are a lot of things to consider before taking on this responsibility. One of the first things you should do is make sure you are ready for the level of commitment that goes into it. Because pigs are as social as they are they require a lot of time to truly be happy. This involved playing with them, taking to them, petting and scratching them, etc. For a lot of people this time commitment can be too much. Another thing to take into consideration is the laws where you live. In most large cities you aren’t allowed to raise pigs within city limits. Obviously you want to look into this before you go out and buy a piglet. Next up is Fencing.

Fencing

Pigs are very strong animals and it can take quite a lot to keep them penned up. Regular wood slatted fencing isn’t going to do the job. I personally use horse panels with a “no-climb” fence around the outside. This gives them a simple structure that will not only keep them in, but help protect them from outside threats such as coyotes. The stronger the fence the better off you will be.

Feed Bill

to get 1 pig from weaning to market weight (285 lbs). That’s an expense that can be a problem to some people. Let’s say, for example, that you go to your closest feed store and a 50 lb bag of hog feed is $15.99. That doesn’t seem to bad right? Well let’s do the math real quick:

50 / 900 = 18   

So it takes 18 of those 50lb bags of feed to get them to market weight. Now, let’s figure out how much that costs exactly:

18 x $15.99 = $287.82

Wow! That’s a lot of money to feed one animal for 5 or 6 months. Granted you get a lot of that back in pork come butcher time (which is another big expense).

Costs

So now you know about how much in feed it costs you to raise a pig from the time it’s weaned to market weight. So let’s add up all the costs and see just how much your paying for your pork.

First off lets get the numbers sorted out:

Feed: 287.82

Water: $100 (It can vary depending on where you are but for this example we’ll figure $100)

Processing Costs: $250 (Most processors charge on a per pound basis which usually comes out around $250)

So adding those costs together comes out to:

287.872+ 100 + 250 = $637.82

So we now have a total cost of $637.82 to raise that 1 pig to market weight. Now to figure out how much your paying per pound you need to know how many pounds of meat you actually have. So a pig’s hanging weight will usually be about 65% of its live weight. So for a 285lb hog that is about 185.25 lbs hanging weight. Now you can subtract roughly another 40 lbs for bone, skin, etc. So your left with about 145.25 lbs of usable meat. So Lets see what our per pound price is:

$637.82 / 145.25 = $4.39 per pound

That means that the pork you just put in your freezer cost you about $4.39 per pound. That is honestly why farm raised meats tend to cost more than what you can get in the store. So the question you have to ask yourself is this: Do I want to put all the work and time into raising a pig and still end up paying over $4 per pound? That’s a decision only you can make.

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Pigs, Hogs & Boars: Facts About Swine

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Pigs-Front-View

Pigs are mammals with stocky bodies, flat snouts that can move independently of their heads, small eyes and large ears. They are also highly intelligent, social animals, and are found all over the world.

Pigs are in the Suidae family, which includes eight genera and 16 species. Among those species are wild boars, warthogs, and pygmy hogs, and domestic pigs. Pig, hog and boar essentially describe the same animal, but there are some distinctions. For instance, a boar is an un-castrated male domestic pig, but, it also means a wild pig of any gender. A hog often means a domestic pig that weighs more than 120 lbs.

Pigs were among the first animals to be domesticated about 9,000 years ago in china and in a region in what is now turkey. Asian farmers first brought domesticated pigs to Europe around 7,500 years ago, according to the Smithsonian Magazine.

Domestic pigs are descended mostly from the wild boar (Sus scrofa) and the Sulawesi warty pig (Sus celebensis). They diverged from their closes ancestors about 500,000 years ago according to the Encyclopedia of Life. Today, there are an estimated 2 billion domesticated pigs on the planet, mostly classified as a subspecies of wild boars.

Size

Pigs usually weigh between 300 and 700 lbs, but domestic pigs are often bred to be heavier. In 2012 a hog named Reggie set a weight record of 1,335 lbs in the Iowa state Fair’s ‘biggest Boar” contest, Radio Iowa reported.

But even massive Reggie is outweighed by the largest domestic pig of all time. That title goes to a porker named Big Norm of Hubbardsville, New York. Big Norm topped the scales at a whopping 1,600 lbs. when he died in 2009, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Wild pigs vary greatly in size and weight. The largest boar is the giant forest hog which is native to more than a dozen countries across Africa. It grows up to 6.9 feet long and measures 3.6 feet tall, according to the Encyclopedia of Life. Although, it is rarely seen, video of the elusive beast was captured in June 2018 by ecologists in Uganda, National Geographic reported.

The heaviest boar is the Eurasian wild pig, which grows to 710 lbs. And the smallest boar is the pygmy hog. This delicate swine grows to a length between 1.8 and 2.4 feet and stands 9.8 inches tall from hoof to shoulder. The pygmy hog only weighs 14.5 to 21 lbs., according to the San Diego Zoo.

Habitat

Boars, pigs and hogs live all over the world, except for Antarctica, northern Africa, and far norther Eurasia, according to the Encyclopedia of Life. For example, red river hogs, also called bush pigs, are found in Africa. Babirusas, or pig deer, are found in Indonesia; and Visayan warty pigs come from the Philippines.

Wild pigs typically live in grasslands, wetlands, rain forests, savannas, scrub lands and temperate forests. All Pigs wallow in mud whenever they have the chance because it helps them to regulate their body temperature and discourages parasites.

Habits

Pigs are very intelligent animals. According to a review published in 2015 in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology, pigs are “cognitively complex,” sharing many traits with animals that are typically considered to be highly intelligent. The review analyzed findings from a number of studies, suggesting that pigs were capable of remembering objects, perceiving time, and making use of learned information to navigate their environment. Pigs are also very playful and have a wide range of play behaviors. This is another indication of intelligence in animals, the researchers reported.

They are also very social. Feral pigs often travel in close-knit groups called sounders, which typically consist of two females and their young, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Pigs communicate with a variety of grunts and squeaks. A short grunt, a longer growl, and a loud roar will warn other pigs of approaching danger, according to the San Diego Zoo. The pigs’ primary defense is speed, but when cornered, their tusks can be formidable weapons. Their lower tusks can get to be about 3 inches long and are razor sharp.

Diet

Pigs, boars and hogs are omnivores and will eat just about anything. Wild boars eat roots, fruit, rodents, and small reptiles, National Geographic reported. Domestic pigs and hogs are fed feed that is made from corn, wheat, soy or barley. However, often on small farms, pigs are often fed “slop”, which consists of vegetable peels, fruit rinds and other leftover food items. Most species of pigs process plants in their hind-guts; and because their digestion of cellulose is inefficient, requiring them to feed often, according to the Encyclopedia of Life.

Offspring

Female pigs, called cows or sows, give birth to offspring twice a year to a litter of around 12 young. Baby pigs are called piglets. At birth, piglets weigh around 2.5 lbs, according to National Geographic. Within a week, most piglets will double their weight. Therefore, they are weaned when they are two to four weeks old.

Wild pigs can give birth to six to 14 piglets at a time. These piglets will stay in a nest for their first 10 days and are weaned after three months. Wild pigs live five to 20 years.

Conservation Status

Wild boars are not endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. They are listed as “least concern” due to the wild pig’s “wide range, abundance, tolerance to habitat disturbance and presence in many protected areas.”

Sulawesi warty pigs are listed as “near threatened”; bearded pigs, Palawan bearded pigs and Philippine warty pigs are “vulnerable”; Javan warty pigs are “endangered”; and Visayan warty pigs are “critically endangered”. Hunting and habitat loss are cited as the causes of declining populations in these species.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did please share it to your favorite social media platforms. You can also watch one of our YouTube videos with even more facts about pigs below.

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