Boar Meat


I do not like castrating piglets at all. Neither does my wife or son like helping. It is not a pleasant task. It is even less pleasant for the piglets. There is a fair bit of research that suggests that castration is not necessary for boars that are slaughtered before age six months. I have written about this before including links to the research articles. Unfortunately it is traditional and customers want it.

Archie, my pig mentor of sorts, has been raising pigs for thirty years. He eats boars. Big boars. Really big boars. 1,062 lb boars. He does not castrate boars that big and with good reason. Use your imagination. Instead, his technique is to put the boar out on pasture away from the females for 30 days. After that there is no boar taint even on a boar that big and three or four years old. He claims this always works. This makes sense with the research I have read from Brazil, Europe and other countries.

One butcher claims that if you castrate the boar immediately after killing it then there is no boar taint. I’m a little dubious of that claim based on the research linked to in the above article. I suspect his boars are fine for the same reason that Archie’s boars are fine. As isolated bachelors they have not been making a lot of the hormones that gives the boar meat a taint in some cases. Or perhaps they simply don’t make enough taint chemicals to be a problem at all.

Some of the research suggests that some breeds of pigs, possibly even simply some lines within breeds, don’t tend to have boar taint. This raises the distinct possibility that one could produce a line of pigs through simple selective breeding that does not have boar taint. I find this very interesting. No genetic engineering necessary with all of its iffy propositions. No patent licensing needed — nobody should be able to patent life anyways. Just good old selective breeding that anyone could do. I speak as an inventor and a breeder.

The reason people want boar (male) piglets cut (castrated) and made into barrows (cut male piglets) is because apparently sometimes with some uncut boars the meat, and especially the fat, can end up with what is called “boar taint” which makes the meat less than appetizing. If you are buying a piglet for $65 and going to invest $150 in food plus $120 in processing costs (slaughter + butcher) and six months of your life raising it then of course you want to be sure the meat is going to be good. You want to make sure you get good food for your $335 and your time. Tradition says to castrate the boys just to be sure.

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I realize you don’t want to risk your summer pig to find out if it works to not castrate. So, I’ve been doing some testing for you. In another year I should have statistically significant results to report. While we wait I’ll tell you about my ongoing research.


What I have been doing is progressively slaughtering older and older boars. Where as Archie keeps his boars away from females for a month I am leaving them in with females (gilts & sows) and boars (each other plus the big boar) and then slaughtering them at one month age intervals. The boar hanging above was slaughtered two weeks ago at six months of age. So far we have had ground sausage with and without spices, ham, bacon, pork chops and fried pork from this boar. All of the meat and the fat are delicious. There is no sign of boar taint in this boar. This is the oldest boar I have tested to date. I was very pleased with the results.

My conclusion is that castration is not necessary. Note that this is not a fully supported scientific conclusion, yet. To make that I need to slaughter about 99 more boars over the age of 6 months before I can say this with full confidence of having some statistical validity. At 9 more boars I will be very confident for my own purposes. You’ll have to pick your own level of comfort for statistical validity.

Hopefully my results will continue to be positive. If so then I want to educate people that castrating is not necessary for boars that are only grown to six or seven months of age. This is supported by the research in Brazil and Europe. Even after I have reached a statistically significant sample size there will still be people who want their little boar piglets cut. This is unfortunate but for now I will continue to do it.

There are reasons not to castrate. Boars who keep their balls grow about 10% faster than barrows and about 20% faster than gilts on average. They have better feed conversion and put on less fat giving more meat than gilts or barrows. The meat is delicious and tender just like with the gilts and barrows. They are also just as gentle and even tempered as the gilts and barrows. There is no real need for putting the piglet through the trauma of castration. The wise pig herder will want to raise boars because they are faster growing and more cost effective.

The last thing I would like to mention is that there are very real risks to castration. It is possible for a boar piglet to have an undetected hernia whereby when it is castrated the little guys small intestines come squirting out the cut. This is a death sentence, probably quite painful and a waste of a good piglet. Infection is another real risk. I have not yet had it happen but if it did it could be bad and possibly kill the piglet. Additionally the cut piglet is traumatized and goes off feed according to research I have read resulting in him dropping back on weight gain for a few days.

All in all, castration is an unpleasant experience for everyone involved and may not be necessary. There are the few male pigs, and even occasional female pigs, who do have boar taint according to some people and I believe them. If we could figure out another, more gentle way to avoid that it would be preferred by all.

Also see the article: To Cut or Not” and the article about testing for taint.

Mud season on the farm is shitty weather – please check your boots.

38°F/21°F, Sunny.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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149 Responses to Boar Meat

  1. J&B says:

    Walter,

    Thanks for the input and the research. As a small “hobby” farmer who raises meat for my family and some friends I’m always looking for ways to minimize the work load and the stress on the animals. I look forward to hearing how your tests work out!

    • piggery007 says:

      hi there im an englishman living in croatia for the last 8 months ive tried pig breeding for our larder and to sell i have a yorkshire boar 200kg+ and 3 landrace sows , i have 5 3month old piglets 2 boy and 3 girls. now out here the rule is castration at 3 weeks but after researching and have no meat for the winter me and my wife decided the two males we would kill at 6 months of age with out castrating but when the other two sows give burth we will have to castrate them other wise we wont sell them , thanks for your advise will let you know on the taste , if they taste as good as they look thell be no problems

  2. Leslie says:

    Walter,
    Glad to see you’re still doing your uncut boar taint study. Thanks for the updates. It’s such a gift for so many to be able to learn from your efforts.

  3. Emily says:

    Hi Walter….being a pig farmer, I’m sure you can quell my curiosity on this topic: are there any grounds for fear in eating pork regarding the dreaded trichinosis?

  4. Emily, my understanding on Trichinosis is: 1) a problem of the past (totally?); 2) is killed by proper cooking temperatures; 3) it may be killed also by freezing for three weeks at a low temp and 4) is primarily caused by animals eating raw offal and other uncooked meat containing the Trichinosis.

    I have read of very bad cases of Trichinosis from bear meat and apparently people have also gotten it from eating horses, wild boars, etc so it isn’t limited to pigs.

    I’m not an expert so all disclaimers apply. :) Check out this article at the CDC for more info.

  5. PV says:

    Walter you are making me drool!!!!

  6. Walter,

    We will be slaughtering two “intact” boars within a few months (6-7 mon of age)for family consumption. We currently have 3 boars and 1 gilt running together on pasture. Will let you know how we find the meat.

    Mark
    Jericho Settlers’ Farm
    Jericho, Vermont

  7. Mark, I look forward to hearing your results. For anyone who wants to participate in this experiment let me know. Here is the data I am thinking we might think about:

    1. Boar age?
    2. Exposed to females or not for last 30 days of life?
    3. Breed (or breed mix) (description of looks if not known)
    4. Observations at slaughter.
    5. Observations at butchering.
    6. Smell when frying meat and fat (e.g., a pork chop, bacon, etc). (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    7. Taste of fried meat. (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    8. Smell when oven roasting (e.g., pork chop, ham, roast, etc) (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    9. Taste of oven roasting (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    10. Smell when cooking ground meat. (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    11. Taste when cooking ground meat. (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    12. Did you spice the ground meat and if so with what?
    13. Other observations on cooking?
    14. Other observations on taste?
    15. Other notes.

    • jean pierre rousseau says:

      we killed and ate a two year old boar on our farm,we shared this with two other famillys,it is very good tasting although a little tough.it was a berckshire.the reason we tryed it is that the sow he was living with died and we were stuck with him since their is no market at all for boar meat around here,québec city,so we took a chance and good for us we did because its realy good.the sow had been dead one week when we killed the boar,i think maybethe fact that there wasent a female in heat around for a long time might explain the lack of bad smell or taste in the meat because when there are sows in heat around boy do the boars ever stink.

  8. karl says:

    do you slaughter the pigs yourself or do you have them processed as your financial breakdown suggests? i only ask because you photo of the pig hanging on your tractor. when we have animals processed they come back in little white frozen packages with our name printed on them.

  9. Karl,

    Pigs we sell go to a professional for slaughter and butcher. They are licensed and have all the tools and skills to make little wrapped packages of meat.

    For our own consumption we slaughter, hang, butcher and brine the meat ourselves so as to save money. The boar hanging from the tractor bucket above is one we did ourselves. It then hung in our cold room to chill.

    Cheers,

    -Walter

  10. Ok……..I’m quite hungry now too! To think that seeing dinner hang by way of chain off the front end of a JD would make me hungry *worries* me….(but not all that much)

    Regards.

  11. Marilyn says:

    Walter, I just found your site yesterday and have been reading back “issues”, (obviously).

    I helped a man in my area castrate his bull calves shortly after birth. He did not cut, but rather used small, fat, rubber bands – they resembled Fruit Loops cereal! With the apporpriate piece of equipment, we slipped one of these bands over each testicle. In time, they dried up and fell off – similarly to an infant’s bit of umbilical cord at its navel. Is it possible that there is a similar system available for young boars? My experiences with Gene and his calves were a first for me after moving from the city. Sooooooooo, if the pig idea doesn’t come close to relating because of anatomy, etc. please disregard.

    Thank you very much for the time you spend blogging. It is quite a treat.
    Marilyn

  12. Marilyn,

    Unfortunately boar ball anatomy is quite different from bulls, rams and men. With the latter three groups the balls hang down in the scrotum well clear from the body. This makes it easy to use a bander on them for castration. I’ve done this for sheep. Even there I question the necessity as I have eaten uncastrated ram lambs up to 10 months and they were delicious.

    Certainly a bander is more polite to the animal and more humane than surgical castration. Unfortunately it can be only done on animals where there is enough free-play in the scrotum.

    With pigs the testicles are held up close to the body and the sack slack is minimal. See this photo of a fully adult boar – there isn’t much hang although the equipment is super-sized. Here is another photo that shows the operational area on a small piglet. Click on the image of the nursing piglets to get a larger image. The piglets on the left are female. The all white piglet to the right of the white with black spots piglets is mail. As you can see the testicles are held up too tight to the body to be banded.

    So there is no way to band a boar. This means that the only way to castrate them is either chemically, as is being experimented with in Australia, or the traditional surgical method. Some time I’ll write an article about how it is done… Not dinner time reading.

    Cheers,

    -Walter

    • RLM McWilliams says:

      Many people in the USA feel that banding is kinder than cutting, but in the EU, banding is illegal as it is considered cruel. Go figure!

      My understanding is that ram lambs – and buck kids and bull calves – are traditionally castrated, not to improve the meat, but to keep them from breeding. As you know, those ram lambs and buck kids can start mating well before they are a year old. Spring ram lambs and buck kids can start mating that fall, so it is a management tool, rather than a method to improve meat taste or quality.

      No doubt you are aware that some ethnic groups have traditions that prefer intact males, and will sometimes pay extra for a lamb or goat that is still ‘all there’. Intact males generally grow faster. But when castrated, I have read and heard that those that are cut with a knife recover faster and grow on better. (Sorry I don’t have those study citations at my fingertips.)

      Been ‘binge reading’ your site to make up for lost time – in between farm chores!

  13. mike says:

    walter, Glad to see your trials of boar taint. I cross tamworth with old spots and raise them in woods and pasture. I hate castrating and am trying the no cut method and butchering the boars just shy of 6 months. Wonder if the chloryphyll in all the grass they eat helps? I just butchered 6 boer/spanish cross billes (intact) that i raised on grass and zero smell in meat and my customers (all anglo) LOVE it!

  14. AdkJohn says:

    This post is more than a year old, so I’m not sure if anyone will see it, but here goes… I’ll be able to add to the experience soon. I’m taking 6 in tact boars to Over the Hill Farm for processing on 4/16. Some were born on 9/30 and some 10/11. They’ve been living with 1 gilt litter mate, 4 sows, an adult boar and 6-20 piglets. Two sows went into heat in the last week and were bred by the adult boar. I castrated 10 boars from the most recent litter last week. I wanted to see what it entailed. I’m worried about taint, of course, and it seems the feeder pig market demands barrows or gilts. Crossing my fingers for tasty meat…

  15. AdkJohn, what mix of breeds are your boars that are going to market?

    On the age of a post and commenting, that is one of the beauties of the internet. Posts may be old but they can still be active. Archives are golden, an accumulation of knowledge that can continue to be read and commented on.

  16. ADKJohn says:

    Walter,

    Sorry, I tried to respond to this earlier, but I must have missed something. We have crossbred hogs with mostly GOS/Tamworth showing, and maybe some large white.

    I’d love to hear any experience you have with Over the Hill Farm slaughterhouse. I’ll email you my address if you have experience with them.

    So I’m taking six hogs to slaughter, all intact boars. I want to sell the meat but test it first. Which cuts do you think I should taste to test for taint? I don’t want to try every cut.

    Thanks for your help and thanks for this blog!

  17. ADKJohn, I was just talking with a fellow the other day that used to have GOS (Glouster Old Spot) and he said he stopped cutting them because it was unnecessary and that the young boars up to a normal slaughter weights tasted fine. He did say that he one time slaughtered an old boar, didn’t say how old, that had been in service a long time and while the meat tasted fine it smelled something aweful while cooking.

    I’ve read accounts from several people who have eaten intact tamworths, even year old boars, without any problem.

    From accounts I’m finding Duroc seems to be the big problem and Large White / Yorkshire the least problem.

  18. Anonymous says:

    walter
    enjoying your blog,wondering if you have any more boar meat info.im about to raise my second pair of pigs afraid the grizley got my free rangers last year.ide like to get a pregnant female then slaughter her possibly after shes weaned them or get a 6-7 month old boar and butcher him after hes sired i wonder about needing to wait awhile or if this will work at all i dont want yucky meat on my first attempt.ive also thought of weather you can slaughter a sow after a year or two how important is that 6 month weight to taste.

  19. Anon, Our experience continues to be, after many boars, that our particular line of pigs do not have boar taint. That is no guarantee that any pigs you buy that are from a different genetic line will or won’t have boar taint. After reading many people’s comments on this topic I suspect that the incidence of boar taint is vastly overstated. I have also read that the darker breeds and Duroc specifically have a higher incidence of boar taint.

    The idea of breeding, waiting until you’re sure she’s pregnant, eating him, letting her farrow and nurse & then eating her is a good plan. You can even then interbreed two of the piglets from that farrowing. Probably can’t do that forever due to inbreeding but it will work for a while.

    Have fun & eat well,

    Cheers,

    -WalterJ

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hellow Walter, this is Thumper/inOkla. I have the hamshire/potbelly cross that tabletop homestead started.
    here are answers to to data questions on the pigs I raised this year.

    1. Boar age? 7 months
    2. Exposed to females or not for last 30 days of life? Yes, butcher boars where confined, sow and breeding boar freerange. How far away is not exposed?
    3. Breed (or breed mix) (description of looks if not known)
    Hampshire/Potbelly cross [1/2 each] sow from tabletop- very nice pig, just a bit more than knee high at her back
    EXCELLENT disposition no agression, all black, strait back doesn’t look potbelly at all. really good leg length, she can RUN, she is not ‘fat’ by any standard.
    Boar I currently breed to is a full blood potbelly, ugly white, classic potbelly type, he is cheap to feed and easy to keep.
    Most of this litter looked like their sire. one looked like sow. but can’t tell the difference after processing
    4. Observations at slaughter.
    the dominate male of the litter smelled, the other 3 had only a faint odor, the men killing did not smell anything, only I did.
    5. Observations at butchering.
    the meat had little odor at butching and was frozen before use.
    I soaked in salt water between cutting and wrapping.
    6. Smell when frying meat and fat (e.g., a pork chop, bacon, etc). (Good / Odd / Aweful) I can smell it, the men can’t (husband and 2 sons) the meat taste is fine aftercooking, I made Mexicain green Chili shredded pork shoulder,(par-boiled with strong seasons, drained, then shredded and seasoned) VERY GOOD, lots of cumin blocks the odor.
    7. Taste of fried meat. (Good / Odd / Aweful)I have made HoneyMustard tenderloin, stove top in cast iron, excellent eating
    The odor sticks in the pan tho.
    A neighbor panfired a tenderloin with heavy black pepper, it was all eatten, hubby really liked it, the women could smell boar, the men didn’t
    8. Smell when oven roasting (e.g., pork chop, ham, roast, etc) (Good / Odd / Aweful)I don’t think I could take the smell long enough to roast any.
    9. Taste of oven roasting (Good / Odd / Aweful) n/a
    10. Smell when cooking ground meat. (Good / Odd / Aweful) none was ground up
    11. Taste when cooking ground meat. (Good / Odd / Aweful) n/a
    12. Did you spice the ground meat and if so with what? Here are the spices I used but the meat was not ground up. Cumin blocks the odor best of all I have used, others are black pepper, chili’s red and green. orgegano, onion, lots of garlic, salt, bay leaf, lemon pepper, mustard.
    13. Other observations on cooking?
    The fat/conecive tissues have a MUCH stronger odor than the meat.
    I feed trimmings to the dogs and they smell like boar for a day or so after eating it. But, it is not so strong that I would stop feeding it.
    14. Other observations on taste?
    Meat is very nice texture and tender. I expect freerange would be even better flavor.
    15. Other notes.
    When money allows I want better fencing options, right now We just can’t separate the sow from the boars, I have pens for short term confinement, But feed cost are just too high to not freerange the breeders, and letting little boars run with their mom and sisters is not ok.
    They where fed cattle pellets, milk, eggs, garden vegetables, hay, corn, just about anything we had available.
    This litter was not castrated because I can’t do it by myself and it got “put off” too long.
    So, I am looking for boar meat recipes.

    Blessings to all,
    Thumper/inOkla.

  21. Thumber, thank you for the detailed report! -WalterJ

  22. Liz wrote: I was just reading the post on your blog from March 2006 about Boar Meat and was hoping for a little advice. It looks like you have done some wonderful research in this area! My husband and I are new to farming and we want to raise Ossabaw pigs, a feral breed.

    I’ve never heard of them. …googles… I’ve now learned something new… :)

    We are starting with a litter of 6 (3 females, 3 males). They will be 3 months old when we pick them up and have not been castrated. Since they are free foraging, this breed can take 9-12 months to reach slaughter weight. Although we will want to keep some for breeding, we do not need 3 boars and will plan on butchering 2 for the freezer. Do you have any idea if it will be necessary to castrate them?

    No idea but you could test by slaughtering one. I have read that boars that do have taint make fine sausage by mixing the lean meat with the fat from barrows or sows. The taint is primarily in the fat, not the meat when it occures.

    If so, I am sure we will need a vet to this as it is our first time and wouldn’t want to try this on older animal.

    I would not try it with a large animal… Personally, I would go for the taste test. Try one boar, see if he tastes good. Then do the next, etc. If you are lucky you have pigs that don’t taint. How you raise them also has an effect from what I’ve read. Out on pasture, not in their own dung, makes a big difference. I also thing that eating grass/hay helps. Carbon.

    Also, I read in your comments that it is possible to breed within the same farrow. Does this mean that we could breed the 3rd boar to the 3 females?

    Yes. Pigs reproduce quickly and you can eat the culls.

    Am I correct in assuming that this should only be done if the piglets are intended for meat?

    You can keep breeding in the same line for generations. If a problem develops, cull those. The ones that are left tend to be those without recessive genetic defects and thus excellent breeding stock. When you’re ready you can bring in new genes from another boar. Inbreeding is overfeared. In humans it is an issue because we’re not willing to kill the bad’uns.

    And could we continue to breed that original boar with the 3 original females for the purpose of feeder pigs or is one time the limit? We will continue to look elsewhere for breeding stock, but since this is a rare breed, they are more difficult to come by and in the meantime we would like to be able to produce pork for customers.

    I would truly appreciate any advice you may have. I enjoy reading your blog, please keep posting!

    You’re welcome. Glad you enjoy it. Keep well, -Walter

  23. Larisa Sparrowhawk says:

    Hello. I raised Tamworths until I moved across country and I only castrated pigs that had to go to a federally inspected butcher because the butchers REFUSE to take them. But the customer butchers still took them uncut, which makes sense because they process uncut bucks all hunting season long. I sold my pigs to a lady named Lois before I moved took some uncuts to an inspected butcher and they DESTROYED her pigs and sold the meat to a rendering plant and never called her to give her the chance to pick up the pigs and bring them back home. So if you need to take your pigs to a USDA butcher, probably better castrate them. If you keep them for yourself, don’t bother. Tamworths on pasture (or feed fibrous materials in their diet) taste just fine, even at two years old, as some of mine were when I did’em in.

    -Larisa Sparrowhawk

  24. Larisa, that smacks of illegal or at least immoral actions on the processor’s part. We work with three different USDA inspected slaughter houses and butchers. We have taken many, many uncastrated boars to them and never with any problem. Castration is not a requirement. That butcher you were dealing with could be smacked up the side of the head with a lawsuite as well as a complaint to the BBB and the USDA for their actions. Their selling the meat to the renderer represents a conflict of interest. At the very least, spread the word about their actions to other farmers so everyone knows to avoid them.

    • Inspector says:

      I dont see why the USDA plant should be sued. They have every right to refuse any type of animal. If they don’t want it, they don’t have to take it. It isn’t up to the producer to raise the animal in a marketable manner.

      The USDA inspector must follow the inspection protocol. 9CFR 311.20 Sexual odor of swine (a) Carcasses of swine which give off pronounced sexual odor shall be condemned. That is the rule, therefore the hog must be destroyed. No, the producer CANNOT pick up an animal that doesn’t pass inspection. If your hogs exhibit pronounced sexual odors at a Inspected plant, they will be destroyed.

      • Inspector says:

        I’m not trying to be dismissive, I just want to let people know why a plant might decide to only accept castrated boars. The slaughter plant may not want to take the burden after codemnation. Thanks.

        *In the previous reply, I meant to say that it IS up to the producer to raise their livestock in a marketable manner, which the slaughter plants, and retail centers will determine after customer acceptance is measure in sales.

        • Just for the record for those who are wondering I did verify that the person posting as “Inspector” is a state inspector. He explained to me that he was researching taint for his work and had come across this page. I would suggest following through to the article about taint and following further down the links in that article for additional details about the science of taint. It is something that a lot of research has been done on. Taint is caused by a combination of bad genetics, poor feed and poor management. Thus taint can be breed away from, fed away from and managed away from. In some countries they are now banning castration. Eventually that will likely come to Canada and the USA under the heading of humane animal handling. Best to be ahead of the curve and already have one’s balls lined up before that wave comes crashing down. The processing of boars is a reality now and in the future. Fortunately the vast majority of butchers have not issue with processing boars and most boars don’t have taint. There is a simple and effective taint test.

      • This wasn’t about pigs raised for sale to the butcher but about contract processing where the farmer is paying the butcher to do processing for them. Additionally these were boars without taint – most do not have taint. In either case the butcher has no business and an actual conflict of interest to be selling the farmer’s perfectly good meat to a renderer without compensating the farmer – that is theft by the butcher. If the butcher does not want to process boars then they need to say so ahead of time. There is nothing in the USDA regulations that bans the processing of boars and since science has proven that most boars at slaughter age do not have taint it is a non-issue. Any animal with quality meat should not be wasted. We’ve raised thousands of boars without taint. For more details on the science behind taint see this article and follow the links through from there.

  25. Hotzcatz says:

    Folks everywhere seem to dislike boar meat, which is okay with me since they will then give me the boar pigs. ;) We live on the island of Hawaii (also called “the Big Island) and there was a wild boar pig caught in someone else’s trap but they didn’t want it (since it was a boar) so here’s the results from that.

    1. Boar age?
    Unknown but under a year. It was pretty small since it dressed out to just under fifty pounds. I skinned it and cut the head off since our refrigerator is only so big. Did save the “natural casings” for sausage making and the liver, kidneys and heart for the dogs. Although next time I may try liver sausage instead of using it for dog food.

    2. Exposed to females or not for last 30 days of life?
    Probably, pigs of all genders are all over the place.

    3. Breed (or breed mix) (description of looks if not known)
    Wild boar. Black and hairy.

    4. Observations at slaughter.
    It had been in the trap for about twenty four hours since they had to get ahold of the owner of the trap to see if he wanted the pig or not. It hadn’t had any food or water, but it was in a shady spot. It had been caught using avocados as bait and had eaten about a dozen of them while in the trap.

    The new hollow points seem to drop the pig much faster than the larger caliber solid bullets had been doing. (Note: “real men” stab wild pigs with knives to kill them, however, fortunately being of the female persuasion I bypass that particular testosterone trip and shoot the pig safely from outside the trap. I have no idea how folks would manage to not get bit trying that technique – wild pigs are ferocious.)

    5. Observations at butchering.
    There was more fat on the carcass than I’ve been seeing lately, but the avocados have been falling for about a month now. Guava, which had been falling earlier makes for sweeter meat, but not as much fat.

    6. Smell when frying meat and fat (e.g., a pork chop, bacon, etc). (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    Hmm, would that be “awe-full” as in full of awe that such a nasty hairy looking beast could smell so good? There was a tiny bit of “game” or “wild” smell – just an underlying hint of wild pork smell, but that is there for all the wild pigs we catch regardless of the gender. I think it has to do with their diet.

    7. Taste of fried meat. (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    Yum! It was fried tenderloin medallions with salt and ground black pepper fried in the cast iron pan. Served with white rice (gotta have your rice around here!) and green peas.

    8. Smell when oven roasting (e.g., pork chop, ham, roast, etc) (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    We usually use liquid smoke to make kalua pig (it’s a Hawaiian recipe) so that overpowers any delicate tastes, but it smelled wonderful.

    9. Taste of oven roasting (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    No leftovers from that pot luck dish! Liquid smoke, some broth from boiling the bones, salt and then after the meat is cooked, shred it apart.

    10. Smell when cooking ground meat. (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    Will be grinding tomorrow to make sausages, so don’t know what it will smell like yet. Depending on the spices and type of sausage, probably.

    11. Taste when cooking ground meat. (Good / Odd / Aweful)
    We are hoping it will be good, haven’t tried making sausage before.

    12. Did you spice the ground meat and if so with what?
    Well, one sausage recipe will have fennel, coriander and probably garlic and red pepper in it. One will probably have sage and such. The rest of them I will know tomorrow after I’ve spiced them. Mostly it is just sniff and decide what to add.

    13. Other observations on cooking?
    The wild pig whether it is boar or sow is much leaner than domestic pig. There is also a wild pig taste to it, perhaps from not being corn fed before slaughter. It is very similar to the difference between grass fed versus grain fed cattle.

    14. Other observations on taste?
    Pig is pig and pretty tasty!

    15. Other notes.

  26. Walter or Whoever May Help,
    I have been researching pig farming and I am interested in beginning to raise pigs on a very very small scale. I was wondering how I would go about purchasing individual piglets. I live in upstate South Carolina so I would imagine the large number of local farms could be used to my advantage. Any insight would be great. Thank you!

  27. Michael, get a copy of the book “Small Scale Pig Raising” by Dirk van Loon. It is an excellent introduction and reference.

    As to where to get piglets, in your state there are a lot of confinement feed operations and they have culls – piglets that aren’t up to their standards. That is one source for large numbers of cheap piglets.

    If you’re looking for something better than look in the local newspaper classifieds and an bulletin boards for ads for piglets. They tend to show up in the spring. Some of those people may be raising the pigs on pasture and those are the best piglets to get as they already have the selection toward pasture raised pork. Be aware that many producers sell out early in the season so reserve soon with a deposit.

  28. Mainiac says:

    Walter,
    We did the uncut boar thing. We picked up a boar, at the auction, to breed our sows.He weighed at purchase about 100-150 at slaughter his hanging weight was 250. He was 8 months ,I think.We asked the slaughter house to call if any strange odor. None according to them .We opted for hot sasage, bacon, and smoked pork cops. Aok all around

  29. thunder says:

    im raising a boar and i have noticed that the tusks are curling up and growing into his nose can these be trimmed or do i need to have them surgically removed?

  30. Thunder, I’ve never had a boars tusks do that although I’ve seen photos of wild boars with tusks growing back around and in. Sounds like it may be necessary to file or something. If this is a pet I would consult a vet.

    Here’s a photo of our big boar’s tusks. They grow out and sideways, not up and around.

  31. honeybee49 says:

    We have raised our own meat for about 25 years. My husband always cut the male piglets shortly after weaning. We always butchered at around 600 lbs. because the flavor is so much better than a 250 pounder. Once we butchered a female and my husband watched her carefully for about two weeks after her cycle to make sure she was not in heat Although there wasn’t much difference in taste, the meat had an odd smell. He bought and butchered a 4-5 year old 685 lb. boar Saturday. He cut it quickly, dressed it and and brought it home. I fried some of the tenderloin that evening as he cut it up and it wasn’t quite as tender as always, (we figured because of his age) but smelled fine. When I started canning the ham and tenderloin, it has a ‘Pee’ smell, but only while pressure canning. The taste is great,(one jar did not seal) but the smell is awful! I have to fry and can the sausage as soon as he gets it ground and I am hoping the sage, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper will help it not to smell. Is there any danger of bacteria in the meat?

  32. HoneyBee, thanks for the note. It sounds like that old boar had the Skatole in the fat. That is one of the two chemicals that can cause boar taint. Skatole is produced in the intestine and then stored in the fat. Skatole levels are increased in pigs that are kept in dirty conditions in pens because they eat and breath their own feces a lot – thus the chemical name – SKAT-(shit)-tole.

    As you noted, the tenderloin, the leanest cut on a pig, was fine and that is because it has so little fat. Skin out the fat and use fat from a sow or barrow to mix with the boar lean meat. Spicing also helps and that is a traditional method of dealing with taint in pig lines that have it.

  33. Ben says:

    Walter, interesting post, and I’d definitely like to know more. I had 2 boars last spring that reached around 350#. They were both uncut, and, as they were around 9 months old, I was concerned about the “boar taint.” I was trying to decide whether to “chance it” or cut them and wait 30-60 days. I talked with several friends with hog experience and talked extensively with our butcher (who said that usually 7 months and younger or 300# or less was about it. He also added that if they have not been “active” or around females they might be ok. (And, they had not been around any female pigs.)) With this in mind and due to the fact that they kept getting out, I took the chance. The meat was great.

  34. Walter,

    are you aware if the american guinea hog has the boar taint or not?

    thanks

    Anthea
    Oklahoma

  35. I’m sorry but I don’t know anything about the American guinea hog. Do you have some you can test for taint?

  36. hmm, not yet, but I will do your experiment and let you know. Is there a specific test you run or just butcher at set times?

    thanks again

    Anthea
    Oklahoma

  37. Anthea, see the comment above that discusses the observations to make. What I did was slaughter boars and taste test them at progressively older ages. We have now gotten up to 30 months of age with no signs of boar taint in our herd. This is for boars that are living with the herd and sexually active.

  38. Mike says:

    Hello Walter,
    Earlier in the post there was the mention of boars being destroyed due to being intact.
    You mentioned that this was not a problem in Vermont.
    Does this mean that the USDA inspect boars same as others and that it is not stamped on the meat or anything in Vermont?
    Mike

  39. Mike, someone had mentioned that they heard of a butcher had destroyed someone’s pigs. I find nothing in the USDA regulations saying boars must be castrated. In fact, I find quite the opposite as they talk about the grading of pork and discuss boars – which they don’t grade. Here in Vermont I have taken many boars to three different USDA inspected slaughterhouses and none of them have had any issue with the fact that these were boars. In fact, I took one 800 lb boar this winter and I’m about to take another which is about that size. Excellent meat and no issues with the USDA. It was merely the unscientific ideas of that particular butcher that Larisa above was discussing.

  40. Hello Walter. I am a new pig farmer in Ohio. I’m raising registered large blacks. I have a boar who I’m planning to send to “freezer camp” this winter. He’ll be about 2 and is currently a about 450 lbs. Do you have any experience with LB’s? I will be able to seperate him from the herd for a few weeks to try to avoid the boar taint. Any other recommendations? Another question for you- I’d like to eventually start using AI rather than the boars. Have you used AI on your pigs and what is your experience as to how it effects litter size? Should I keep a boar to keep the girls in heat? Thanks for all the great info.

  41. Katrina,

    I have one sow that is part Large Black. Blackie mated with our herd boars which are predominantly Yorkshire with some Berkshire and other. Her sons have been delicious and without boar taint. However, you’ll have to test you’re own herd to be sure of yours. I have heard that the separation for a month works, but who knows if the boars in question actually had taint or not.

    On the AI, I’ve never done it although I looked into it years ago. I have been told it is fairly easy to do and that you should do two doses per sow about 12 hours apart.

  42. Inka says:

    Hi Walter,

    We raise “guinea hogs”, a smaller heritage hog on the ALBC critical list. The hogs grow to 150-250 lbs. Currently I have the breeding pain and 2 boar piglets left. The boars are not viable breeding pigs as one has a heart murmer and the other has only 1 testicle. We had planned to use them for meat, and I hadn’t even considered castration until speaking with a neighbor today. We also raise dairy goats for our goat milk soap business (www.gleasonhillfarm.com) and have slaughtered an intact male without any negative taint or smell to the meat. I am wondering about my piglets. We planned to send them up to a neighbor who doesn’t own pigs for a month or so to till up her garden. However, now I am wondering if we should slaughter them as soon as possible. They were born in Oct. so are just under 6 mos. now. They are in with the sow, the boar, and, until recently, 1 gilt piglet. Just this week they started to show signs of sexual maturity and interest in the young gilt. If we send them to the neighbor, they will be separated from females for 30 days. If we slaughter them now they will be a month younger, there will be no separation. Which variable do you think is more important. They are about 40-50 lbs. now, so there will not be that much meat, but we would hate to waste it. On the other hand they are older and I would rather not castrate at this point. We appreciate any thoughts you might have on the subject.

    Thanks for your work, and information.

    Inka

  43. Julie says:

    I was told that boar meat smells very strong when it is cooked, does anyone know if this is true? I was also told that the smoke house will smell like boar for several weeks after it is smoked.
    J

  44. Julie,

    A small minority of boars have taint, as well as a some sows even, and that is what is referred to as boar taint. The vast majority of boars don’t have it so castration is not necessary. Read the articles liked to above for more details.

    Cheers,

    -Walter

  45. Walter,

    Thank you for all of the information and experience that you share. I wanted to let you know that I processed a 4.5 year old Berkshire boar. One month prior to slaughtering, I isolated him and kept him on fresh greens and hay. I took him to the butcher who let me try some meat off the hanging carcus. I took it home and couldn't detect any boar taint. Even my pregnant wife couldn't smell or taste anything. (A prego nose is greater at detecting scents than a bloodhound's nose.) So I called the butcher back up and had him process the whole hog into sausage. I would have done regular cuts, but the meat was rather tough.

    I sold the sausage to my customers and was able to pay for my new boar out of the profits. This sure beats the $0.03/lb the auction offers for boars. The sausage turned out great and was very lean, which my customers liked. If it wasn't for your blog, I most likely would have sold him to the auction. Thank you very much!

  46. iam1dummy says:

    Hey Walter,
    Some more boar taint experience here. I have potbellied, hampshire/duroc crosses and some guinea hogs all in one small pasture. We aquired the potbellied boar 2 years ago and he was gray haired then. I suppose he is 10 years or more old. He fathered 3 litters with us and has had some recent leg problems. I had to put him down so I butchered him and we found the meat to be tasty but too tough even after a round in the slow cooker. It all ended up as some fine sausage, very exceptional tasting. He was with the females until the end and we noticed zero bad taste of any kind. No one who I give the meat to seems squimish about the pig being a "pet" variety. Only the pet pig owners get bent out of shape about it. I will be phasing them out but have found them to be hardy, prolific and very easy to manage. On a side note, our young Guinea Hog boar got a full size hampshire/duroc sow pregnant and she had her litter about 2 hours ago, all 9 survived so far. Let me know if you want to know how that little boar accomplished such a feat!

  47. Great! Thanks for the report from the field. -WJ

  48. Lynn says:

    Walter because of your experience and information, we are going to slaughter our 2 year old Tamworth, intact boar. Our beautiful sow just ignored him. He was sick once or twice and she treated him like a little brother. She's simply not interested in him. Our plan is to isolate him from her for one month and then process him into whole hog sausage. We will finish him out on acorns, fresh grass and organic grains. I will let you know how it turns out. BTW I'm on the look out for Great Black semen. We like the Great BlackXTamworth meat very well.

  49. Lynn,

    Has your sow farrowed before? Do you know if she cycled? I find that when they are in heat they'll accept anyone and hump anyone. The hornymonal response is very stong.

    On eating the boar uncastrated, keep in mind that what I write about is our experience with our genetics under our feed and management. Research shows that most pigs don't have taint. Separating him well from females, feeding a high fiber diet, reducing grains (corn, soy, etc), having clean bedding and pasture are all things that help to play the odds in your favor.

    If he does have taint then the traditional method of dealing with it is the spicy sausage made with his lean and the fat from beef, a sow or a barrow since most of the taint gets deposited in the fat rather than the lean muscle.

    Best of luck and hope you find that semen for your sow. We have one Large Black sow and have been very pleased with her.

    Cheers,

    -Walter

  50. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what a great site! SUPER informative. We raised 2 pigs for butcher this year. One was a sow, the other, was supposed to be a gilt. At time of buthcer, we were informed there was a "testie" tucked up inside. We have a great butcher who after a few days of "cooling" he cut a piece off of the "boar" and cooked it to test for smell. He said the smell was very minimal. However, he can not smoke the hams or bacon. So, I will be cureing and smokeing our hams, with your recipe. Thanks so much. This will be our first time cureing and smokeing..wish me luck!

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