Battling Boars!

No photo. You don’t go running to grab a camera in the middle of a boar fight.

Our two smallest boars tangled when we were loading pigs for the trip to the butcher on Friday. Little’un from the south field herd, weighing in at about 650 lbs and 26 months of age versus Longson of the north field herd, less than half his age but almost Little’un’s weight. They were almost evenly matched although Little’un had the advantage of experience from his years of tussling with the other big boars he shares the south field herd with.

The boars in the south field all get along fine together. There is a definite hierarchy and they’ve sorted things out long ago. The result is things are peaceful between them and with their harem of sows.

Life has been easy and uncontested for Longson. In the north field he has always been the sole boar. He’s a gentle giant who may have thought he was the only boar in the world. One wouldn’t count those little growers who dance around his feet. In fact he’s not met another adult male pig even a third his size. He was a fast grower and quickly became the dominant in his cohort. His size, growth rate, temperament and conformation are why we kept him. He is also the son, grandson and great-grandson of some of our best sows and boars.

The loading ramp to our van is by the driveway near the north field. When Little’un snuck through our group of loading finishers from the south field, Longson was more surprised than anything. “Who is this fellow?” he must have said to himself. “Perhaps it is a mirror…” The wind blows mostly from the north so he probably rarely even scents the boars in the other herd.

At first they just stood staring at each other across the fence. We were loading pigs up the ramp and into the van so we couldn’t easily stop to deal with the situation then when it would have been easy.

After we were done loading and had sorted back the pigs to stay we turned our attention to the wayward Little’un. By then they had moved on to chomping and frothing as they shifted position and stared through the fence at each other. The foaming at the mouth is their way of releasing male hormones, pheromones that say they are boss. Pretty soon the ground was covered with speckles and splashes of foam. The air was crackling with electricity and it wasn’t coming from the fence.

A word about fences – hot poultry netting won’t stop a determined pig but it does work 99.9% of the time. So far the netting had convinced the two of them to stay put, each on their own side of the fence. In reality, poultry netting might as well not even be there between the two boars once Little’un charged. To say he tore a hole in the fence is to put it mildly.

Around and around they spun. In a boar fight each boar aims to toss their opponent by sticking their snout under their opponent’s belly and lifting with their tremendously powerful neck and shoulder muscles. They are simultaneously attempting not to be tossed. Coupled like Ying and Yang they spin each trying to gain the advantage. There is remarkably little blood given the sizes of the tusks and the power in those big animals. There is a huge expenditure of energy with their violet shoving. Stand well back.

My biggest concern was that nobody get hurt – particularly us. The rest of the herd in the north field had cleared back a good distance. They didn’t want to be anywhere near these two battling males. By this time we had grabbed our sorting boards and another sheet of plywood hoping to slip the wood between the battling boars when they reared bac. No go. They tossed the boards the few times we got them in place. The rest of the time they were locked tight as they each pushed their shoulder against their opponent. At times they would stand grunting and huffing and puffing. Then they would whirl once again like a dervish.

Finally, after about forty minutes of this nonsense Longson yelled ‘Uncle!’ and they separated. They were both badly winded, stumbling and bleary. I feared they might have heart attacks. Neither was seriously injured – Longson just had two small tusk gashes on his shoulder. With minimal encouragement Little’un walked back with us to the south field to rejoin his herd.

So ends the Big Boar Battle of 2007. The south won this round.

Outdoors: 50°F/38°F Mostly Cloudy, 3″ Rain on Sunday
Farm House: 63°F/56°F
Tiny Cottage: 56°F/50°F Attic forms work, sump work, exterior parging

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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10 Responses to Battling Boars!

  1. Patti says:

    A hose works wonders with fighting cats,dogs,chickens etc. Wonder if it would work for pigs?

  2. Paige says:

    I have kinda an odd question, did the boars have a strange smell to them after they stopped? I was thinking of the few times two of my dogs got into fighting each other they always smelled as I was cleaning them up. It always makes me think of the smell of fear.

  3. pablo says:

    Will all of that activity and anxiety affect the taste of the meat?

  4. Pablo, I suspect that were we to slaughter these boars immediately after the battle, or even within a few days, they would taste less than idea due to all the hormones and adrenaline running through their system. But these are both breeding boars and they’re not going to butcher any time soon thus I won’t get to do that little test. :( Little’un is scheduled to go sometime in 2008 but by then any stress chemicals in his blood will have long since cleared.

    Paige, there was a little of that but not strongly. I know the fear smell you’re referring to. In their case I don’t think they were so much afraid as challenging. There is another smell, the androstenone, that is one of the two boar taint which is strong in some lines.

    Patti, the hose is a great idea. I will keep that in mind for the future. Thanks!

  5. Anita says:

    Wow. Nothing like a little extra adrenalin to get your heart going. I’m surprised there wasn’t more damage.

  6. Woody says:

    These hog loading/sorting stories are going around lately…lol Happy to hear that everyone came out of it unharmed. We’re loading two of our hogs for the processor at the end of this month. Thankfully I have friends that were kind enough to volunteer their services. I don’t think Theresa wants me loading hogs with a busted up pelvis.

  7. deb says:

    I am just happy that no one was hurt. I know so little about pigs that I didn’t know that they would fight one another. That sounds scary.

  8. Deb, pigs in the same herd almost never fight. There’s an established hierarchy and things are peaceful. In this case it was two adult boars who didn’t know each other and one invaded the territory and herd of the other. In all probability, once they got who’s boss settled they would be fine together. The big thing is not to get in their way during the battle because they’re not paying attention to anyone else.

  9. ken says:

    we have 7 6 month old gilts all sisters from the same litter. they are half tamworth one quarter pink and one quarter wild. we bought 8 month old berkshire boar.
    he was fighting with the biggest girl for awhile and when they were done three others ganged up on him. he has some small cuts but he looked really winded so we put him in a pen right beside. is this all normal and what is the best procedure going forward?

    • It is normal for animals to be territorial. When their hormones are saying mate then they are less territorial male to female. A good procedure with incoming animals is to quarantine for a month and then move them to a position across a fence line so they can get to know each other for a couple of weeks. Then open both to a new area so there is less territorial aggression and provide plenty of food in the new space. Territoriality and aggression vary with the line and the individual as well as hormonally.

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