Boar Out

Spot, one of our boars got out of the north field today and headed over to the south field. He must have scented a sow in heat in the south. The wind was backwards. He was chomping and foaming. I managed to walk him half way back but he was not cooperating and I was getting nowhere. At around 800 lbs and seven feet long crown to tail he is a handful although gentle. I finally called the dogs who had been up busy doing something else. They came running and had him back in the north field with his herd in about 30 seconds flat. They are amazing. I wouldn’t want to homestead or farm without dogs.

Of course, all that happened while we had three delivery trucks here – whey, lumber and stone for the whey driveway – all while I was struggling to change the backhoe over to the box scraper on the tractor and Will and Ben were sorting finishers out of the field to go to market. When it rains, it pours. Actually, it was snowing.

Outdoors: 31°F/10°F 2″ Snow
Farm House: 61°F/38°F
Tiny Cottage: 52°F/45°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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10 Responses to Boar Out

  1. Anonymous says:

    My (young) boar foamed the other day when for the first time I moved two guilts in an adjacent pen. I didn’t know what it was, but assumed he was interested. Went down tonight with bred for all, and he was in their pen. No complaining on my part. 2gilts, 1 boar, 2 barrows, chickens, rabbits, milk cow

  2. valereee says:

    I’ve always wondered how dogs get trained to herd animals. I know some dogs just naturally want to herd — how do you tell the dog, ‘take this pig back where he belongs’ ?

  3. Valereee,

    Part of it is instinct. I watch for this in puppies. Some puppies come out of the womb with the instinct like Coy, Kia, Lili, Kavi, Saturn, etc. Others take time to develop it like Kita and Cinnamon but then are most excellent – late bloomers if you will. A very few never seem to quite get it – those we don’t keep but they make fine pets for other families.

    Part of it is having other working dogs around who demonstrate the proper behaviors. The higher ranking dogs will snap at a puppy who gets it wrong and a pup that gets it right gets rewarded by being allowed near the leader’s face.

    Part is working with the dogs a lot, just doing things with them, teaching them a common language so we can communicate. In time they know what I mean when I say “Pigs Out!” (a pig is out and we need to get it back in) vs “Move the Pig” vs various hand signals, etc. Likewise they learn to communicate back to us.

    Part is exposure to the livestock. The dogs learn what makes the animals move or not as they want.

    Lastly there is active training. This is made easier if you already have all of the above. It is practice and teaching of phrases and techniques so the dogs learn the work.

    I mentioned above communication. It is a two way street. The dogs will talk about things and by listening to what they say, both verbally and with body language, you can often understand them. They have different howls, barks and calls for “People here!”, “Pig Out!”, “Help!”, “Mail Call!”, etc.

    Most dogs I’ve worked with have it and can develop it with training if they have the opportunity and you have the patience. Herding is really hunting technique sublimated into farming. As my son Ben says, wolves are natural farmers.

  4. I’m envious, Anonymous. We don’t have a cow yet. I was hoping this would be the year but too many projects. Maybe next year. We certainly drink enough milk and eat enough cheese. Have fun with your piglets to come!

  5. valereee says:

    Walter, very interesting! I have a dog, and while in general he gets along great with other dogs I’ve seen him snap at young dogs who weren’t behaving toward him the way he apparently thought they should — being rambunctious, jumping around his head, things like that.

    I’ve seen something similar in my cats, come to think of it. Both my cats were extremely tolerant of my kids when they were babies, but as soon as the kids started to walk the cats started to correct them for pulling tails and ears and such. I remember very clearly the day my then 14-month-old daughter first got a small nip from one of the cats after she’d grabbed the cat too roughly. She looked at me with this shocked expression, and I shrugged and told her, “Cats like gentle people.”

  6. *grin* Well said (of the cats)!

  7. Crystal says:

    Walter, I always enjoy reading details about how you train the dogs (and how they train each other). I noticed yesterday while looking at your sugarmtn farm web site there are some phots from 2004. In one of them a dog has a milk jug tied to it’s neck & the caption says he is in training. Can you explain how the jug is used in training?

    Thanks!

  8. Zac says:

    Walter,
    I didn’t mean to be anonymous, but did not know how to fill out the, whatever. We have a milk cow who is coming to the end of her cycle. She is bred back for August to my grandmother’s bull. We are searching for another to keep going all year, but we’ll see. Not many available family cows, and when we find one it is often out of our budget. Take care, site is very useful. Specially the natural deworming methods.

  9. Crystal, that photo with the jug is of Hagrid, a brother of Kia and Kita. He, like all of our dogs, is a jumper. Someone once saw them coming towards them over the fences and commented that our dogs fly. Truly fencing them in isn’t practical as it would take a greater than 8′ fence. The solution is training. I have to teach them which fences they may jump and which they may not.

    One of the tools is a dongle hanging from their collar. It serves to remind them when they go to jump that they are not supposed to. When Hagrid started with that jug it was filled with water. Over time I lessened the weight. He’s a huge dog so the 8 lbs of water wasn’t much to him. Prior to that I had him on a logging chain. Even that he was able to jump with – he once cleared a 48″ high fence taking the whole 60 lb chain over the fence with him without any of it touching – he probably clear jumped 20′ of distance.

    With training they learn when to jump and when to stay in. See this post for more on jumping.

  10. crystal says:

    Excellent! Thanks for the info walter! Wonderful as always.

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