Why More Big Breasts are Better


Petra Farrowing in Garden Shed – First Piglets Out

There was a discussion of genetics over on the post about Five Boars and a Sow which lead to some discussion of tits on a boar, teat count, breast size and related issues. Eric questioned:

It’s interesting that teats are correlated with milk production, past a certain point anyway. It seems like more teats could just mean less milk per teat with the same amount of total production.


One might think so but field experience shows that more teats on a really good sow means more milk. Realize that some sows have small breasts and others have big breasts, just like with humans. In the pigs, bigger breast produce a lot more milk – note we’re talking trim fit sows – we have no fat pigs because we’re on a low calorie pasture diet. Too much udder fat can interfere with milk production.

Thus I breed for not just more teats (nipple count) but also for big breasts (how large the bag is during production). The size of the bag is the indicator of how much she produces per teat and the count of teats is then the multiplier. It gets even more complicated because not all teats on the udder are as productive on some sows. This means I look at the spacing, line, formation and placement of teats as well. Teats too far back may not be in full production (hind teats).

Add to this how well the sow is able to graze pasture, store that as back fat, etc and then release it back to the piglet through her milk without losing too much condition herself so as to provide them with sufficient food to grow at maximum speed by weaning time. Really big bagged sows produce enormous amounts of milk. Realize that they typically take a group of eight to a dozen or in some cases 16 piglets from 3 lbs each to 30 lbs or more each in just six weeks or so. To do that they produce a huge amount of very rich milk and they do it on pasture without any commercial hog feed.

To get this I breed for big breasted ladies with lots of teats. The Tamworth boar’s claim to fame and why he’s gotten to stay on the farm as a breeder is that he has so many teats. He is very good in all other respects but so were other boars. What let him beat out all the other Tamworths boars was his teat count. We also have several Tamworth sows from that line who have sixteen and eighteen teats. However none of them bag up as much as our prize Mainline and Blackieline sows like Blackie, Anna, Petra, Mouse, Jolie, Angela, Big Pig, Saddle, Little Pig who despite being taller nearly hang to the ground when lactating and are able to squirt milk (hand squeeze) over eight feet. They make Holstein cows jealous.

And you thought tits were simple… Sugar Mountain Farm, where all the ladies are above average.

(No, I do not have a breast fixation. Honestly. Really. Besides you would get over it when you’re surrounded by thousands of naked breasts.)

You may find the posts Bye-Bye Petra, Of Milk Jugs and Lactation and The Breast Ice Cream in Vermont interesting.

This message has been approved by The Council Understanding Pig Size (CUPS) and Walter’s wife.

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Daily Spark: Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. -Rumi

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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7 Responses to Why More Big Breasts are Better

  1. Cary Howe says:

    Commercial feed is overrated. It focuses on weight gain which causes many negative health effects. A balanced diet like in field raised animals is always better. Give them a balanced diet and take away the toxic environment most pigs live in and they don’t need antibiotics. Pigs survived millions of years with no antibiotics and with predators added into the mix. All things considered the benefits of factory farming are marginal while the downsides are massive. Just look at the issues of dealing with the cesspools of waste and disease. The argument that it takes more land to field raise pigs is a wash because that grazing land is used for producing feed crops which also cause pollution from over use of fertilizer and pesticides. When people say we have to give up meat they forget the central plains alone used to support a 100+ million Bison. In that same land you could raise a billion pigs. Instead we grow corn and soy which is making us sick. We’re talking 500lbs of meat per person per year including infants and that’s just on the central plains! FYI using your formula we’re talking about 40 billion chickens as well free ranged on the same land. And that was sustainable and able to endure droughts. I dare anyone to try to eat a pound and a half of pork every day! Another FYI, I just checked and based on today’s population that’s 125 chickens a year per person. On top of that pound and a half of pork a day you’d have to choke down a pound or two of chicken of chicken including infants! We farm badly.

    Milk production for pigs is based on quality not quantity. You can eat ten pounds of Cheetos and not get a fraction of the food value in a half pound of organic produce. You’ll be fat and sick. The quality of the pig’s feed results in high quality milk. Add in well formed pigs able to produce lots of milk and you get highly productive, healthy pigs.

    At it’s core modern farming is sick and needs to be scrapped and a more sensible system replace it. Modern farming can’t survive another hundred years where as organic farming with field raised animals can survive another ten thousand plus years with little change. Which makes more sense?

  2. Jane says:

    Have you ever heard of milking pigs? Like with cow sheep and goats?

    • Actually, we do milk our sows sometimes to get milk to be able to feed to a weak piglet. Sows aren’t conventionally milked for dairies because they have so many teats. Cows have four and goat have just two. This make it easier to build a milking machine for a cow or goat than for a fourteen or sixteen teated sow.

      Contrary to myths the realities are:

      1) Sows can become pregnant while lactating. The same goes for humans – Don’t use nursing as a birth control.

      2) Sow milk is very rich, high in both fat (8.5%) and protein (6% in pigs vs 3.3% in cows and 1.3% in humans). This is why piglets grow so fast.

      3) Sows are not overly aggressive any more than cows. If you want to have a pig dairy where you’ll milk sows, then breed for good temperament and train the sows to the milking. This is the same thing one does with cows, sheep and goats. Distracting them with a treat is also a good policy while milking. Eventually they look forward to the process.

      3) Sows can produce very large volumes of milk, just like cows. Big sows get up to around 800 or 900 lbs, about the size of cows. An average sow may only produce a gallon or two but big, highly product sows can produce four or five times that. This depends on the sow, age and breed – most do not produce that much because that isn’t what they’re bred for. Cows have been bred for high milk production, especially the Jersey and Holstein. We select for high milk production. I think I need to work on the leg length a bit though…

  3. mike clark says:

    Walter,do you adjust the sows diet before farrowing?i have heard a sow that’s kinda fat,may have trouble farrowing.then after farrowing give the sow all she will eat,is this your experience?

    • We don’t adjust sow diet and they get all they can eat. Because we our pigs’s diet is pasture/hay+whey based it is low calorie and we never get fat pigs. On a conventional commercial corn/soy diet there are too many calories so the pigs start putting on too much fat around finisher age and sows would get very fat on that. Yes, fat sows, just like fat cows, have problems with gestation, farrowing and lactation. For more about diet see the Pig Page and follow the feeding links as well as the feed link in the tag cloud in the right side bar.

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