Berkshire Boar Spitz Mating with Large Black Sow Little Lots
Caught them in the act! This is Spitz, our Berkshire boar doing his duty with a quite willing lady, one of our Large Black sows. She is named Little Lots. Little as in the second generation of that line but more like 600 pounds of pig so not little that way.
Little Lots is in what is called standing heat. Sow pigs cycle about every 21 days and tend to do this in cohorts following the lead of a boss sow. When they hit peak heat they will stand still if you press on their hips. This allows the boar to easily mount them.
Gestation is typically 114 days to farrowing, that is giving birth of the new litter of piglets. That is not exact as just like with humans it can be plus or minus. I’ve seen as early as two weeks before and as late as two weeks after that. Our Blackieline sows have a tendency to short gestate. We just had a litter at 103 days which is 11 days early.
We do natural breeding year round, that is the sows and boars pick the times other than the sorting of sows between boar herds that I do to control our genetics. Artificial Insemination (AI) is something I looked into long ago but the cost wasn’t economical for us, especially with all the shipping and our wanting to have litters spaced around the year rather than clustered all at once.
Generally sows come into heat about seven to ten days after weaning although we have some in the Blackieline who have jumped four foot fences if necessary in order to get to the boars soon after they farrowed and successfully rebred while lactating. They are eager and take the initiative with the boar shall we say. Nursing is not an effective method of birth control. Most sows produce about 2.3 litters a year but these sows produce three litters a year pushing our average up a bit.
We have sixty sows so this justifies having several boars. As a rule of thumb I figure that to justify a boar it takes six sows if by seed (commercial feed) and three if by land (pasture). Since we’re pasture based and don’t feed commercial hog feed this lets us cover the cost of a larger number of boars. That in turn lets us maintain multiple genetic lines such as our Mainline, Blackieline, Berkshire, Tamworth and second Large Black line.
Did you know that a gilt is a female who has not yet farrowed (given birth) while a sow is a female who has given birth. Boars are the males unless they were castrated in which case they’re barrows (castrated young) or stags (castrated old). For more fun terminology of pigs check out the FAQ page.
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