Of Boar Balls & Cryptorchids

Yesterday Ellajac of the blog Aspiring to Simplicity noticed the grower on the Butter Pig had a well hung package on his back end but her boar didn’t. She commented on this and I asked her to send photos of her piggy’s private parts. She obliged (above):


Here are some pictures of my boar’s backside. This will have to go down in the annals of personal history, because I’ve never gotten such a request before (and am not likely to again). :) They’re not the best pictures; I only had whey for them this morning, and they backed me into a corner squealing and complaining at me. I kept them busy with some pizza crust scraps so I could get the shots, but still didn’t have time to get very good ones.

As to the possibility of his being a barrow, I really don’t think so. He’s a registered purebred Tamworth and his price reflected that.

If this is a problem with the cryptorchid thing, and he is sterile, is that something I should/could talk to the breeder about? His value seems quite diminished if he’s got the drawbacks of possible boar taint without the benefits of reproduction.

I really appreciate your taking the time to help me in this.. uh… delicate matter. Feel free to use the pics and/or message in your blog if you feel it’d be beneficial.



Thank you for the photos of the back side of your boar via email. I think your boar is indeed a boar, I see no scar from castration. It is possible that the scar is hidden and thus your boar is a barrow but I doubt it from what I see in the photos.

His scrotum is indeed very flat, not at all like a breeding boar. He may have unusually small testicals and with the cool weather he may have pulled them tightly to his body. If that is the case then I would expect you to see some bulge on his backside from time to time. But what shows in the photos does not look like that at all.

Assuming he is indeed a boar it looks to me like he is cryptorchidic. His testicles didn’t descend which means they can not cool themselves to properly produce sperm. That probably means he is infertile – although no guarantee. They might descend later. Either way he should still have the hormones and the ability to act like a boar, just probably not viable sperm. This makes him useful only as a false-boar, to excite the ladies and get them into heat so a real-boar can do the job, possibly via artificial insemination (AI). That is done although buying a can of artificial “boar scent” is cheaper.

Above are the butt ends of some of our boars past and present to give you an idea of what to look for. Even on a piglet they are well rounded. See this article for another back side shot of a boar with the scrotum full as it should be as well as pictures of a gilt and sow.

At a month old the boar piglet’s testicle development typically looks like these two little guys who are admiring “Litl’Un’s” equipment. As usual, click on the image to get a larger, closer view. By the way, Litl’Un is about ten months old in this photo.

When looking for a breeding boar one thing to look at is the size of the balls. Bigger is better as they have more capacity to produce more sperm. In a herd situation where he would have many ladies to service this is even more of an issue.

I just sold a gentleman a young breeding boar. I picked the best of several based on ball size, temperament and the fact that the young boar was doing all he could to demonstrate he could perform.

You mentioned that your boar is a registered purebred Tamworth boar and his price reflected that. If you paid extra for a breeding boar that turns out to be a barrow, small balled or cryptorchid I would definitely go back to the seller and ask for a refund on the difference in the price or a replacement in swap.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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5 Responses to Of Boar Balls & Cryptorchids

  1. pablo says:

    Well, just about everything one needs to know about this subject. Thanx for making this an educational day for me.

  2. Patti says:

    I so needed a smle today and you amply provided…:)

  3. EllaJac says:

    Had Zeke butchered yesterday. He looked much more manly without his skin. In any case, the butcher said he could smell boar even before he opened him up (just bleeding). I leaned over, and maybe I was upwind, but I couldn’t smell anything. He thinks he might taste “a bit off”. I’m going to pick up some chops on monday to test out – and then decide how to have him processed.

    I’d like to know if you have any information on the effects of smoking (not the cigarette kind) on bacon. That is, even if the meat is a bit tainted, could I get away with brining/smoking some hams/bacons and grinding the rest? Seems to me that the process would impart a nice taste that might help counteract the ‘boar’ taste. I know you’re not terribly familiar with tainted meat (lucky you!) but you’re better-informed on the subject than I, generally.

    By the way, I’m amazed at how simply and efficiently one can turn a hog into 2 hanging sides! Now for a winch-powered cable and a reciprocating saw…

  4. Yesterday I was talking with a gentleman who used to keep pigs. He never tasted taint in any of the boars who were young, under a year, but he did in one that was a colored boar (Glouster Old Spot) that was many years old. He said the smell was bad when cooking but the meat tasted fine.

    My understanding is that the taint taste is in the fat. So if you lean the meat then you remove much of the fat. I have read that people take the lean, the meat without the fat, from boars and mix it with sow, barrow, goat, lamb or beef meat and fat to make sausage. If the cuts you sample come out tainted then that is something to try.

    Do keep us posted with your findings, Ellajac…

  5. EllaJac says:

    Ok; picked up some loin chops (I think) from the butcher today to ‘try out’. He said the smell was much reduced since slaughter… Maybe he ‘aired out’? I brought them home, lightly seasoned them, and broiled them too much. BUT – It’s good. The fat rind had a different smell, but I take that off after cooking anyway. I ate only a few bites, and none from the area right along the fat, but it seemed ok to me. I haven’t had a pork loin chop in years, probably, so I’m no expert, but it didn’t taste like urine. Hubby will eat some tonight and give his final opinion. As it stands, I’m having the sausage mixed lean, and all cuts fresh. We’ll try our hand at brining and smoking the hams and bacons. As I’ve read it, if I’m going to brine AND smoke, it looks like my safe bet is to use Salt Peter at least for the hams. Bacons are faster, so apparently they’re ok to do sans nitrates.

    OH – and the gilt went into heat today. *rolls eyes*

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