Sow Tusks

Sow Tusks

People think of tusks being a boar thing but sows can have pretty big tusks too. The above big tusks came from a sow who died on the farm. After the body had mostly decomposted in the compost pile I collected the teeth.

One interesting thing I have noticed across the many tusks I’ve seen is that the boar tusks tend to be circles while the sows tend to be more of an oval. So far I’ve not had a complete circle from a boar and the sows tusks grow much slower so I doubt I’ll ever see a circle from them. Both are deeply embedded in the jaw. On the sow only a small bit extends out of the gums. Looking closely at the tusks above you can see the worn tip and then a bit behind it the exposed potion is colored differently than the embedded tusk.

The thicker second biggest tooth is an upper tusk from a boar that I found in the same compost pile. There are also some incisors and other teeth in the photo. I once read someone in a newspaper claim that pig teeth were just like human teeth. If your teeth look like this, please let me know!

You can see more tusks in these articles.

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Daily Spark: Why is a banana like a dead skunk? Both are best before they’re ripe.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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10 Responses to Sow Tusks

  1. Mark says:

    I’m very impressed. I had no idea sows even had tusks. I thought it was just a boar trait. I didd a double take on that ruler figuring it must be in centimeters at first until I realized those are inches. They are right? That makes sense from the divisions. Those must be some huge sows.

  2. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Walter, off topic a bit. I was going over my “required equipment” list for back-to-the-land, and remembered your soon-to-be-acquired debristler. Is there anything on the market faster and easier than a hand bell, but reasonably economical? I remember a lot of work the times I debristled by hand. Would like to reduce that for my older years.

    • I have not seen a simpler solution but I have invented one, on the drawing board, which I’ve yet to make full scale:

      Get a hand held motor (e.g., grinder, drill, etc) and put a wheel on it. Attached to the wheel are a number of rubber flaps. Alternate flaps have metal edges. The rubber on the anti-alternate flaps is stickier. Between the two they ‘shave, scrape and pluck’ the hog. A similar smaller version might be useful for poultry, especially hard to pluck ducks. An optional variable speed motor could make it easier to use.

      That does the dehairing. You still need to do the scalding. I have experimented with mummy wrapping suckling and small roaster pigs in towels and then pouring hot water over them. This worked quite well and was easier than using a big vat for a single pig. I found that the water needed to be a little hotter, about 156°F, since it cooled as it went through the towels. Don’t get scalded.

      So there’s the idea. If you build one let me know how it goes. I’ll give it to you free but this writing is prior art so nobody can patent it now. (Written for this nasties who would patent things and then keep them from people – ideas should be free, it is implementation that matters. The patent office is all screwed up.)

  3. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    There is a “fingered” gadgie like that sold for ducks and geese, to be used with a hand drill. If I ever set out to implement your idea I might buy one of those and mill the rubber fingers flat on the presenting side. Maybe with enough RPMs that would effect the scraping element too. Thank you! I’ve been to Mexican pig killings, where burlap sacks were used to present the loosening water to the carcass, instead of dipping. It works ok, but adds work on a big animal. At those slaughters, I remember, they would strip out the upper intestine, squeeze it out, and flush it with a garden hose, then section it, invert it, wash again, then braid each piece into a one-braid, and toast them on an open fire. Crunchy munchies for the killing crew.

  4. Beth says:

    I’m curious about carcass composting. I can’t remember if you’ve written about the method before – do you use lime? Any time we’ve had to bury animals or their parts on the land, the coyotes dig them up and then we get a fresh flush of flies.

    • Beth, check out these articles about composting. In one of them you will find links to research and advice about composting livestock mortalities on the farm. Composting is very different than burying the carcass. Basically, you need to add carbon such as wood shavings, hay, straw, etc. Old compost also works well and can be reused. Essentially you lay down a thick bed of carbon, then the carcass, then more carbon. Fence it off from dogs, coyotes, bears and the like. Let the chickens in there to eat any flies that show up – good food for them and no noticeable flies that way.

  5. Susan Lea says:

    Well that’s my new piece of knowledge for the day: Sows have tusks! Not quite sure how I’ll work it into general conversation, but that’s fascinating! I had noticed that our gilts had places on their upper jaws where the skin “hooked” up, almost like my stick-out canines used to do to me when I was in 7th grade before I had braces! I’m assuming now that their tusks were growing there. I’m SO glad I do NOT have teeth like a pig! If the kids teased me so much over my “vampire fangs,” imagine how much they’d have teased me if I had tusks like that sprouting when I smiled!

    Also, seeing how deeply rooted these tusks were, I think we should add a new expression to go along with “like pulling hens’ teeth” — “like pulling sows’ teeth.” Not impossible, but pretty tough to do!

  6. Dawn Carroll says:

    I have a purebred Spot boar that I am going to have to take to the vet to get his tusk cut. They are getting long enough that they are starting to wear holes in the side of his face. I like this boar for breeding as he is old line Spot with no Pietrain in him at all. So maintaining his health is a priority for me.
    I am going to keep the tusk for a future necklace or perhaps some dangle ear rings…
    I was discussing the pigs with my dentist and he said that in dentistry school the teeth that they initially got to work on were from pigs.

    • Interesting about the tusks wearing a hole. In our boars the tusks spiral outward which avoids this but I’ve seen photos of some wild pigs that looked like what you describe. I would be interested in seeing a photo of your boar if you can post one.

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