Big Tusks, Little Teeth

Large Boar Tusks

I’ll admit that ten years ago I didn’t know how much variety there was in pig teeth. When we had raised pigs as a kid we just went to finisher age of about 250 lbs. Those pigs had little tusks. 500 lb and above boars have far larger tusks of truly impressive dimensions and curvature. Contrary to the claims of some, pig’s teeth are not very much like ours. Most notably, they have beautiful, long, curved ivory tusks. Pig tusks grow continuously just like elephant tusks. This is true in both the boars and the sows.

A = Big Boar lower tusk ~11.5″ around outside edge. (~1,700 lbs)
B = Medium Boar lower tusk (~800 lbs)
C = Big Boar lower tusk

The upper tusks and the lower tusks continue to grow throughout the pig’s life. The big ones above and below are from boars. Sow tusks grow more slowly so they are noticed unless you look closely.

Extra Large Boar Tusks

Only about half the tusk is exposed outside their gums. The rest is anchored securely in their long lower jaw to give them leverage for rooting and tearing up logs, stumps and such while searching for tasty morsels.

D = Big Boar lower tusk
E = Big Sow lower tusk – notice difference in shape
F = Big Sow lower tusk
G = Big Boar lower tusk

More Pig Teeth

The pig’s wear their tusks down both by digging and by rubbing the lower tusks against the upper tusks, which sharpens them. Sometimes a tusk will wear thin at the base and then snap off out in the field. I know they are out there but we’ve never found those pieces. The teeth and tusks we have recovered come from the skulls of pigs that either died here on the farm like the very large tusks above or went to slaughter like the sow teeth and smaller boar tusk.

H = Big Boar upper tusk
I = Big Boar upper tusk
J = Young Boar lower tusk*
K = Big Sow upper tusk
L = Incisor tooth
M = Incisor tooth
N = Incisor tooth

So much variety. Each tooth is unique, varying in length, color, thickness and weight. Some have bumps, grooves and ridges. The bases of the big tusks are hollow for a surprising distance. The tooth’s pulp, the nerve tissue, is contained within the hollow. Breaking off a pig’s tooth or cutting it can be seriously painful for the pig and cause infections. Since we don’t cut tusks we get to see these wonderful long ivories.

None of the pig is wasted – We do collect sell tusks & teeth, both natural death and from the weekly market pigs.

Outdoors: 38°F/23°F Partially Sunny, Snow
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/62°F

Daily Spark: “The hurriered I go, the behinder I get”. -Ma Baker

* This might also be a young sow’s tusk, hard to tell at this stage.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Big Tusks, Little Teeth

  1. ozan says:

    ik heb varkens tande die 10 cm groot is en k wil weten hoeveel varkens tanden kost .
    ik verwacht van juilie zo snel mogelyk contaktte nemen groetjes ozan

    • I think you said:

      hello I have pigs which garnered 10 cm and k want to know how many pigs teeth cost. I expect as soon juilie mogelyk contaktte take greetings ozan

      But I don’t read Dutch and that is a Google translation so I might not have gotten the transliteration. You may want to see the page on Tusks which might answer your questions.

  2. Beth says:

    Walter, I know you are busy but if you any time at all I would love to hear what you think about this blog post from Cold Antler Farm. I respect your opinions in all things pork and I’m a little shocked, perplexed, confused, etc. at what happened to this hard working girl, here is the link-

    confused in Ohio

    • I left her a note that has some hope:

      Don’t throw the meat away. Keep it in the freezer while you investigate the situation.

      1) Worst case is some horrid infectious disease that kills everyone on the planet. Unlikely.

      2) Next is an infectious disease you don’t want in your compost pile.

      3) If you really decide the meat is not edible then compost it. Make a layer of about 1′ to 18″ of saw dust, straw, wood shavings or other carbon, spread out the meat, layer on an additional foot or two of carbon, cover with pallets to keep out dogs and others. All this to compost for four months. At that point you can flip the pile of you want or you can just let it continue to age. I compost 800 lb and even larger sows and boars who die on the farm. This returns the valuable nutrients to the soil.

      4) By continuing to freeze the meat you will likely kill off any parasites or disease organisms. This is why you should keep investigating to decide what this is. One possible thing is parasitic worms which may leave white spots in the liver. Some also leave cysts in the muscles which can be observed. These can be too small to observe by the naked eye in the intestines. Sufficient deep long freezing kills most of these things. Do more research to learn about it. You may be able to save the meat.

      Of course, it is not worth getting a disease but don’t panic, yet. It may be that the meat is okay.

      I wish you the best.

      -Walter Jeffries
      Sugar Mountain Farm
      Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
      in the mountains of Vermont
      Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:

  3. Gab says:

    They look like real teeth.. cool stuff shared!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.