Young Blackie Mainline Boar Showing Off his Length
The boar above is showing off to a sow in heat on his other side. He’s as big as her, perhaps bigger, although she is close to a year older than him. Boars grow a lot faster and larger than gilts and sows. She might get as big as 800 or 900 lbs but if he follows in the footsteps of our other boars then he could break 1,000 lbs and perhaps even Spot’s 1,700 lbs by the time he’s six or eight years old. Make no mistake, these are not pets – These are farm pigs, bred for fast growth, production and thriving in the outdoors of our rugged northern mountain climate.
Over the past year I’ve been raising up a bunch of young boars from our Blackie line x Mainline with the goal of crossing them over our main herd. They are the potential new breeders. Each week I look them over, culling out the least of them until now we have just a few boars standing. The ones left are the primes, boars descended from the Blackie and our Mainline who are the best of the best, ready to pass their genes on to the next generation.
Blackie is one of our highest performing sows who has often graced these pages. She is a large black sow and has produced many fine litters at the rate of three farrowings a year with litter sizes as high as 19. One of her daughters produced 23 in a single litter. More usual is 10 to 16 once the sows hit their stride.
Crossed with our large fast growing highly selected Yorkshire x Berkshire x other Mainline herd boar’s genetics Blackie gave us other fine high producing sows including Double Stuff, Oreo, QuarterMane, Octavia and others. Now I have selected boars from her crossed line that I will cross back to the Mainline. We select hard for temperament, pasture-ability, mothering, winter ability, grazing ability, flavor and other important characteristics for a pasture based small farm. Herd development is a many year process that rewards the patient.
Out of this boar group I’ve chosen Gomez to be our next south herd boar and I might choose one more. Gomez’s brothers, the few and the proud, the excellent primes, the ones who survived almost a year of weekly selection and culling, are available as breeders for other farms. These boars are an excellent way to inject both our mainline and our Blackie line genetics into your swine herd.
“Ajax, as we named the breeder boar we got from Sugar Mountain Farm, has turned out to be a magnificent animal, a credit to his race indeed. He is robust and has more than doubled in size to over 600 lbs and is also extremely tractable and good-natured.”-George Nash of Gopher Broke Farm, Wolcott, Vermont
Ajax is a black boar born of Blackie.
We have slaughtered and taste tested several of the mature Blackie Mainline boars, brothers of the ones for sale, over this winter to double check them at maturity for taint and they all came out wonderfully taint free and delicious. If you raise pigs on pasture like us then I would not expect you to need to castrate – we don’t castrate and haven’t for many years.
These boars were raised on pasture so they know how to graze, know electric fencing and get along well with other livestock such as chickens, ducks and geese as well as being familiar with being herded by us and our working dogs.
Younger Blackie Mainline Boar
These boars are $600 to $850 depending on age. There are a few who are a little younger like the one above and priced at the low end of that scale but will be ready to breed within a few months, hitting their stride at about ten months. The bigger ones, like the fellow at the top of the page, are already strutting their stuff, breeding for us and ready to service your sows and gilts.
If you are interested in one of these Blackie Mainline cross boars then drop me an email.
“I just wanted to let you know that my pig farrowed yesterday at 115 days. She gave birth to 17 healthy piglets, all alive with no stillborns. I would really like to put a big thank you out to you, because I’m sure that her great mothering ability, beautiful piglets coloring, and size of litter comes from your breeding through Ajax. She has topped both her mother and aunt here at Sterling and they are seasoned mothers.”-Sierra LeCroy, Sterling College, Craftsbury Common, Vermont
You can read more about our breeder animals on the Breeder Page and read about our pigs on the Pig Page, both found in the menu bar above.
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I wish I lived closer, our you were out here on the west cost. I would dearly love to establish a herd of your pigs out here. We’re up in the mountains higher than you but south so the climate is a bit similar. Have you considered setting up a registry and establishing more herds of your breed?
Been following your site and posts on permies and HT for a long time. Love your operation. Even trying to convince my girlfriend to build a tiny house when we get our big acreage. Anyhow, I was hoping you could go into more detail about how you cull. I’m not new to raising livestock but haven’t really had to / gotten to delve into creating my own lines, and specifically with pigs. For instance do you start off culling for size and growth, and then out of those that make it to market size, you then allow to breed and cull for litter size, and mothering ability as well? And if you recommend any books or anything on the subject matter I’d be all ears.
Culling means the animal goes to butcher and doesn’t get to breed. Some people think of it as a waste, miss-understanding that the animal isn’t getting used if culled. But culled means culled to butcher. They’re good eating, just not primes good enough for breeding. Every week pigs need to go to market so that means I get to cull and improve our herd 52 times a year.
With the pigs I’m looking at over two dozen characteristics which I score each animal on. There are some things which are points and some which are fail/pass depending on the importance of the trait. For example, temperament is a fail/pass: I eat mean people.
Other traits include how well they graze on pasture during the warm seasons, winter-ability, number of teats, mothering ability, litter size, body conformation, length, growth rate, flavor of their relatives, etc.
There are some traits which are minor: ear shape, long tail vs short tail, skin color, hair color, etc. I still select on these but only to pick between primes.
A key in doing breeding is having a large population to select from. Even with 400 pigs it isn’t a terribly large group but it does let me do a lot of hard selective pressure since pigs breed so quickly, at eight months, have so many piglets per litter and two to three litters per year. It would be much harder to apply strong selective breeding pressures on a small population.
In terms of the sizes, we’re taking pigs every week and often need smaller ones for roasters and oven pigs so I cull at all sizes. Each week I walk through the herds looking for ones I’ve previously noted as market pigs as opposed to potential breeders. I evaluating everyone. Then we herd those we want north and double check them in the sorting pen before taking that week’s group to the loading pen and into the van for their trip to market. Eventually that trip to market will be replaced with simply walking them to the lairage of our on-farm slaughterhouse.
The books I’ve found are more about confinement system genetics. I haven’t read a book on the topic of pasture breeding. I will likely do posts going into more depth about this topic – some are in the drafts already.
Wish I lived closer. I have been following our blog for a long time and would love to get some of your genetics!
Great post on your breeders. Always a joy to read.
Fascinating to read about how you choose your breeder pigs and what you look for. Love your pork. Cant wait for your butcher shop to be up and running. I have a friend in NYState that is getting into pigs who I told about your blog and I will make sure he knows the boars are available.
I can see you select for hair. Those boars have beautiful winter hair!
Interestingly, we don’t actually select directly for a thick coat however I suspect that is getting selected along with winter-ability. That is to say, those pigs who have thick hair shirts also tend to winter better than those who wear thinner Hawaiian style shirts. Someone upon seeing some of our pigs in the winter once joked that they were wooly pigs, comparing them to our sheep who have the pigs beat hands down when it comes to the hair department. Fortunately I don’t have to shear pigs!
Awesum pigs walter! I do love your pork. We get it at the coop. I have learned to shop on saturdays cuz your stuff sells out so fast that if I wait to monday it is gone often.
If only I live nearby to enjoy some of that pasture pork and get some piglets to raise.
Are the sows as hairy as the boars? Do they lose their hair in the summer? I think the pigs I’ve seen were hairless.
Yes, the sows seem pretty much the same as the boars regarding hair density. In the summer they do ‘blow-off’ their winter hair coat. For a short while they’ll have these very short coats of hair. Ours are never hairless like the ones you see in the movies or at shows and fairs. Those pigs have been shaved.
I am very interested in getting one of your breeder boars from this line but I am not ready to receive it now. Is it possible to put down a deposit and have you hold a boar for me until fall?
Yes, if you pre-pay 50% now I can hold one to the fall for you. Alternatively, there will be more in the future although not of this highly selected group. You can put a $100 deposit down now and let me know which month you would like a boar and of what age and I’ll try to match those criteria as closely as possible.
Is there a photo of Spot? My kids and I really would like to see a 1700 lb. pig!
I don’t think I have any photos of Spot from when he was at his largest but here are some from when he was a little younger and probably up around 1,400 lbs. He was about 9′ long nose to butt when he died – for comparison that made him hang at about 12′ of length which is the way hunters often measure things. Think short legged cattle.