Tusk Hooked

Montpelier Building by Bridge

No photo of today’s topic because when a 1,000 lb boar has his tusk stuck on the fence you don’t lollygag around with a camera.

Today Spitzon hooked a tusk on the heavy duty stock panel fence. His natural inclination is to pull back to get away from the problem. Pigs are not very bright, contrary to Hollywood movie magic mythology. Spitzon is about 1,000 lbs and his brain is about the size of a chicken egg. Most of his brain is dedicated to smell. Then to sight. Then to sex. Pigs have very little left available for problem solving. They mostly deal with things on an instinctual basis. Push, root, withdraw.

Spitzon was in withdraw mode. His tusk hooks backward and had caught on the fence such that he could not backup. Backing away from the threat, the fence, was the only thing on his little piggy brain but that just hooked him more securely. I tried coaxing him forward. No go in the slightest.

I tried pushing him forward from the back. It’s like moving a mountain. Not only does he out weigh me by about six times but he has four on the floor and he was pushing backward with all his strength. It’s amazing his tusk didn’t break off. They’re made of pretty strong stuff.

Ben finally arrived with a pair of heavy duty wire cutters and while Spitzon continued to pull backwards, thus tensioning the fence, I clipped the 4 gauge wire. That was the easy solution and it worked. I now have a slightly larger hole in the stock panel which hopefully won’t be a problem. I removed the two extra pieces of wire created by freeing him so nobody would catch themselves on those.

Pigs have been bred for fast growth, huge muscles, fat and their ability to turn nearly anything edible, even rough pasture and waste food, into high quality protein and lipids we can eat. Pigs have not been bred for brains. They need just enough brain to do their job, no more. Brawn over brains is their rule. They also lack cooperation. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so we’ll leave that for another discussion.

This contrasts with dogs who have been breeding us for millions of years to be their cooperative brainy servants. They selected us for opposable thumbs and enough brains to make warm fires, remove thorns, ticks and help hunt down large prey. The nuclear weapons and cell phones were a side effect.

So if you have a big boar standing next to your fence not moving consider that he may be stuck in a box of his own making, miming the walls only he can perceive.

Outdoors: 72°F/57°F Sunny, 1″ Rain
Tiny Cottage: 68°F/61°F

Daily Spark: Warning on laser: Do not look into laser with your remaining eye.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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10 Responses to Tusk Hooked

  1. Farmerbob1 says:

    I hope the big fella’s doing OK. I’m surprised that he didn’t rip the wires loose if he was pulling for all he was worth. Popping the wire I could see him not being able to do, but how do you connect the wires to the posts that kept him from tearing the strand loose?

    • This isn’t strand wire or smooth electrified wire. What he caught on was the vertical wire in a livestock panel. These are not electric fencing but physical fencing. I think what probably happened was he was rubbing his face against the panel either to mark it with his scent or just to scratch an itch. In a bizarre twist of events he hooked his lower right tusk just so such that he was hooked. When a pig gets touched in front of it’s poll (where the horns attach or close to the ears on hornless pigs) they backup. When they get touched behind that point they go forward. This is a deep instinctual response and not a thinking thing as noted above. He bent the vertical wire in the stock panel but that simply caused it to become sprung and hold him all the tighter due to his instinctive behavior of pulling back. Had he taken one step forward along the fence line he would have been free.

      • Prairie_Fire says:

        This does work; I learned this handy trick by accident when sorting market weight hogs in a pen – if they get stuck in a corner, you cover up the eye on the side you want them to move away from.

  2. Dawn Carroll says:

    I’ve had several boars do this…when this happens I run and get their vaccines and wormers…sometimes getting poked in the neck makes them jump forward and free themselves and I either get to finish with their vaccines & worming or not… If I get to finish this task and they are still hooked then I get the sawsall out and free them. If I had wire cutters that would cut that gauge of wire I would use them.
    I have often thought if I had the dermal tool handy with the dental cutting disk on it I would just cut the tusk…starting with the ones that were not hooked but they just don’t usually hold still enough to do that.
    Usually to cut their tusk I have to put them in the cattle chute and tie their heads side to side. Someday I will have enough of the tusk to make ear rings and a necklace to wear.

  3. Someone asked about training pigs and if they were like dogs. The answer is:

    No, dogs are very different than pigs. We have had thousands of pigs out on our pastures. We have a large six generation long pack of dogs. Pigs and dogs think very differently. Dogs think much more like us – pack mentality, cooperation, altruism. Pigs think Me-First and herd mentality. It is totally different.

    Consider that we have spent 6,000 years breeding pigs for fast weight gain an just about any food – they are eating and growing machines. On the other hand, we’ve been breeding dogs for at minimum tens of thousands of years for intelligence so that they can help us hunt, guard us and herd our livestock. Or perhaps they have been breeding us for the same thing.

    Contrary to the Hollywood myths, pigs are not all that intelligent. Pigs are very good at being pigs. But their brain is primarily dedicated to pig things. Smell, sex, food, moving forward, getting away from predators. A pig’s head is huge but that is almost all bone and muscle. The pig’s brain is really only the size of a chicken egg even though the pig may weigh in at over 1,000 lbs as an adult. See a pig brain here

    Pigs have perhaps 30 words in their language repertoire. I spend a lot of time in translation with them, listening to them, understanding them. That’s a maximum. Mostly they only use a handful of words. On the other hand our dogs have about 300 that they use with me and probably over 1,000 words that they use with each other that are outside my ken. Pigs don’t need a lot of language so they don’t have it. Wolves hunt in packs so they have to be able to point at things, describe things, communicate which prey they’re culling out of the herd, etc. Function drives intelligence. Don’t expect a pig to write poetry or sing sonatas. Dogs do sing, as well as doing a lot of other very un-pig like things which are much closer to human. Our species have co-evolved and started out a lot closer than we are to pigs or dogs are to pigs.

    That said, pigs are trainable. But you can train a chicken or a fly too. Just stick with what motivates the pig and expect it to do pig things. Keep within it’s ken. The advantage of our older breeder boars and sows is they know their way within the farm routines, moving from field to field, being herded, coming when we call. But they’re stuck at about that level. With a lot of work you can train them a little more. Young pigs are still learning that little bit by the time they go to meat. 95% go to meat by about six to eight months.

    Our dogs are way, way smarter than our pigs. No question. On the other hand, if you want bacon, pick a pig because a dog can’t grow from 3 lbs to 300 lbs in nine months.

  4. Vaughn says:

    Hi Walter, could not find a pig health section,
    I have a sick pig, about 250 lb. She could sit up,but
    wouldn’t come out to eat. Her breathing is
    shallow and labored. I don’t think there is a local
    large animal vet in the area (you’d think I would
    have determined that when I started raising pigs)
    I’ll make some calls tomorrow as it’s after 6:00 now.
    The question … should her condition worsen tonight,
    ( she may have just eaten too many green apple drops?)
    and I feel she may die, is it a bad idea to do an un-
    scheduled slaughter. Are there issues with not
    knowing the nature of the illness(she was fine
    this morning). Your thoughts would be appreciated.

    • Check her temperature. Low may mean salt sickness or poisoning. High a bacterial infection. Hard to diagnose from here and I’m not a vet. You might check out the disease diagnostic tool on ThePigSite.com which can help to narrow it down. Best of luck with her!

      • Vaughn says:

        Thanks for the response, I didn’t expect a diagnosis, but
        more your thoughts on slaughtering a sick or injured pig.
        Anyhow, she was fine the next morning! It seems the
        self healing powers of the pig prevailed . The thoughts of
        an improvised home slaughter were more disturbing than
        loosing a full grown meat pig, so I let her rest and hoped for
        the best. She came out to the trough the next morning .
        I did notice a bit of a limp a today , ( maybe un-
        related) so I’m keeping a close eye on her. I did contact
        a local vet to get some basic information, so if things turn
        south, I can at least get some local assistance in an
        emergency .

        • Ah, on slaughter, if it is not a disease issue that could be transmitted then slaughter and consumption is fine. For example:

          Okay to Eat:
          Broken leg
          Salt Sick (dehydration)

          Not Okay to Eat:
          Sepsis or other systemic infections
          Bacterial or Viral infection that could be transmitted to people
          Dead prior to slaughter – blood can quickly go bad, needed to be cooled, etc.

          Basically think of it this way: could you get sick from eating the meat.

          Glad to hear she’s doing better.

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