Someone asked if “a boar they were bottle feeding would be useful as a breeder.”
If you’re bottle feeding him then that makes an automatic no as a breeder. Any animal that requires interventions should not be used as a breeder as you’re possibly, even probably, down grading your herd’s quality. This is especially critical with boars as they can spread their genetics through your entire herd. Instead they should be culled to meat, removing them from your herd’s gene pool.
Some might argue, “Well, maybe the piglet was just unlucky…”
“Yes,” I reply, “and do you want to breed for unlucky pigs…?”
You get what you select. Mother Nature teaches this lesson, hard.
Generally I keep about 5% of gilts (young females) as test breeders and about 0.5% of young boars. Life is a tough competition on the farm for males, and in nature with many species pigs included.
Cull hard, cull wide, cull deep.
Breed the best of the best and eat the rest.
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It’s not just
a belief system,
it’s the basis of science.
Hi Walter and all.
I am not doubting your knowledge of pigs in the least but could you explain why a bottle fed boar would be bad genetically? Is it because he is not a “natural” herd leader, ie. too much human intervention in his background? Thanks. As always very interesting and thought provoking reading.
The concept is that if you had to do anything to intervene to save the animal then the odds are there is something not quite as good about that animal. Since I only save the very best, the top 0.5% of boars, as breeders, there is no good reason to risk an inferior genetic specimen as a breeder who’s inferior genes would then dominate my herd’s future genetics for generations to come.
Mother Nature is the selective hand of evolution out in the wild. I bow to her experience. If I were to ‘save’ a boar piglet and then use it as a breeder that would be me overstepping that boundary.
On the farm I am an additional selective hand, guiding the evolution of my herds.
Together we’re hopefully producing superior animals for the future.
Thank you for clarifying that, Walter.
I appreciate your perspective on this. I’ve never raised pigs, so it’s interesting to note that your assumption is that said prospective boar is being bottle fed because of a need on his part. Is that the most common reason to have to bottle raise a piglet?
My first thought in reading the question was based on my experience with both horses and dairy cows, where typically a baby is only bottle fed due to the death of the mother, or a birthing injury that renders her unable to nurse. I know that the common thought in cows is that a bottle raised bull calf will never be a safe bull to work around because he won’t have a healthy respect for humans. In horses it seems to depend on the industry. With racehorses the feeling is that a bottle-raised baby won’t have a competitive spirit, so they will try and graft the foal on to another mare. Similar to bulls though, a colt intended to be raised as a breeding stallion would be considered more likely to be difficult to handle and potentially more dangerous to humans if he were bottle raised. That being said, more and more we’re grafting orphaned foals on to nurse mares in general anyways.
Aye, the most common reason is something is wrong. Feeding new born piglets is a lot of work. They need to be fed every two hours and only drink a little bit at a time. Sows are very good at this. Humans, especially male humans who lack productive lactating mammary glands, are not so good at it.
Even the death of the mother in farrowing is a bad mark that I would cull against. There could be some reason that Mother Nature culled the sow such as a small pelvis or something else that makes it so I don’t want to be spreading those genes.
With so many unknowns and so many other better boars to choose from the bottle boar is a worst choice and gets culled to meat.
Whenever possible I graft the piglets onto a sow at a similar stage of lactation since sows do a better job than humans at raising piglets. But I mark those piglets.
We brought a runt in that was born Christmas 2019. We bottle fed her for a week, then a bowl, using dry goats milk. Her name is Sue. My wife says we can’t eat Sue and I won’t be able to breed her. I will have to sneak her off the farm and give her to family to butcher when she’s old enough.