Moving from raising feeder pigs to breeder pigs is a big step. I strongly recommend that one raise summer weaner feeder pigs for a few years before taking on the added costs, work and complications of breeders. Get your infrastructure such as housing, pastures and fencing in place. Learn the rhythms and patterns of pigs. Get your feet good and muddy. Then consider if you want the added responsibility of keeping sows, boars, over wintering, farrowing, etc.
Breeders cost more because they are higher quality genetics – ones we would choose ourselves to keep back for breeding. If you want a pig to raise just for meat then see the feeder piglet page. Feeder piglets are meant to be raised for meat and are less expensive than breeder genetics.
If you are looking for a breeder quality piglet it is well worth paying the extra select fee of $100/piglet for the farmer’s keen eye to pick the best of the litter – the added cost of a breeder piglet. These represent decade of selection and breeding at Sugar Mountain Farm for pasture ability, temperament, growth, hardiness, marbling, flavor and a host of other characteristics. We developed this line of pigs through intensive selective breeding for our own farm’s needs. Each week we take pigs to butcher, saving only the best of the best with 52 cullings a year. That regular, frequent selection process means only the best pigs become the breeders for the next generation.
You can read more about our breeds of pigs on the Pig Page.
1) Weaner Piglet vs Prime vs Proven:
Weaner breeder piglets are the least expensive breeder option but will take the longest to get to their first farrowing and have the least selection. An inexpensive way to get into breeding. Get half a dozen to get started and then breed the best and eat the rest.
Prime breeders are mature up around finisher age and either bred or ready to breed. These are more expensive because they’re bigger and have been selected for longer. Each week we cull our herd to market. Only the best of the best get to breeder age.
Proven breeders are sows that have thrown at least one litter proving that they are indeed fertile animals that throw good piglets. Very limited supply. Mostly available in late fall and early winter.
2) Guaranteed Bred vs Non-Guaranteed:
Guaranteed Bred gilts and sows are more expensive because they have been serviced by our boars and carry a guarantee that they will farrow. We keep these on our farm until they are well into their gestation so that I can monitor the progress of their pregnancy. Litter size is not guaranteed. Litter size is affected by not just genetics but breeding, breeding times, diet and other factors.
Non-Guaranteed Bred gilts and sows are less expensive and a good choice if you have your own boar you want to breed them with or if you are also buying a boar here or elsewhere. They may or may not be bred – no guarantee. Most of our herds have boars present. If you want a guaranteed not bred gilt then ask for a younger one. For a guaranteed not bred sow order two months ahead and we can arrange for her not to get re-exposed to a boar after she farrows.
3) Sow vs Gilt:
Gilts are young females that have not yet farrowed, that is to say given birth, to their first litter of piglets. The first litter is always a learning experience for a new mother and first litters tend to be smaller than subsequent litters. Thus gilts are less expensive than sows.
Sows are proven mothers who have successfully farrowed, gestated, mothered, nursed and weaned one or more litters. They know the job and are experienced. The only disadvantages to sows is they are bigger animals and they have used up some of their productive lifespan. Sows get as large as 800 lbs or so however most ones we sell like this are in the 300 to 400 lb range. This are large animals and not pet pigs. A sow typically produces two litters a year for about four years. She may do more. This is the trade off experienced versus a gilt who may have more litters ahead of her. Very limited availability. Mostly available as we cull back our herd for over wintering. These are winners who lost out to up and coming younger sows from that previous warm season.
Gilts are females that have not yet had their first litter.
Sows are females that have successfully farrowed their first litter.
Boars are males – they have what it takes to get the job done.
Barrows, well, they don’t count in the breeding discussion because they’re missing certain critical bits. Yes, we have no barrows today – We don’t castrate.
Availability is limited since only the best of the best get to be breeders. Typically only about 5% of the females and 0.5% of the males make it into the final breeder pool after the first litter cull. Breeders are the ones that have been kept after six to eight months of weekly selection for market pigs and then prove themselves in the field. If you want to get into breeding and farrowing the easiest way is to start with a guaranteed bred gilt or sow in the spring which is the start of the easy farrowing season.
“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
Note that is an unusually large litter. Typical gilt litters are six to ten piglets and may be larger or smaller. -Walter
Guaranteed Bred Prime Gilts are high quality gilts that we have kept back. These are gilts I would consider adding to our own breeder herds. By the time they leave our farm at close to a year of age the gilts are visibly into their pregnancy and guaranteed to farrow or you can return the gilt for a full refund minus a $50 loading fee. A Bred Gilt is an excellent way to get started. The price is higher because you’re guaranteed of getting breeding service, piglets that you can then raise and eat or sell and you still have the gilt who’s then an experienced sow but also a lot of meat herself. The litter count is not guaranteed. In our experience gilts generally farrow six to ten piglets the first time with the extreme range going lower than that all the way up to twenty-three for a first litter. Do not expect that high extreme! Anything over fourteen is unusual but happens. As the old saying sort of goes, don’t count your piglets before they wean. Gilts tend to have a smaller first litter. Litter counts tend to go up about one piglet per farrowing – called a parity. I release guaranteed bred gilts to buyers after the gilts are clearly showing a well progressing gestation. The guarantee is void if gilt shows any signs of abuse. A returned gilt must be parasite and disease free, alive, not thin or overly fat and returned in good condition no more than 31 days after her due date. Virtually all gilts showing gestation do farrow. The guarantee is your assurance. Take care of the lady so she’ll perform for you.
$1,200 due to farrow Winter (very hard season – not recommended)
$1,900 due to farrow Fall (okay season depending on facilities)
$2,700 due to farrow Spring & Summer (best seasons)
Note! There is a reason that winter bred gilts are less expensive – winter farrowing is far harder in our cold northern climate. If you are new to farrowing then I strongly recommend doing it in the late spring or summer when the weather is at its best and conditions are easiest. Piglets can grow fine into the cold months for late slaughter. Then you can rebreed the gilt, now a sow, in mid-January to March for a spring farrowing once you are more experienced. Do not let the temptation of the lower winter price cause you to tempt the fates of cold weather farrowing.
Non-Guaranteed Bred Prime Gilts are the same class as the Guaranteed Bred Prime Gilts but they are not guaranteed to be bred or not. Depending on age they might be bred. These are a great addition to your herd if you already have your own breeding boar you wish to cross with our farm’s genetics. They are typically out in the field with boars and might be bred.
$1,000 might farrow Winter
$1,500 might farrow Fall
$2,000 might farrow Spring & Summer
Guaranteed Bred Sows are experienced mothers who have proven themselves by gestating, farrowing, mothering, nursing and weaning a litter of piglets. Sows typically have larger litters than gilts and are larger animals. They have been rebred to our boars and are guaranteed just like the guaranteed bred gilts.
$1,700 due to farrow Winter
$2,000 due to farrow Fall
$3,200 due to farrow Spring & Summer
“Our pigs are born here at the farm twice a year to our breeding sows – Honey, Panda, and Stubbs. We bought these ladies from Sugar Mountain Farm in Topsham, VT, and are very happy with them. Sugar Mtn has been selecting porcine genetics for years for their success on a pasture forage & whey diet, as well as for nice personalities & strong breeding records”-Courtney & Asa of Mace Chasm Farm, NY
Non-Guaranteed Bred Sows tend to be more available in the fall as we drop our sow herd numbers for winter. These are still good breeders which would be fine for a homestead or small farm but are not the tip top of their class so we won’t carry them over the winter. If you want them to have been with the boars to possibly be bred, but not guaranteed, let me know and order two months ahead. However, beware the warning above on farrowing in the cold season. Winter is the hard season in our northern climate.
$1,500 due to farrow Winter
$1,750 due to farrow Fall (maximum availability)
$2,900 due to farrow Spring & Summer
Customization and Options:
Add $50 per teat beyond 14. (as available)
Frequently Asked Question: Can I bring her back to rebreed next year?
Answer: No, for health security reasons for our herd we can’t bring in animals that have been elsewhere. That would require extensive quarantine. We have what is termed closed herds. You can do Artificial Insemination (AI) on a pig. You can also breed her to one of her sons – this is not taboo in pig culture and will not produce monsters. Simply select the very best boar piglet to keep back for this purpose. The offspring of this line breeding are then your feeder pigs for the next round. Alternatively, you can buy a Prime Boar next year, breed her to him and then when she is obviously pregnant send him to the butcher and enjoy him twice. Lastly, consider getting a select boar piglet now – by the time she is ready to rebreed the boar piglet should be ready to service her.
“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.
Breeding Boars Prime are boars of fine condition and quality that I consider breeder quality with at least 14 teats and excellent conformation. Sugar Mountain Farm Prime Boars offer excellent pasture proven genetics, heritage breeding and are hand raised for a docile temperament. Plan ahead because a young boar needs time to mature into the job. Get him well ahead of when you need him. The Primes are the best sons of our best sows and our own best boars. They have already demonstrated their inclination to breed. All of our boars have 14 or more teats as do their sow, sire and other breeders in our herd – this is a key factor in determining productivity in their future daughters. A Sugar Mountain Farm Prime boar is a great way to inject high quality genetics into your herd.
$1,500 due to farrow Winter (Best time to breed your ladies)
$1,000 due to farrow Fall (Worst time to breed)
$1,200 due to farrow Spring & Summer
“We just slaughtered a hog that came directly for one of your lines and had some of its ribs tonight! Very tasty guy for sure. Ne’er a hint of boar taint!”-B. Hart, New York
Note that boar taint is controlled by a number of factors including genetics, management (confinement vs pasture) and feed (low fiber corn/soy vs high fiber pasture). To learn more about boar taint see this article and follow the links from there. -Walter
Frequently Asked Question: Are boars mean?
Answer: No. Boars are not mean. They are big animals. They do have big teeth and sharp tusks. Like any animal, even a sow, they can bite, step on your feet, crush you against a wall or post. Be careful around animals. These are farm pigs, not pets. We select hard for good temperament in both our sows and our boars. Respect them and treat them well.
Breeder Quality Select Weaner Piglets Prime Piglets are those that we feel are at the top of their litters and good prospects for becoming breeders. Gilts will typically produce their first litter at twelve months of age. Boars typically start breeding at six to eight months and hit their full sperm production around ten months of age. A good way to get started in breeding is to select several boar and gilt piglets from different lines to raise up, let them breed. Then continue to breed the best of the best and eat the rest, an excellent way to gradually improve the genetics of your herd. These select piglets start at $50 above the weaner feeder piglet prices which are on the Piglet page.
We have multiple breeding herds and selectively breed for pasture-ability, mothering, meat quality, marbling, taste, length, temperament and other characteristics. Our pigs are primarily Yorkshire (large white) x Large Black x Berkshire x Tamworth. This is our Mainline herd genetics. We also have Yorkshire, Berkshire, Tamworth and Large Black lines but note that we do not offer registered or pure bred stock. The feeder piglets are generally crosses. See the Pigs Page for more details on our pig breeds. While we do have pure bred lines of Tamworth, Berkshire and Large Black these are only for our own breeding program. We do not sell these pure breds because they are not registered or papered as part of a breeding society. If you are looking for breeder animals in those breeds then I would suggest contacting the appropriate breed societies. Our primary breeding focus is producing pigs which thrives in our climate on pasture to produce a high quality pork. These are our Mainline pigs which we’ve been selecting for over a decade. If you would like a particular bias of the breeds, feel free to ask when you order.
“I’m not sure if you remember me but I own the sow that is out of “Ajax” that farrowed 17 piglets her first litter about 2 years ago. I was keeping her a Sterling College at the time. We have now moved and our starting our own farm. I just wanted to give you an update on our wonderful pigs that have Sugar Mountain genetics. Our sow has farrowed 4 wonderful litters of 17, 15, 11, and 18 piglets. Her gilt daughter just farrowed her first litter this Spring of 14 piglets all live and survived. I just wanted to give you an update on our wonderful pigs that have Sugar Mountain genetics. Not only do these sows excel as mothers but also in grazing, temperament, and offspring meat quality. Thank you again for your genetics.
-Sierra LeCroy of Butternut Hollow Farm, Starksboro, VT
Note that those are unusually large litters. These come from the Blackieline. Typical gilt litters are six to ten piglets and may be larger or smaller for a gilt, a first time mother. Do not count your pigs before they wean. -Walter
Pre-Buy: If you would like to save money, plan ahead and pre-pay. When you pay in full ahead of time we offer a pre-buy discount:
– 5% for full payment received at least 45 days ahead
– 10% for full payment received at least 90 days ahead
– 20% for full payment received at least 180 days ahead
Plan ahead, save money. If for some reason you are not able to get the pigs on a pre-buy we will refund the payment minus the standard deposit ($15 per feeder pig, $100 per breeder pig). Deposits are a reserve and not refundable. Alternatively you may choose to apply the pre-payment to future pigs.
Health Certificates: Buyers should check with their state department of agriculture for any import requirements or restrictions. We sell all livestock in Vermont. Vaccination is with the standard vaccines we use on our herds. If your state has special requirements let us know and we may be able to help by pre-vaccinating with additional vaccines. The buyer is responsible for any costs of veterinary health certificates, additional vaccines, etc. If you’re transporting them across state lines you may want to get health certificate paperwork which typically runs about $200 per group for the vet’s costs when done by a local vet who will come ID tag and paper them here at our farm before you pickup. There is a $100 charge to cover our time. If blood must be drawn then add $20 per animal plus the blood lab work costs – required by some states like CT. The vet will need your farm address, phone number and name for the paperwork. Alternatively you can arrange to have that done by a vet of your choice later.
Select piglets are available for $100 extra each above the pig prices – If you have some other personal preference such as color you can pick your own from the available piglets. It takes extra time to do this thus the up-charge. Otherwise I pick out the pigs using my years of experience which can be done ahead of time so the pigs are ready when you arrive. Realize we do not keep our pigs penned – they’re out grazing on the mountains so it is not possible to simply look at all the pigs. When buying select pigs allow extra time for selection and let me know ahead of time that you want to do this as well as letting me know of any characteristics you’re looking for such as a red pig or spotted pig.
Pickup is available at the farm gate or we can deliver them to you at one of the stops along our weekly delivery route. We drive up I-91 and I-89 from Mass to Bradford to Burlington. Delivery is $50 plus $1 per loaded mile as measured from our farm to you if it is on our regular delivery days. For other delivery times it is $100 plus $1/loaded mile. See the delivery route map. Be sure to have a secure pen for your new pigs as they need time to home. You’ll need a ramp so the pigs can walk down out of the back of our truck which is about 18″ high at the deck and you’ll need a way of setting up a path to guide the pigs to your pen.
Prices subject to change without notice. Pigs are live animals and vary. Availability depends on Mother Nature and sows be willing. Life happens. Your mileage will vary.