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.

Breeding Decisions:
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.

4) Sex:
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.

For more information about our pigs and piglets see the Piglet page and the Pig page.

Also see:
How Many Sows Do You Need
Dipping Your Toes into Breeding
Have You got the Right Stuff to be a Breeder
Keeping a Pig for Meat

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.

40 Responses to Breeders

  1. Charles says:

    What are the breeds that went into developing your herd?

  2. jeff broadwell says:

    Like your posts. very informative.

  3. Lynne Windt says:

    Hi , thanks again for your super info ,’nuther question….my girl had 6 lost the 2 tiny ones,is being a decent mom to the 4. I’ve been feeding the babies grower (organic)mixed with milk replacer because I have it. They are on pasture but the grass etc is short still,today the greediest one started losing control of her hind quarters.They are 7 weeks.Am I over feeding the protein and causing a growth imbalance,or is there another possibility?She is still the greedy guts at the trough, theres no heat or swelling on her back but she cringes if I touch her and thats not usual.

    • Lynne, try using ThePigSite disease diagnostic tool. I do not think that high protein would cause what you are seeing. It is possible they ate something toxic. There are also some bacterial diseases that could cause problems like this. Have you done a soil test? I’m specifically wondering about selenium. If they are getting some commercial pig grower feed then it should have minerals like selenium in it. However that would not explain sensitivity to touch.

  4. Orrin Murdoch says:

    Hi Walter,
    I have had it in my long term plans to buy a boar or two from you and import it into Canada (Nova Scotia) but it occurred to me to check to see if you have exported any other breeding stock into Canada in the past in which case I may be able to stay on this side of the border?

    • As far as I know all of our livestock have stayed in the USA. I have had occasional requests for stock from people in Canada. If you start a herd up to your side of the border with our genetics I would be able to refer people to you. I have never shipped cross border but imagine it is a bit of a trip.

      Look into the regulations and requirements to see if it is feasible. The next available breeders would be in late spring to early summer of 2014 as we already have reserves until April.

      My suggestion would be to start with two boars and six gilts. If money is more expensive than time then start with them as breeder weaner piglets. If time is more critical then start with bred gilts and one younger boar and one proven boar.

      Keep in mind you can’t simply copy someone else’s farm. Things have to be adjusted for your local conditions, climate, soils and your own management style. It’s not a plug and play franchise but a real live biological / ecological system where we don’t really know all the variable and we don’t have total control.

  5. Denise Hamilton says:

    Walter I have read that you have multiple pure bread lines of pigs. If I would like to get pure Tams do you sell those? I don’t see a listing on your piglet or breeder pages for them.

    • We do have pure bred lines of Tamworth, Berkshire and Large Black but these are only for our own breeding program. We do not sell these pure breds as breeders 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 on for over a decade.

  6. James C says:

    Hello Walter,
    I am wondering if you have sold any pigs into Texas? Coming from Vermont, it seems it would be quite an adjustment, but I think if bought at the end of the summer, and brought to Texas in the fall, so that they go from a Vermont summer, to a Texas fall / winter, they may have time to really acclimatize before the brunt of a Texas summer. Would like to use your proven genetics, with contributions from local pigs to try and “jumpstart” a superior line of pigs in my area.


    • No, none to Texas. The pigs headed west to Utah are the closest – see the Vet Visit article. There’s an upcoming movie about their launching off. If I were to pick from our lines for a hot climate I would favor the darker ones such as the Blackieline to better handle the intensity of sun. Your Texas summers are… something else, or so I’ve heard. Probably the best way to start a herd would be a group of younger pigs, growers, so that they could grow up in that environment, you could observe who is best adapted and then select breeders and the next generation from them. That also makes the transport easier.

  7. Dayle says:

    Hello Walter Jeffries, I the enjoyed all the info on the pigs. The question is about castration (Sorry if I missed this info in any of your article but I did look). Now I know you do not castrate…so do you sell the males? I was told if you do not the meat will have a bad taste ( also told grass-fed beef taste bad).
    I have read your article about mixing your Breed so if I get a Berkshire gilt what breed would be good to mix with her?
    Thanks for your time.

    • We have bred for pigs that don’t have boar taint plus we feed a high fiber diet (pasture/hay) and manage extensively (rotational grazing) all of which help to prevent taint. See the article about Taint and follow the links from there for more information.

      Berkshire are a reasonably fast growing, reasonably large growing pig although not the maximum of either. Their primary feature is that they have excellent marbling. You could cross them with most farm type pigs such as Yorkshire, Tamworth, Large Black, Glouster Old Spot, Hereford, ect. It is to be noted that there are two distinctly different lines of Berkshire. One is a short legged lardy older version and the other is a longer legged longer faced ‘newer’ version although still very old. We have the latter.

  8. Kim says:

    Hey Walter,
    My family has a small farm in northern MA and we are looking to start working with pigs. I’ve raised cross-bred heritage feeder pigs through college and internships, but what I want to do now that I’m back on the farm at home is to buy a bred sow and be able to raise her piglets from there. The information from your blog has been great reading and now I’m really excited for this endeavor. Do you have any experienced bred sows for sale, especially ones that are in the smaller 8-12 piglet litter size range? Or do you know of any other farms in the area that might have better options for a small scale farmer like me? Thank you!

    • We do sell experienced bred sows but are currently reserved out to the fall. If you would like to reserve one for this coming fall of 2015 drop me an email and send a deposit of $100. Piglet count isn’t guaranteed up or down but we do guarantee that she is bred and will farrow. We also offer exposed sows and gilts that don’t have the guarantee. See prices above.

  9. Tom says:

    Hello Walter. I am trying to get some more information about breeding before I jump into it. I was wondering if I have to skip a gilts first heat and breed her on the second and how much she needs to weigh before breeding. Thank you.

    • There is no need to breed a gilt on her first heat. Typically they are not even fertile on their first heat but rather take on their third heat or so although this varies. With the breeds we have they typically first take around 200 to 250 lbs at about eight months of age. Occasionally we see a Lolita take as early as six months, no harm.

  10. Cynthia Lopez says:

    I would like to have a baby male and female Yorkshire pigs to raise on my farm just for my family to eat. What do you have and how much would they be.

    • We don’t sell pure bred Yorkshires but you can get whites from our cross lines. A breeder boar (male) weaner piglet is $250 and a breeder gilt (female) weaner piglet is $450. Those are the breeder quality prices since you had asked on the breeder page. It is $50 less per piglet if you just want feeder stock to raise to eat. See the Piglet Page for feeder piglets which are the lower price than breeder piglets.

      To reserve, send a deposit of $15/piglet which is applied to the final price. Include a note of what you would like (e.g., white Yorkshire stile feeder gilt and boar for eating). The next set of weanings will be in late August.

  11. Jake says:

    I have three gilts that I’ll be starting my operation off with this year. I have not procured a boar yet. My gilts are 50% yorkshire from the sow and 25/25% Berkshire and Hampshire from the boar. They appear to be decent quality swine from what I can tell, the cleanest and best looking I’ve seen so far in an area that’s fairly lacking in hogs. I spent months looking around before finally purchasing a gilt. Most feed suppliers I talk to and tell I’m raising hogs are surprised and usually comment something to the effect they know of less than 10 folks around that raise hogs. I’ve had Tamworths before, and they were great foragers, taste great, but less than stellar on efficiency. I was feeding various feeds at that time, still am, with an end goal of pasture/forage only. The pigs I have now, the yorkshire/hampshire/berkshire crosses appear to be pretty efficient, gain weight quicker, and don’t root too much (the tamworths would dig up to their shoulders in no time) but they don’t forage nearly like I want. If I don’t have anyone around with a similar operation to get a boar from, what breed should I aim for? I tend towards either Hampshire as I’ve seen actual studies that statistically Hampshires are the only breed that have been shown to have lower taint as a breed, but I’ve also considered Tamworth for the sake of trying to increase the hardiness and foraging in my new herd (and have heard they typically are less likely to have taint). Any advice there, especially considering I’m mostly going to have to go off of breed and the physical characteristics after looking at the boar more than anything around here?

    • Jake says:

      Also, I’m in the mountains of SC, so cold is not a concern, but heat definitely is.

    • If I were looking for faster growth I would want a boar with Yorkshire in it. For more marbling the Berkshire which also has pretty good growth. Large Black is another option although in our climate I dislike the flopped forward ears. Not such a problem in SC so they would be okay for you. All of this would tend towards good marbling with fast growth. Select for animals that do well on pasture, are good mothers, of good temperament and fine conformation with each generation. Breed the best of the best and eat the rest. I figure 94.5% go to meat. Make a list of the characteristics that are of value to you and then cull hard towards those. It takes generations but is well worth it.

      • traye says:

        Hey Walter I can help maybe, I know someone with great Berkshires, she should be only three hours away at most from Jake. She’s breeding from pastured registered stock but selling them like farm pigs not show pigs. I have two boars and a gilt from her and they are great foragers and end every day with their bellies just full of whatever they can find. I’ll email you and you can pass it along if Jake would like.

  12. Ryan says:

    Hi there, I have had a breeder pair of berkshires for about 4 years now, they are both great animals, just wondering what kind of life expectancy you generally hope for in breeder berkshires ?

    • We have had some breeders as old as nine years of age. At some point a sow loses fertility. It tends to be gradual with her ramping down to a litter of four, then two, then maybe one and that’s all she wrote. The oldest boar we’ve had was eight years of age – Archimedes – and he was still servicing the sows but looked like an old man at that point, a bit slower, a bit more careful in his motions. Typically we turn boars over every three or four years and sows every four to five years however there is a great deal of latitude in that. It is a constant weekly competition with me evaluating the contestants to see who stays on the farm. New younger breeders are always vying for those few (~60 to 100) breeding spots. Only the best stay on.

      Short answer: Six years.

  13. Troy says:

    Hey Walter
    So from what I’m reading here, do you ship pigs. Looking at the possibility of getting a sow and a boar to start a operation in north Idaho. If you do ship, what is involved and what are the cost. Thank for the help

    • We don’t ship the pigs. If someone at a distance wishes to they can arrange transport and handle the shipping. We sell here at the gate. There are livestock transporters which you can hire to do the shipping for you. It is very expensive. I suspect that shipping two mature animals is about the same as shipping a dozen younger animals (weaners) so you might do better to get a set of animals that you can then cull from. That also gives you more redundancy and breadth of genetics. See the discussion in comments on the article Vet Visit.

  14. sir my name is Titus ODEYEMI from Nigeria like to have some of your pig for breeding, especially grower size, how much will it cost to have 4guarantee gilt and 2male at the gilt size ship to me. thanks and your quick response in needed. here my info space in coping +2347082953503

    • I’m sorry but I don’t know. I’ve never shipped live pigs. Buyers of breeders in the past have always arranged their own shipping and have been within the USA so international shipping is not something I’ve dealt with. I have read that there are international expediters who handle the details that you can contact. We sell at the farm gate.

  15. Sierra LeCroy says:

    Hello Walter, wondering what months do you call “Winter” and “Spring/Summer.” Also do you think you will have any bred gilts or sows for sale that will be due end of March or April?

  16. Scot says:

    Would it be safe to transport one of your bred guilts to NJ in the bed of a pickup with a truck cap.

  17. LINDA MOORE says:

    Wondering if you’ve sold any breeders to anyone in VA? I plan to raise pigs in addition to our 100% grass fed Red Devon cattle. I don’t know of anyone else with such a high percentage pastured pigs (or chickens for that matter). It’s truely impressive. I’m planning to farm fulltime in 3 to 5 years. I’d love to start with your high quality genetics. Do you think a 12 hr haul would be a problem for bred gilts or sows? By the way how’s the flavor of truely pastured pork in comparison to the mostly grained pork.

    • I have. I can send your email address to them if you would like. I’m sold out on breeders until late in the fall at the earliest. Possibly winter or later.

      Flavor comes from feed. What an animal eats matters for this reason. The flavor is stored in the fat. The color and flavor as well as the hardness and fatty acid profile will be determined primarily by what they eat in the last three months of life. Most of the flavor change occurs in the final month.

  18. Sister Maria Philomena says:

    Any breeders with your lines in NH?

  19. Steven says:

    Hi Walter,

    I hope you and your family are enduring well in these tumultuous times. I had a question I was hoping you could give a quick answer. After lurking and researching, I’m having a tough time finding helpful information. Basic question is, what is the minimum ideal breeding weight for pure GOS?

    I purchased 2 gilts and a boar from a breeder, and they have not bred. I’ve had them long enough. Gilts appear to go into heat, but the boar has shown little interest other than a sniff or two. They are kept together. But before I assume the boar is just one of those lucky fellows who enjoys living the eunuch lifestyle, I wondered if my boar and gilts are the proper weight for breeding. I just came across your string method for getting their weight, so I’ll try that, but my suspicion is that my trio might be underweight. Not sure if that should matter. All three are 2 years old.

    Best regards!

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