Artificial Insemination of Pigs

Artificial Insemination of Pigs

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Sow with her Litter

On my holding near Boston in Lincolnshire I breed Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs for Breed preservation and meat. I tried several breed of pig before settling on the Oxford – although good registered stock is difficult to source around Lincolnshire. I have two Sow’s and a Boar – most smallholders will question the need for a boar, given the cost to feed such an animal on top of your existing costs.

I didn’t start out with any intention of getting a boar – but as ill explain later there is a method to what some might call my madness. Firstly let me tell you about our holding, we moved here in 2011 from the then of England – Kent, our venture started some 6-7 years earlier with 1/2 a plot on the local allotments, this grew to a few garden hens for eggs, to hatching chickens for meat and then waterfowl. The small seed planted back then has grown into a way of life today here on our 3 acre holding. We keep Pigs, Hebridean sheep, Mule Sheep, Goats, Poultry and dabbled with a fattening cows too. I now rent an additional 5.5 acres of local grazing to balance our stocking levels.

Provenance Jack 22

Provenance Jack 22

Having kept pigs for a while – like sheep, I wanted to breed our own pigs rather than buying in weaner’s every 4-5 months. So we brought in a couple of registered female weaners to rear for breeding. Without a boar, we had two options AI or sending my girls for stud. As someone who’s not scared to have a go. I spent a couple of months monitoring their cycles, then a few days before they were due in season I contacted Deerpark Pedigree Pigs in Northern Ireland and got some semen ordered along with some catheters. Having read and watched many article or video I could find on AI, I took the plunge.

The books, articles and videos make it sound and look easy, which it is once you’ve done it a few times, but daunting the first time – a bit like anything I guess. In short, her vulva should be slightly larger and pinker than normal, she should also stand still once pressure is applied to her back. Using Boar Pheromone spray, Vaseline, a catheter and a sample, I AI’d one of my girls 3 times at 12 hour intervals. Then comes the 3 week wait to see if you were successful – which I wasn’t. After another failed attempt I decide to seek a stud. I did note somewhere that AI is more successful on a sow who has already a ha litter.

Facebook is a good place for connecting with like minded smallholders, farmers and livestock experts. Through here I was able to find a boar my girls could go to, However at the time I didn’t have a suitable trailer, but the stud’s owner collected and returned for me – at a cost of course. Just over 4 months later out girls had their first litter.

OSB PIglet

OSB PIglet

Once piglets where old enough to leave mum, and had new homes a set again to try AI. At this time i was not aware of the fact – 5-7 days after removing the piglets from mum she’ll come back in to season. I started watching cycles again, and proceeded as before and yet again failed, so resorted to stud once more.

I started looking at costs – each sow cost £30 a time to AI and so far I had spent £150 without success. Stud was becoming expensive too, as they were gone for 4 weeks or so, so paying board, stud fee and transport each time was also costing around £160. When I put everything on paper I would be spending £300+ a year to stud and/or AI – which made me think, how much would a boar cost to keep. I worked out a boar would cost me a bag of feed a week (at £5.60 a bag, that’s £290 a year) It was looking cheaper to keep a boar, plus if I had a boar I could offer a stud service to help fund his keep.

Back in January I took the plunge a brought a registered boar from Suffolk, and one of my sows in expecting her litter the middle of June – but ironically, I tried AI – 5 days after removing piglets – and had success. She is due at the end of April.

When I reflect on my decision to buy a boar, I still believe it was the right decision. Firstly it’s natures way of reproducing, I don’t have to monitor cycles, order semen, be on hand 3 times in 24 hours to administer the AI. In addition there is no chance a video of me trying to AI a pig will end up going viral on the internet or being introduced by Harry Hill on ‘You’ve been Framed’. In contrast I’m not saying everyone should own a boar, they are a lot bigger than sows, significantly stronger and need a strong pair of hands to handle. That’s not to mention the pen, housing etc, I have had problem with my boar destroying automatic drinkers so now he has a Belfast sink. Start out simple then progress, find a local stud, or someone who has experience of AI to help you the first few times.


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TUPTASTIC

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Photos from Slate House Farm's post

It's tupping day, Rams are been put with the ewes. Two groups, 8 Hebridean ewes with Alex my pedigree heb ram. And mixed group of 18 with Thomas pedigree Hampshire down. Thomas didn't waste much ... See more

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Photos from Slate House Farm's post

Pedigree Oxford Sandy and Black weaners available from October 9th. Gilts and boars available, all bred and reared here on the farm from my own stock. Pigs have been parasite treated (internal and ... See more

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