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  #1  
Old 05/05/11, 12:10 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Owego, NY
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AI Pigs

We currently have 4 Tamworth gilts that have reached 12 months of age. Initially we purchased a boar to breed them only to find out he was far to large.

Anyway, as we can't use the boar anytime soon we are sending him to the butcher. Rather than carrying another boar year round for breeding, was wondering if anyone uses AI to breed pigs. From what we've read it doesn't seem overly difficult.....I'm sure until your actually doing it, lol. Does anyone have any experience AIing pigs and if so, is it difficult to obtain semen. We'd prefer pure Tamworth semen as all our girls are registered.

Thank you,
Bruce

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  #2  
Old 05/05/11, 01:51 PM
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: NW AR
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I know that you can buy semen on line but I have never done it.. I just googled "pig semen for sale" and got this. I am sure that there are others also..
http://www.showpigs.com/psssjoom/ind...log&view=items

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  #3  
Old 05/05/11, 03:53 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Owego, NY
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Thank you Michelle! I called the company and talked to the owner. The semen is a little pricey, it'll be about $100 for each gilt a have but I will not need to feed a boar year round. On top of that, the semen comes from top of the line Tamworths (or whatever pig you select) who are all registered so registration isn't an issue either. The only tricky point seems to be the actual insemination. It seems pretty straight forward. I'm going to check around the area to see if anyone has done it and see if I can get them here for a lesson.

The way feed prices are going and the benefit of only using top quality stock for breeding seems to make financial sense.

Thanks again for the info/link.

Bruce

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  #4  
Old 05/05/11, 04:11 PM
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Georgia
Posts: 193

The biggest part of AI is heat detection. You must know when your gilts come into season for AI to work. The procedure for AI is very easy as long as the gilt is in season. I would keep the boar until you get your gilts bred. It is important for heat detection that the gilts can see and smell him.

http://www.dostersheritagefarm.com

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  #5  
Old 05/05/11, 04:16 PM
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So the gilts will not come into their cycle without the scent of a boar?

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  #6  
Old 05/05/11, 04:35 PM
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They do come into heat without a boar's scent. But having the boar scent, which can be bought in a can, helps synchronize them and makes it easier.

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  #7  
Old 05/05/11, 05:07 PM
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Location: Oxford, Ark
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Unless there is a reason you really, really need top of the line show-winning pig semen, there are other places that cater to the commercial (for meat, not showing) market. MUCH cheaper.

http://www.piggene.com/IBS/semen_prices.htm
http://www.omnitelcom.com/~nibs/nort...en_pricing.htm

You may have to look around for Tamworth. But then, as you have all unproven gilts and have never AIed, you may want to go with something cheaper just to have piglets to sell (I would). Then, once you've successfully AIed and the girls have successfully born and raised litters, then it may be worth it to shell out the $$$ for the pricey, show-line stud for your best sow only. And then keep a boar pig from that breeding.

Because for $800 a year (4 sows bred spring and fall) I'd keep a boar!!!

I may be a cheapskate, but I really can't see spending THAT much to have un-proven, first time gilts bred. What if they miss? Or have a small litter? Or crush them? Gilt hysteria?

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  #8  
Old 05/05/11, 06:15 PM
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Aside from the cost which will likely be more than it would to just keep a boar, you need to consider the issues associated with AI in rare breeds. The Tams are not as limited in gene pool as many of the other "heritage" type pigs but the consideration remains. AI reduces the depth of the gene pool, affecting not just your farm and pigs but the entire breed nationwide. Unless you plan to slaughter every pig born on your farm I would very much encourage you to consider other options.

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  #9  
Old 05/05/11, 06:40 PM
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: NW AR
Posts: 549

Another thought is to check with your vet. They might have a local "connection". Also, IF it were me I would prefer to have a vet assist the first time, learn from them and then you could do it yourself in the future. I do agree that it is cheaper to buy and keep a boar, have you considered maybe trying to find someone that would trade you for a younger/smaller tam boar?

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  #10  
Old 05/05/11, 06:43 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 179

May I suggest something here? Purchase a boar (any breed) of near the same age as your gilts to use for their first litters. If they are already 1 year old, you may have difficulty getting them to conceive. as sometimes their ovaries can get cystic after too many estrus cycles without a pregnancy. If the boar can "get the job done", after they farrow and raise their first litter, wean them and watch for them to return to estrus 5-7 days after weaning. This only works well if they don't lactate too long, such as 7 or 8 weeks. Sows' milk production diminishes 3 weeks after the litter is born and if left to lactate too long, they will have an estrus while still lactating. I have always weaned at 4 weeks after farrowing and the sows will readily come into estrus in 5 days. If you don't want to rebreed them that soon, then watch for a second estrus cycle 21 days after the post weaning estrus.
Breed them for their purebred litter, using AI, for their second litter. You can sometimes purchase semen at half price by calling to place your order on collection day after 1:00 p.m. Any semen not already sold in this case is called "overrun" semen and is offered at half price just to get it sold while it's still fresh. The only drawback is you may not get the boar that you want as your first choice. And, the stud that you called only keeps 1 Tamworth boar.
If you decide to go through with the AI, email me and I'll walk you through the process. My email is: theporkstork@yahoo.com. I have been involved with swine AI since 1984 and managed a 220 sow herd where every sow was AI'd for every litter. Our conception rate was 92% with a litter born average of 10 piglets on gilts and 11.7 piglets on sows up to 5 parities.

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  #11  
Old 05/07/11, 06:24 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Owego, NY
Posts: 100

Thank you to all who took the time to respond to this post. There were a number of very good points made that I hadn't considered. The issue with the boar, quite frankly, should have been addressed months ago. We've had our hands full with other stock, primarily cows and sheep.

Anyway, I am going to follow the advice of Otter and Theporkstork, get a interim boar and see if I can get them bred. Based on the outcome, we'll have to decide what direction to go thereafter. I certainly hope they can be bred as they are 4 beautiful and extremely friendly pigs.....easy to handle and work with.

In the interim, the current boar will have to be sent to the butcher.

Theporkstork - I may well take you up on your offer. From the sounds of it you have a tremendous amount of experience in AI and with pigs in general.

Thank you,
Bruce

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  #12  
Old 05/07/11, 12:15 PM
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Location: Missouri
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Just FYI, some interesting facts about litter size. One of them is that, done properly, there is no difference in average litter size between AI and natural mating.

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  #13  
Old 05/07/11, 01:05 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Owego, NY
Posts: 100

Thank you for that info. One final question related to this thread.....the boar. Just talked to a long time pig farmer in the area who said I should castrate the boar, wait a month, then send to the butcher....otherwise the meat (it will all be sausage anyway) will be horrible. Frankly, I have no interest in attempting to castrate the boar and as time appears to be an issue with getting the sows bred for the first time, I'm going to go ahead and send to the butcher.

I just wonder if, upon butchering the pig, you will be able to tell if the meat is tainted prior to turning it into sausage? I guess is worse came to worse and the processed meat wasn't palatable, we could use it (cooked) as additions to our dog food.

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  #14  
Old 05/07/11, 03:56 PM
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 866

you are in the wrong place if you want to get a positive take on AI...

There are many farms that have boars, collect them, and then AI their sows...

Why would they bother? It's safer, cheaper and much more dependable.

One boar can be divided in a tube and cover 3-5 sows without 5 times the stress on your or the boar...right now there is a thread where breeding boars are dying...Dead is serious problem in breeding effectiveness

As to shallowing of the gene pool, that's just stupid... AI allows you to use boars from thousands of miles away with a phone call or email. Where as if you use live cover, you are limited by your location...The problem has been getting enough farms trained and equiped to use and collect ( It is a serious financial ivestment to ship AI) ....AI is a tool and will only be as useful as those use it, will allow it to become.

AI is crucial in line development, $100 is cheap compared to 5-10,000 dollars the stud farm had to pay for the boar.

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  #15  
Old 05/07/11, 08:34 PM
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Idaho
Posts: 4,332

We looked at 4H pigs this year but the guy was sold out. He had an incredible bunch of hogs and pigs in the middle of nowhere. Many years ago, he learned AI, and has been using fantastic boars from the midwest and all over the place. He saves back some gilts and breeds them to more champion boars. He offered to teach me AI and will split an order with me this fall to save shipping.

You may get lucky and find a nice boar locally to buy, then you have to feed him and house him, and pretty soon he is related to everyone in your herd. Or you can have the choice of dozens of top of the line incredible boars that cost more than your whole herd, for $40-100 a shot.

I'd suggest you go ahead and butcher the uncut boar. We've eaten many and so far, no taint at all in any of them. Our old herd boar wasn't just for sausage, the chops and roasts were great, too.

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  #16  
Old 05/07/11, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Hogs
As to shallowing of the gene pool, that's just stupid...
You seem awfully sure of that. Interesting given you make a pretty good case for it being anything but stupid yourself.

Quote:
AI allows you to use boars from thousands of miles away with a phone call or email. Where as if you use live cover, you are limited by your location...
Sure can, but so can everyone else. Pretty soon 500 farms are using the same boar, injecting the same genetic profile into their herds. And then what? Then all those pretty little gilts with great conformation all have it because they inherited it from their Daddy -- the same Daddy. All over the country. They're all related and all it took was a few straws and a little fancy foot work from the USPS.

Quote:
The problem has been getting enough farms trained and equiped to use and collect ( It is a serious financial ivestment to ship AI) ....
Bingo! The number of boars in service compared with the number of sows being bred is marginal at best. That's precisely why, again in breeds whose gene pools are already potentially compromised, AI presents issues with the unifying of genetics across a breed.

Quote:
AI is a tool and will only be as useful as those use it, will allow it to become.
Exactly! And those who are breeding the "rare" breeds are at the frontline of that need for responsible use.

AI is a wonderful tool that should be utilized, but it's not for every farm and every situation. This guy(gal?) is wanting purebred Tams that (s)he can sell back into the breeding population. AI'ing under those circumstances doesn't give the same benefits as AI'ing for crossbreds on a show hog farm, for instance, where the use of top of the line sperm can make or break the sale season and set the farm up for a lifetime of sales on reputation for wins alone. Here it can even reduce the worth of the pigs that (s)he does get on the ground as people who are "into" the rare breeds to the point of wanting to pay top dollar for a purebred "heritage" pig know and are wary of the implications of AI at this point.

There are going to have to be leaps and bounds made in the diversity of available rare breeds semen for that to change.
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  #17  
Old 05/08/11, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by basempires View Post
I just wonder if, upon butchering the pig, you will be able to tell if the meat is tainted prior to turning it into sausage?
Yes, just fry up a piece, ideally with some back fat on it. Realize that only about 75% of people can smell/taste taint so it is best done by someone who knows they can or use a large sample group to reduce the odds of missing it.

@ 25% of people can't taste it -> .25 x .25 x .25 = (1- 0.015) = 98.5% probability of being able to taste it if you have three random people doing the taste test. I'm random. Are you?

See:

http://www.google.com/search?q=site:flashweb.com+taint

for more about taint. There are multiple causes, not just having balls.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
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  #18  
Old 05/09/11, 02:17 AM
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Location: Northern Michigan (U.P.)
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You and Red Hogs make some good points.

I have been following a heritage breed, Large Blacks, for over 30 years. In the past 10 years, there has been a resurgence of interest. This interest has created a demand that exceeds the supply. As a result, prices have shot up. The fact that the prices are high has stimulated more interest in this breed. Selective breeding has had to take a back seat to demand. Every sow becomes breeding stock and many boars are left intact to service these tiny breeding operations. AI is beyond the realm of these operations.

The genetics are diverse, but the overall quality of this breed has suffered irreparable harm. This breed that once was known for their huge litters, are now producing litters at about half the national average for commercial hogs.

AI would allow these small operations to use superior genetics and over time undo the harm that “breed everything you own” policy has done. If there was a larger interest in AI in the heritage breeds, stud farms would be encouraged to import superior bloodlines from other countries, increasing the genetic diversity with superior animals.

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  #19  
Old 05/10/11, 11:49 PM
Sugarstone Farm
 
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Location: Minnesota
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Discussing AI and rare breeds can become quite a debate. There are many reasons for and against using it, and everyone has to decide what is best for their farm and their vision of their particular breed's future.

Personally, I keep several boars and do live cover with them in groups of sows/gilts. It costs far less for me to keep them and feed them than it would to breed my sows/gilts by shipping in semen, even if I did the AI myself (plus there is no AGH semen available). Generally, feed is relatively cheap here in MN compared to other places in the country, so the same will not be true everywhere.

I do use smaller boars for gilts and my older/larger boars are used on more mature sows.

basempires, have you considered collecting your own boar? If you have the time and want to do AI, perhaps finding someone to help you collect your boar and AI your gilts with his semen would make the most sense?

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