Yes. This is how we do it. We have our boars in with the sows all the time. They're much happier this way. There are currently two big breeding boars plus about 40 sows in our south field herd. That's the top of the ratio that I like. The boars were raised together and get along fine. Keeping the boars in with the sows means they do the work of detecting heat and servicing the ladies without my needing to intervene. It works great.
We were keeping our boar separate from the sows; but it was lot more work.
Last fall another hog breeder convinced us to keep them together. We toured her operation, eight paddocks of about 1.5 acres each. In each paddock a boar and 2 to 4 sows. It looked like a much better routine.
So we are now keeping ours together.
When will they be due? Who cares? Any sow who can not successfully produce piglets by herself, will be butchered.
I am tired of prolapses and messing with infertile hogs.
we dont bother to keep them separate. when a sow is coming due, we remove her from the main group to have her babies. when they are weaned, she goes back in the main group. the young ones are kept separate from the boar as we dont want him breeding female butcher pigs.
if you keep him separate, then he wants them all the time and becomes pushy and aggressive. if he is always with his girls, then he is fine. I can climb in the pen and pet our boars, with the sows right there, and he is fine.
we are never really sure when our sows are due. we watch them all the time and sometimes we see them breed. we watch for sows in standing heat. if you look at your pigs everyday, you will know, because they 'do it' for hours. then we write it down and see if the sow cycles in 3 weeks. If she does not, we can calculate an approximate date.
If we really have no idea, just watch the sow. Her belly will get really big when she is within a month of having them. Then she will start to bag, like any other mammal, and at some point, start behaving like she wants to nest build. When we see a sow getting really big, that is when we pull her.
one other thing we do, is in the winter, we move them to smaller, close-up pens for convenience. any sow we know to be bred, regardless of how long, we go ahead and remove to her own pen before the ground freezes for good. that way we don't have to mess with gates frozen into the ground when they get close, because by the time they pig, and wean, it will be spring again.
It is my understanding that if a group of hogs have enough room, the sow that is due will nest herself separately.
So you do not need to separate her.
I wont ever do it again. Its too much of a risk. I suppose if you have acres and acres of forest like highlands, maybe, but we had ours last year in a pen that was almost 2 acres, and they had more than one shelter. 3 sows and a boar, and a sow went early, we didn't know she was so close, cause she was a huge sow. It was getting a bit brisk, as it was fall, and the other adults squished all the babies, because they wanted to lay together for warmth.
lonely: you will always have higher mortality when farrowing on pasture than you would if you managed the pigs more. A farrowing pen, stall, hut or crate are all ways that farmers have chosen to manage their sows to decrease mortality. Pasture farrowing, in my experience, has been highest of all of the methods I've tried.
I agree with you about seperating the pig about to give birth. I think you'll have lower mortality if you do that. It's always a shame to lose a litter.
Yes, you'll always have someone who claims to wean 100% of the pigs born with no management, on pasture. But I put those in the "I won the lottery" catagory.
I do separate out the sows for farrowing sometimes. I also will pull boars out to control the timing of litters as I prefer not to be farrowing in January if I can help it. My senior boar gets young weaned pigs for company.