Homesteading Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,184 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
There are some new ways to do things. They are certainly much debate over right and wrong, and to be honest I am not sure in many things there are right and wrong, only your way and my way. Different approaches that may come to very similar end results, with no real benefit to either.

It has been years ago since I seen piglets castrated. I remembered basically how it was done, and I know if done wrong they can surely bleed a bunch. Since this was my first litter with my new pigs and it is running in the upper 90's to 100's as far as temps here. I decided to take these down to my vet who I have known for years, just to make sure I remembered everything I thought I did correctly.

Well, the castrating part was pretty much as I remembered, cut the skin, poke out the ball and pull it out, or is you wish cut the tendon and pull the blood vessel. They all seem to be going fine today and I was able to get a can of antibiotic spray and a good scalpel with replaceable blades to use form now on. Well, worth the $30.00 to me.

He insisted on docking the tails. He is older and has been a vet for a long time, no telling how many 1000's of pigs he has done. I explained to him they were not going to the sale barn and were not being raised in confinement and I did not think it was needed. This was something I could tell he had no comprehension of. he has been our vet for a long time. I want to keep him and could see that arguing this point would only make hard feelings. I mean it just did not even register with him. He has been a vet for a long time and this is the way he has always done it and no amount of discussion will ever change his mind. Yes, I sacrificed a few tails for this litter for the opportunity to reinforce my confidence in castrating piglets. It just goes to show how ingrained some ideas are in people. The idea of CSA's and people who will pay extra, just because the animal is treated more humanely is just something some people do not comprehend. The idea that there are markets outside of simply taking animals to a sale barn and taking what the market is paying that day is still very foreign to many people. I guess this is why there are so many people with a dim view of farming as a income source. I know it is discussed a lot. I still just always am taken back somewhat that people do not even consider some of these things.

Anyway, I will be doing them all at home from now on and hopefully years down the road, when I can show some success in my model of farming maybe someone will consider some of these things I choose to do. I know people do not always believe words, but maybe seeing it at least make them stop to consider a different way of doing things. Yes, I did keep one boar intact. I intend to do a side by side comparison with his litter mates for growth and meat quality. This to me is how you prove or disprove something works, actually try it.

Who knows? Maybe one day I will view castrating the same way, and think it unnecessary? I will not argue it needed or not at this point, as I have not yet proved it to myself. But I am at least open to finding out for myself, and working on doing just that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,852 Posts
The single biggest reason beyond all the values issues is that boars grow about 10% faster and bigger in less time on less feed and put on more meat than barrows. Barrows are faster than gilts but boars are best from that point of view. Simple economics.

Another hard measurable economic reality is I found that around 0.5% to 1% have hidden scrotal hernias. I hate having a pigs guts shoot out into my lap. There is no putting humpty dumpty back together again. You can try the the likelihood of infection is very high and now they're injured, take special care, etc. Not castrating avoids this loss of life and money completely. Dead weaners cost money.

All the other reasons for not castrating are moot, that is to say debatable and opinions. The economics are a hard, measurable reality.

Cheers,

-Walter
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
473 Posts
I think it is different when you have a known market for your pigs. What about when your backup is the sale barn? Will a 50 lb boar sell as well as a barrow in an agricultural area with low prices to begin with? We will be crossing this bridge soon, so it is something we need to decide. To cut, or not to cut, that is the question. :)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,201 Posts
I think it is different when you have a known market for your pigs. What about when your backup is the sale barn? Will a 50 lb boar sell as well as a barrow in an agricultural area with low prices to begin with? We will be crossing this bridge soon, so it is something we need to decide. To cut, or not to cut, that is the question. :)
Sale barn is not a very good back up plan. If sale barn was the only place i could sale a boar the price you get wouldn't pay for the gas to take him there. I have seen beautiful boars sale at the sale barn for a few cents a pound. Some companies go around to the sale barns to buy these boars and they keep the prices low at gave away prices. Most of the meat on pizza is boar meat. Some ground meat with spices is boar meat. If you plan on taking the boars to a sale barn you better cut them. I would never take a boar or any other pig to a sale barn.

Best,
Gerold.
 

·
Unpaid, Volunteer Devil's Advocate
Joined
·
18,362 Posts
Couple years ago, I bought a half dozen feeder pigs. All 6 grew the same.
Apparently, the guy I bought them from (keeps a hundred sows in a fantastically clean farrow to finish operation) missed a testicle. While he did miss this one, he said he averages 25 castrations a week and hasn't had a rupture or infection in years.
The butcher knew right away when he began cutting. Boars put on "shoulder pads" Thick plates around the shoulder areas. Plus he could smell it. I got to keep the boar meat, rather than lose a customer.
I guess what I'm wondering is that after you deduct the plates, how much of that 10% faster growth is left? Would be quite an ordeal to measure feed consumption between pigs to determine a notable increase in feed efficiency.
Some claim no boar taint, I'm not that lucky. Try skipping castration as an experiment. 500 pounds of pepperoni would be worth a lot of money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,852 Posts
I don't see any shoulder plates. I've heard people (you?) talk of that before but never seen it in our breeds (Yorkshire, Berkshire, Tamworth, Large Black). Perhaps some breeds have it. At 10% that would be 25 lbs of "boar plates" which is pretty amazing.

Since boar taint is a combination of genetics, feed and management you need to work with all of those factors. The boar taint research I spoke with years ago told me that Duroc was the worst genetics for taint, confinement was the worst management for taint and a low fiber diet especially corn/soy which is the standard hog feed was the worst diet. On the other hand, I have talked with people who fed corn/soy to Duroc boars and had no problem so there are no guarantees that will produce taint either.

Fortunately we don't get taint in our pigs so I don't have to castrate and get that extra growth. We're on pasture with no commercial hog feed but other people who've bought our weaner piglets and fed them corn report they haven't had taint either. This may be the genetics dominating for no-taint but again, no guarantee once you start changing the variables.

In some countries they've outlawed castration unless you have anesthesia. I foresee that eventually coming to Canada and the USA just like bans on gestation crates, caged chickens, etc. I personally prefer to see market forces do this work (e.g., consumers who care vote with their dollars for what they want) rather than legislating how we live - legislation is so rigid and doesn't understand the real world too often - laws of unintended consequences and all that. Best to be prepared though...

-Walter
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
473 Posts
We will castrate. I was just kidding. This area has old ways and not castrating would hurt sales. We do have people who want to buy our feeders - can we generate enough sales for our supply? We will find out. Auctions here were once the way to sell feeders. Everyone did it in the 70's and early 80's when $1/pound was a big deal. They were good auctions back then and we would take close to 100 - 50lb'ers to auction at a time (my dad). Times change! We have to get our feed cost down before we raise them out for meat. With both of us still working full time, we haven't had the time to work on alternate feed sources except pasture and a huge 1/4 acre garden. This is our first farrowing with lots of lessons to be learned. Isn't that part of the fun? Rejoice when something goes great and make changes when they don't turn out as expected. We bought 12 weaners last winter to test raising them to sell as feeders at our auction. We made money - not much, but at least we know it is a last resort and we won't lose. I wouldn't want to have 50 pigs to grow out with our current feed source. Not profitable until we are ready to market differently which will come in the next year.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top