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Our long term goal is to keep a breeding pair, keep 3 piglets a year for our own consumption, sell the remaining piglets. We fell in love with Red Wattle pigs. We also want to bring animals to our homestead young so that we can raise them vs. teaching an older animal to fit into our set up.

So now for the "short term" or "immediate" situation.

We got 2 gilts (they are almost 11 weeks old). They are 75% red wattle. Sire was a registered red wattle boar, mother was 1/2 registered red wattle, 1/4 Berkshire and 1/4 wild hog. All of the piglets from the litter carry mostly the red wattle characteristics. One of our gilts pretty much looks like a red wattle pig. She is smaller of the two. The other has the red wattle shape, wattles but her skin and hair are a little darker and she also has a nearly black stripe on her back. From our inexperienced perspective, she looks like she has more of the wild hog in her.

We are looking for a red wattle boar so that our piglets will be mostly red wattle. It seems we will be able to acquire a young boar this winter. There are two breeders geographically close that raise registered red wattles.

At some point, we will need to decide which of the gilts to keep. I know this decision is months away but still, I am thinking about it. I read that cross-breeds are more resilient and overall healthier pigs. Given what I said about our two gilts, would you keep the one that looks more like a pure red wattle or the one that seems to show some characteristics of the other breeds? Or would you base your decision on size? Temperament?

Also, I am concerned about the boar being related to the gilts since we are talking about pigs being raised within a 3 hour drive radius from us. I can get the information about the sire and sow of our piglets since once is registered and the other had one registered parent. How big of an issue is inbreeding with pigs? If there is some link, would you be comfortable with any relation at all?
 

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Too little information to decide.
Conformation.
Growth rate.
Feed conversion.
Muscling.
Temperament.
Winter ability.
Mothering.
Pasture ability.
Grazing vs rooting.
Teat count and formation.
Parasite resistance.
Ear shape and size.
:
Lots of characteristics to think about. Compare the ones you have, maybe test breed them all, keep the best ones, eat the rest.

With good genetics I would be less worried about close relation. Either way, close or far, you will need to weed the genes over the years. On the other hand, I would not breed animals with obvious faults and related animals with obvious faults are are _really_ bad idea. Most problem genes are recessive.

Breed the best of the best and eat the rest.

-Walter
 

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Opinions may differ on the subject, but here is mine. Genetics is not a strait line mathematical equation, as some may believe or wish it to be. % of parentage is not always that strait forward. Depending on the exact genes some may be more prevalent than others based on the dominant/recessive gene present, not just the %. I am not a geneticist, but I hope you can understand what I am trying to say.

In other words, if you had say 1/2 monkey and 1/2 elephant (stay with me here) that does not necessarily mean it will have big ears and a long tail. The big ears may be a dominant gene and it indeed have big ears, but it may be a receive trait and have monkey ears? The same with the tail. The same with the color? Therefore, if the monkey had more dominant genes, the offspring could actually wind up with more dominant monkey genes than elephant genes. Therefore, even though it is technically 50/50, the resulting genetic makeup may be 45/55, as far as physical appearance. This is a very simplistic explanation, but you get the point.

Example: I bought 2 LB boars from a LB breeding pair. Both parents looked as LB as can be,both BLACK, I would bet money they were all LB. However, one boar was black and one was red with black spots. A recessive gene from a cross somewhere way back perhaps. The owner said he usually got 1 red pig in each litter, but sometimes none. In my offspring from these boars I have had a few with the red/black spot coloration pop up. But it can not be controlled or predicted, it is just in there somewhere and comes out when it wants.

Inbreeding is highly debatable also. The truth is if you are only raising for meat and you are having healthy piglets and decent size litters etc. I would not worry about it. If you intended to sell registered stock or breeding stock, I would research the proper lineage crosses within the breed for sure.

I know this does not directly answer your question, but I guess what I am saying is based on physical appearance alone, it is impossible to predict which of your pigs carries more RW genes or even if one does. Either one, since they are both crossed could pass on recessive genes, which may not typically be found in RW. In other words it is a possibility with either that they have 6 RW looking piglets and 2 with Berkshire or wild looking traits (I made those numbers up BTW). I am not even sure a geneticist could make the prediction for you, as to what the outcome will be for sure.

I would personally choose based on growth rate, physical build, maternal instinct, and temperament to name a few. Some of this information will not be available until you have allowed them to both have a litter of piglets (or 2). First litter gilts, just like 1st time mothers of anything can make mistakes and not be physically prepared. To me, a much better indication would be 2nd litter performance, the outcome of the 2nd litter will eliminate the possibility of these things in my mind.
 

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Why did you buy 2 Gilts for breeding that has wild hog in it ? I would raise them for meat or sell them and get some true breeding stock.

Around here, wild boar infiltration is very common. It's almost impossible to keep them out when the sow's in heat. We have a neighbor raising a couple hundred extremely rare Cinta Senese and they are regularly infiltrated by them, which I'm sure totally freaks them out, but oh well! These and other crosses with feral are routinely raised and sold for feeders. Sometimes they're slow growers and fat, but most times they make excellent meat with reasonable growth rates.
 

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I've got a batch of "inbred" pigs. original pair was in no way related and the only bad gene i'm experiencing is an extra nipple on a bunch of the pigs. Doesn't matter for the feeders, though disappointing when i've got a potential breeder who gets disqualified for uneven teats. They were a good enough match that I've for a 3 generation inbred litter and they are healthy, friendly, strong, active.....I've stuck to this line because i like various traits including disposition and no boar taint.

but if you had an inbred pair that WASN'T a good genetic match you'd have a big mess by now. How do you find out if they are a good match? breed 'em once. see what you get.

genetics is very unpredictible. Thats part of the fun i think.
 

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I wouldn't consider an extra nipple a flaw, that's a feature. Through generations of selection you can end up with an extra pair of teats. We have some of ours up to 18 functional teats. They produce more milk and can nurse more piglets.

-Walter
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks everyone for your input as to what you look for in a breeding pair. It is very helpful and good food for thought.

Why did you buy 2 Gilts for breeding that has wild hog in it ? I would raise them for meat or sell them and get some true breeding stock.
The honest answer is that I did not know any better that it would be a detriment. Also, the piglets came at reasonable price from a farm where they were very well taken care of (and similar set up that we want on our homestead). And they look like Red Wattle pigs.

The only reason why we want a breeding pair is that we do not want to buy new feeder pigs each year. Obviously, we would end up with more piglets than we can eat, but I think we can sell them as feeder pigs.

I know a lot of the answers will not come until after they grow up and have had a litter.
 

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You may find that it is more expensive to keep a breeding pair than to just buy feeder pigs every year. You'll know after a few years if this is the case or not. There are other reasons, of course, than just the money such as having control over your genetics, biosecurity and just the plain fun of it. :)

-Walter
 

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at my best grain prices (22 cents a lb) it costs almost $500 to keep a boar on 6 lbs feed a day for a year. A sow would be the same but for the feed increase during lactation. Then you are looking at $700-800 a year (currently my sow needs 20 lbs a day for her 14 piglets). Plus a week of two f feeding your piglets for sale and you are already $1300 in the hole for feeding your pigs just so you can get 2 feeders. then supplies, upkeep, fencing, ect.

financially for the sake of 2 piglets it doesnt make sense. however, if you ENJOY them like i do then go for it. just know you are going to cover costs until you sell enough piglets to pay for all that.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Erika, thank you for your perspective re. cost. Since we are new to animals, I am keeping record on different costs associated with keeping them so that I can see where we come out.

What type of grain do you feed? We started out with hog pellets because that is what they were fed at their old place (in addition to large pasture) but I am not sure we are going to stick with that. At this point we have enough kitchen scraps (of course, our kitchen scraps stay the same and the pigs get bigger and need more). Our hope is to cultivate the pasture so that they can get most of their food from it. But again, that is an ongoing project.
 
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