Sunday, August 24, 2014

Porcine beauty

I'm to the point now where I produce most of my own breeding stock, selecting the pigs from the litters we produce.  I select based on the characteristics of the piglet, and on the features of the parents, and I've got 4 generations of data to work with.

In this case, the largest red piglet is the breeding stock choice, and its a good example of what I'm looking at when I look at potential breeding stock.  I want to see a wide stance in the front legs, I want to see a good set of shoulders (and you can really see hers here) and I want to se a well formed, symmetrical body and a good arch to the back.

If everything is good so far, I'll look under the pig; I want 16 nipples on the pig ( they range in number from 12 to 18, but I want at least 16) and  I want them to be well-formed without any defect at all.

If your'e going to breed, you don't want to breed problems.  So many farmers end up breeding the pigs that they don't sell, mostly because of defects, and I've had that same problem myself.   After a few years, the discipline pays off, and you start to see really noticeable improvements in your lines.  It's a nice feeling to have a herd that is what you prefer, in all respects.  Worth working towards.  


Jeff said...

The arch to the back is an interesting one. It seems that the older sources suggest selecting for a strong arch, while the newer ones suggest selecting for a straight back. The reason I've seen given for a straight back is that the pigs do better on concrete floors. I find that it is challenging to figure out what structure is best for a given environment.

Bruce King said...

It's funny, but the local government, in the form of the snohomish conservation district and the washington state department of ecology, would rather that I raise my animal son concrete year-round. Heck, they'll even pay 80% or more of the cost of installing the concrete. But most of my pigs are on dirt as much as I can have them on it, and so I'm picking animals that work for me -- which means the arched backs are what I pick.

If you think of a sow as a suspension arch, when she gains the 100 to 150lbs she does during pregnancy, a good strong arch will support that weight better.