Categories: NewsPublished On: 28th June 2010

Practical day to day boar management

By 5 min read

As an individual pig within the breeding herd, today’s high value boar has the potential to make a tremendous impact on herd performance and profitability. The lifetime production potential of boars used for natural mating is between 500 to
1 000 pigs, in contrast to the 40 to 60 pig lifetime production of a sow.

The more pigs a boar produces in a lifetime, the more justifiable it is to select a more expensive, superior boar simply because the costs of delivering to the progeny the benefits of superior growth rate, feed conversion rate, carcass lean meat and dressing percentage, are spread over more pigs. It is important to manage this investment in order to maximize a lifetime of performance potential.

Introducing the young boar

Boars can be friendly creatures and are relatively easy to train. A well-trained boar is an asset to any breeding unit and adopting a sound training and management routine will help exploit a boar’s full potential in later life.

PIC boars are delivered to the customer’s farm at about 210 to 270 days of age, weighing approximately 140 kg. The newly delivered boar should be housed in quarantine for at least 3 weeks.

Age at first mating

At the end of the 3 weeks isolation and acclimatization period, the boar will have reached puberty. PIC boars should be a minimum of 230 days old at first mating.

The number of sperm and volume of ejaculate increases from puberty until the boar attains 18 months of age. This level is maintained until the boar is about 5 years old, when a gradual decline in fertility sets in. For sound commercial reasons, boars are generally culled well before this age.

First mating routines

For the first mating, it is advisable to supervise the mating of a relatively small first-litter sow that is standing to back pressure, because maiden gilts can often be nervous in each other’s presence and this can result in an
unfavourable initial experience and poor first mating performance. On the other hand, easy, trouble-free first matings result in young boars eager for more of the same at subsequent matings.

Where small first-litter sows are not available, the first one or two services on maiden gilts should be supervised to ensure young boars have an enjoyable, trouble-free first service.

To ensure first matings go smoothly, the stockperson should be active in the following practical ways:

  • Prevent bullying of either the sow or boar
  • Ensure that the sow faces a corner, giving the boar sufficient, unimpeded access to mount from the rear. Direct the boar gently to the sow and encourage it to mount.
  • Do not let the boar mount the front end of the sow.
  • If the boar shows only limited interest, rub his sheath. If the boar still declines to mount, he should be removed after 10 to 15 minutes and tried with another sow 2 to 3 days later. Moving the boar to another pen may also help.
  • Observe the penis for any abnormalities and guide it into the vagina once mounting occurs.
  • Use polythene gloves and discard between matings to prevent the transfer of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Make sure the penis is correctly positioned until ejaculation occurs.
  • Prevent the boar pawing the sow’s back during mating.
  • Always allow the boar to dismount and never push the animal off yourself.
  • After mating, walk the sow quietly back to her pen and record service details.

The young boar’s first few ejaculations are normally of a lower sperm count than the subsequent ones. Consequently, it is good management practice to mate sows that have been mated with novice boars, with an older boar within
8 to 24 hours depending on service routine.

Boars respond well to familiarity and routine, and work most efficiently when their daily management follows a set pattern. Boars should not be expected to serve sows within 2 hours of receiving their daily feed allowance.

Boars are powerful animals and should be treated with respect; preferably service personnel should not work alone. Boar handling must be carried out using pig boards. Quick release gates are also worthwhile.

Boar work rates

Over-use and under-use of boars are often cited as a cause of infertility. The table below gives a practical work rate recommendation for PIC boars.

For indoor herds with a sow to boar ratio of 20:1, there will be an average of one sow or gilt per boar requiring mating each week. If the policy is to mate each sow three times per oestrous period, then boars will on average achieve a usage rate of three matings per week.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy to over-work boars. This often occurs for the following

  • If insufficient numbers of boars are carried for the size of the herd.
  • If one or more boars are off-colour or ill and cannot be worked.
  • If the number or returns to mating increases, following a fertility problem resulting in extra sows being
  • presented for mating each week.
  • If unplanned, premature culling of boars occurs, reducing the effective number of mature working boars.
  • If boars with good libido are preferentially selected for work.

In order to prevent over-working of boars, it is advisable to consider the use of AI to supplement natural matings.

The article is designed to give further insights into practical management of boars and does not replace veterinary advice given by your consultant, but rather to add to the understanding of boar management.

PIC continues to invest in new technologies and search for new ways of making existing technology of value to our customers.

For more information please contact Jurgens Reynders on
082-809- 4024 or email:


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