A study into keeping boars (uncastrated male pigs) conducted at 70 pig farms has confirmed that many factors combine to determine the success of boar farming. Researchers from WageningenUniversity and Research Centre presented the results of their large-scale study on 12 November 2013 in Wijchen, the Netherlands. They have found evidence that four factors affect boar behaviour: animal-centred management, tranquillity and routine, accommodation, nutrition and drinking water. The study’s results offer pig farmers and their advisors countless tools for making boar farming a success.
If male piglets are no longer to be castrated, it is important that they are cared for properly. Boars behave differently from barrows and gilts. Pig farmers who stop castrating will have to learn to deal with this. In a study conducted at 70 pig farms, researcher Dr Carola van der Peet–Schwering of Wageningen UR Livestock Research catalogued the factors that influence boar behaviour. Van der Peet: “Boars in a group display different behaviour than female pigs. Boars are often more boisterous, particularly when they reach the age that their hormones start to rage. A complex combination of factors has been found to influence their behaviour.”
The study catalogued a large number of factors that can positively or negatively influence successful boar farming. Van der Peet: “By modifying a number of aspects, pig farmers can influence boar behaviour.” Nutrition is an important factor. Feed composition, daily rations, the number of animals in each feeding station and water provision all play a role. But accommodation, such as open pen dividers with clean floors and clean animals also affect their behaviour. Carola van der Peet: “It’s important to prevent factors that can cause stress or negative stimuli.”
Pig farmers and specialists
The researchers point out that pig farmers who make the transition to keeping boars are not alone. “Many specialists visit the farm such as feed company representatives, vets or other advisors. They can use our research results to help the farmer to find out which factors can be modified to influence boar behaviour,” emphasises Van der Peet. “This study confirmed that it is quite possible to successfully raise boars.”
The study was carried out by Wageningen University and Research Centre at the behest of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Dutch product board for livestock, meat and eggs.
More information (in Dutch)