Danish pig breeding company DanBred recently published a new manual on how to make a success of having their Duroc boars on-farm. Here in Pig Progress an introduction to one of the chapters: how to train boars?
The young boars need to be trained in mounting the dummy for semen collection. Before training, all boars will have been placed in separate pens for a minimum of 14 days.
Training each boar should begin when they reach maturity. If training is in keeping with their natural sexual instincts, not only will it be more effective, but will also lay the foundation for a long-term positive association.
A Duroc boar at work. Photo: DanBred
Sexual maturity is mainly determined by the age of each boar and only to an extent by its body weight. A purebred boar is mature at 6-7 months, and should be willing to mount the dummy and produce semen.
Some dummies are light-weight and cannot be adjusted but fit most boars. Photo: DanBred
When the boars are fed early in the morning or after training, they will be more active. Photo: DanBred
General step by step training
There are several pointers to bear in mind before the boar training commences.
- All boars should be fed early in the morning or after training, as that is when they are most likely to be active, interested and easy to work with.
- Each boar’s own pen should be used for training to help them stay focused and willing to mount the dummy. Make sure the pen is kept calm and pleasant, and it should be clean, dry and well-lit.
- If possible, the height of the dummy should be adjusted, to match the size of the boar.
- The pen floor should not be slippery, so the boar has the best chance of mounting the dummy. Sand should be used on the floor to dry out the pen and inhibit the growth of bacteria. A dry sanitary agent or fine sawdust in the pens might increase the risk of damage to the semen.
- The dummy should be placed in the middle of the pen to increase the boar’s interest. If an older, mature boar has mounted the dummy beforehand, this will help stimulate an inexperienced boar.
- The boar should be helped to stay focused during training by keeping out of the boar’s sight. After a successful semen collection, the boar should be rewarded for his work with a treat.
- Semen collected during training should not be used for insemination. However, it is worth saving for quality analysis purposes later on.
Training is complete when the boar has mounted the dummy confidently and it is possible to see – and laboratory analysis confirms – that the quality of semen is high enough to meet expectations.
Stroking can be a treat for a boar after a successful training and collection. Photo: DanBred
Checklist to maximise training outcome
This checklist will help deal with issues during training to maximise the number of active boars.
- The boars should be kept interested by training no more than 10-15 minutes a day.
- The training should be repeated in one to 2-day intervals.
- Feed needs to be placed on the dummy to attract the boar’s interest.
It can help to use a board next to the dummy to gently push the boar towards the dummy. Photo: DanBred
Helpful tips to increase interest
- Interest can be stimulated by introducing a young sow/gilt in heat. If the boar looks as though it is about to mount the gilt, immediately replace the gilt with a dummy.
- It can be beneficial to place a board next to the dummy to minimise the space around it. Then, you can gently push the boar towards the dummy from behind.
- Moving the boars from one pen to another might increase hormone levels.
In the unlikely event that a boar remains uninterested in the dummy during training, seek advice from professional DanBred advisors.
More information as well as more chapters can be found at danbred.com/en.