For a few months I’ve been toying with the idea of farrowing my own piglets. Since our operation is pretty small, we only need a few litters of pigs each year. Up to this point, we’ve always bought pigs that were roughly eight weeks old and raised them to finish weight. In the past, this has worked very well for us, but now it's becoming more difficult to find piglets at a reasonable price when we're ready to start again. My plan was to hold back a couple of gilts (female pigs) and try my hand at artificial insemination. On paper this looks ideal as I wouldn’t have to feed a boar, and I could precisely manage when we’d get a new litter of pigs. According to my discussions with a few people, insemination doesn't always go as planned. My biggest challenge so far is getting past the first step – being able to detect when the girls come into heat (I’ve been watching closely for a few months and I just don’t see it). I’ve also learned that it’s more expensive than I had previously calculated. So I decided to change my approach. We bought a boar!
Meet Prince Albert. The plan now is to have him breed two of our gilts, then sell him off so I don’t have to feed him longer than necessary. I'm hoping we'll have piglets around December. At that point I have a few options - I can continue to buy boars when breeding time approaches, or I can keep one of the male piglets and have him breed a female from a different litter, or a combination of the two. We’ll keep you posted on Albert's activities over the next few months.