Yesterday I witnessed my first boar fight. It was very exciting. Of course I failed to take any photos or videos. Sorry.
One of the challenges of winter is that the ground is freezing and thawing and freezing and thawing. Fence posts that should be stable are rising and settling as the ground does its thing. As fence posts move about, gates that once held firm suddenly do not latch. This is a problem for obvious reasons.
After lunch yesterday, the three of us (Ryan, Steve and I) drove down to check on the steers. They were all fine and well so we headed back to the shop. On our way back we drove past the pig runs and Ryan noticed Ash acting funny. It seemed she was in heat (even though she just spent 2 full months with the boars!). Whatever we were about to do – I honestly don’t remember – was put on hold so we could get her and one of the boars into the breeding run. Open sows become sausage and we all like Ash. Plus, we’d rather have 10 piglets than 1 sausage sow.
This should have been an easy task. All we had to do was let Ash and one of the boars out of their pens into the lane that connects all of the pig pens. There they could do their thing. The problem is that one of the pigs we bought from another farm a few months ago wasn’t properly castrated. We realized this after we let Ash into the lane. This non-barrow (a barrow is a castrated pig…anyone else see the Downton Abbey humor there? Anyone?) came running up to the fence line grunting and foaming at the mouth, a sure sign of raging testosterone. But an electrified fence and sturdy gate separated him from Ash so we didn’t worry. We went ahead and let Sam out of his run.
Instead of trotting over to Ash, he charged his apparent competition who happened to be standing on the other side of the gate. The gate swung open. Ryan, Steve and I froze, baffled by what we were witnessing and all wondering “Who forgot to latch the gate?!?”
Steve and I quickly hurried Ash into an empty run and away from the dueling boars. Ryan chased away the other pigs and got the two boars into the lane where they could fight without getting anyone else involved. There are a lot of bad ideas when it comes to animal husbandry. Trying to break up a pig fight tops that list.
Ryan examined the gate as the guys duked it out and he realized what had happened. Between all the freezing and thawing and settling, the gate no longer latched properly. One post settled to the left while the other settled to the right and they were too far apart for the gate to reach. No one had failed to close it. (Phew!) Mother Nature had simply taken her toll. Steve and I headed up to the shop to find some chain to secure it while the boars continued to sort out their differences.
In the end Sam won. He gored the other guy, not badly, but enough to put him in his place. After that the loser boar sulked back to the pasture while Sam returned to his pen to claim his prize – Ash.
To be honest, I didn’t think Sam had it in him. He is a complete puppy most of the time. Of all our breeding stock, he is the friendliest and most domesticated. Given that I am not an aggressive and threatening boar, I still feel perfectly safe with him. And now that I know what he is capable of, I would gladly take him over the fiercest guard dog.