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Large Pig Castration - Lesson learned

Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
I castrated a 120+lb hog today, and I can tell you, I'll never do that again.  I did it by myself, and it was one of those things, it needed to be done, so I went ahead and did it.  But, I will never wait to do it that late ever again.  Use this information as you see fit, and please learn from my mistakes.

We had planned to not castrate him, and sell him as a butcher hog at 220lbs.  Unfortunately, the feedback we have been getting from potential customers in our area is that they would never buy a non-castrated hog for butchering.

So, I decided we should do it.  Being a bit stubborn and living 2 miles from anyone, I thought I would try and do it myself.

I got a few ropes, some rubbing alcohol, a razor blade, and off I went to the pig pen early this morning.  I separated out the other hogs into the pasture, and I had him in the pen.  I took 2 ropes, and made a slip-knot on the end of each.  One, I slipped over and around his snout, pulled it tight, and tied it off to a post along the fence of the pen.  The other rope went around a hind leg, and to another post.  I pulled him out tight, so he really couldn't move at all.

Needless to say, he was screaming pretty loud by now.  He didn't like this at all.

I straddled his rear end, and lifted it up a bit off the ground.  I took some alcohol and cleaned the whole area really good. I held one testicle taught against the scrotum. With the razor blade, I made a vertical slice through the skin, and the inner membranes.  He flinched during this part, but I did it fast enough that it did cause an issue.  I squeezed out one testicle, and pulled it off. 

I pushed the other testicle towards the slice, and cut its inner membrane.  I squeezed out this testicle, when I felt some bite my leg.  I flipped around, and the other pigs had broken through to the pen and were defending their brother! Yikes!  At that same instant, another sibling hog was chewing the nose rope, and it broke free.

So, I had a half-castrated male that was no longer contained (and a bit mad), with a testicle hanging out.  I had 2 other hogs biting at me, raising up a ruckus,, and generally trying to get me out of the pen. 

I dove towards the male, grabbed his hanging testicle, and yanked it out.  I splashed some alcohol on there as he made his way into the shed.  I managed to wrangle the ropes off him, and jumped the fence, with the other 2 hogs at my heels.

I was kinda shaken up by all this, and just really got cleaned up ad proceeded to watch him periodically throughout the day.  He bled some for a while (about an hour) and moved around a few times in the afternoon.  I never saw him eat, but he did drink water, so I think he'll be ok.

Now, I've castrated lots of small pigs before, and it was never like this.  Usually it is quick, easy, and relatively painless.  I will never wait on one again, it is too stressful, for everyone.  And if you must do one late, like this, get 2 people in there.


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Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
wow. I thought I was crazy for doing 40# wieners. you can sit at my fire any time.

many who havent lived with feral hogs arent aware that feral hogs run in loose packs and hunt as a team from time to time. not like wolves, but they go after wounded water fowl, etc., and understand basic bait and switch techniques. I learned this in hawaii. the boars are ussualy solitary.  It is curiously (like lions? or kmart shoppers?) the sows who do this. did you get bit by a sow?  obviously the bum rush is thier #1 move.

I just mentioned you post to my folks. as soon as I said 120# and the other hogs were within earshot both asked if you were ok.

yeah, you can sit at my fire anytime. thats one hell of a to do you just done. Im glad you didnt get hurt.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
yeah, the others were gilts, sisters of the [s]boar[/s] barrow.

I can totally see pigs hunting as a team.  I have seen them figure some pretty complex things out working together.

I am totally ok, they didn't get me too bad, it was more of a defensive move.  But, I tell you what, when I turned around and those 2 gilts were right on top of me, I was honestly scared.

Now, it is worth mentioning that these hogs are totally tame.  My 3 year old son is in the pen with them daily (with my supervision), scratching them and playing with them.  But today, especially with the blood and screaming, I was a threat, and they didn't stop at anything to deal with me.

I'm not too proud of it, to be honest.  I feel bad about waiting so late, and I think it was traumatic for everyone involved.  But, at least folks can get an idea that doing one that big is no fun, but can be done, if necessary.  And it can be done solo, though I don't recommend it.

All in all, it ended well, and could have been a lot worse.  I may be stupid, but at least someone can learn from my mistakes!
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Of course it was traumatic, and you wont do it again. but in a few days youll be laughing, the pigs will have forgotten (except for maybe one newly made barrow who will soon be bacon) and all will be well.

and damn right you were scared. heck, ive been scared of a hamster. protective anger coming from even a insect can get the adrenals pumping. the hogs will be back to normal in no time. its us, with the mixed bag of memory that carry these wounds- and lessons- the longest.

I have done plenty im not proud of. but at least you got this: you can tell the story over beer (or backbacon) and everyone will laugh. thats a good bit better than other 'not so proud of' stories.

again, glad you are ok. ive read that 8 adult hogs (@400#+) can finish off and destroy all traces of a man in just one day. tasty morsels, we must always rememebr that we are also made of meat.

http://thesebastards.blogspot.com/2009/04/picture-of-day.html
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
Yeah, I am not worried about them, I know they will be back to normal.  I just feel bad, cause it was my fault, I should have done it 80 pounds ago, or more!

But, we live and learn! And I hope someone somewhere can learn from what I did, and that's why I posted it.

I did get a wild story out of it, for sure.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
velacreations wrote:I castrated a 120+lb hog today, and I can tell you, I'll never do that again.


Me thinks you're trying for a Darwin Award.

it needed to be done, so I went ahead and did it.


Did it have to be done? We raise thousands of pigs. We take pigs to market every week. We don't castrate. We sell the meat from boars. It is excellent.

Scientific research shows that only a small minority of boars have taint. Not only that but barrows, gilts and sows can all have taint too. Taint is produced by more than one chemical. One is produced in the testes (balls) AND in the adrenal glands which you didn't remove. The other (skatole) is produced in the intestines - which you also left on. Boar taint is primarily a myth, very rare and often an excuse used for slaughter/butchering failure.

Additionally, taint can be controlled through genetics (breed away from it), feed management (higher fiber such as hay, chicory, etc) and through management practices (don't stall or confinement raise, put them out on pasture instead).

I question the "it needed to be done" statement. Maybe your boars have the taint genes but probably not.

For more than you probably ever wanted to know on this topic:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2009/04/tainted-big-pharma.html
http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2007/08/hi-tech-vs-boar-taint.html

I'm glad you're okay. Keep being lucky!

Cheers,

-Walter
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
Me thinks you're trying for a Darwin Award.

Walter, you're right.  It was a stupid thing to do.

Did it have to be done?

Absolutely had to be done to sell in my area. Did it have to be done?  No, absolutely not.  But to sell him, he has to be castrated, or I get dog-food prices.  I talked with dozens of people in my community, and no one would even consider buying a boar for slaughter.

I understand the concept of not castrating, and I had wanted to do that. That is why I originally waited.  Unfortunately, I have to work with the market I live in.

To me, it is not so much the risk of taint, as it is a risk of loosing quite a bit of investment by not being able to sell hogs in my local market.  It doesn't matter if they have taint genes (they most likely don't). 

Gradually, I will be able to inform people by slaughtering boars at homes and giving people good meat to try.  But, that requires a lot of investment in time and money that I can't dedicate towards selling one hog. In the future, it will be something I can focus on - market education.

My pigs always have access to pasture.  I do not believe in confinement for any animals.

I'm glad you're okay. Keep being lucky!

I'll sure try, but I won't be taking another risk like that again!
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
I'll sure try, but I won't be taking another risk like that again!


For some fun see:

http://www.darwinawards.com/

Loads of laughs! Just don't every enroll!
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
On a happy note, the barrow was doing really good this morning.  He was out in the pasture with the other pigs, running around, had a nice curled tail, and came right up to me for a scratch behind the ear.  Good to see he isn't harboring any hard feelings. No sign of infection, though the whole area is a little bit swollen (normal).

He seems really good, moving around just fine, and eating just fine.  So, that's a nice silver lining to all of this.

Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
Excellent. If you gotta do it then it's good to have it go well!
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
Excellent. If you gotta do it then it's good to have it go well!

Yes, I agree. 

I am hoping to be able to move away from castration in the future, as I am able to devote the time and resources towards education and demonstration in my area.

By the way, thanks for your site, and all the resources.  I am a big fan of your operation.
                      


Joined: Dec 26, 2010
Posts: 32
Thanks for posting and I'm glad you are alright. 

When I had my piglett castrated I was supposed to hold him in my lap.  He wasn't so tame and I was actually very frightened of him.  I asked my friend who was doing the castrating if he would bite me.  He looks at me and said "are you wearing a bra?" That question DID NOT HELP ease my fear!!  Needless to say, I called yet another friend to help me hold him down on a table of sorts to castrate him.  Even though he was smaller than a cat, he was very hard to hold down.  (Can't say that I blame him.)

I am pleased to know that if I get another pig I won't have to castrate him.  (I would be raising for my own consumption.)  Pubwvj, I love your blog, I wish I had found it sooner.  However, I have a question will an uncastrated hog be mean?  Big Benson was very gentle when he got a bit older.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
Sally wrote:will an uncastrated hog be mean?


Temperament is highly genetic. I found, and have read, that it is passed down the line. I identified in our herd the "mean ones" and culled. We were then left with the docile manageable ones and what I have identified as the skitterish ones (hesitants). I'm working on culling out those genetics. None of this has anything to do with castration as both males and females, both castrated or non-castrated in the males can be nice or mean. We haven't been doing castration for years and we have lots of boar pigs up through finisher hogs (250 to 300 lbs) and they're nice guys. Eat the mean ones young.
                      


Joined: Dec 26, 2010
Posts: 32
Good to know.  I don't think there is anyone around here that is THAT into culling out those genetics.  Just the bottom-line-conventional-way-types. 

Too bad you are not closer.
Jason Long


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
Why, how could you torture that pig like that?? That is horrendous!


Treehugger Organic Farms
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
@ Jason - Castration is not torture.  Every single male pig or beef you buy from a store has been castrated.

The market demands it, that is why we did it.  I did not want to, but taking a $200 loss on an animal is not an option for me right now. I hope to educate our market to avoid castration in the future.

If you want to change things, then ask your local farmer to give you a non-castrated pig for butcher.  If the market demands it, we will provide.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
velacreations wrote:Castration is not torture.


False. Castration, especially as discussed, is torture for the animal. Your story of it is particularly egregious and borderline animal cruelty.

velacreations wrote:Every single male pig or beef you buy from a store has been castrated.


False. We sell pork in the stores from our boar pigs who have not been castrated every single week of the year. In some countries they do not do castration.

velacreations wrote:The market demands it, that is why we did it.


That is a poor excuse for torture.

velacreations wrote:I did not want to, but taking a $200 loss on an animal is not an option for me right now. I hope to educate our market to avoid castration in the future.


Good. Then have the castration done properly. On such a large animal you should have had it done by someone who was familiar with how to do it on a large animal, use anesthetic, a squeeze chute and a vet would be the best bet.

This animal was too big to do it on. You know that now and it is wonderful that you're sharing how horrid it was. But it still was torture and it wasn't necessary.

velacreations wrote:If you want to change things, then ask your local farmer to give you a non-castrated pig for butcher.  If the market demands it, we will provide.


Excellent response. Help to dispel the myth and move people towards more humane animal handling and raising.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
False. We sell pork in the stores from our boar pigs who have not been castrated every single week of the year. In some countries they do not do castration.

You are right, I should have said 99% of the male animal meat you purchase in the store in the USA.
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
I was once talking to a gypsy i know about castration , a man with a scare right down the centre of his face and a very lordly manner, i knew him from the time i dedicated time to seeign wha t ithought could be done for people who live on the street which for me meant gettign to know them he idd not live on the street i dont think but he knew some who did.     
    He said you learn to castrate peeling hard boiled egg,s i think he was reffering to human pigs rather than animals giving me a bit of social wisdom. He also told me how its done.in the unsymbolic sense.
the story of your castration of a pig more than anythign else gives you a sense of animal intelligence and solidarity with the others trying to come to his rescue. i believe in in deed have had experience of  telepathy, i cannot uknow wha tpeoploe are thinking in normal circumstances or they have to think purposfully or it has to be an highly charged moment, i believe though that there are people who do it much better than me. It is an uncertain art, the question is  did I have that thought or did it come from you, is impossible to prove that the thought i¡d was not your own. . Do animals do telepathy, i should think so. agri rose macaskie.
Bull norris


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 50
Location: Chanute Kansas
Hi all , thought id add a little something.
years ago at a 4H show i watched 3 young guys try to cut a 220 lb + hog , 1 on each hind leg they ran it in a corner and lifted it up the 3rd , well when he cut that hog i saw the first poop fountion i ever saw, and all over him . his 2 buddys a laughin untill 1 droped a leg then he got it to. from there the race was on .
  2 old timers came in ran that hog in a barrel set it up on end and finished the job .
just like it was nothing. 
 
 
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