Measuring the Boar
Cyprus the boar stood still for me the other day so I could measure him. According to the tape, he weighs 698 pounds. If he were fed a free choice grain diet, he’d be much bigger, but even so he’s a big guy.
I was measuring pigs so I could get a reference for new gates and chutes I’m building. It looks like mature feeder pigs need a gateway 15-17 inches wide, open sows need a gateway 16-18 inches wide, and late term bred sows need up to 20 inches. But the boar is built with a powerful front-end, far out of proportion to the shape on all other classes of pigs. He needs at least 24 inches of clearance shoulder-to-shoulder. We have two sows that weigh in the low 600-pound range, but interestingly even though their weights are only 10-15% lower than the boar’s, their shoulders are 30% smaller.
In cattle breeding there is a system called linear measurements (although it would be more accurately called proportional measurements) that purports to arrive at a measure of the deviation of any animal from “ideal” cattle proportions. Similarly, this measurement difference between boars and sows would form a phenotypic standard by which boars could be assessed. I view those sorts of rationalized systems as part genius and part superstition, but I can’t argue with the results that proponents like Gearld Fry have created by long term, measurement-based breeding and culling. I am not aware of any comparable proportional measurement standards for pigs. It would be interesting to know if over a large sample certain measured proportions tend to indicate traits like fertility, growth potential, etc. Obviously one can judge some of this by eye, but rationalizing it down to a set of ratios would be a big task. And then validating those ratios would be an even bigger task.