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.

Cyprus doing one of the three things he knows how to do. Being a boar is simple. Sows need to be more versatile, but boars ... not so much.
Here is Cyprus taking a nap, one of the three things he knows how to do. Being a boar is simple. Sows need to be more versatile, but boars … not so much.

1 thought on “Measuring the Boar”

  1. I can see the logic in linear measuring, as sort of like the “form follows function” principle. Judging good form by eye is well practised here and that’s something I’m just starting to learn after a guy told me – by just looking at my sow – that I could’ve gotten a better one.

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