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How do you start raising wild hogs?

Rosie Hays wondered how Marcia happened to begin raising wild hogs (Sept/Oct 2004). Here is Marcia's reply:

I happened upon my first pair of wild piglets at the local country store. An employee caught a mother sow with his dogs. She didn't make it, and all but two of her piglets died. I paid $13 for them and instantly fell in love. Naturally I looked for more.

My search led to hog hunting websites on the Internet where hunters look for piglets and young adults to train their dogs--you want to look for trappers. Trappers are paid by ranchers and grove owners to keep the hog numbers down. Another source is a family-owned hunting preserve. They keep meat pens where they grow out their own trapped piglets. I traded my "trophy boar" breeders for young unrelated piglets every year with a local preserve. Most preserves are primarily interested in boars, so the gilts are negotiable. Upscale hunting preserves raise a different breed of wild pig--more Russian than the common wild pig cross, which are able to reach much larger sizes. Eventually I found someone in a nearby town where I purchased 16 that day (at $10 each) and saved the best for breeding.

When I started, I wasn't planning to raise these pigs for meat but we had just butchered a 240-pound market Duroc and I never wanted to go through that experience again. When I saw how slowly wild piglets grew, the idea clicked. Wild pigs can be butchered at 60-80 pounds and yield low fat, red meat that leaves domestic pork in an entirely different category. At that weight I can butcher them myself if I have to. Pound for pound the yield is the same as domestic pork. After a couple of years working with trappers, I was contacted by the South Florida Management District about taking their trapped baby pigs from them for free. If I didn't take them, they would be shot and buried and they (and I) thought that was a senseless waste. I was told I could only take them for butchering however, not to breed.

So the answer to Rosie's question is that they are found locally in southern rural areas through hog hunters, ranchers, and ranch managers, and online through hog hunting websites. If you pay $20 for a common wild piglet, you've paid well. The piglet should be healthy and weaned or at least able to feed on his own at that price. Wild piglets are commonly completely black, completely brown, or spotted, and have long snouts. Some look a bit strange attached to that long snout. They are squarer in body than some breeds of domestic pigs and while their characteristics vary, one thing they have in common is that they are much smaller than domestics. Of course, domestics have also escaped pens and are breeding in the wild. Lastly, most states have regulations regarding the transfer of wild pigs. Check with your county's agricultural extension to make sure you're in compliance. I hope this helps answer your question.


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Title Annotation:The pig pen
Author:Pimentel, Marcia
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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