Pigs are very strong animals, so it stands to reason that you want to do everything you can to prevent them aggressing toward you as they grow. In this article, we provide smart tips and advice on how to make pigs stop attacking you. Read on to learn more in this guide that is to help you prevent your pigs from attacking you.
What You'll Learn Today
- Pig Aggression Has Many Negative Effects
- Sows May Be Naturally Aggressive
- Aggressive Boars Are Challenging
- Boars May Aggress Towards People
- Take Pig Training Seriously
Pig Aggression Has Many Negative Effects
Aggression in growing pigs is the subject of a great amount of study. Both aggressive sows and boars can be problematic. Even when swine aggression does not result in injury or death to humans, an aggressive mindset in pigs can lead to reduced productivity and reduced meat quality, along with injury to stock and increased veterinary bills.
Sows May Be Naturally Aggressive
Sometimes when sows with piglets are housed together, aggression can become a problem. This is because it is natural for them to want to establish a pecking order. Generally speaking, the largest sow will become dominant. She may pick on other sows and their young.
Additionally, an older sow may tend to aggress toward younger ones. Most of the time, this will manifest as bluff and bluster rather than injuries. Even so, the resultant stress will impact your herd negatively.
Small or young sows that are bullied may exhibit signs of fear and avoidance behavior. They may become afraid of approaching the feeder, and this may result in their missing meals and failing to thrive.
Even if a bullied sow is not afraid to eat, she may have trouble converting the feed she does eat into weight gain. Additionally, the stress caused by bullying can lead to young sows losing their litters.
To avoid this sort of aggression and the resulting problems, you should always keep a close eye on your herd. When you introduce new pigs to the group, watch them very carefully for the first two days.
You can expect to see some mild aggression as they regroup and settle their pecking order. If they are not able to resolve their differences within a couple of days, you may need to change the grouping.
How Can You Keep Sows From Attacking?
Large sows may also become aggressive toward you or other people working with them. This is especially true when they are nursing young. A sow with piglets may try to bite when you need to handle the piglets.
This behavior can be reduced by keeping the animals in a very low stress, non-threatening situation. Too many animals on site, too much activity and noise and other common stressors will increase aggressive behavior in sows.
It’s also important to realize that if one sow is distressed, others around her will become distressed. When other sows hear distress vocalizations as you attempt to work with the piglets of an aggressive sow, they will become upset.
This can lead to piglets getting crushed, reduced milk production and disrupted suckling patterns. All of this amounts to reduced productivity.
Additionally, pigs that are upset may attempt to bite you or other workers through the bars of their pens or through their feeding containers at feeding time. All of this demonstrates that every effort should be made to keep sows calm, quiet and contented.
If you notice that sows that are kept in farrowing crates are biting and chewing the bars and/or the feeders, it is an indication that you may expect to be attacked. These animals are not content.
If you do not keep your sows in farrowing crates, they naturally will have more opportunity to attack you when they have piglets. In this sort of system, you need to build in a number of factors to help prevent aggressive behavior.
Begin by choosing sows from a bloodline that is known for calm, quiet behavior. Strive to maintain a quiet and stress-free environment for them, and always be sure to deal with them in a confident and assertive manner as they grow from gilt to mature pig.
Making sure that they understand that you are the dominant creature right from the start will go a long way toward preventing them attacking you in the future.
Aggressive Boars Are Challenging
Boars (intact male pigs) are naturally more aggressive than sows, barrows (castrated adult males) or young pigs of either gender. Boars must never be housed together, and it’s best to not house them near each other. They will constantly aggress toward each other and attempt dominance by trying to mount one another.
This sort of behavior results in injury to the boars and also produces an extremely stressful situation that can lead to aggression and stress among adjacent sows.
Boars that are constantly engaged in one-upmanship against each other are naturally stressed. This can result in weight loss, injury, lameness, failed feed conversion and even breeding failure.
A breeding boar kept alone can be aggressive towards its handlers. When keeping an intact boar, it’s a good idea to start with a very young piglet and assert yourself by behaving confidently with it right from the get-go.
As a mature, intact male, your boar should always be kept busy and distracted with interesting and unusual materials to consume and play with. For example piles of:
- Brown Paper
- Jute Sacks
…will give your male pig something interesting to chew on, wrestle with and generally distract his attention. Some pigs also like to have toys to play with such as the pasture balls or treat balls designed for horses.
Manage Your Pigs Effectively
Be sure to cull slaughter-weight pigs from your herd promptly. By removing larger pigs regularly, you will prevent them developing aggressive behaviors towards each other or towards you.
Boars May Aggress Towards People
Mature, intact male pigs may have very unpredictable behavior. A boar’s aggressive behavior can begin as early as 6 weeks of age. Watch for the signs of this. They include:
- Foaming at the mouth
- Raised neck hair
When you see these behaviors, you can expect that an attack is coming, but it may not be immediately imminent. The swiftness with which a boar attacks depends a great deal on his hormone levels.
To prevent being attacked by an aroused boar, you should begin by raising the animal from a young age and always presenting yourself as confident and in charge. Even this precaution will not prevent you from being trampled and gored if there is a sow in heat present.
Keep your boar in a sturdy pen. When you introduce a sow, take great care not to stand between the two animals. You should also be careful never to stand between your boar and his food. If the boar is fighting with another animal, don’t reach between the two.
What’s The Best Way To Handle A Boar?
The importance of choosing a boar at the earliest age possible cannot be stressed strongly enough. If you plan to keep a breeding boar, you need to establish a good relationship with him (from birth if possible) in which you are the one in charge.
Select your boar based on his breeding and conformation, and more importantly, his temperament. Choose a boar who comes from a bloodline that is known for exhibiting calm, intelligent, curious and playful behavior.
In essence, this is a friendly animal that is likely to bond with you. As he grows to be several hundred pounds in total weight, his friendly connection with you will become extremely important.
If you are choosing a young male pig from a litter that is already up and around and playing in the pen, make your choice in the opposite way that you would choose a guard dog. Don’t go for the most lively and aggressive male. Instead, look for an easy-going, laid-back, friendly fellow.
Take Pig Training Seriously
Once you have your young boar, don’t just put them out in the barn and forget about him. Be sure to interact with him several times a day, and treat him as you would a work animal – not a pet.
Talk to him, teach him commands, reward him with treats when he behaves and discourage him when he does not. Doing this will help to ensure that he recognizes your voice and will be more likely to pay attention to you if you need to control his behavior.
The barrow (neutered male) pig in this video has clearly been treated as a pet and has had no consistent training or correction, resulting in a dangerous backyard denizen.
Potbelly Pig With Aggressive Behavior
Whether you are keeping a pig as a pet, a breeder or for meat, be consistent and firm. Begin each interaction by allowing your pig to smell your hand. Pigs interact with the world a great deal through scent, so this introduction will help them to recognize you every time you are around.
Pigs generally do not have very good eyesight. This is especially true in breeds that have long hair around the eyes. For this reason, you should always make the most of giving verbal commands and instructions and making sure that your pig recognizes you by smell before you begin interacting with him.
A boar who is handled frequently and positively will be far less likely to attack you or others during necessary handling and during mating procedures.
Even so, you should take care to set up your pig environment in a way that includes gates that are easy for you to open and escape through. Always carry a pig board along with you to help in management even if you don’t use it.
Here is our guide on how pigs are slaughtered.