The young boars need to be trained in mounting the dummy for semen collection. Before training, all boars will have been placed in separate pens for a minimum of 14 days.
Training each boar should begin when they reach maturity. If training is in keeping with their natural sexual instincts, not only will it be more effective, but will also lay the foundation for a long-term positive association.
Sexual maturity is mainly determined by the age of each boar and only to an extent by its body weight. A purebred boar is mature at 6-7 months, and should be willing to mount the dummy and produce semen.
General step by step training
There are several pointers to bear in mind before you begin training your boars.
1. Feed all boars early in the morning or after training, as that is when they are most likely to be active, interested and easy to work with.
2. Use each boar’s own pen for training to help them stay focused and willing to mount the dummy. Make sure you maintain a calm, pleasant pen, which should be clean, dry and well-lit.
3. If possible, the height of the dummy should be adjusted, to match the size of the boar.
4. Make sure the pen floor is not slippery so the boar has the best chance of mounting the dummy. Use sand on the floor to dry out the pen and inhibit the growth of bacteria. A dry sanitary agent or fine sawdust in the pens, might increase the risk of damage to the semen.
5. Place the dummy in the middle of the pen to increase the boar’s interest. If an older, mature boar has mounted the dummy beforehand, this will help stimulate an unexperienced boar.
6. Help the boar stay focused during training by keeping out of the boar’s sight. After a successful semen collection, reward your boar for his work with a treat.
7. Semen collected during training should not be used for insemination. However, it is worth saving so you can analyse its quality later on.
Training is complete when the boar has mounted the dummy confidently and you can see – and laboratory analysis confirms – that the quality of semen is high enough to meet your expectations.
Checklist to maximise training outcome and rate of active boars
This checklist will help you deal with issues during training to maximise the number of active boars.
- Keep the boars interested by training no more than 10-15 minutes a day.
- Repeat the training in 1-2 day intervals.
- Place feed on the dummy to attract the boar’s interest.
Helpful tips to increase interest
- Stimulate interest by introducing a young sow/gilt in heat. If the boar looks as though it is about to mount the gilt, immediately replace the gilt with a dummy.
- It can be beneficial to place a board next to the dummy to minimise the space around it. Then, you can gently push the boar towards the dummy from behind.
- Moving the boars from one pen to another might increase hormone levels.
In the unlikely event that a boar remains uninterested in the dummy during training, seek advice from professional DanBred advisors.