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Castrating Pigs

I used to say that my pigs have one bad day here on the farm (butchering day), but the male pigs actually have two. Castrating pigs is not a desirable task, but it is necessary when raising your pigs for meat.

Pigs behind a gate.

This post does contain photos of live pig castration. If you’d rather not see those images, check out our other posts on the blog here.

Save on the cost of calling a vet to do this task by learning the proper age a baby male pig should be and the best techniques used for castrating pigs.

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Abundance Plus

The above video is an excerpt from my Permaculture Pigs Course that covers everything you need to know about breeding, raising, and butchering pigs using the permaculture approach.

For full access to the course, you can sign up for a FREE seven-day trial of Abundance Plus. Anyone who signs up for A+ will also get exclusive discounts to Premier1, New Country Organics (where we get our organic alfalfa feed pellets), McMurray Hatchery, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Meadow Creature and many more.

A man tossing feed to a pig.

What is Pig Castration?

In the pork industry, pig castration is performed with the removal of both testicles from a male (boar) piglet, eliminating the possibility of reproduction.

Why We Castrate Our Pigs

If I’m going to eat an animal, I want it to have the best flavor possible. On that same token, animal welfare is important to me. I go to great lengths to give my farm animals a really good life in exchange for the life they are giving me. 

For these reasons, I feel the responsibility of taking on the emotion involved in the task of castrating my pigs. Castration accomplishes three essentials for pork producers.

  • Prevent Breading – If your farm has female pigs and you do not want to have more piglets, then you will need to castrate your boar.
  • Prevent Boar Taint – About 6 months after a male piglet is born, it will hit puberty when it excretes the hormones, androstenone and skatole. Animal science has discovered that these hormones will taint the flavor of your pork. Reducing these hormones will also help your pigs put on more fat.
  • Calming Effect of Castration – Castrated male pigs are easier to handle and are less aggressive towards other pigs.
Pigs in a stall.

Best Time to Castrate Pigs

If you are also performing tail docking, it may be the most convenient to do both procedures simultaneously during the first 7 days of life. Otherwise, young pigs can be castrated when they are two to three weeks old (or up to 21 days of age).

Supplies in a bucket for pig castration.

Supplies Needed 

You will need to have the right supplies before you begin the process of castration.

  • Povidone-Iodine – Povidone is a disinfectant used before and after castrating your pigs. It will help with the healing of the wounds. 
  • Scalpel – A scalpel will allow you to make precise cuts.
  • Spray Bottle – A spray bottle is a simple way to apply the povidone-iodine to the castration wound.
  • Surgical Gloves – You will need gloves to keep your hands clean while castrating.
  • Spare Hands – When castrating, you will need 2 to 3 people to hold the pig down while the “surgeon” is doing the cutting.

Castrating Pigs Step-by-Step

Castrating a pig takes a bit of technique, and you should prepare yourself to expect the pig will not enjoy the process as it can be painful and stressful for them. Castrating pigs is a little more complicated than other animals because the testicles do not hang down. Because of this, you will need to cut the testicles out of the scrotum. 

  1. Grab your piglet by the hind legs.
  2. Hang it upside down by the hind legs. Pro-Tip: Castrating is easier if you use a piece of wood to pin the pig against it. Also, hanging the pig upside down calms the pig naturally.
  3. Once the pig is pinned, look for the scrotum and find the testicles; they will be about the size of a pecan. 
  4. Have the person that is doing the cutting put gloves on.
  5. Push the testicles into the scrotum with your finger and firmly grip the scrotum and testicle between your index finger and thumb.
  6. Spray povidone-iodine on the scrotum area.
  7. Take your scalpel and make a 1cm to 2cm cut on the scrotum for the first testicle.
  8. Pull the testicle out of the scrotum and twist the cords. This cord is the spermatic cord.
  9. Once you pull out the testicle and twist the cord cut it.
  10. Now will have to cut the second testicle out and repeat steps 7-9 again.
  11. Once both testicles are out, spray more iodine on the wounds.
  12. Put the piglet back into the stall, but make sure you have clean hay for them to lay down. The castration induced pain will last a couple of hours after the castration is complete.
  13. In the next few days after castration, monitor your pigs to watch for any signs of infection. 

This process it much easier when watched in real-time. I highly recommend my video tutorial inside Abundance+.

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Hi, I'm Justin

I share from a love of teaching and the sustainable movement. Here, you’ll find exhaustive permaculture articles, plentiful photos, cinematic educational films and business tips and tricks.

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