Prompted by a question from one of our supporters on the Oxford Sandy and Black Pig Foundation regarding the loading of pigs before a movement, IE placing a pig/s in a trailer the evening before a move for the next morning or keeping a pig/s in a trailer which may be awaiting collection or pick up. For confirmation on the stipulation of loading and containing our pigs we turned to AHDB Senior Animal Health & Welfare Scientist, Lauren Cordingley. Who kindly responded with the following:

legislation would deem that the journey starts from when the animals are constrained in the trailer: ‘Journey’ means the entire operation of transport from ‘place of departure’ to ‘place of destination’, including loading at the place of departure, any transfer during the journey, any unloading, rest / accommodation and loading occurring at intermediate points in the journey, until all animals are unloaded at the place of destination.

Even with food and water the animals are still restricted, and considered to be journeying, so it counts towards total journey time. There is no issue with shutting the pigs in for a bit on the days leading up to the journey, to help them get used to loading and unloading etc

A piece of information that will help you and the welfare of your pigs.

To read and find out more what our supporters are doing and discussing come and join The Oxford Sandy and Black Pig Foundation Here


Trinity College Library, Cambridge

A 1,000 year old tradition of pannage begins. Dating back to the time of William the Conqueror, the release of domestic pigs into the New Forest to forage the land for acorns, beechnuts and chestnuts will commence today. This process lasts a minimum of 60 days and is known as Pannage. The pannage season will end on Friday18 November 2022 as mentioned by the New Forest National Park Authority.

The pigs serve a great purpose of clearing the ground of acorns, preventing cattle, ponies and horses from being poisoned. As we know, a recent article in Oxford Sandy and Black Pig Foundation Charity Facebook platform called “Abundance of acorns” tells us of a chemical in the pigs saliva that allows them to eat and enjoy the acorns which provides vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Research on the impact of acorns on the digestive system of pigs indicates that a tannic acid-binding protein in the pig’s saliva prevents the acid breaking down into gallic acid and the other toxic metabolites.

You can join the Oxford Sandy and Black Pig Foundation Charity HERE

HEAT STRESS – affects growth rate, fertility and the reproductive herd

Sue Bernhardt-Smith

As we know, heat stress in sows leads to a reduction in feed intake, milk production, body weight loss and reduction in the growth rate of the litter.

Like all our seasons, Summer comes with its own challenges. Heat stress conditions also affect the sow’s subsequent reproductive cycle; recognised as longer intervals between weaning and estrous or, at times, fail to return to estrous. Embryo losses are also recognised during heat stress conditions, consequently reducing the farrowing rate and the total number of pigs born. First time in-pig gilts are purportedly most at risk.

To ensure that our in-pig sows/gilts and nursing sows are comfortable we can ensure that farrowing arks have a through breeze (easily managed if there is an opening at the rear of the ark), sprinklers, shallow wallows, shade and if inside, again, sprinklers, fan and copious amount of fresh drinking water. Feeding in the early morning and late evening when cool. During heat stress, our pigs increase respiration rate and redirect blood flow from tissues and organs to the skin to transfer metabolic heat to the environment. The redirection of blood causes a cascade of adverse effects such as dehydration, organ injury, gut permeability and inflammation.

Should you suspect your sow/gilt/boar/weaners being heat stressed, such as, breathing rapidly with 35 breaths per minute or more, dunging in pen/ark and lying in their own urine, DO NOT THROW A COLD BUCKET OF WATER ON TO YOUR PIG, but place a soaked towel onto your pig around the tummy, ears and neck.

Our weaners/fattening/finishing stock will also suffer as their appetite will decrease and as a result you may witness some of your weaners falling back a little. Firstly, dont beat yourself up about it you are doing nothing wrong. To aid a good appetite, again feed in the cooler parts of the day and ensure there is copious amount of shade, please ensure wallows are topped up and there is copious amount of fresh drinking water. Routine and observing your herd is key. This week the country will be on Amber weather warning from Thursday (11 August 2022) through to Sunday (14 August 2022) with temperatures soaring to 35 degrees C which in Farhrenheit is 95 (which is my preferred reading).


May be an image of animal and outdoors
Dawn Horler


May be a close-up of nature
Photo: Moredun

Depending on our geographical area and where we keep our pigs, ticks rarely pose a threat to our pigs. However, we should not get complacent as pigs do and can get ticks depending on the terrain they live. Cases of tick-borne diseases this summer have been reported up and down the country, I know that my veterinary practice has seen quite a few cases and where I live, in the South West, our atmospheric pressure is damp and ticks just love to thrive. Having said this, ticks love all sorts of environments and whilst many of us will be treating our sheep and cattle we must also run over our pigs with a keen eye.

Ticks are becoming more common across large parts of England, especially in woodlands, on heathland and moorland and grassland. Numbers are increasing and it is due to the increasing numbers of deer. There are 20 species of ticks in the UK the majority feed on bats, birds, badgers and foxes. The common tick Ixodes ricinus feeds on all animals, mammals, birds, reptiles, humans and particularly dogs. The tick is active all year, but numbers start to increase from late March, peaking in late spring and summer and will remain active until October.

Do pigs get ticks?

Yes, they can and they do. They are not fussy and will live anywhere and everywhere. Fortunately it is not common to find ticks on our pigs as the skin is difficult to penetrate for them to gorge. Places where ticks can be found is on the soft skin of our pigs, the ears, vulva, under arms, testicles, sheath, tummy and eye lids. If you find them, as with all animals, do not pull off as this will leave the head behind. You can use a tick hook which you slide the tick between a hook, then twist and pull, you can use tweezers using the same method and depending where it is you can use a spray – Barrier Parasite Repel. Please seek veterinary advice.

Ticks cause infection and diseases to pigs it has been reported there are two types of ticks the hard tick and soft ticks. Soft ticks love hot and dry environments and are mostly found in the western parts of USA. Hard ticks, are mostly found in the UK and Ireland and are particularly common in the New Forest, Exmoor, the South Downs, Thetford Forest, the Lake District, North Yorkshire Moors and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. So, when out with your pigs give them a once over to give you and your pigs peace of mind.

BOARS – Being prepared Part VII

Photo: from source – sperm plug from 7 month boar

What do we know about boars

Boars normally produce 20 – 120 billion sperm.

Spermatozoa that contain the Y chromosome have slightly less DNA than those that contain the X chromosome.

Incidentally, when servicing, boars will produce a semen plug/sperm plug. This “plug” is formed from the ejaculate material and prevents semen from leaking out of the reproductive tract. It can also be noticed from juvenile boars and this gelatinous substance may also be found stuck to the boars stomach. However, it is predominantly noticed at the end of ejaculation. This is used to seal the large volume of ejaculate (150-500 cc) in the female uterus following natural service. The plug will be placed in the cervix where it will remain.

Photo: Leanne Cross – Sperm plug

BOARS – Being prepared Part VI

Photo: Russ Gleeson – 9 month boar uncastrated

What do we know about boars

What of boar taint. Accumulation of the 16 androstenes contributes to what many regards as unpleasant “boar taint” from sexually mature boars. Boars distinguish themselves with their high testicular production of androstenes and estrogens. Commercial breeds are susceptible to this. The rarer and traditional breeds do not need to be castrated as the process is slower.

Generally the amount of fat is less in intact boars. With castrated boars having the most fat. Intact males are raised because they are more efficient (less food per unit gain and leaner) than castrated males; so marketed weights are around 90kg before boar taint appears.

Photo Russ Gleeson – 9 month uncastrated boar

Among individual boars, sperm production is at its maximum after the age of 2 years and relates directly to testicular size, but testicular size is dependent on breed and age.

Factors that influence sperm production include social environment, light, nutrition and temperature. Social isolation along with lack of auditory and olfactory stimuli depresses sexual behaviour, but sperm production generally is not affected. The impact of light and nutrition on sperm production remains controversial, however, as long as extreme conditions are avoided their effects appear minimal.

Elevated temperature adversely affects sperm production and intervention is required to reduce its duration and intensity in order to maintain output of high-quality sperm. It can take 8 weeks for sperm to reproduce after the affects of heat stress.

photo: Russ Gleeson – 9 month boar

BOARS – Being prepared Part V

What do we know about boars

What about courtship. The boars testes secrete large quantities of 16-androstenes, both conjugated and unconjugated. These musk-smelling steroids accumulate in the submandibular salivary glands and serve as pheromones when dispensed with the boar’s saliva during courtship behaviour. At estrus, females recognise these pheromones, resulting in enhanced sexual receptivity.

BOARS – Being prepared Part IV

What do we know about boars

During puberty, testicular size increases at an accelerated rate. By the age of 17 weeks (determined on breed as Meishan boars are much earlier) formation of the blood-testes barrier are complete and the testicular size correlates with total daily sperm production. EG: at 11 months – 170ml of semen is produced, with a total testicular weight of approximately 600 grams.

Photo: Dawn Horler

Boars – Being prepared Part III


During insemination of the sow, semen is deposited through the cervix into the uterus. Spermatozoa move through the uterus rapidly and enter the oviducts within 15 to 30 minutes after insemination. The lower region of the oviduct serves as a storage area for spermatozoa as they await the arrival of ovulated oocytes. In this area of the oviduct, ejaculated spermatozoa undergo capacitation, removal of proteins that were acquired in the cauda epididymis. Capacitation is necessary before spermatozoa can fertilise ova.

Happy wallow

BOARS – Being prepared Part II

Edward Withers – Clifton Lodge Smallholding

What do we know about boars…

Some of us hire, keep and bring on boars for meat but there is more to them than that. We all keep and grow on gilts and ask questions which is pertinent to them so lets discuss the boys.

The reproductive physiology of boars is intriguing because their testicular morphology and secretion of testicular steroids are distinctively different from those in other species. The testicles of boars contain a higher percentage of interstitial tissue and the volume of their ejaculate is unusually large, 50 to 400ml. Blood concentrations of estrogens in boars exceed those of estrous female pigs and their testicles produce significant quantities of the musk-smelling scent due to pheromones/hormones/testosterone.

In the scrotum, testicular temperatures are several degrees lower than the internal body temperature owing to both its anatomical position and its integrated vascular plexus that cools the blood entering the testes. The scrotum, by altering its wall thickness and varying the proximity of the testes to the body cavity, serves a critical role as elevated testicular temperature is detrimental to the production of viable spermatozoa and fertility.