Wondering if artificial insemination is a good choice for your farm? Good news-it’s easy and you have a ton of choices of boars!
And the best part? Depending upon which boar you choose, it can be very economical, as well!
The cost to inseminate a pig currently ranges from $25-250 per dose. Each pig needs 2 doses, making the total per pig in semen costs $50-500.
|What you are buying||Cost|
|You pick breed, they pick the boar||$25/dose of semen|
4 dose minimum
|Specific boar, lower cost example||$50/dose of semen|
2 doses per pig
|Specific boar, higher cost example||$200/dose of semen|
2 doses per pig
|Packaging and overnight shipping||$34-55+|
depends on distance
We had two sows farrow this past year and are expanding by adding three gilts to the group. I sold the boar we had, since he is the sire of the gilts.
I bought another boar at the end of October, so he would take care of breeding the females for us. Or so I thought.
We’ve got the boar penned up with a sow and a gilt but our females keep coming back into heat!
We just passed the second heat cycle with him in there so they aren’t getting bred or they aren’t settling (conceiving).
Either way, something had to change. Especially since I have two other gilts we need bred for the spring, as well.
We decided to order semen and try to A.I. our pigs. We have experience with A.I. in cattle, but not pigs, so this was a new experience for us.
Best Pigs For Breeding Stock shows you how to figure out the pigs that will best suit you and your farm.
So far, we have bred the first gilt (two doses) and have given one dose to the sow this morning with the second dose scheduled for tonight at 8:30.
The second dose is given 12 hours after the first one as long as the pig is still in standing heat.
How much does it cost to A.I. pigs?
The first thing to mention here is the cost will vary significantly with your choice of boar. Look up the boar studs online.
They will have stats on the boar, a picture of him and price per dose. Remember, you’ll need two doses per pig.
We looked at the boar stud choices and decided upon Lean Value Sires.
They happen to be in Ohio, actually a little more than an hour from here, and had a great deal available on semen-4 doses for $20.00 per dose.
The only “catch” to the deal is you only get to specify the breed, not the boar, and you have to order 4 doses* or more.
You will also pay for packaging and shipping, which cost us an additional $34.
The total for the 4 doses of semen to be delivered overnight to our farm to $114.
This package deal is great for us, since we just need a high quality Berkshire sire. Choosing the specific boar is not a big deal for us now.
If we had used their semen before (not choosing the boar the next time would risk inbreeding) or wanted a specific boar, this package deal would not have worked for us this time.
*Update for September 2021: this deal is now a minimum of 6 doses at $25/dose, so $150 in semen, plus shipping. This is still a great deal, especially if you have more than one sow or gilt to breed in the 5-7 day window.
If you only need one pig bred, you can do better, price wise, just picking out a boar that is $50 or getting overrun doses and ordering two doses plus shipping.
Specific boar semen prices are higher
If you want or need a specific boar, your price will be higher.
Since boar semen must be used fresh, the boar of your choice is collected the morning your order is to be shipped out.
Order early, days even weeks ahead if you have to get a specific boar for a specific date. Call and ask the boar stud.
They will have a good idea of what orders will fill up fast and what orders you can place closer to the needed shipping date.
We’re ordering a specific boar next time
Actually, I’ll be calling and ordering semen again, to be shipped here for a gilt that should be coming into heat this weekend.
We track this stuff on the calendar, so should you.
This time we decided to use a different boar stud and pay for a specific boar, if he’s still available for the day.
Our first choice this time is Fat Albert from Swine Genetics International.
This will cost us $50 per dose, so $100 for the two doses of semen plus shipping.
I’m guessing the total to be somewhere around $140-150, since I don’t know the cost of the shipping.
Edit: the cost of two Fat Albert doses ($100) plus overnight shipping ($76) gave us a total cost of $176. We bought more semen in March 2021, two does at $50 each plus shipping cost $198.
Boar collected for you=full price
If you are the first person to order that boar for that day you will pay full price.
Anyone else who orders that boar for that day will also pay full price, up to a certain time of day. That specific time will be on their website.
After that time, at Lean Value it is 10 a.m. but check to be sure, any semen collected that has more doses yet to be sold is called Overrun.
The Overrun is less costly than the full price semen, but it’s a limited supply. Once those doses are sold, that’s all of the semen from that boar available for the day.
Here’s an example: the boar we used was Naughty Boy. If we would have selected him specifically, the doses of semen would have cost us $200 each, so $400 per pig.
How hard is it to A.I. a pig?
It’s not hard, at all. True, since we just bred the two pigs this week, we won’t know for a few weeks if it was successful or not.
I have high hopes and it seemed to go well.
Edit: we got two nice litters out of the Naughty Boy semen (first doses we ordered) and one small but beautiful litter from the Fat Albert semen.
The Fat Albert piglets are my favorite! They are more of an old style Berkshire, love these guys. And they have wonderful attitudes!
Update summer 2021: I now have a Fat Albert sow that I bred to Sneaky Pete, so far I really like the piglets.
They are more of an older style pig, not show pig like at all, and this is more of what I want my pigs to look like. I am just getting started with this line of pigs, so no results yet. They will be breeding age in mid 2022, so we’ll see then!
Sow A.I. went well for us
What happened for us? The gilt took quite a bit longer than the sow to inseminate.
Breeding the sow was faster
The sow drew in the semen really quite fast the first time, it was super fast and she was rock solid as far as standing still.
The second time she was more of a mover, still definitely standing, just not like a statue this time, so it took longer.
And for full disclosure, the second breeding of the sow I did.
That was my first time doing A.I. It seemed to work fine, but it was not as smooth as the first dose.
Breeding the gilt took more time
The gilt seemed to take a while, both times. She was definitely standing, she just would relocate a bit then stand again.
Some animals stand like a statue during insemination. Others stand, take a step or two, then stand again.Swine Artificial Insemination 4: The Insemination Process
Dennis Worwood, USU Extension Educator, Emery County
Also, when we were reading up on pig insemination, I found multiple references to gilts taking longer to bred than sows.
At the time, it seemed like we were doing something wrong, but now I realize we just lacking experience.
A.I. works by the sow pulling in the semen
Your sow or gilt is an active participant in the A.I. process.
Her body draws in the semen, since she is in standing heat, or she will leak it all back out.
You don’t need to worry about “making her” take in the semen.
Boar semen and supplies are available online
There are more choices of boar studs than you would think! I had no idea A.I. in pigs was so common, until we started looking into this for ourselves.
As I mentioned before, we chose to use Lean Value Sires.
I have also watched numerous videos of small farmers using semen they bought from Shaffer’s Gold Rush.
Here are some of the boar studs I found while looking around for our needs. I have only ordered from Lean Value so far.
The list is in alphabetical order.
Where ever you order the semen from will also have the supplies you need, mainly the catheters and the lubricant.
You have a choice of which breeding catheter to choose
You’ll have some choices when it comes to the catheter you use. Catheters come in a few different shapes, each preferred for a reason.
Do some poking around the internet and see what you think will work best for you.
We went with the blue bulb or foam ended catheter type. So far they are easy to use.
I must admit, most of the videos we saw from individual hog raisers showed them using screw end style.
So what made us pick the blue foam ones? NC State Extension has a great series of videos on pig A.I.
They mentioned that the foam type are the easiest to use, so that’s what we chose.
Great informational videos to check out
If you haven’t looked at any of the NC State videos you should. They have several.
The videos are made with a layman, not a vet, in mind so they are easy to understand and not full of scientific terms. Click here to go to their video on how to A. I. a pig.
Pick the boar that best suits your sow
As I wrote earlier, we chose the breed, not the specific boar, since this is our first shot at pig A.I.
If you need a specific boar, then you’ll need to do a little more investigating.
Each boar will have a picture and some information below the picture detailing the boar’s characteristics, especially if he has any show winnings.
Keep in mind, most of these boars are for show pigs, so you’ll see a lot of show results.
Remember, there is no best boar. There will be a boar that is closest to suiting your needs and wants, but perfect for everyone, everywhere, no.
If you’re looking for meat makers, choose a wide boar
If you are looking for a meat breed, or just chunky feeder pigs, consider breeds like Duroc, Berkshire or Hampshire.
Some of the time, there will be carcass information, like loin eye area or a meat tenderness rating.
If you’re looking for maternal qualities, think white breeds
If you are looking for piglets to add to your sow herd, you may want to consider more of a maternal breed pig, like Yorkshire, Chester White or Landrace.
These breeds should give the maternal stats like number of piglets born and weaned.
Avoid the boars that are stress or napole positive
Steer clear of boars with the Stress Gene and/or the Napole Gene.
If the boar is a known carrier of either of these genes it will be listed in the description.
The Stress Gene causes pigs to die under stress and the Napole Gene produces watery, no flavor pork in pigs that have it.
Both are bad news for you and your pigs! Double check the descriptions for these two genes, or ask about these genes when you order.
Read the boar descriptions
Try to “read between the lines” a bit when reading the boar descriptions.
For instance, we have noticed some of the Berkshire boars have maternal information listed, like number of piglets born or lifetime farrowings.
If the boar’s information doesn’t have maternal information and you are looking to increase the maternal characteristics in your pigs, consider another boar.
This doesn’t mean that the boar you are looking at is weak maternally, just that there are other boars in the lineup that would bring more maternal characteristics to the breeding than he does.
You’ve got a lot of boar choices
All these boars are top notch, that’s why they are at the boar stud. The big question is what do you and your pig operation need?
What is raising your own feeder pigs worth to you? Click here for my article that walks you through figuring out your costs.
Take a few minutes and think about what you need and which characteristics will suit your farm the best before you order.
If you still are having trouble deciding, call and ask the boar stud you are going to order from.
Tell them what you are looking for and they will have some ideas for you.
Order semen as soon as your sow is in standing heat
You need to order semen when you first notice that the sow or gilt is in standing heat. You should be checking her every 12 hours.
Call in the morning to place your order (look on the boar stud website for specific times).
How can you tell if she is in standing heat? You push down on her back and she holds still.
Check out my video for an example of one of our gilts, Esme, in standing heat. The video also shows a second gilt not in heat for comparison.
Things to keep in mind when ordering semen
Part of the cost of the semen order will include packaging the semen in a cooler with gel packs to ship it at the correct temperature.
This cost me $9.00.
Then there is the actual shipping cost for priority overnight delivery. This cost me $25.
Remember, we’re pretty close to the boar stud, so this cost will vary depending upon where you live.
We ordered a specific boar the next time
We did place a second order from a company in Iowa, Swine Genetics International.
This order cost significantly more money since we did two things differently: we ordered a specific boar and ordered from a source multiple states away from us.
I love the piglets we got out of this breeding, they are wonderful! In case you are wondering, we used Fat Albert, great piglets with super attitudes.
They did cost me more in semen because I was specific about the boar I wanted.
If you just want piglets, try Lean Value. Their pick the breed semen offer is tops, I haven’t seen any other prices even close.
If you are more particular about what you want, look around and start reading the boar descriptions carefully.
Or call or email the boar stud and see what they recommend. They know their lineup of boars, let them help you pick the best boar to suit your needs.