So why AI? Mostly because I have three little kids and boars can be aggressive. I don't let my children play with the pigs anyhow but boars can be too aggressive to work with at times, one day they are great the next, bunch of jerks. Also, I AI because I can chose from thousands of proven boars, bloodlines and qualities I want to select from. It's a SCHMORGASBOARD of fun!
Observation is the most important part of artificial insemination. Making sure they are in heat is obviously the most critical part of success. When they are in heat, getting semen from the exact boar you want can also be a trick. If it falls on the weekend, which it seems to do every time for me, Saturday delivery is not cheap. I've had a talk with my girls, "Monday's ladies, Monday's are when you can go into heat." It makes it much easier for shipping. From the time I get the semen, I have 7 days to catch them in their heat cycle (every 18-21 days). Ideally I like to catch them just coming into heat so I have the most viable semen at day 2-3.
Knowing when they are in heat- swollen behind, VERY affectionate (as in scary affectionate), holds still when leaned on, is how I decipher who is ready or not. The only way I know this is bys spending time with them. Knowing their personalities and how their heat cycle changes them. The only information I could find on this (accurately telling if a sow is in heat (without a boar) was thesis papers for masters programs on artificial insemination. I read and read to teach myself and since teaching myself, it has paid off with spring piglets. It is so exciting and rewarding to accomplish each year.
So far this year I have AI'd with:
Babe Registered Tamworth Guilt: Tamworth Berkshire Cross
Olivia Registered Berkshire Guilt: Berkshire Purebred (maybe Berkshire Tamworth) - depends on which one she took to - this one is an experiment with days the semen is good for. Should be exciting to see if she takes and to which breed.
Big MaMa Purebred Manglistsa Sow: Mangalitsa Purebred
I want to AI one more: my Tamworth sow with a Blonde Mangalitsa boar. This has been a struggle to find semen for. I may have to import but that really decreases my times for viable semen. I will keep searching... But wouldn't it be super cute to see wooly poofy little piggies?! The long body of the Tamworth and the healthy omegas from the Mangalitsa breed, would make them a great specialty breed.
I'll keep you posted when I externally test for amniotic fluid to see who is pregnant and/or not- aren't you excited?!