Russian boars are a subspecies of the wild boar (Sus scrofa). Their meat, described as sweeter, leaner and firmer than pork from domestic pigs, is in high demand -- wild boar meat can cost twice as much as the same amount of domestic pork. While it's not surprising farmers and hunters are interested in raising Russian boars, caring for a herd of destructive animals that can grow to be 6 feet long and weigh over 200 pounds is a significant challenge.
In many parts of the United States and Canada, as well as other countries where Russian boars aren't native, governments have enacted tight controls on the keeping of these wild animals. For example, the state of Michigan levies heavy fines on farmers who raise Russian boars in violation of the state's invasive species order that bans importing or possessing them. By contrast, Wisconsin farmers are allowed to raise wild hogs for meat if they first obtain a permit from the state's Department of Natural Resources. In the United States, regulations are made on a state or local level. If you want to keep Russian boars, the first step before acquiring any animals is verifying it's legal to raise them in your state.
Health and Safety
Too often, Russian boars escape their enclosures, causing millions of dollars in damage. They destroy fences and other property, cause soil erosion, consume crops and kill domestic livestock. The state of Texas estimates that romaing herds of wild boars cause $50 million in crops damage annually. In addition, Russian boars carry parasites and disease they can spread to domestic livestock. Wild herds are suspected of spreading swine brucellosis and pseudorabies to domestic pigs. Russian boars on the loose can endanger children and pets; at adult size they're capable of killing a man if they feel trapped or threatened.
If you decide to raise Russian boars and have determined it's legal to do so, the next step is to ensure you have adequate enclosures and fenced land for your herd. A group of six sows requires between 2 and 3 acres of land to roam and forage for food. Their optimal farm environment mimics their natural environment closely, so Russian boars should have some wooded areas for foraging. As far as fencing, a common saying among boar enthusiasts is, "If the fence won't hold water, it won't hold pigs." Russian boars can root 3 feet into the ground and can leap a short fence, so to keep them secure, you need fences that are at least 6 feet tall and that extend 1 to 2 feet underground.
Managing Your Herd
Russian boars are extremely intelligent, social animals who thrive in most conditions and climates. Because they're opportunistic foragers who eat almost anything, Russian boars require close monitoring of their intake and nutrition, especially if they're being raised for meat. They multiply quickly, sows capable of producing two litters each year of as many as six to eight piglets. To keep herds manageable, maintain groups of between six and 10 sows, one boar for every 10 sows.
- Star Tribune: Wild Boars -- What 'Pork Used to Taste Like'
- JSOnline: Farmer Fights to Keep Raising Feral Pigs
- Centre for Alternative Land Use Technical Notes: Wild Boar Production
- Seattle Times Mobile: States Falter as Attack of the Feral Pigs Escalates
- Smithsonian Magazine: A Plague of Pigs in Texas
Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.