Boars are large and aggressive male pigs. To ensure the safety of other pigs and the stockpeople who care for the boars they are best kept in individual pens.
Boar pens are much larger than a mating or sow stall, allowing freedom of movement. The pens are strong, well-insulated and suitable for sleeping and feeding and often built next to a mating area.
Because boars are kept alone in their pens, consideration needs to be given to temperature variations. This could mean adding additional bedding to the pens to protect against colder temperatures or adjusting the food and water levels according to the season.
Boars are often used to stimulate puberty in young gilts. While hormones can be used, the most effective method is introducing a regularly mated boar to young females, usually by walking the boar in front of the pens housing the gilts. Typically, this will mean the female will begin cycling 10–30 days after exposure. Boars are also used to determine if sows are on heat.
In mating sheds, a boar will be walked past sows frequently to determine or introduce heat. When a sow is suspected to be on heat, she is brought to a service area where she can have nose to nose contact with a boar. It is here that heat will be confirmed and either artificial insemination or mating is carried out.