Bonding a neutered boar with my 4 sows

Pumpkin&Spice

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Hi! :)

I was just wondering whether anyone has any advice with bonding a neutered boar with a groups of sows? I’m going to be bringing a neutered boar home from a local rescue to see whether my current four sows, Pumpkin, Spice, Lottie and Flossie, are willing to accept him into their herd. This will be my first time with a boar, so I’m slightly nervous as to how it’ll go! I’ve bonded two of my recuse girls into the herd, but never a boy! Does anyone have any advice as to how might be best to handle the situation? Is there anything I can do/expect that might be different to introducing a sow? :)

My main concern is my two more dominant sows. They are both quite chilled out, but they are a bit older at 3 years old and have been head girls for a while. The new boy will be be the same age - 3. Does age normally play a part when introducing a boar? I feel like I’ve read contradicting things!

I’ve asked lots of questions about him at the rescue and they have had that he’s very laid back, chilled and sweet, so I’m hoping he might be a good match! He’s not had the best start in life, bless him.

Thank you so much for any advice you may have of what to expect! :) I’m starting to make myself worry! Haha x
 

Qualcast&Flymo

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Good luck with the bonding! If I remember correctly, the boar's age generally doesn't matter, though I guess a young 'over-eager' boar whose hormones temporarily take over when first put with sows, might find himself rejected - but your boar is a bit older than that. I think also there won't need to be a hierarchy sort-out like there is with sows, because the boar is outside the hierarchy once he has been accepted. @Wiebke is the boding expert though, if there's any potential pitfalls to be wary of, I'm sure she can tell you! :D
 

Pumpkin&Spice

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Good luck with the bonding! If I remember correctly, the boar's age generally doesn't matter, though I guess a young 'over-eager' boar whose hormones temporarily take over when first put with sows, might find himself rejected - but your boar is a bit older than that. I think also there won't need to be a hierarchy sort-out like there is with sows, because the boar is outside the hierarchy once he has been accepted. @Wiebke is the boding expert though, if there's any potential pitfalls to be wary of, I'm sure she can tell you! :D
Thank you so much for this! That’s really helpful and has definitely helped put my mind to rest, thank you! I guess it’ll all be down to their little personalities and whether they like each other - fingers crossed they that they will!
🤞☺
 

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This was my rabble when I had a shed full, the smooth black piggy Alfie died shortly after and was replaced by big Stanley. All piggies and buns have passed away since these photos were taken. :(
WP_20161014_16_10_14_Pro.jpgWP_20170102_16_23_12_Pro.jpg
 

Wiebke

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Hi! :)

I was just wondering whether anyone has any advice with bonding a neutered boar with a groups of sows? I’m going to be bringing a neutered boar home from a local rescue to see whether my current four sows, Pumpkin, Spice, Lottie and Flossie, are willing to accept him into their herd. This will be my first time with a boar, so I’m slightly nervous as to how it’ll go! I’ve bonded two of my recuse girls into the herd, but never a boy! Does anyone have any advice as to how might be best to handle the situation? Is there anything I can do/expect that might be different to introducing a sow? :)

My main concern is my two more dominant sows. They are both quite chilled out, but they are a bit older at 3 years old and have been head girls for a while. The new boy will be be the same age - 3. Does age normally play a part when introducing a boar? I feel like I’ve read contradicting things!

I’ve asked lots of questions about him at the rescue and they have had that he’s very laid back, chilled and sweet, so I’m hoping he might be a good match! He’s not had the best start in life, bless him.

Thank you so much for any advice you may have of what to expect! :) I’m starting to make myself worry! Haha x
Hi!

You can find group bonding advice, pictures of key behaviours and videos in our comprehensive bonding guide, which takes you through all the stages of the complex bonding process with the attendant key behaviours and dynamics and also includes chapters on special aspect of different bonding scenarios.
Please take the time to read this link: Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics

Please be aware that dominant older sows past ideal pup bearing age do no longer have the same biological urge behind them that ensures a high acceptance rate in the younger sows. Older sows are generally much more difficult to bond. It all depends on how dominant your boy is and whether the girls will accept him; especially the top brass that would face a demotion in the hierarchy. There has to be not necessarily aggression or fights for a group bonding to fail if none of the piggies involved have aggression potential. In that case it is more a growing swell of grudge with the group eventually presenting a united front against what they have decided is an intruder. If there is aggression or fear-aggression potential, then things can escalate very quickly if the wrong signals are exchanged and tension mounts.

All the best.
 

Pumpkin&Spice

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Thank you all so much for your advice, it's all really helpful! Thank you Siikibam and Wiebke for the links - I will definitely take the time to read these before he comes to us. It'll be helpful with knowing what behaviours to look for between them.

When I do introduce them I'll be sure to keep a very close eye and be at the ready should I need to step in!

Thank you all again! :) x
 

Tara95

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Hi!

You can find group bonding advice, pictures of key behaviours and videos in our comprehensive bonding guide, which takes you through all the stages of the complex bonding process with the attendant key behaviours and dynamics and also includes chapters on special aspect of different bonding scenarios.
Please take the time to read this link: Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics

Please be aware that dominant older sows past ideal pup bearing age do no longer have the same biological urge behind them that ensures a high acceptance rate in the younger sows. Older sows are generally much more difficult to bond. It all depends on how dominant your boy is and whether the girls will accept him; especially the top brass that would face a demotion in the hierarchy. There has to be not necessarily aggression or fights for a group bonding to fail if none of the piggies involved have aggression potential. In that case it is more a growing swell of grudge with the group eventually presenting a united front against what they have decided is an intruder. If there is aggression or fear-aggression potential, then things can escalate very quickly if the wrong signals are exchanged and tension mounts.

All the best.
Hi at what age would you class as an "older sow past ideal pup bearing age" be? When being bonded with an a neuteured male?
Many thanks,
 

Wiebke

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Hi at what age would you class as an "older sow past ideal pup bearing age" be? When being bonded with an a neuteured male?
Many thanks,
3-4 years plus as a general trend but individual personality compatibility is as important, too. This is just trend I and other long term members have noticed; it also reflects bonding experiences in rescues.

This reflects also the age when hormonal ovarian cysts are most commonly active. There is very likely a link to that as well even if a sow is not necessarily displaying acute symptoms. Sows were engineered by nature to only live around 3 years and grow old only in exceptional cases so there was no biological need to scale down or throttle hormone production. This is why sows tend to have overall a more difficult time drom middle age onwards at a time when in boars the testosterone output gradually becomes less and less and eventually fizzles out.

That said, I have successfully bonded new boars with middle aged and older sows on several occasions. But I also have a larger number of failures and still have several sow pairs that are refusing to accept even the most submissive of boars. It is perhaps not quite a coincidence that my spayed sows are predominantly living in those sows-only pairs!
 

Tara95

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Thank you, very interesting. My two pairs of successful(ish) bonded sows will be bonded with a neutered boar in 2 months time and the oldest pair will be just over 6 months old so hopefully it should all work out. How many guinea pigs do you have?:)
 

Wiebke

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Thank you, very interesting. My two pairs of successful(ish) bonded sows will be bonded with a neutered boar in 2 months time and the oldest pair will be just over 6 months old so hopefully it should all work out. How many guinea pigs do you have?:)
At that age I would not worry at all about acceptance - in your case, you have biology pushing with all might in your favour since your girls are coming up to ideal pup bearing age and will be at their most accepting of a boar. ;)

I have currently got 27 piggies but have had over 70 in all throughout my life. My biggest group was a husboar with 13 sows at one point in time.
You can find my Tribe piggies listed below. They are the ones that have been with me at the time I joined this forum plus their successors; but my experience with guinea pigs goes back nearly 50 years to my childhood. The Tribe piggies listed below have all Welsh names and are overwhelmingly rescue adoptees with the odd private intake that has fetched up here.
 

Tara95

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WOW, 27, that's amazing. I bet they're a lot of work though, where do you keep them all? I only have 5 was supposed to be getting a maximum of 3! and that herd sounds amazing, I'd love a bigger herd but may wait until all of mine are fully grown first and until I have more experience! I've been so lucky with all my females getting along (touch wood) 2 more dominant older sows with two younger and very submissive sows that it might disturb the dynamics!
 

Wiebke

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WOW, 27, that's amazing. I bet they're a lot of work though, where do you keep them all? I only have 5 was supposed to be getting a maximum of 3! and that herd sounds amazing, I'd love a bigger herd but may wait until all of mine are fully grown first and until I have more experience! I've been so lucky with all my females getting along (touch wood) 2 more dominant older sows with two younger and very submissive sows that it might disturb the dynamics!
The piggies occupy the largest room in the house; half of our lounge. I am basically cage cleaning all the time; it is a LOT of work and the logistics, especially when going on holiday or during lockdown are considerable. So are the vet fees.
You gradually build up to a larger number, asking yourself at every stage whether you can really cope with the current situation. Right now, I am trying to gradually reduce my numbers by not replacing any piggies I lose as much as possible because I happen to have mostly pairs at the moment, which is in terms of cleaning a lot more work than running a big group. But that is how things have evolved over time.

It is important to be aware that a group is not a static but a very dynamic concepts and that those dynamics can change massively over the years - and not always to the better, as other long term owner members can also confirm. You always have to play it by ear and can never presume that things go to plan or don't take a sudden turn off piste...

I have talked about my Tribe group experience in an article series for Guinea Pig Magazine, issues 37-39 in 2017 (Building up the Tribe around my patriarch Llewelyn; the second generation under his charismatic successor Hywel and lastly how it fell apart after Ffwlbri took over in a coup from aging First Lady Nia and started a reign of terror).
Catching up with the 'after the Tribe' story is my tribute article to Tegan (the little baby in my avatar) when she and her last three surviving Tribe friends all passed away within 3 months of each other at the ripe old age of around over 8 years in Guinea Pig Magazine issue 53 in November 2019. They have all had their very own story, and some stories have been a lot more complex than you would have ever dreamed!

But if you ever dream of having a larger group, then reading those articles may be a way of getting a more realistic idea of what you are letting yourself in for. It is not as easy as sticking a number of a piggies together and expecting them to get on with each other. But it is as fascinating a journey as it is a challenging one!
PS: This year, I have written an article series about the different ages of guinea pigs and what happens at every age, from the First Hours in the January issue 54 to Old Age (which is coming out in the next issue in November).
Maybe something for your Christmas wish list? You can order back issues as well as a subscription for current issues.
Guinea Pig Magazine
 

Tara95

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I can imagine, it must be amazing to have that many though! I think the lounge is the best place to have them so you can see them all the time! I'm going to have to move mine to the spare bedroom though as they need more room and I just don't have enough living space with the extension I'm building for both of us in my living room! and that sounds very interesting, I love reading magazines prefer it to reading information digitally, will definitely be adding it to my Christmas wish list. Can you also order a selection of back dates issues relevant to your interest and therefore only pay postage once if you ordered for example 3 backdated magazines at one time?
Many thanks,
Tara
 

Wiebke

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I can imagine, it must be amazing to have that many though! I think the lounge is the best place to have them so you can see them all the time! I'm going to have to move mine to the spare bedroom though as they need more room and I just don't have enough living space with the extension I'm building for both of us in my living room! and that sounds very interesting, I love reading magazines prefer it to reading information digitally, will definitely be adding it to my Christmas wish list. Can you also order a selection of back dates issues relevant to your interest and therefore only pay postage once if you ordered for example 3 backdated magazines at one time?
Many thanks,
Tara
You can order selected back issues; postage should be accordingly but as I am not responsible for that aspect, I cannot be fully sure. It should however come up during the process.
 

Tara95

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Okay thank you there are so many magazines are there any you'd particularly recommend?
 

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Okay thank you there are so many magazines are there any you'd particularly recommend?
It depends on your interests. There are also lots of good medical/welfare article, one in each magazine. Since the magazine has been running for quite a number of years already (we are coming up celebrating our 10th year with issue 60), some of the oldest articles may be a bit outdated by now. Some of my own articles are also as guides on here, but not all.
When you go to this page, you can see some of the content when you click on the issue picture: Printed Back Issues — Guinea Pig Magazine
 

Tara95

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It depends on your interests. There are also lots of good medical/welfare article, one in each magazine. Since the magazine has been running for quite a number of years already (we are coming up celebrating our 10th year with issue 60), some of the oldest articles may be a bit outdated by now. Some of my own articles are also as guides on here, but not all.
When you go to this page, you can see some of the content when you click on the issue picture: Printed Back Issues — Guinea Pig Magazine
Thank you, I purchased issue 36 and 49 earlier as they looked particularly interesting about post opp advice, and meeting the needs of a single guinea pig ! Thanks again for help/advice :)
 
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