I grew up on a pig farm.
I carried a lot of chop and ground grain, by the five-gallon pail full, to feed them.
And I shovelled a fair large pile of what the pigs made out of the chop.
While the pigs we raised were the domesticated kind, I was immediately interested when farmers began to raise wild boar.
Wild boar hold sort of a special place for many. If you go back into history, wild boar have always had a place of some prominence, including at one time being the meat of choice at feasts like that of the upcoming winter solstice.
Even today, among hunters, tagging a wild boar is seen as a major accomplishment.
In the wild, pigs are plain feisty. They are fast, mean-spirited, with sharp tusks and an ability to go places man just is not designed to follow.
Having said that, put up a sturdy fence and you can raise wild hogs - and there is a market for them.
The meat is lean, more akin to wild meat than domestic pork, making it a specialty meat with a premium price.
Now the market may not be as vast as the earliest proponents suggested, but it still exists.
Accessing the existing market, and potentially growing it, has been hampered by the twin issues, which have hurt other new livestock operations, processing facilities to help get product to consumers and enough stock to make a process viable.
While many producers gave wild boar a chance, like emu, ostrich, fallow deer and others, most found making a dollar difficult.
Most producers have given up.
Those still in the business face a new problem.
Over the years, more than a few wild boar have escaped pastures and they quickly went feral.
I can tell you from experience that even a domestic pig on its own will quickly adapt to the wild and with grain fields as a food source and bush for shelter, they settle in pretty quickly, even taking on winter pretty well.
Wild boar are far closer to their wild roots so they are even more adaptable.
And so wild boar have become a pest.
They root in fields, ruin grain as they eat, find bale yards a cozy place to hunker down in winter, and they are not particularly good for bush either.
Provincial parks have felt the impact as much as farmers and ranchers.
The situation has gotten to the point wild boar gone wild have been declared a pest in Alberta, which puts a boar in the wild on the same footing as a rat.
And there are those in Alberta who are calling for the eradication of wild boar, and far more stringent regulations regarding farm fences for them, if farming would even be allowed.
The situation in regards to the wild boar is only slightly better in Manitoba, or Saskatchewan.
The question facing the sector is how to appease those aligning themselves against wild boar, and those producers who have persevered this long and found a way to make the boar profitable.
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