I’d say I am an experienced GP owner (26 total over the years, all adopted) and have introduced many a GP in my time and at various ages (theirs, as well as mine ;))
But now I’m struggling. I’ve always had girls, but was recently finally able to adopt two male fosters I had. They got on well. Just recently (the day before yesterday), I landed a permanent job in the U.S. (the reason I was finally able to adopt permanently) and moved from NY to CA. I drove across the country over a course of 8-days with my two boys in tow. Foolishly (at least looking back) I secured 5 more adoptions for me to pick up on arrival. I feel utterly stupid, selfish, and egotistical. I had a very successful herd of 12 pigs a few years ago, which I would intro new pigs to fairly regularly (I specialize in elderly and/or special needs females, so I would sadly lose pigs more often than I otherwise would). I thought I’d be in a good position to grow my herd.
Anyway, during the trip from NY to CA, my original two boys (Jasper and Eric) had a big falling out. At one point, they fought so badly that they drew (my!) blood. I kept them separate for the rest of the trip, knowing that that would not be a good time to try to have them sort out their issues. This was not too concerning to me. I’ve seen plenty of times in the past where previously friendly pigs will do this as a result of a big change, such as a move. I find that the less dominant ones sometimes take this as their opportunity to try for dominance or to move up the ‘totem pole’…
Today, I housed two new pigs on the same room as Jasper and Eric. The set up is a very large C and C construction where Jasper has 2x3, Eric has 2x3, and the two new boys have 2x4. Each is in their own section. Everything was scrubbed and changed. Once the pigs were added, all hell broke loose. I mean, I’ve seen good and bad introductions, but this was the loudest and seemingly most aggressive I’ve experienced by far. All but one were squeaking loudly. Two of the males (Eric and the largest newbie) were acting quite aggressively towards each other through the bars/grids. This went on for around 30 mins, then they calmed down a bit.
I’m happy to add more details as needed, but don’t want to bombard you all will potentially unimportant specifics, or just with an unreasonably long post. Some of my questions are:
1. am I mistaken to house them near to each other before doing formal intros (I.e. in the open on neutral ground, with a veggie-hay set up and lots of space and towels nearby)? I’ve done these intros before, and am now worried that I should have done that step before even putting them in nearby enclosures.
2. If the answer to 1 is ‘yes’, what can I do to remedy my mistake?
3. I have had success bathing pigs together in order for them to bond, and I was keeping this in my back pocket. How long should I wait to do this? I.e. should I keep them houses nearby for a while first, or is it best to do this early?
4. Are there any important differences between males and females that might affect their bonding, or that might affect my *perception* of how well they are getting along?
To be clear:
A. I have not had them interact out in the open yet (without bars separating them). The behaviour I have seen between the bars is what worries me.
B. I am quite inexperienced with boars, though I am very experienced with females.
C. I am a committed and responsible adopter, and I am committed to keeping and loving all of these pigs whether they can be housed together or not. There is no danger of me trying to ‘off load’ any of these boys in the event that they cannot be successfully bonded.
I am so grateful for this forum and for any insights you all may offer.
- Supporting my GL Habit
I come from a background of largely sows. I've been fostering for the last few years and most have been boars. In the little I've seen, boars are more rough-and-tumble that the sows. The girls mostly scream at each other and will pull fur, but the boys are much more in-your-face, which is harder to gauge because it can hit the tipping point rather quickly from show-of-force to all out brawl.
Have you read the introductions 101?: https://guinea-pigs.livejournal.com/3002707.html I reference that any time I'm ready to do introductions. I'm not sure how big your introduction space was, but with boars, I'd make it huge. Personally I'd try for pairs that a herd of 4. But someone with more boar experience will probably post and give you better advice.
- And got the T-shirt
And that introductions link she gave you has been replicated and updated here on this site: https://guinealynx.info/introductions.html
Do any of you have advice for what I should do next given my current situation? What would be best for the boys?
Will it be possible for me to house them in pairs but adjacent to one another (I.e. in a large c and c enclosure which is divided into sections)? Three little ones are already bonded, so I’d keep them together.
How about Re-introducing my two who fell out during the drive over. What’s the prognosis on that?
- I dissent.
Follow the tips on introductions for the two that had the squabble. Hopefully the uncertainty of a new environment will help them bond again. The key with boar intros is giving them ample time and space to work it out.
Two of them is hard enough, but a trio is nearly impossible. I imagine that at some point, you're going to wind up with either one pair and an odd man out or 3 single boars. All of my unpaired boars like to be next to each other as long as there's a physical barrier between them. Remove it and they go right after each other.
One of my new adoptions had to go to the ER vet today (a cool 2hours in one direction, but believe me I know it could be way worse). His previous owner reported that he was ‘losing his voice’. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t read more into that. Evidently he had a URI which has now caused (likely) pneumonia. Turns out he was housed on cedar for most of his life and puppy pads for the last two weeks (I was told he had been housed on fleece…). He will be there for 2 days at least and I’m hopeful that I managed to get him there just in the nick of time (very labored breathing when I brought him in and apparently pale naries upon stress/examination). I wish that my touch would have been more comfort to him, that is-I wish this had happened when he knew me better… anyway, apologies for digressing..
Jasper and Eric are (I’d say) around 1-1.5 years given their appearance, size, and change in size over 6mo. They started as fosters and I had them for around 4 months before I was able to commit to them (because I got a job with the promise of a steady visa). The little info I have from the previous owner is that they were adopted by them and have always been together.
The day before yesterday I tried a Re-introduction with my partner just with Eric and Jasper. We pulled the big guns out and bathed them using a GP friendly shampoo. Then we dried off and did the full intro routine in the bathroom (mutual territory, no distracting sounds, lots of hay and veggies, only intervene when both are rearing or when ‘ball of angry fur’ happens). We followed the guidance of the site above and tried to continue for a while. So, they fought, we doused them with towels to separate, checked for injuries, started over and repeated. I believe there were 3 fights in all before we gave it up. I think it was about 1.5 hours including the bath. The time between fights *appeared* to lengthen to me…
What do you all think? I’m more than happy to try this more times if there’s a possibility of them Re-bonding. I suppose another option is to re-divide. Three of my newbies are housed together hut all very young (def under a year from the looks of it). Perhaps either/each of Eric and Jasper could be a boss of a smaller group?
I can’t be more apologetic for taking up your time on this. And I’m so grateful for your input.