Pascual Hernandez
Pascual Hernandez

There are several factors that affect feral swine population dynamics and explain why this invasive species has been successful.

These include their social structure, birth rates, survival, and the fact that feral swine are highly adaptable.

Feral hogs are herd animals and usually travel in family groups (called sounders) made up of sows and their young.

Sounders can have 20 or more individuals. Thus rooting or other type of damage is compounded.

Boars tend to be solitary, and join a group only to breed or feed on a particular feed source.

Feral hogs are not territorial (defend a core range), but have an average home range of 3 miles or so.

Major disturbances can cause feral hogs to permanently change their home range several miles away.

Minor disturbances will only cause hogs to move a short distance, but they’ll return once the disruption has passed.

Feral swine are prolific. Breeding occurs throughout the year when conditions are favorable.

Females can begin breeding as young as 6 months of age if food is abundant.

Under good conditions, sows can produce two litters every 12 - 15 months, with an average of 4-8 piglets per litter.

Younger sows tend to have smaller litters, but older sows may have as many as 10 - 13 piglets.

Piglets are weaned in 2 - 3 months. With adequate nutrition, a feral hog population can double in 4 months.

Feral hogs are opportunistic omnivores - they eat both plant and animal matter.

They prefer succulent green vegetation along with a variety of fruits and grains.

In the spring they eat grasses, forbs, roots and tubers.

In the summer and fall they eat mostly soft and hard mast such as prickly pear cactus, mesquite, acorns and persimmons.

They also relish a variety of agricultural crops.

As carnivores, they’ll not only eat carrion, but are also predators.

Predation of livestock and wildlife can be a serious problem. Hogs prey upon kids, lambs, calves, deer, fawns, ground-nesting birds, and a variety of other animals.

Feral hogs are often attracted to birthing grounds, where they feed on afterbirth and fetal tissue.

In certain areas, feral hogs may cause significant losses to endangered or threatened wildlife species.

Feral hogs have adapted well to a wide range of ecosystems in Texas.

They prefer moist bottomland, but can survive wherever there is dense vegetation that conceals them and protects them from temperature extremes.
If you are interested in feral hog control, please contact the Sutton County Predator Management Association at 387-2543.