Last updated 4 September 2020

Semen collection

Boar semen collection is used widely in the agriculture sector. Boars used for semen collection are generally kept in small stalls with minimal room to move around. To collect semen, a ‘dummy’ or oestrus sow is used for the boar to mount.


Boar semen collection facilityA boar confined at a semen collection facility: Queensland, Australia.


The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries provides detailed instructions on arousing boars, training them to mount dummy sows, and collecting and storing semen.

Dummy sowDummy sow diagram from Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

It is outlined by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries that:

  • Dummy sows are placed in the pen of the boar; it is advised that the smell of another boar's semen, saliva, and sow urine, smeared on the dummy, will stimulate the boar to mount and thrust
  • If the boar does not mount the dummy sow, a real sow is used so that the farmer can collect the boar’s semen from her to smear on the dummy, attracting him to it.
  • When the boar is mounted on the dummy sow, the farmer grips the boar’s penis allowing the boar to thrust, then applying pressure on his penis, imitating a sow's cervix, causing the boar to ejaculate. 

Boars are forced to repeat this exploitative cycle up to 3 times every week. The legally accepted space requirement for boars confined in stalls is 0.7 metres by 2.4 metres long.

Bestiality is a criminal offence under the Crimes Act 1958; however, for the purpose of agriculture and scientific testing, these laws do not apply.

boar semen collection facility Rows of boars at a semen collection facility; Queensland, Australia.

Investigation has revealed the appalling conditions of a boar semen collection facility in Queensland, Australia.


Artificial insemination

The artificial insemination of sows is another common practice throughout the pig farming industry. 

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries provide detailed instructions on how to forcefully artificially inseminate sows.

Artificial insemination of sowsAI of sows. Source: Australian Pork Limited

It is outlined by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries that:

  • Boars are used to arouse the sow, while the farmer applies pressure to her back and hind legs, and rubs her vulva and udder, inducing the mating stance.
  • The farmer separates the lips of the sow’s vulva and forces a catheter into her vagina to find the cervix. 
  • A bottle containing boar semen is attached to the catheter and deposited inside the sow.

pig artificial insemination

In nature, sows would not only choose their mate and when to breed, but they would move to a private location, build a nest, and prepare for their new arrivals. Viewed merely as 'bacon incubators' by the industry, these mothers are deprived of every experience and decision important to their lives.

Diagrams for sow artificial insemination. Source: Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The artificial insemination process can last for as long as 10 minutes. Sows are forced to have repeated litters until their bodies can no longer withstand this cycle of abuse, at which point they are killed. Productivity is measured by how many living piglets a sow gives birth to; the more litters sows are forced to have (the higher the ‘parity’), the more stillborns she is likely to birth. 

fertility cycle
Sow’s fertility cycle. Source: Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.


While pigs can live to around 15 years of age, female breeding pigs barely live past 2 or 3 years of age. They often die or are culled due to injuries they have incurred as a result of continuous forced impregnation, birthing, and feeding of young. According to the Faculty of Veterinarians at the University of Sydney, “major causes of sow death include bladder and kidney infections, gastric accidents (twists, bloat, and stomach ulcers), heart failure/heatstroke, blood poisoning (septicemia) and uterine prolapses.” If they manage to survive the several years of laborious and monotonous existence, they are then killed as their declining fertility renders them unprofitable.

cull                                                                        Sow in a farrowing crate with ‘cull’ written on her back.

There are over 260,000 female pigs in Australia housed on about 2000 farms (Australian Pig Annual). The accepted combined death rates of female breeding pigs (both natural and via euthanasia) is 9% per year (Faculty of Veterinarians at the University of Sydney).