Feral Hog Program Wildly Popular
Derrick Banks, CEP Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources at Prairie View A&M University, spoke with constituents in Ft. Bend County about the growing nuisance of feral hogs for weeks, so he knew that it was a hot-button issue. What he may not have known, however, was that the number of persons attending a workshop about field dressing and processing feral hogs would be double the number initially expected.
On March 4, more than 50 participants came out to the Yelderman House in Needville, Texas for a feral hog workshop covering field dressing and processing, eradicating and trapping, and nuisance control, including a discussion about technological advancements in trap types and equipment. Bo Haltom, River Bend Deer Processing, lead the Feral Hog Processing demonstration, going through the process step by step, from field dressing to processing, using a 250 pound boar as is found in growing numbers in the Ft. Bend County region. Haltom’s detailed review covered everything from the recommended technique for erecting and dressing the hog to minimize the risk of toxins from diseased organs that are contained in a localized area, from overflowing and contaminating the entire hog, to the best tools and proper techniques for cutting to minimize the amount of fat and to preserve the coat in taxidermy or market condition.
The feral hog nuisance control demonstration, lead by Rowdy Woodson, Texas Trappers and Fur Hunters Association, covered trapping equipment and techniques for predatory nuisance, such as bobcats and coyotes. The most important rule for successful trapping is to never leave a scent. This is achieved by minimizing the amount of time one spends on the ground setting the trap, wearing gloves, knee pads, clothing and boots that are washed in unscented detergents. Even the equipment should be carried in an odor-resistant bag, with a hard bottom, to reduce the risk of the contents of the bag seeping through and onto the ground. Another important tip is the leave the trapping area in as natural condition as possible, so as not to alert the predator and decrease the probability of a successful trap.
Banks gave a presentation on feral hog eradication methods in Ft. Bend County. From the use of corn and molasses for baiting and videography for checking the traps, several recommendations were shared on trapping feral hogs. Banks’ feral hog eradication team generally uses 12” trailers with box cages and panels, making sure the gaps are closed-in, and that they use extra wire where it’s needed. Banks does not recommend removing the hogs alone. He says that one should be sure to use a trap exit to remove the hog through, to place the panels on both sides of the trailers, showing no gaps, and to wire the panels to both the traps and the trailers because the hogs will move them. One should also place a ramp on the trailer for easy loading and place a panel above the trailer so that the hogs will not jump out. Another key point Banks recommends is getting the hogs out of the traps at night because the hogs don’t see very well at night and because it is cooler. Banks stressed that it is important because we want to preserve the hog for the growing market demands for feral hog meat. Moreover, al things must be done as humanely as possible by ensuring that the hogs are trapped alive and kept comfortable.
Angela Moore, Extension Associate, Prairie View A&M University, Cooperative Extension, concluded the workshop with a presentation on the Texas AgrAbility Project, a United States Department of Agriculture funded project geared towards providing assistance to help farmers who have a disability continue to work in Ag production. Moore explained that what constitutes a disability extends beyond the commonly known disabilities involving paralysis or an amputation, to include, for the purpose of this program, chronic back pain, vision or hearing impairment, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and arthritis, among many others. Moore shared how the Texas AgrAbility Project restores hope to individuals with a disability, their families and their employees who have been impacted by barriers that have prevented them from being able to do their job as a farmer. By coordinating services and service providers to provide assistance and assistive technology to those in need, AgrAbility makes it possible for Ag producers with a disability to continue to be productive doing the work that they love.