Hog Snouters Early Rooting Solution

The nose knows: Hog snouters helped discourage hogs from rooting

| May 2000

  • Four sets of snouters from Jim Hicks' collection
    Four sets of snouters from Jim Hicks' collection. Left to right: Casting reads "Dr. Miller Pig Snouter Pat. Sep 20 88"; unidentified, with leaf spring between the handles; unidentified, coiled spring; cast with "Rhu Bros. Pat. Feb. 1882 Mfg. Chicago, Ill."
  • Demonstrating the Dr. Miller snouter
    Demonstrating the Dr. Miller snouter. Jim Hicks is careful to note that the snout shown here is a commercially produced dog treat, "not a live demo!"

  • Four sets of snouters from Jim Hicks' collection
  • Demonstrating the Dr. Miller snouter

The image of a hog with a ring through its nose is a familiar scene from bygone days. But the ring wasn't the first device used to discourage rooting. Before the ring, hog snouters were used to control that activity, by cutting a ridge off of the hog's nose. 

"You take a baby pig, say up to eight or 10 weeks old, and if you notice, on the end of its nose, there's an upturned place," says Jim Hicks of Brazil, Ind. "Pigs would dig with the top of their nose, but not if you cut off that ridge."

Jim has a small collection of hog snouters. Patent dates on his pieces go back to 1882.

"Before the turn of the century, I'm assuming metal was kind of scarce," he says. "It was an expensive commodity. They just didn't have rings back then, so they used the snouters."

The first time Jim – now retired from a career with local and state Co-op systems – saw a set of snouters hanging on a barn wall, he had to ask what they were.

"I never had heard of such a thing in my life," he says.


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