Everything you Need to Know about Pet Pigs and Keeping Pigs as Pets

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Everything you Need to Know about Pet Pigs and Keeping Pigs as Pets 

Keeping pet pigs is rather fashionable these days; mini pigs, micro pigs, tea cup pigs and even pot bellied pigs are in. If George Clooney can have a pet pig then why shouldn't you?

A pink pet pig

Pigs are intelligent, gregarious, greedy and hedonistic. They are also curious. Being both intelligent and curious can soon prove problematic for those of you who are thinking about keeping pet pigs. This is because they will soon find a way to escape their enclosures, no matter how long you have spent making sure they stay in! Once they have made the first great escape they will try again, and again and again. So they are determined little beasts but they will also give you much pleasure.

When keeping pet pigs you will notice that your pigs love attention and will bask in being spoken to, enjoy a scratch behind the ear and a good scrub down with a brush. However, never slap a pig on the rear end, or on the shoulders. Your pet pig will hate this, will be unforgiving to those who attempt this, and will sulk for days, if not weeks.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS And a Word of Warning

Keeping pigs as pets can be fun, but you also need to be careful with them when you feed them. Many a person can relate a tale of losing fingers to pigs by leaving their hands a little too long in the trough when spilling out the feed. A pig is a voracious eater and being an omnivore will eat virtually anything, including your hand if it is anywhere near his feed! So exercise caution here.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS and a Pig's Diet

Pigs are also excellent producers, have large litters which they are fairly good at in looking after, which makes them a great source of extra income if you are thinking of selling off the piglets from your pet pigs. They are also good as work animals because their smelling abilities make them ideal for sniffing out black gold; truffles.

If you don't have truffles don't despair as you can use your pig as nature's plow for fields that need turning over. In foraging for roots and food beneath the ground they use their strong snouts to amazing depths in the soil and make subsequent cultivation of that land very much easier.

However, if you find that pigs are really damaging the land that you have put them on this foraging activity can be curtailed by having a ring or two inserted into the edge of their snouts. Although this is a fairly painless process it should be carried out while the pigs are fairly young. Pigs love to eat excess whey milk after you have made your cheese, they will also eat vegetable scraps and spent veggie crops, and fallen fruit from the orchards.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS And Choosing What to Pig to Buy and Why?

Pigs come in all shapes, colors and sizes and different breeds result in different temperaments. The first thing you should be deciding on is why you want to keep pigs for pets in the first place. After that it then gives you direction as to which pig breed would better fit your needs and the appropriate pig care your pigs would then receive.

Pink-skinned pigs like the one in the picture above suffer terribly from sunburn, and so if you don't have any kind of natural or man made shelter for this type of pig, then this breed would be unsuitable for you. Some purebreds are colored, like the red Tamworth and Duroc and black pigmented Berkshire and Large Black. The Saddleback and Hampshire are also black breeds but carry a distinctive white belt over the shoulders and down the front legs. Potbelly pigs are another firm favorite when keeping pigs as pets.

Few people realize just how big pigs can grow. Your pet pig could end up weighing in excess of 200 kg! This is another reason why you need to make sure that those fences are strong! If you choose a miniature pig as a pet their mature weight range could be around 20 - 50 kg. Still no featherweight!

Your pet pigs are sociable animals and therefore would prefer to be in a small group rather than being on its own. Therefore it is advisable to get more than one so that they can keep each other company. You will also find in doing this, that your pigs will get up to less mischief as they will be less bored.

However, if you do decide to only have one pig as a pet, there are some advantages.

  • Firstly looking after one pig means that they become easier to manage, especially if this is your first pig.
  • There will be no jostling for position during meal times or bullying and fighting with other pigs.
  • If you buy a single pig just remember to give it lots of love and attention that prevent it from being bored, lonely and naughty.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS and Choosing which Sex of Pig to buy

If you are thinking of keeping pigs as pets you are probably wondering which sex you should buy. Male pigs that have not been castrated are best left as breeders rather than that makes them very unsuitable. If you decide on a male pig, it should be castrated. Female pigs make the best pets whether or not she has had a litter.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS and Purchasing your First Pet Pig

What should you be looking for when you are about to purchase your first pet pig? First of all you should check with your local municipal council to see if you are allowed to keep a pig in your area. After you have passed that important hurdle the next step is to find yourself a reputable breeder who will be there for you for after sales advice and general advice on pig care. Do not buy pigs from stockyard sales or at auctions where as a novice you would not know if the animal was sound and healthy.

In order for you to bond with your pig and vice versa you should be looking for a piglet. Look for one that has no signs of ill health. It should be active, have bright eyes with a moist nose and a shiny coat. The body should be long and slightly arched, the chest wide and sides slightly rounded. The legs should be strong and well placed with short and well-maintained toenails. 

Check the number of teats that the pig has regardless of its gender. You are looking for 12-14 evenly distributed and well shaped teats. After looking at the physical aspects of your future pet pig you should be looking at its temperament. If it looks at all aggressive, is snapping at its siblings and other pigs and seems generally a bit on the wild side, look for another that is better-natured.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS - Pig Care and Feeding

When you are purchasing your pet pig ask the breeder what they have been feeding them and how much. This will give you a baseline to work off, and any changes or additions to the diet should be made slowly. The basic diet for a pig would be to feed them a combination of household scraps or old crops from your vegetable garden or orchard combined with pig feed or grain.

On average a pig should be given about 2 kg of pig feed or grain a day, and less if you are supplementing with household or garden scraps. Pigs will eat almost anything, as mentioned earlier.

Things that pigs don't eat however, are citrus fruit, capsicums, onions, pineapples and some brassicas. The feed can be given either all at once during the day, or split into two and fed morning or evening.

Never give your pig salt. It will result in instant death! Nor should they have dripping or fats.

Fresh, clean water should be available to your pet pigs at all times, and make sure that the troughs that you are using a strong. Concrete troughs that are heavy and unmovable are ideal.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS - Bringing home a Piglet

If you are bringing home a piglet for the first time, place it in a draught-free place with a good bed and a pan of water. If the piglet is under 3 weeks of age, an infra-red lamp hung about 2 and a half feet or more above the baby is a great assurance against cold nights and chills.

Milk is the favorite food, skim milk, sour curdled milk or even whey is loved by pigs. They also love bread, vegetable and fruit peelings, barley or wheat which has had boiling water poured over it and left to stand overnight - all in moderation.

Best to start your piglet off on a little bread and milk or chicken mash with milk or water first. Pigs adore sloppy food in which they can snort and gargle! Tiny pigs will have to be bottle fed.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS - Pig Housing

Pigs are often maligned as dirty, smelly, unattractive beasts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, they love to have the odd wallow in the mud bath, but then so do elephants and warthogs, and they haven't been tarred with the same brush.

Your pig will enjoy a bed of deep, clean straw or litter. If there are other pigs present they will often be seen cuddling up to each other in these situations. They are basically very clean animals, and will not urinate or defecate on their bedding, but will do so in a corner of their pen, away from their bedding.

You can even train pigs to poo in one place in the sty by simply leaving a little soiled litter there as an example.

They also hate extreme weather conditions, be it cold winds and draughts or soaring temperatures and humidity. So ensure that their pens are draught-free and you are able to get a good circulation of air when temperatures rise. Pigs will tolerate temperatures between 12-26°C. Anything, either side of these temperatures, and your pet pig will be in distress. This is why in hot weather those mud baths are so necessary for your pig to be able to cool down as he doesn't have the ability to do so through sweating.

Having said all that, a simple three-sided shed is all that is needed for pig housing and to keep your pig happy, as long as it faces away from draughts and prevailing winds. Each animal should have about 8 square feet of space and the floor finish should be a concrete screed that has been roughly finished so that your pig has sure footing at all times. There should also be an area in front of his pen that is adequately fenced off that is also cemented to prevent muddy and smelly conditions. Here the pigs can sun themselves when they need to, get some exercise and relieve themselves.

We have already touched on making sure that your pigpen is secure, but this cannot be over-emphasized. If your pig notices just a slight weakness in the fencing he will be out. And for those of us who have had to catch a pig we all know that it one of those impossible tasks that quickly degenerates into something from Keystone Cops! One of the best options is to go with a breeze-block wall around the shed with a sturdy pig-proof gate. Having wire fencing, unless it is electrified, which is expensive, really isn't worth the effort as it is largely ineffectual.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS - Keeping your Pig in your House

There are people who keep pigs in their homes quite successfully. It may not be everyone's choice of household pet, even for those who may decide on a mini pig soon realize that they can get very big, except of course for tea cup pigs who don't grow very big at all. You can see these lovely little mini pigs in a free video below.

However, for those who have chosen this option your pig is easily trainable with regards to using a cat litter tray. Pigs are the 5th most intelligent animals in the world, and therefore getting them to use a cat litter tray is no different to training a cat or a dog. You use the same methods. 

Start with some newspaper and move it closer to the litter box until the box is being used. Remember though that the conventional cat litter box it too high for your pig. You will need something that is more shallow, more like 2 inches, and your will need to find these trays or suitable receptacles from your local hardware store. They will get used to walking with a lead and harness if you start with them at an early age.

KEEPING PIGS AS PETS - Enjoying your New Pet

Keeping a pig as a pet is great fun and they really do make wonderful pets. Each has a distinctive personality and you will soon see this after bringing your pig home and getting to know it. If you have the right type of housing, keep the litter clean and provide the right food and exercise for your pig, you will have a really rewarding experience. Pigs are generally hardy and have few ailments and are very good at adapting to new environments.

Keeping pigs as pets is both enjoyable and entertaining. So enjoy your new pet, give it lots of love and attention and you will be loved in return.



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