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Pigs as Pets

  Oct 22, 2018

Pigs as Pets

Having a pig as a pet can be challenging.  It’s not something to do on the whim: proper consideration and research should be done to make sure you are making the correct decision and can meet the needs of owning a pig.

Size Matters

While piglets are small and cute, they do eventually grow up.  Depending on the type of pig, the size may differ.  Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs may be considered a miniature breed but they do reach 35-70kg at the adult stage.  Other breeds may reach 200-300 kg!  Will you have enough space for this pig?

Age

Pigs may live to be 18 years old, so ensure you are prepared for this and are willing to keep your pig for this long.

 Environment

Pigs should not be kept inside but rather in a large area outdoors.  They need adequate shade to protect their skin from the harsh African sun as they can easily get sunburnt and are susceptible to sun stroke.  Pigs root and forage in their environment while exploring so, be warned, this can be destructive to your land and garden.  For this reason, please ensure the area you would prefer to keep your pig in is well fenced.  The area should have grass in for pigs to graze on.

The area must be big enough for sleeping, toilet habits and exploring.  Pigs don’t want to, and must not be forced to, sleep where they do their toilet habits.  Ensure there is access to fresh water ad lib.  It is best to provide an area for pigs to wallow in water and mud.  This helps them to cool off and regulate their body temperature.

Clean, dry straw makes a good bed for a pig.  A covered area which is free from draughts is best as pigs do get cold easily.  Please ensure the area is cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Boredom

Pigs can get bored easily and need stimulation.  A big pen is ideal for lots of exploring.  Old tyres are a great toy for pigs as well as hard plastic balls they can push around with their snout.  Pigs are very social animals, so it is best to have at least two for companionship.

Food

Pigs need a balanced diet.  Commercial pig food is often too fatty so, if this is used, please be careful not to over feed.  Please don’t feed your pig dog food as the food is too high in protein and low in fibre, which leads to constipation and stomach ulcers.  Pigs can be fed fruits, vegetables, Lucerne and hay.  Don’t feed them too many starch vegetables, for example potatoes, and limit fruit as fruit contains a high amount of sugar. 

Puberty

Pigs reach puberty at around 6 months of age.  Female pigs come onto heat approximately every 21 days.  It is recommended they are sterilised around 2-4 months of age.  Male pigs can become aggressive, so sterilising them before puberty may help to reduce the aggression.

Routine Care

Pigs hooves must be trimmed regularly to prevent them overgrowing.  This must be started at a young age so they become accustomed to it and don’t fight you.  Ears may need to be washed if they get dirty.  De-worming should be done at least twice a year.

Training

Pigs are actually quite intelligent and can be trained.  They can be trained to use a litter box, walk on a leash and harness and even do some tricks.  It’s best to start this when they are piglets, using positive reinforcement only.  Pigs tend to become aggressive if punished or if they are subject to any type of abuse.  When picking them up be warned: they will squeal!  Only put them down when they have stopped so they can get used to it.

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