Over recent years, pigs have become an increasingly popular animal to rear. Whether an addition to a smallholding where they will be used for meat, or in a non-farming environment where families wish to keep a pet that is different to the norm, pigs require a certain level of care that you will be expected to adhere to. Keep in mind that pigs can live between 10-15 years, so they are a long-term commitment if chosen as a pet.
Pigs are known to be intelligent, friendly and curious animals, who are far from the dirty creatures that they are sometimes made out to be.They are in fact extremely clean and have a very strong instinct to not toilet where they eat or sleep. Pigs have a definite personality, which will be wonderful if you are keeping them as pets. Even if your intention is to breed pigs for food, it is important to give them a settled free range life where they can exercise and feed at their own leisure.
Like any animal there are certain things that you should be aware of before bringing pigs to your home or farm. We have put together some information and tips on how best to prepare for the arrival of your pigs and how to care for them in the long-term.
Pigs are extremely sensitive to temperatures so will need an appropriate shelter to reflect this. They have no sweat glands which means they can overheat very easily in hot weather, which is why they spend so much of their time wallowing in mud in an attempt to cool down. A run or house with shade is very important in the summer months as they are also at risk of becoming sun-burnt.
With only a small amount of hair on their skin, in the winter they must rely on just one layer of fat to protect them from the cold. For this reason pigs like to huddle together to share warmth, so you must ensure that their shelter has ample room for them to move around and be together at one time. Good ventilation is very important in the summer months, but there should be no risk of a draft in the winter. Fresh straw should always be supplied for them to huddle in for warmth and comfort.
Pigs like to rub themselves on objects, so their living environments should have posts where they can do this. Ensure that everything in the vicinity is sturdy and stable, to prevent damage being caused by an enthusiastic pig!
First of all, know that pigs can be very noisy at feeding time! This is one of the most exciting times of the day for them and table manners go right out of the window. Do not feed them any kind of catering waste and no food that contains waste animal products. This is illegal, as contaminated foods such as these can lead to virus or disease outbreaks such as foot and mouth which has devastated the farming community in the past.
Pigs love vegetables and these can be fresh or scraps from your standard kitchen. You can purchase appropriately balanced foods from any agricultural store, which will include specially formulated pig pellets and have added vitamins and minerals. Grass cuttings in small amounts can supplement their diet, as will bugs which they will enjoy foraging for in their enclosure. Do not include anything citrus or fat drippings as these can make your pigs unwell.
Yes you do! Pigs are very intelligent animals and will become bored easily if left to their own devices. This can sometimes result in pigs becoming naughty, trying to make entertainment for themselves which can mean destruction and escape.
Pigs are curious animals, so giving them interactive games to play is a great idea. Scrabble may be a step too far, but interactive games such as retrieving their snacks from a puzzle ball can keep them occupied for hours. Believe it or not, some pigs can even be trained how to play throw and fetch, which can also give them the quality time with you that they will desire. They love to forage in scrub, looking for vegetables and other little treats.
Craving attention is a common character trait of pigs. They love being petted and scratched just like dogs, becoming lonely if they do not have interaction with humans or other pigs.
Over time you will get to know your pigs personality and be able to recognise if they are not well. However, if your pigs are being reared for meat, you will not have time to form this bond. These are some symptoms that may suggest that they are unwell and require veterinary attention.
Pigs require regular worming and can occasionally be given a parasite skin wash to ensure that there are no nasty mites nibbling at them. Read up on any diseases that can be passed from pig to human, so that you know what symptoms to look out for and what you should do in the event of suspecting something. Take a look at our Pig Health page for some easy to use products that can help to keep your pigs protected and maintained.