The North American Potbellied Pig Association
LIVING WITH A POTBELLIED PIG
THE PIGLET – FROM BIRTH TO ONE YEAR
This is offered as a brief outline of what your pet pig needs for the first year of its life. There are several good books and manuals available to you that expand these recommendations and insights. Please seek outadvice from your breeder and other sources of information as you continue to live with your pig.
Piglets Birth to 6 Weeks
Most piglets under the age of 2 months have two things on their minds — survival and eating. Because of this, it is important that your baby pig be given the opportunity to learn all its young pig lessons from its Mom and littermates. It is recommended that your piglet be at least 5 weeks old before it is weaned and should not be taken from its litter until at least 6 weeks of age.
It is the breeders responsibility to have all the pigs neutered at or before 6 weeks of age. Boars do not make good pets due it their amorous nature and the order produced by their musk glands, which are active in all intact male pigs. It is highly recommended that all females be spayed. Veterinarians vary as to the most appropriate time to spay a female pig. But, it is important to have your pig spay as young as possible, preferably between 6 weeks and 3 months.
Piglet 6 Weeks to 3 Months
There are several issues to consider when a piglet comes home with you. Your baby will be frightened because it is away from its home and littermates for the first time. Security is the primary concern for your baby; therefore follow these steps:
· Put your baby in his new “Home”, a confined space that you control (i.e. kitchen, laundry room large bathroom). By using a baby gate, do not to shut your pig out with a solid door. His “Home” should have his bed, blanket or sheet, litter box with pine shavings or newspaper, two large heavy bowls, and any toys you would choose for a child under the age of 18 months.
· Sit on the floor and allow him to warm up to you. Do not move quickly, be patient. You can use food as bait. Gradually move your hand with the food to your lap. Allow the baby to smell you and feel safe with you. Do not push him. Remember that in the beginning, your baby pig believes when you reach down from above or pet him on his head or neck you are a predator and want to eat him; therefore pet him from the side and work up to the head and neck.
· Pick up your pig when he is totally comfortable with being touched all over. When you pick your baby up for the first time, do it from a sitting position. Reach for him from below, not from over his head. If he squeals do not put him down until he is quiet for at least 30 seconds.
· If he should get away from you, herd him into a small space. Do notchase him. Remember your baby is looking for security and love. He is actually bonding with his new family. His preference is to be with you. Provide him with the love and security he needs, and he will be asleep in your lap in no time at all.
Teens 3 Months to 12 Months
Most pigs are eager to please their owners. They respond well to love and praise just as young child does. Due to their unusually high IQs, they learn quickly and have very inquiring minds. They remember everything you wish they would forget. They are constantly checking out the newest additions to their environment. They are making up games for themselves that you would prefer they wouldnt. At about 3 or 4 months, they begin to test their boundaries. And to top it all off, they become more self-centered and want things their own way. Their hearing may become selective and they may even ignore your requests. They are testing their position in their new family. This is a typical teenage pig.
Because of the problems pig parents experience during this period, adolescent pigs run a high risk of being abandoned or taken to a shelter. Some pig parents are taken by surprise with the normal maturation and behavior and needs of the young pig. Others are so wrapped up in how cute and adorable their new piglet is that they let her get away with anything their heart desires. Although adolescence can be a trying time for the pig parent, there are a few steps to help you through the next few months.
· Play and Exercise: Make sure your pigs get amply time outside to graze and play. This is an excellent time to teach your pig tricks. When your pig is at home alone, provide him with appropriate activities to occupy her time. Also consider such activities as nursing home visits, trips to the park, and other public and family social events.
· Neuter Your Pig: All males should be neutered prior to 3 months. All females should be neutered prior to a year of age. By doing this you ensure your pet freedom from the hormonal problems of an intact pig.
· Be Consistent: Your entire household needs to treat the pig the same way. He will become confused if one family member punished while another tolerates a particular action. Decide exactly how you want your pig to live in your house and be consistent how you teach your expectations.
· Be a Leader: Your pig is hierarchical in nature. He views the entire household as members of her herd. She will test for her position in her herd. Unless your pig sees you and other humans as higher up the herd ladder, she will think twice about doing what you ask. He may even challenge other humans who enter his herd. You control his food, his environment and his exercise. Nothing is free. Make your pig earns what he wants. Teach him tricks and ask him to perform before he gets what he wants. Take control and dont spoil your pig.
· Be Accepting: It is unfair to punish your pig for his curiosity or “pig headiness”, when this is in a young pigs nature. Remind yourself that eventually your pig will learn what is acceptable in your family and what is not. Try to be patient and consistent in your approach. Use positive re enforcement for good behavior, and reasonable, loving, and consistent direction when your pig does something incorrectly. Remind yourself that eventually your pig will mature from their teenage period and more on to adulthood. The time you spend training your pig during this period will provide you pleasure for years to come. Have a sense of humor and enjoy your young pig’s personality and behavior.
Note: This brochure is meant as an overview of what to consider as you care for your Potbellied Pig. NAPPA recommends you continue to read other more in depth publications about these topics. Also, seek out reputable breeders and qualified Veterinarians as other good sources of information.
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