The Hard Truth
Pig Parenting Not for Cowards
Compliments of Pigs As Pets Association
Parenting requires knowledge and commitment. This is true whether the person is raising children or caring for pets. Being a pig parent is no different. The successful pig parent is one that understands the unique characteristics of the pig and is willing to make the effort and commitment to be a good pig parent.
- Pigs require outside time to be a pig. Pigs root, but can be trained to use a certain area of the yard, or to use a “rooting box” to satisfy their urge to root. Pigs are ranked 4th in intelligence of all animals, and are easily halter and lead trained. Probably the most important fact to realize is that pigs grow until they are about 3½ or 4 years old, and no honest person can guarantee the weight of an adult pig. Weight averages for adult pigs range from 90-150 pounds, and some pigs even top 200 pounds. Adult potbellied pigs are generally about 18 inches high. When maintained on a proper diet (grain-based without meat by-products), the pig has no body odor and the pig’s waste is odorless.
- It is commonly said that parenting a pet pig is like parenting an inquisitive two-year old . . . one that will remain so for ten to fifteen years. Pigs are also inquisitive and need toys, games, and training to keep them stimulated. The pig parent must “childproof” their house, installing childproof drawer locks on lower drawers, making sure that doors are closed and that food and harmful things are kept out of reach. For example, a pig parent recently forgot to make sure the garage door was fully closed and discovered that her pig was missing. She found the pig, and what was left of her five-pound bag of potatoes in the garage.
- The issue of food: Pigs will eat just about anything. That’s where the expression, “eats like a pig,” comes from! Unlike cats, which generally will stop eating when they are full, a pig will eat itself sick. It will also, if given the opportunity, eat things that are harmful to the pig, even fatal. The proper pig parent will feed their pig a potbellied pig food, or, if not available, a hog, rabbit, horse, or other grain-based feed with no more that 14% protein. Generally, piglets under 3 months old should get ½ to 1 cup of feed a day, and older pigs 1 ½ to 2 cups a day. This amount should be divided into a morning and evening feeding. Unless the pig spends the day grazing in the yard, the diet should be supplemented with fruit and leafy vegetables. (Avoid peas, potatoes, corn, and other starchy vegetables that are fattening. Also limit fruit because of the natural sugar content.) Iceberg lettuce is good, as it has almost no calories and provides bulk.
- Frozen grapes and cucumber slices also make good treats for tricks well done or lessons well learned. Other good treats are air-popped popcorn (plain, no butter), carrot slices, and individual pieces of dry cereal like Cheerios and Chex.
- The easiest way to be sure that the pig is not overfed is to measure out the treats for the day. To supplement all of this, the pig parent should also daily feed the pig a children’s complete vitamin tablet (any brand is fine).
- Pigs can be potty trained. The potty box should have low sides, as pigs do not like to step over things to use the potty, and should be large enough so the pig can turn around. Beware of slippery bottoms- use a non-slip rubber mat under the litter if needed. The round “dishes” used for draining water heaters make ideal and inexpensive potty boxes. Do not use clay-based kitty litter, as the pig could inhale it or eat it, both causing life-threatening medical problems. An inexpensive and absorbent material is pine shavings. Cedar is not recommended.
In conclusion, again let it be stated, a person considering a pig as a pet can be assured of a loving and intelligent pet for many years, if they are willing to learn about their pet and make a long-term commitment to pig parenthood. Pigs As Pets Association is available to help in educating the potential parent, and anyone interested in learning about the pig as a pet.
Pigs As Pets Association, Inc. is a non-profit educational organization that provides information and literature on the potbellied pig as a companion pet to those willing to learn about their pet and make a
long-term commitment to pig parenthood. Pigs As Pets Association is not involved in breeding nor do we encourage prospective pig owners to seek breeders to obtain their pets. We do encourage those who would like to parent pigs to seek out a pig shelter or humane society and adopt a pig
needing a home. We have, on occasion, put people desiring to adopt a pig in touch with shelters or families wishing to place their pigs. We also make information available to communities that are considering zoning changes to help them make informed decisions based on facts about potbellied pigs rather than undocumented opinions and urban legends.
This article is being used with permission from PAPA and is copyright protected.
Pigs As Pets Association, Inc.
The mission of Pigs As Pets Association, Inc. (PAPA) is to promote the potbellied pig as a pet, to assist different organizations, sanctuaries, groups and individuals in the rescue and placement of abused, neglected, abandoned or unwanted potbellied pigs; to educate the general public with the true nature and characteristics of the potbellied pig; to promote good health and welfare for the potbellied pig; and to provide a means by which potbellied pig owners can share information and join in common activities to further promote the health and welfare of potbellied pigs.
The Pig You Save Could Be Your Own