If you don’t have children, chances are you haven’t had much experience raising farm animals. However, there’s no reason why you can’t be a pig farmer! After all, pigs are some of the friendliest and smartest creatures on Earth.
They’re social enough to live with humans but independent enough to live their own lives. And while they may look like big furry balls of fluff, they’re actually pretty smart. In fact, pigs possess more cognitive ability than even the average dog. So if you’ve been thinking about getting a piglet for yourself or someone else, now is the time. Here’s everything you need to know about taking care of this unique animal.
Bonding With Piglets
It’s true, pigs are really cute especially when they’re babies. But just because they’re so adorable doesn’t mean they won’t require more work from you than other kinds of pets. You’ll still need to feed them, bathe them and take them outside every day.
The difference? These things are smarter than you probably realize.
Your piglet will love you unconditionally, which means you’ll need to spend time bonding with her. This might sound difficult at first, but pigs are very sociable animals. It only takes a little patience to get to know each other. Just remember, she loves you for who you are, not what you do.
As soon as you bring home your new porky pal, make sure you start interacting with her right away. Take her out into the yard and let her explore. She’ll sniff around until she decides she knows where she wants to go next. Then, give her treats and praise whenever she approaches you. Soon, she’ll want to spend more and more time near you.
This isn’t always easy, though. Pigs are notoriously stubborn creatures, so you’ll have to be patient and firm with her throughout the process. Don’t try to force her to come over to you; instead, slowly move toward her. Eventually, she’ll see there’s nothing wrong with approaching you, so she’ll follow you wherever you lead. Once you get used to her behavior, you can teach her tricks like standing up and walking through water.
Once you’ve formed an emotional attachment with your piglet, you can begin training her to perform certain tasks. For example, you could train her to fetch objects you throw over her head. Or you could use these same skills to help her learn commands such as sit, stay and lay down.
And don’t forget that pigs are very sensitive creatures. Never yell at or hit your piglet, as this can cause irreparable harm. Instead, speak calmly and softly to her, and avoid yelling at all costs. Also, never punish or scold your piglet in public places. Doing so will likely embarrass her and possibly even invite unwanted attention from strangers.
Feeding Your Piglet Proper Nutrition
Now that you know how to form a strong bond with your piglet, it’s time to focus on feeding her proper nutrition. As mentioned above, pigs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. Because of this, you’ll need to provide them with a balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Carbs are needed for energy, and you’ll want to include plenty of those in your piglet’s meals. Good sources of carbs for pigs include bread, cereal grains, and hay. Protein is essential for growth and repair, so you’ll need to supply your piglet with lots of different types. Tender cuts of meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt are good choices. Finally, fat provides pigs with necessary vitamins A and D, as well as keeping their skin moisturized. Some good sources of fat include butter, vegetable oil, yogurt, cottage cheese, and liver.
You can easily figure out how many calories your piglet needs by dividing her weight by 10. Now you just need to divide this number by four to determine how many ounces of food she needs per day. For instance, if your piglet weighs 100 pounds, multiply 100/10=10, then divide that number by 4 to find out she requires 25 ounces of food per day.
Because pigs are such active creatures, it’s important to keep them entertained. Luckily, they have plenty of toys to play with. Many pigs enjoy playing with hay bales, although you should steer clear of toys made specifically for hamsters. Other popular options include rope, rubber hams, tires, plastic trays, wicker baskets, and boxes.
Although pigs enjoy having fun, they shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time without supervision. Like any pet, pigs must be kept indoors during extreme temperatures. Make sure you check the indoor temperature regularly and adjust accordingly.
When it comes to cleaning your piglet’s cage, you should use warm water and soap or shampoo. Avoid using harsh chemicals, since they can damage your piglet’s delicate fur.
In addition to being physically active, pigs are also quite social. That said, they’re notorious escape artists, so it’s important to keep a close eye on them while they’re free to roam. Since pigs tend to run off quickly, you may need to employ traps, fences, and locks to prevent them from leaving the premises.
To minimize the risk of injury, it’s best to confine your pigs to specific areas. When choosing pens, consider whether they offer adequate ventilation and space. Remember, pigs like to root around in mud and poop, so you’ll need to clean their pen often. Also, you’ll want to choose pens that allow easy access to freshwater.
One way to ensure your pigs behave themselves would be to hire someone to walk them daily. This allows you to set boundaries and limits, as well as create positive reinforcement for desired behaviors.
When dealing with your pigs, treat them kindly and remain calm. Never shout, scream or show aggression. Pigs can sense fear, anger, and frustration, so your emotions will affect how they act towards you.
Since pigs are relatively dirty animals, you’ll need to maintain their hygiene on a regular basis. One simple trick is to put the newspaper down before entering the house. Before going inside, wipe down your shoes, hands, and face. Next, wash your clothes, towels, and bedding after coming back into contact with your pigs. Use hot water, soap, and extra-long underwear to wash your piglet’s hair.
While we’re on the topic of hair, pigs’ thick, curly coats require special attention. A common misconception is that pigs shed less hair than other animals. While this is partially true, pigs shed far more hair than other domesticated animals. Their large bodies are constantly covered in loose hairs, making grooming a weekly necessity.
A good way to properly groom your piglet would be to gently brush its coat with a soft comb. Be careful not to pull out too many hairs, as this can irritate and hurt your piglet. Another option would be to shave her hair once or twice a week. To accomplish this, simply trim her hair with scissors. Lastly, you can buy specially designed combs for pigs. These tools contain teeth that are spaced apart enough to safely remove loose hair, yet small enough to not tear apart your pig’s skin.
What Not To Do
There’s no doubt that pigs are intelligent, loving, and friendly creatures. However, they’re also stubborn and prone to misbehavior. Therefore, it’s extremely important to pay attention to certain rules when it comes to caring for them.
Never leave your piglet unsupervised for longer than 20 minutes. Pigs are known to escape artists, and they can become confused and scared if left unattended for too long. Also, pigs like to chew things, including furniture, electrical cords, blankets, clothing, and anything else they can reach. So, be sure to secure your piglet to a wall or floor with heavy chains or sturdy ropes.
Avoid letting your piglet lick your face or mouth. Pigs love to taste human flesh, which can potentially spread diseases to you and other members of your family. Additionally, pigs can carry bacteria and viruses that can infect you if you touch them.
Lastly, pigs can be destructive pests. They love to dig holes and destroy property. To stop this, you may need to fill in your piglet’s holes and cover up holes in walls with tape.
Pets are great companions, but sometimes the best ones are the unexpected ones. If you’ve got room in your heart for one (or two) pigs, here’s what you should know about caring for them.