Pig Care

Document Sample
Pig Care Powered By Docstoc
					      Pig Care
Of all the things that are going to affect the outcome of your decision to have a pet pig, environment is the
single most important. Take the time to understand what is needed and place him in a suitable
environment and you will have a healthy happy friend for many many years.

 Quick reference shortcuts:

Adding   a second pig

Arthritis and aging pigs

End of Life care

Eye conditions


Health topics

Hoof care


Medicine chest

Neutering and sexing (Why spay? see our actual pathology statistics on spays)


Water and pools

A 50'x100' yard with plenty of shade and edible grasses (dandelions are a favorite food if your yard has
some) is a minimum for long term care. No herbicides or pesticides. Pigs love exploring, so if in
addition to his yard you have another area, perhaps the front yard, where he can explore and sample new
things occasionally, all the better. This can be a supervised outing time, a walk in the woods, a visit to the
neighbors, etc. Just a break from his normal routine. Coming inside can accomplish the same thing.

In a farm setting there are a few special considerations. Woven wire fencing is a must. They are curious
and will wander some. Females in heat will go looking for a male. So a good fence is essential. They do
not mix safely with horses, donkeys, llamas. They are annoyed by and can be hurt by goats and sheep.
They do well with cattle and fowl. But pigs are extremely clean animals so housing them with animals
that leave droppings everywhere is a bad plan. They need a clean and private sleeping area. A pigs bed
is his castle.

A tight, well insulated house is necessary in cold climates. These pigs came from a sub tropical
environment. Young pigs have little fat to protect them; older pigs, especially in groups or two or more
sleeping together can tolerate much more cold. Build a large enough house to accommodate your pig
comfortably, but not a lot of space for heat loss. A 6'x6'x4' high makes a good size for one to four pigs. In
colder climates where temps drop below 0, insulate all walls, floor and ceiling with standard 3-1/2"
fiberglass insulation. Interior and exterior plywood walls. A solid floor of 1" boards or plywood. The door
should be faced away from prevailing winds and have 2 heavy rugs for doors, one outside and one inside.

A reflective heat lamp can be suspended or a ceramic light fixture installed for use in heating should
temperatures be below zero. Use standard 150 or 200 watt light bulbs, not heat bulbs. Keep light at least
2 feet above the pig.

WARNING. Any kind of light is a fire hazard. To be safe use the special heaters made especially for pigs
instead. These are available on line from ENasco and from Jeffers Pet. (See link of the Essentials" page.
). Pig heater, installed on wall so it doesn't get overheated under hay, is shown at right.

Fill the house with straw or hay and keep it 16 inches deep. They will bury themselves under it and be
nice and warm. Bedding won't last long as it becomes pulverized and flat so keep a check on it. Add a
blanket to the bedding for extra protection. If you live in a severe climate where sub zero is common, it is
best to plan an indoor sleeping area. If you live in a farm setting and have a barn, build a house inside the
barn and throw hay over it as well as in it. Or give them access, in the dry, to a roll or big pile of hay and
they will burrow into it. With multiple pigs no heat is usually required in a good barn with plenty of hay.

Besides drinking water (use flat bottomed shallow pans made for watering small stock and put out
multiple dishes in case they tip one over.) they need water for cooling off.

A stream, a pond, a wading pool, or a mudhole can all provide the necessary hot weather relief. Pigs
cannot sweat or pant; they must have water they can immerse in to cool off. This is essential. Heatstroke
is common. And they must have mud. Just water is not enough. Mud provides insect protection,
sunscreen and lubrication to prevent scaly skin.

"City Pig" Pool piggy drawing compliments of Victoria Holt

For the best pool money can buy go to PAHeartland for their specially manufactured piggy pools. They
have soft sides for easy entrance and napping, are low and skid proof so pigs aren't afraid to step into
them and are virtually indestructible. Easy to empty and clean every day as well. We had our first one
donated a year or so ago and now have 3 and wish I had more! I use a small one in our Special Care
building for a water trough since many of the crippled pigs can't easily steady themselves to drink from a
dish.. this allows them to rest on its edge while drinking. They come in 3 sizes. Email
PAHeartland@earthlink.net Joan will fill you in on colors and sizes and prices. They are about $45 and
up and well worth it. We have one in each elder and special needs pen as these are the only kind an
arthritic or elderly pig can get into.

Fencing must be tight at the bottom to keep pigs secure. Portable hog panels (or the higher cattle panels)
are the best fence as they are too heavy for a pig to pick up with his nose. If fences are loose a board
running all around the bottom will work. Once a pig knows a fence is weak he will keep pushing on it. If he
tries the fence and it is secure he'll accept that and usually not try again. Older neutered pigs seldom try
to wander unless food is scarce where they are.

Chicken wire, dog fence, garden fence, none of these types of fencing will hold a pig   who wants out.

Woven fence wire, if put up by a fencing professional or someone who has the
knowledge and the tools to stretch it properly, can be suitable but as it loosens with age
it will become unsafe. The only really secure fences are hog panels, combo panels,
cattle panels or a wood fence. A wood fence, with the bottom 2 inches from the ground
and the boards 4 inches apart will work. Also a picket fence if it is suitably anchored to
posts. With woven wire or any fence requiring wooden fence posts, the posts need to be
a minimum of 26 inches in the ground. Post hole diggers come in two types, regular or
deep hole, either of which will work. Set the post in about 6 inches of concrete, let set
up, fill the hole with a mixture of 2 inch rocks and dirt, tamped with an iron tamping bar
until the post cannot move even a hair in any direction. Then you can add wire.

A panel fence is easier, better, more secure and less costly in the long run. The panels
cost $ 18 to 24 dollars each. They are available at any farm supply store and are
delivered by the store. They are 16 feet long so cannot be hauled in a pickup truck. The
store may charge you $10 or $ 20 to bring them to you and its money well spent! The
posts for panels can be wood or metal. The metal panels are quickly driven with a post
driver (about $17 at farm supplies or Lowes type stores) and fastened with 14 ga
galvanized or plastic coated wire. The post only needs to go deep enough to bury the
barbed bottom plate (so all you see is the post above ground)

If you use un-coated wire it will rust off in a year and you will have to replace it. Search
out the proper plastic coated or galvanized wire. It MUST be rigid wire, not stranded.
Cut 6 inch sections of wire and using pliers twist tightly around the panel stay and the
post. Apply 3 twists of wire per post. For wood posts use 2" staples and nail panels in
place. You can easily put up 20 panels in a few hours. That’s an 80 foot by 80 foot pen!

End the panel at the gate posts and put a heavy duty 4 foot gate. The light weight chain
link dog pen gates won't last a week. A pig will chew the wire right out of them. A heavy
duty gate from a farm supply store will work fine.
Fence summary: The fence's purpose is primarily to keep dogs out and secondly to
keep piggy in.

  Chain link is one of the least useful for pigs. They can easily chew through
  it (by loosening the weave) and dogs can chew into it. About an hour or
  two is all it takes a pig to chew through it or loosen it at the bottom if he is
  determined to get out. Chain link is also easily climbed by dogs and other
  Woven wire is easily climbed but not as easily chewed through.. but they
  can loosen it at the bottom over time and once loosened at the bottom
  they wiggle under it or dogs wiggle into their pen.
  Underground barriers to prevent dogs digging in: I once built a pen with a
  2 foot buried wire laid on an angle and it took the neighbors dog almost
  all night to dig far enough out beyond the buried wire to dig under it and
  get into the pen and kill the chickens. It may work.. my experience has
  not been encouraging.
  Board fencing is not bad but has to be Pressure Treated so it can be
  against the ground and offers no protection from digging. Pigs don't dig
  much so getting out isn't a problem but we are back to dogs again..
  digging in.. or climbing over it.. coyotes, probably not.. they find a hole to
  slip in and out or move on.. they aren't all that brave.
  Hot wire is good where noses or toes have to touch it.. like at the top or
  bottom of a fence, otherwise its useless for dense coated animals like
  coyotes and dogs (longhaired or terrier types)

Foolproof fences are non existent. Here we use cattle panels for all our
fencing. Dogs and coyotes can't climb them. Anything small enough to go
through them presents very little danger to an adult pig. they are 52 " high
which is high enough to deter most everyone, even deer which are a major
problem with pigs because of the Bratislava (leptospirosis) risk and the
meningial worms they bring in .. be SURE to vaccinate and keep the pigs
wormed regularly if you have deer in the area at all. We are glad to see our
Great Pyrenees keep all animals out so nothing can bring in disease.

When we first moved to this bigger farm in a more rural area, for areas
where we were worried about something digging in we cut cattle panels into
3 pieces horizontally and laid them flat on the ground.. wiring one edge to
the upright panels and staking the other side. Its been several years and
nothing has ever moved one of these flat panels. The weight of the panel
prevents anyone's nose from lifting them up, even without the stakes. so
they can dig all they want and get nowhere
Health and Care topics

Pigs are very healthy animals by nature. They can resist infection better than any
animal. .Keeping a pig healthy starts with daily grazing.. Its how their immune systems
stay active.

Routine care involves annual vaccinations and periodic worming.

Vaccinate for Erysipelas, Atrophic Rhinitis, Pasteurella and Haemopholous and Strep
Suis. Your vet may recommend others. Some vets are now recommending that pigs be
vaccinated as youngsters and then not vaccinated again for several years, if ever. If not
exposed to other pigs this may be a safe practice. In the country a rabies shot may be a
good thing as well .

A lot of controversy exists about the frequency of vaccinations.. whatever the schedule,
you are attempting to prevent some deadly killers.. like erysipelas.. These pigs were
caught early and survived. Their sister did not.

The sloughing off of huge pieces of skin is one form that this disease takes after its high
fever. It can also kill quickly or leave a pig permanently lamed.

Worming with Ivomec can be done both by injection and by oral administration. Putting
the medicine in any tomato based food, jelly or mayonnaise sandwiches or fruit juice will
make it easy for him to take. Other wormers may or may not have the specific
medication for lung worms. If you use another wormer and your pig coughs you may be
missing the lung worms. Both of these products at right do the same job; one is the
brand name Ivomec, the other the generic. Be sure it is labeled For Cattle and Swine
or for Swine and is the injectible, not the pour-on. The injectible is what you use orally
in a sandwich. The dosage of 1cc per 75 pounds is what you use orally as well as by
injection. Some recommend a slightly higher dose for oral use, 1 cc for every 60
pounds. These products are very safe.

External parasites are limited to lice (unusual in pet pigs) and mites. Pigs scratch for
enjoyment and when they are losing their winter hair so a bit of daily scratching does
not indicate a problem If they scratch behind the ear regularly look for ear mites. Lice
will result in bare patches and intense scratching. You will see the eggs as white specks
along and behind the front shoulders and if you look closely you will see the lice as well
as they are large critters. Ivomec kills lice as well as internal parasites so you shouldn't
be troubled with them if you worm with it. . There are also dusts such as Permectin
which kill lice. However, be sure that you don't use them when the weather is warm and
the pig goes regularly into his pool or mudhole. He will drink the water and ingest
poison. Poison is poison, whether you are a person or a pig. Don't eat it. If you must
powder him in hot weather then keep him away from his pool for a day and then wash
him off thoroughly before allowing him to use it freely. And watch that run off water so it
doesn't pool someplace where he will find it.

Dry Skin: Many pigs have dry skin. Nature made mud for that very purpose. It
moisturizes and protects from sun and bites. Be sure your pig has free access to mud to
keep his skin in condition. Also useful is Aloe cream. Farnam has a product called Aloe
Heal which is excellent for healing wounds and dry skin. Good for your cuts and scrapes
as well. Find it at any horse supply store. Dry flaky skin is often caused by the lack of fat
in the diet.. be sure you aren't over zealous in trying to keep your pig thin by feeding a
very low fat diet. Fat is essential to health. Obesity is bad but pots are naturally round
and carry a thick layer of fat. Adding a capsule of Flax Seed Oil or Fish Oil can be of

Shedding: From early spring to mid summer pigs will shed. This is normal. Protection
(plenty of shade) from excessive sun (sunburn) is essential.

Hoof Care: Some pigs never need their hooves trimmed. Others need it regularly.
Trimming is often a trauma (it upsets the pig too). You may want to have your vet do
this. Or you can do it yourself with a pair of "nippers". Use caution in how much you
trim, the tender "quick" extends well into the hoof and supplies the blood there. If you
look closely you will see a white line that outlines the hoof wall where it meets the
tender quick. Clip outside the white line. Sanding the foot flat is essential if they grow in
a rounded shape on the bottom. We use a palm sander. Its small enough to handle
easily and keep safely on the hoof. If your pig will allow a little nip during the belly rub,
nip just a bit at a time off each front foot. The backs rarely need any trimming. Outdoor
pigs generally keep their hooves worn down very nicely.


A word about drugs : If you have a vet who does farm calls then recommend
to him the tranquilizer, Midazolam. It is effective, safe, has none of the
problems associated with recovering from sedation, and you can do about
anything you want to a pig fully under its influence. Over the years,
because of the high risk with sedation and the recovery issues our vets and
the university vet have found safer, less traumatizing methods of
tranquilizing pigs. For older pigs and pigs in poor condition it greatly
reduces risk, making surgical procedures much safer. For our old pigs we go
Midazolam to gas, with no sedation between. For "minor" procedures like
tusk trimming it makes a pig easily handled in 20 to 30 minutes, lasts a
couple hours and leaves them awake but dozing until it wears off. It can be
injected in the muscle or sprayed up the nose with the same effect.

Without using drugs, hoof trimming requires holding the pig down by one person
grasping his front legs firmly, and another his hind legs and gently lying him on his back.
He will scream like he's being killed and
struggle to get away. Just be easy and he will
quiet down and then the person with the
nippers can quickly nick about 1/4" deep at
each side of the hoof where you want it to
break off or do a complete trim. If "nicking", as
the pig walks around he will flex this
"damaged" area until it breaks off naturally.
This manner of trim (the mini trim) is low risk;
you are unlikely to hurt the quick and its
quickly over so stress on the pig is minimal.
Alternately and an excellent way to handle a
pig if you have a pig who will allow someone to
walk up behind him and grasp his front legs
above the knee is the "rocking pig" method
shown at right. The person holding needs to be
strong enough AND tall enough to manage this
position for several minutes. Larger pigs
(Harley, top right) are often kept supported in a
standing position while the smaller ones
(Casey, below) are "rocked" back into Jason's

Hooves are easily trimmed with "nippers" of medium size

All male pigs have tusks. They start to become apparent at about 18 months of age.
Tusks need to be cut off when they become long. Usually every 1 to3 years It varies
greatly from one pig to another. There are some horrible dental problems with pigs,
likely the result of all the inbreeding. Have your vet check the pigs teeth annually when
he vaccinates or does his checkups. It will be difficult but there are several problems to
look for that must be corrected if present. You will need to tell your vet what to look for.
There isn't a wealth of information on these problems available to them and many vets
only see one or two pot bellies in their practice so they don't get a lot of first hand

The best choice for tusk cutting is to let your vet do it. He will use a gigli wire and cut them safely
close to the gum, and it won't have to be done as often as if you cut them as shown below.

If you plan to work on your pigs tusks yourself it will take 3 people and the tools below.
Instructions are simple: 1 person hold front legs, one hold rear. Gently lie him on his
side and roll him onto his back (be careful that tusks don't fall into his open mouth) Keep
him on his back and as he quiets a bit cut off the worst part of the tusk. Don't try to cut
to the gum or even very short, you may cut his gum or his lip and have a nasty infection
on your hands. Also tusks can break off and splinter down into the gums and cause
infections. Tusks grow slowly, cut just the problem part off. Just outside the mouth.
Some tusks are as much as an inch in diameter and it will take MUSCLE to cut them.
They may splinter badly. Use the dremel tool to lightly smooth the sharp edges so he
doesn't cut his mouth eating. Once you get accustomed to doing it the whole process
will take less than 3 minutes. It can be far safer and less stressful to the pig than loading
him up and taking him to a vet and knocking him out and going through anesthesia
recovery. But you can also do irreparable damage that will later cause him serious
problems. Its always a risk. But be warned that some pigs can stress out and die, from
any confining procedure.. so there is NO 100% risk free way to handle a piggy.

Tools for the work: bolt cutters and a battery dremel tool

Alternative methods exist, such as using saw wire (gigli wire) . This is best done by your
vet. And usually requires sedation. It creates excessive heat in piggy's mouth which
hurts him and he will fight you. But it makes a much smoother cut and does not risk
splintering. It also allows a much closer cut so the trimming is less frequent.

Warning: cutting with Gigli wire can be dangerous . The angle of the cut needs to
duplicate the angle of the tusk's actual growth or it can grow up straight into the roof of
the mouth. To be done correctly requires sedation and an experienced vet who knows
about the angles needed.

Tusks that go wrong

A very obvious problem is tusks that are long, curve back toward the face and begin to
rub away the hair on the face. These will continue to grow into the face, puncturing the
cheek, causing infections and growing back into the jaw bone. Very painful to the piggy.

Bottom tusks that grow too straight and grow up into the mouth make it sore all the time
and the pig can't eat. Will eventually cause deadly holes and infection in the roof of the

Top tusks that curl back around the jaw and grow into the face.
:Top tusks that grow too close to the jaw and actually grow into the gums and bone
These are underneath the top lip and are not obvious unless inspected. If you don’t see
your boy pig’s tusks, better look under that lip.

 Long tusks are a health risk.. cut them or have the vet cut them..

 Most pigs just need the long tusks cut off every few years and that's that.

For tusk problems consult your vet but keep an eye on them yourself. You will get to
know your pigs behavior well and will usually be the one to tell the vet what is wrong,
instead of the other way around.

Like Persian cats and snub nosed dogs, the flatter the face the more trouble with the eyes. Also, obese
pigs have additional problems as fat layers droop over and into the eyes causing blindness. Usually
losing weight will correct the problem though some remain blind. (Pigs can also become "fat deaf" so
keep your pigs weight under control)

While many pigs have just the tiniest amount of eye visible to you, they can see you quite well. Eyes that
have constant "wetting or tearing" in fat pigs and flat faced pigs are probably normal. This usually appears
as just tearing and may be reddish in color on your hand. Shown below is a healthy normally sighted pig
who has streaks of wetness that run in the creases of his face.

The Medicine Chest

Recommended pig care items to have on hand

Peroxide with a spray top. Very handy for cuts that he won't let you touch.

A water based antibiotic spray such as spectomycin and water. Ask your vet for the
antibiotic and the solution strength. Great to have hanging on the fence and handy.

Antihistamine (like Benedryl or Zyrtec). As with any animal, breathing difficulties from
allergies can occur. If he is unable to take a pill, mash a Benedryl in a little water to
make a paste and smear it in his mouth. Use human dosage. There is a chewable
Benedryl that tastes like grape soda for kids.. most pigs will take it.
Aspirin. If he gets a hurt leg or foot or other obvious painful condition aspirin can be
used for a day or two . Longer use can be dangerous to the stomach. Never use any
other human pain relievers like Ibuprophens. For long term problems like arthritis and
other bone and joint problems see the section on Arthritis All PBP vets now
recommend that if you use any kind of pain killer, steroidal or non steroidal, you should
give a stomach acid reducer such as Prilosec or Ranitidine (both available over the
counter) at the same time.

SMZ is the number one used antibiotic on the farm here. Easy to crush, easy to feed in
any sandwich, its very effective for a wide range of ills. Tetracyclene and Amoxycillin
are two other common antibiotics that are used frequently. Have them on hand and call
your vet for dosages and recommendations at the first sign of infection. Another handy
drug is Doxycyclene which is a once a day antibiotic which can make medicating a lot
less complicated for a pig who hates taking pills.

All pills can be crushed and put into a pill sandwich with mayonnaise or ketchup or jam.
You may have to get creative if he decides he doesn't want to take it and vary the
sandwich content. Worst case, crush the pill or open the capsule and mix with a tiny
amount of liquid, pull it up into a syringe (be sure to remove the needle!!) and just squirt
it in his mouth. There are handy feeding syringes for this purpose (See link of the
Essentials" page. )

Other sure fire ways to get him to take a pill:

I have found most all my pill refusers will change their mind if I roll the pill in a nice big
hunk of sugar cookie dough. Buy the refrigerator roll type and it keeps a long time.
Other good taste teasers for the finicky medicine taker: Pumpkin pie mix, turkey stuffing
mix, and gorgonzola cheese.

Or >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Crush it and mix into eggnog or Gatorade

Or >>>>>>>>>>>

Break into tiny bits and put each bit into a canned peach halve or a fat jelly bean.

Or >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Hide pill in hot dog bites ( there are vegetarian hot dogs available, but pigs are
omnivores and eating meat does not harm them)

 (Be sure that you NEVER give a pig any pork products. The risk of returning hog
cholera to our country is very real today with so much pork coming from Mexico where it
is rampant. Ingesting a tiny piece of ham from your plate or a left over slice of pepperoni
pizza could bring back this disease that was eradicated 50 years ago. ). Any meats your
pig eats should be fully cooked. Ham, pepperoni, salami, and many other pork
products are not cooked.. just smoke cured..

 Lifestyle; the necessity you can't buy at the pet store

This is a simple description of how a pig lived in his native environment and how his
body and spirit are designed to live. Bold letters indicate the applications/problems in
this culture, so far from their natural world. These problems are our responsibility, as
guardians, vets, behaviorists, owners, to solve if we are to give them the life they need
to be healthy and happy.

Pots came from a subtropical rainforest. Their lives were lived in the semi dark of an
overhead canopy in humid and temperate conditions.. Direct sun and dry conditions
are unhealthy for them, as is extreme heat or cold. They grew up in a well
constructed dry "hide" that their parents built. They were weaned at about 5 months of
age. Early weaning by breeders is cruel, unnatural and results in early sudden
deaths, pigs with emotional and health problems and pigs who never cope
reasonably in social environments. It often results in the death of the baby pig
before they can adjust to a new, nutritionally and emotionally inadequate
condition. The initial paralyzing fear of the human holding it, coupled with the
wrong food, the chemical pollutants assailing it in food and water and bedding,
all add up to sudden death. These breeders are often catering to women who feel
the need to bottle feed a baby pig, attempting to make a surrogate child of it
regardless of the price the pig pays. In their natural state they were raised and
taught by both parents. Boars in a proper environment do not attack their babies and
kill them as is the common story of pigs kept in "breeding" conditions. Fathers act
as aggressive guardians for the new family members. positioning themselves OUTSIDE
the hide in any kind of weather, where they can sleep lightly while the mother takes care
of the wee babes. The family unit stays together. Children grow up over 4 to 5 years
and some, with their siblings as pals, start their own social groups. Bonds of family are
very strong in pigs and the emotional suffering of being separated from their
siblings and mate, parents and other kin is acute and can often result in the death
of the pig. We call it suicide. Is there another word that better describes an
unhappiness so painful that a healthy being will cease eating and drinking and
allow itself to die?

Pigs who are taken early and raised by humans and think the humans represent
their family often suffer the same fate. Hundreds of pigs have done this.. usually
the result of a long litany of abuses.. beginning by early weaning before a pig has
time to find itself, find its own piggy centering, raised in close confinement by a
doting human "parent", never given any stimulation other than the human
attention, deprived of physical exercise to develop their bodies by running and
spinning and falling into a pile of leaves day after growing day, often tied out to
"do their business" where they see but cannot experience the natural world ,
often deprived of sufficient food to "keep them small", deprived of social
interactions with those who speak their own language, deprived of natural fibers
to aid their slow and often painful digestive processes, ....as the pig grows up
and starts acting territorial at the age of 18 months to 2 years old, the teen years
of the pigs life where growing up is a demanding process., .in its "jail cell" of a
laundry room, bedroom , garage or basement, the pig strays from the desired
behavior and the infatuation wears thin ; the human takes the pig to a shelter and
dumps it. The pig now has nothing. Everything it knew from the first days of its
life are gone. It sits in a concrete cell with no hope of ever finding love or social
interaction again. It elects to die. We have seen scores f these sad children come
through our gates. We have not lost one yet but often have to force them to eat
and drink for months while they begin to adjust to a new world. In a shelter
where personal attention is not possible they simply die of their grief.

As they grow up in the wild they learn survival techniques or they die. They don't get
obese lying around with nothing to do. A tiger smell in the jungle keeps the urge to
vegetate at a real minimum. They are active, running and playing as kids, competing
for territory as adults. Running from predators.. Fighting over food, challenging others
right to the water hole.. these are all natural interactions which make their social lives
full and worth living. Sparring just for fun is also a frequent activity, sort of a Saturday
afternoon piggy boxing match I suppose.. just to prove who's faster or stronger or who
will last longer in a real fight. Just a natural training exercise. Their social interactions
are complex and diverse and are what fill their lives up, making them emotionally and
intellectually content.

 I have watched two pigs here at the sanctuary grow up and grow old in two very
different situations.. Hoku, a housepig who has fought my every attempt to adjust him to
an outdoor lifestyle and Dudley, a pig of the same age, same size, same personality,
same number of years in the sanctuary, who adjusted to being an outdoor, free ranging
herd boss. .Hoku is childlike, immature acting, a cry baby about shots, cries if he
experiences any hardship, hates all strangers in the house, and is essentially, at 16, too
crippled with arthritis to move much. Dudley is up every morning at daybreak, has
suffered the loss of his mate, undergone a long period of being a loner (7 years), has
come back to the social group, fills each day with sun and companionship and sleeps
well. Hoku has nightmares, and is picky about what he eats.. has to take acid reducers
for his stomach.. wets his bed often.. Dudley is layed back, friendly, eats everything in
sight, non aggressive with anyone in any herds, just enjoys being his own self. While
these two pigs "prove" nothing statistically, they are examples of the two lifestyles and
the results you may expect. Of the hundreds of pigs in our system, we see the same
patterns, pig after pig, of pigs who have lived confined lives blossoming into healthy
happy mature pigs as they are adjusted into a more natural setting. In the wild their lives
are full, it is the deprivation in our culture which destroys these lives, not the disposition
of the pig. What observations we have made in a naturalistic but not native environment
only approximate the actual conditions they would experience in the wild, but it is
enough to see the patterns.

Pigs will wean their kids at about 4 to 5 months but that in no way breaks the familial
ties. The kids remain in the family and are protected all their lives or until they decide to
go off and start their own group. Father teaches them about hunting nuts in the woods
here. They do not challenge their parents as they become adults. They live in peace..
something we might need to learn judging by the problems in human families these

       A few of the instincts we see questioned by the number of emails we get are
presented below. Understanding your pig is a very good start to providing for his needs.
And when he's happy you will be too!!

Too many P’s in your piggies Pool?

 Pigs are very clean animals , always going to a single area away from their bed to leave their
wastes. They will make themselves sick “holding it” before wetting in their bed or messing near
their house.

Yet many pigs pee in their pool. Why do they do that? Its simply a hard wired genetic behavior,
a natural instinct for survival.

 If you are a wild pig in the rainforest, the best way to prevent the predator from finding you is to
keep all odors away from your nest of leaves and sticks… far away!

The spoor is strongest in your droppings and urine.. It is essential that it be far away from your
home. . A stream of water is the safest possible place to deposit your wastes, letting them be
quickly dissipated and flow away from your hiding place.

Pot bellied pigs aren’t far from their jungle ancestors, and instinct isn’t so discriminating that it
discerns the difference between a wading pool and a jungle stream. So piggy uses the pool for
the best of all reasons, survival .

 He is not a "dirty animal" , nor is he trying to send you a subtle message, he doesn't have
separation anxiety or a bowel infection or need his mind probed by a pet psychic..

He is just fine; doing what he ought. Just empty the pool regularly . They will often drink from it.

"My pig just Loves his blankie!!"

Baby pigs and even adult pigs need two things.. cover to hide under and fiber in their diet.
Blankets can provide both. One is a good thing, the feeling of protection from hiding under a
blanket while they sleep. (It represents a good deep nest of leaves covering them). The other is a
very bad thing and can actually cause the death of a pig kept inside. Rooting for fiber is
necessary in a pigs life, both for the nutrients and fibers the process will produce in a proper
outdoor environment, and for the emotional satisfaction it elicits. But Nylon and Dacron and
polyester and other fibers found in carpets and blankets are not digestible. They can cause
obstructions in the gut that can kill. If you do not keep your pig outside where he can root
natural and desirable fibers, then be sure his blankets are pure cotton, not man made fibers that
cannot be digested. Cotton fibers may also present risks, just less of them. Give him a rooting
box with some dirt and some small branches or small wood logs with bark to use for the fiber
seeking. activity. Also a small block of hay to chew on.

Arthritis and the aging pig
Like people, pigs have problems aging. Their appetite may be reduced and they may get thin.
While they may have a serious condition, they may simply be getting old. Happens to the best of
us. A change of diet to a more palatable food such as Mazuri youth feed or a Heartland feed may
encourage them to eat better and improve their digestion. More greens in the diet are essential if
the piggy isn’t grazing as much as he used to. Older pigs can benefit by increased protein in the
diet. Nutritionists say eggs are probably one of the best things you can give him.. very digestible,
tasty, and full of protein and rich natural fats. Nuts are another excellent source of protein and
fats for him. Use the unsalted varieties. The more vegetables he eats the better. You cannot over
feed him in fresh vegetables.

Be careful about laxative feeds as they can cause bloating and discomfort. Fresh vegetables are
natures laxatives. Romaine lettuce is always well liked. Add some carrots too and some spinach.
As they get older you don’t have to worry so much about their weight but too much candy and
sweets are still bad for them.. Use fresh fruits instead.

Plenty of fluids in the diet is an essential part of any healthy regimen. As pigs age they often do
not get enough. Feeding plenty of fresh foods will keep that liquid in his system naturally.

Fiber is essential: we feed large amounts of fibrous fruits and vegetables daily to the pigs unable
to graze.. . Grazing and natural tubers/roots and other forage is essential to maintain the
necessary balance in the digestive tract. No dry, processed fiber can successfully replace the
fluid rich pulpy vegetation that natural feeding provides. Dry pellets bind up and often contribute
to obstructions and cause simple blockages in the system.
   A simplistic way to view the wet vs. dry issue is this, dry feed, grains/fiber no matter what kind
of dry feeds you use are over 90% dry matter.. Fresh foods, whether grass or Romaine lettuce or
tomatoes or pears.. are all 90% or more water.. the fiber is there.. but it is in the natural form
needed to keep the whole system full of fluids and fiber simultaneously so the bowels act on a
large mass of wet material and not a compact dry block. Also, when grazing at will, pigs will graze
and forage for several hours a day so food in this wet form will be a frequent introduction to the
gut, and not a single daily lump, surrounded by nothing else that can bind up . We feed fresh
veggies/especially leafy ones like Romaine and Spinach and Green leaf, and fruits, at a ratio of 3
or 4 to one of grain. So if you want to feed 1 cup of grain he would need to eat 3 or 4 cups of fresh
foods too. Cutting back on the grain to introduce more fresh foods is a good trade off.. but to
assure suitable nutrition for a pig who can't get out and graze and hunt the foods he needs daily,
don't eliminate too much grain. (Another good reason for the Mazuri youth is the higher level of
available protein and other nutrients allows that a smaller quantity can be fed. )

Here is a link to a handy chart to evaluate the moisture in various foods. Every
day he should have several helpings of high moisture foods.

Moisture chart
Fluids: Here is what we have determined to be the primary cause of constipation in older pigs.
Many simply don't take in sufficient water to deal with the dry mater. Its an unnatural diet and they
do not respond to it as well as they should. Adding the greater amount of fresh foods will add the
water with the fiber, the best thing you can do .. and adding other liquids to his diet will encourage
added fluid intake. Tang, the age old orange flavored dry mix is easy to sprinkle into the water and
ours all enjoy it a couple times a week. Also tomato juice is a big hit here. It can be watered down
to half strength. Don't use artificial sweeteners.. a bit of natural sweetening won't hurt him,
artificial sweeteners can be serious health hazards.

Exercise which should be several active hours a day in search of forage, is often curtailed by the
pig or his guardians. The guardians can provide a fenced yard and a warm dry house outside
under the trees which will fix their part of the activity puzzle. The pig however may still refuse to
exercise enough to maintain bowel motility. This is especially true of arthritic and older pigs..
they are achy and don't want to exercise.

The main thing lacking in most older pigs lives is stimulation and competition. Often as we see
our friends becoming more and more sedentary we feel sorry for them, and try to make their lives
more comfortable with extra pillows and special treats. It may actually be better for them to have
to work for their supper.. go for a walk, be annoyed by the puppy, batted playfully in the face by
the cat. I have watched the pigs here, and compared their lives to those of the housepigs that
come in and my own beloved housepig Hoku.. The ones who have spent many years in a
competitive, outdoor environment, with a more natural diet available to them all day long, get up
every morning before daylight and head out to the woods or the pond or to a favorite pasture
area.. They bicker and snap at each other over beds, and crowd each other out of the feed trays..
They come in for breakfast and a nap, and head back out to find berries off the hackberry trees or
walk up the hill to the spring. They are 14, 15 and 16 years old in some cases, and vital and
healthy and happy piggies. My housepig, and other housepigs I know at 11 and 12 years old, are
sedentary, often grumpy and have problems with their digestion, arthritis and simply act “old”,
sometimes depressed, but more often, just disinterested. . A walk across the yard for dinner is
almost too much effort. They are often overweight. While they have enjoyed the best of
everything as our much loved friends, we have, in the process, shortened their lives and made
their last years less vital than they should be. It happens with people as well as pigs. And thinking
about how the elderly live and reading about the psychology of aging in humans will give you a lot
of insight into the aging of your pigchild.

To improve his life in his senior years:

  Get a dental exam

       Feed a higher protein, more palatable feed such as Mazuri Youth

       Be sure he gets several helpings a day of fresh greens, (spinach and romaine are usually
       liked) ,fresh or cooked green beans, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Less grain, more
       fresh foods is a good rule. (If you absolutely can't manage fresh or frozen vegetables
       every day use a whole food supplement on the days when you can't . Its a dehydrated
       form of fresh vegetables and fruits with all the salt and sugar extracted. Recommended by
       doctors and cancer nutritionists as the best source of nutrition for anyone who doesn't get
       the 10 servings a day they should. Any day he doesn't get fresh fruits and veggies, be
       sure he drinks plenty of juices or water.. IF YOU NEED THE SUPPLEMENT TO ADD TO HIS
        Unless he has had a blood workup and it showed a vitamin or mineral deficiency, do not
        give any supplements. Medical studies have shown that all these years of taking
        supplements, thinking we were helping our bodies has actually caused us to stop
        producing essential elements that we need for good health. It’s the same with the piggy. If
        he is diagnosed with a deficiency, supplement it.. otherwise, leave off all the vitamins and
        minerals. His PBP feed is balanced to give him everything he needs. You add the fresh
        foods to bolster his immune function and aid in good digestion. That's all he needs.

       Be sure he has access to outside and encourage lots of outdoor time... even in colder
        climates.. a walk outside is healthy.

        Make him “work” for some special treats.. sprinkle a few low fat crackers, dried fruit
        pieces or popcorn around in the yard so he has to seek it out Use the treat balls outside
        too. Put a small log (About 30 pounds or so) in the yard and hide a cookie under every few
        days.. he will push that log around looking for that cookie every day.

       Stimulate his interest by providing a companion.. a young pig, a cat or kitten, the activity
        will liven his days.

        If he begins to show any pain in walking get him off of hard floors. Be planning for this
        eventuality as it is the most important thing for an arthritic pig. It may require some
        remodeling of a place in your house or a special place constructed for him. All the drugs
        in the world won’t give him much benefit if he has to walk across a tile, concrete or hard
        wood floor to get where he wants to go.. he will stop getting up if it hurts to walk.


For the arthritic pig we have lots of choices to reduce inflammation and improve the fluids around
the joints. With over the counter natural medicines/supplements like glucosamine and
chondroitin, use the equine products and our vets usually recommend 1/2 the horse dosage.
Check with your own vet about your pigs needs. Some vets will prescribe pain relieving drugs
such as Rimadyl and the newest and best Derramax. These are not usually safe for long term use
and must be accompanied by the use of an acid reducer such as Ranitidine (Equate is the
Walmart OTC brand) These drugs will provide anti inflammatory effects and pain relief until the
long term healing benefits of the injectible (or oral) drugs listed below can take effect.

Glucosamine and chondroitin compounds slow some degenerative conditions. We have found the
best result with a horse product called NEXT LEVEL. It is a syrup and they will eat it on their feed
with no problem. Our vet says to use ½ the horse dosage. There is also a powder than many
people say is even better called Cosequin. It too is an equine product, though it is released for
dogs and cats and has been tested on humans with good result. The reports I have had from
many places using this product speak very well of it.. they are getting excellent results to long
standing problems. Most of these preparations are expensive but effective.. one container will last
a long time and give piggy so much pain relief that it is well worth the price.

Cosequin is the best you can use for an oral product.

Adequan and its generic form, glucosaminoglycans, is very effective at improving/increasing the
synovial fluids around the bad joints. Given weekly for 4 weeks, then monthly, these injections are
very effective on many animals. It works. We have seen remarkable results on our severe cases.
We have over 40 pigs on it and only 2 show limited effects.. the rest are substantially improved by
its use. And in many pigs some damage is actually reversed . They keep getting better over time.
Below is a link to Heartland Vet supply who carries a generic form called Chondroprotec. Or ask
your local druggist for the generic glucosaminoglycans, and save more on the prescription.
Discuss treatment with your vet when you get the prescription. Or talk with Dr van Amstel at the
University of Tennessee large animal clinic. This treatment is for life. It isn't a quick fix. But it will
add many long years of improved mobility and alleviated pain.

You will find these items under Equine sections at most on-line Vet Supply companies like Valley
Vet and Vetwarehouse.com search for Chondroprotec . You can also find Cosequin here.

 glucosaminoglycans is available by prescription at The Medicine Shoppe. 423-245-1022 (ask
for Beth, the pharmacist). We currently have a double strength concentration in test here and are
having excellent results.

For the few ho over a year or more show no improvement, and are in increasing pain, we have
started using shots directly into the joint. These shots are depo-medrol and Sarapin. The pig
must be sedated before injection into the joint. Age and condition will determine if he is a good

If you have to give a shot every few weeks, relax.. he will get accustomed to it and the pain relief
makes it well worth it. .. we have 25 pigs here on the shots.

DMSO.. some pigs have had shown pretty remarkable results from the application of medical
grade DMSO gel. DMSO is NOT FDA approved for drug use. Discuss the possible side effects
and appropriate use with your vet before using it.

Prednisone: when all else has failed ask your vet about long term steroids. They are very
inexpensive and effective for the older pigs but are not without substantial risk. And must be
accompanied by Nexium or Prilosec or some other acid reducers as determined by your vet.

Older pigs should have heated beds. If he sleeps outside or in a garage on concrete floors be sure
to pad his bed well. Pigs should never be on concrete. Arthritis is greatly aggravated by concrete
so if that's all he has to sleep on put rubber mats over the concrete and under his bedding. Pet
bed warmers are available from Nasco and many pet, farm and feed supply stores. Ask for hard
rubber heated bed warmers made by Stanfield. Always provide room for the pig to get off the
warmer if it gets too hot. Better no warmer at all than one that gets hot so he sleeps outside his
house in the snow and cold.

Click here to go to Essentials page where you can find links for heaters.

Our Special Care facility here at the sanctuary is devoted to pigs who have such
problems. Its development over the last 5 years has taught us a lot about the
necessary environment for the crippled ones.

Pigs are very smart, and will not carelessly put them selves at risk. And their
"footing" under them is very much an issue.. if the ground is soggy or steep or
gravely, they will test each step to be sure its safe. When they become arthritic
they know their mobility is compromised. They will refuse to go up or down a
single step that they have been using for years. They will refuse to get out of their
beds to walk across a tile floor that they have always walked across. Suddenly
they seem cranky and they won't go out to use the bathroom. These are not
signs of getting old.. they are survival instincts that tell them they are not able to
negotiate the surfaces in front of them. Add to that the pain of arthritic joint and
you have a sad sad situation of a pig who will stay in his bed the rest of his life.
Many people euthanize their pets because they feel sorry for the suffering. But
most can be mobile and out of pain in the right environment. They have special

  Totally level walking surface
  Outdoor dirt, or much better, sand, surface for their environment
  sleeping area that does not require any step up (house with dirt floor)
  Heated bed
  Overhead heating or fully warmed house in winter
  Proper nutrition to include daily greens and vegetables and a higher protein feed
  the company of another pig, a cat or a radio .. the days get long ...
  Plenty of light in the building is essential
  Low and high ventilation system during the hot summer

Our special care unit was built to accommodate pigs with these problems and we
have been so successful at getting them out of depression and pain that we are
certain we are on the right track. Pigs who never got up, who messed in their
beds because they couldn't stand, who never got out to lay in the sun.. these pigs
are now very mobile, coming out almost every day to eat and use the bathroom
and enjoy the day. They have plants and wind chimes in their house and a fully
excavated flooring system to allow for drainage for the times when they choose
not to go out. They have a life.. more than survival...and we are happy to see them
enjoying it.

 Creating a comfortable environment in the home can be challenging. If his life is
to be comfortable and happy, changes will have to be made. We can help with
some ideas we have seen work.

If we can help you with your arthritic or crippled pig just email us anytime.

End of Life care:

The last months or weeks of your pigs life may be the most important ones you will ever spend
with him. Fear of them dying is normal and reasonable.. they will do so. How they die is in some
ways, up to you. If you have only one or a few pigs, you will need the compassionate guidance of
your vet to help you recognize the steps along the way. Some pigs with some conditions will die
slowly and will be happiest dying at home. Others will be in severe pain and need pain
management and a merciful easy exit.

My husband died of lung cancer at the age of 52. He was a cowboy and had no intention of dying
in a hospital connected up to a lot of tubes and needles and apparatus whose only purpose was
to eek out a few more days of high priced medical acre.. he wanted to die at home and he did.
Caring for him in his final days was an act of loving commitment.. and a learning experience for
me. Until then all the deaths in my family had been in that impersonal hospital environment where
you had visiting hours and saw a loved one lost in the overwhelming whiteness of a sterile room
and you didn't touch or smell or see the ugliness of the disease within... Ralph's death taught me
a number of things that have been of importance to me in dealing with the deaths of my pigs.
That and the deaths of dozens of pigs over the years have taught me how to work with acceptance
of the unacceptable , and to use these "helpless to heal them" hands to keep them clean and their
beds dry and cook them foods easy to eat, and to give water in a nipple bottle if they can't rise..
to rub a belly and talk to them..

Here are some observations that may help you in your time of losing a friend.

1) You cannot stop the process of dying.. you may slow it, you may make it less difficult or painful
but you can't stop it. Picking your battles means you will spend more time making Arnold's last
days good ones, not fighting the inevitable.

2) There are deaths that come slowly and are not events so much as a process; these are wasting
disease deaths .. cancer, kidney disease, liver disease.. and the decline may be slow and
agonizing to watch in one you love. Your vet can help you decide when to euthanize, if euthanasia
is needed. Some will die naturally and without pain, slipping quietly away to wherever good pigs

3) Pain can be managed. The decision to extend life by managing pain is a delicate balance.. what
happens if his pain meds run out while you are asleep or at work? In cases of pain and suffering
that cannot be cured and must be managed by high doses of pain meds, we sometimes choose to
end the pain by euthanasia.

4) Your suffering is not part of the equation.. .. focus on the quality of his life. This is all about
him. Your time to grieve will come later, after you have made his life as full and rich as you could
through a loving, compassionate end of life experience.

How to recognize pain. These pigs are wild animals.. their survival traits are those of wild animals
everywhere.. they are not going to moan or cry out with pain until it is way past the point at which
you should have remedied it. To cry out is to attract predators and they know they are sick and

 *** Severe pain will be seen in the face.. a drawing back of the lips in a grimace indicates
agonizing pain.

 *** A terminally ill pig refusing food usually signals his desire to end his days. (consult your vet
and understand the process the particular pig is going through.. his refusal may indicate stomach
acid buildup from being down and can be relieved.. the failure to eat is most often a signal of
extreme condition but be sure..)

*** If a pig who normally likes attention screams when you approach him or touch him, he is in
terrible pain.

*** Shivering when cold is not the problem

Other signals that would accompany a loss of appetite and indicate that the end is near or should
be considered if pain exists..

*** Disinterested in his surroundings
*** Failure to interact with others (goes off alone to lie down instead of with his normal buddies or

Each pig's death is uniquely his own. When to provide an assisted exit and when to let him die
naturally is a decision based on his personality and his condition. By putting our own feelings
aside and his care first, we make the best judgments for each pig. Usually it is kindest to provide
euthanasia at home. Be sure your vet understands that you want the pig totally sedated, fully
under before the actual euthanasia serum is injected. This provides him a swift unconsciousness
and no discomfort or struggling. For pigs who have been down a long time, the sedation may take
a while..

For a pig who has had a long life of loving care, death is a natural experience and one they accept
with grace few humans can manage. Supporting him with love and lots of good foods, easy to
digest scrambled eggs, yogurt, ice cream.. all the things he loves.. will give him pleasure in his
final time.


Feed twice daily if possible. To a pig the greatest event in his life is feed time. Feed a balanced pig ration
of specialty feeds for Pots like Mazuri or Heartland or if you must feed a cheaper feed use a commercial
feed (Hog Finisher). Always use a non medicated feed. Purina's Agri-Pride 25X4 is a good feed. Adult
pigs need 2 to 4 cups of feed per day plus their all day green grazing . A little alfalfa hay in the winter
supplies their roughage needs. Alfalfa cubes are readily available and easy to use but the hay is

If you have a Royal White or Royal White mix with the large frame, he will need 3 or 4 times the normal
amount of feed to keep him fit. The same goes for those very wrinkled skin pigs with the large frames.
They need huge amounts of feed to keep nourished properly. The white pig in the special care group
above has to have 6 cups a feed daily to keep well, while her companion, Harley needs only 2 cups. All of
the pigs in the group require one or more pounds of green leafy vegetables and fruits daily.

Do not try to mix your own feeds. A commercial feed has all the necessary minerals & vitamins already
added. Nutrition is a very complex subject, and feeding the wrong balance of nutrients to your pig can cut
his life short by many years. Home blends are dangerous.. let the experts do the feed balancing. Feed
fruits and vegetables as snacks. Avoid high fat items like potato chips and candy.

If he has a weight problem, cut out fruits and reduce his grain but increase his exercise and vegetables. If
you cut out a cup of grain add at LEAST 3 cups of vegetables. Always feed one meal of correctly
balanced commercial feed of no less than 1 cup, 2 for larger pigs. Vary the second meal depending on
his health and needs, but be sure he has greens in some form every day and carrots and other raw
vegetables on a regular basis. Underfeeding can cause major health problems especially among the
young and the oldsters. Generally two cups of balanced feed plus vegetables and / or free grazing is a
safe bet for the average 100 to 160 pound pig. But some pigs, especially the white large boned ones,
need a full 6 cups s day or more to stay healthy. It is far easier to cause malnourishment in a pig than you
might expect.

There is a craze to keep pigs thin these days. It is not a healthy thing and causes the pig a great deal of
unhappiness. A well rounded piggy with a big belly is the standard, not a thin waif that looks like it hasn't
seen a meal in weeks. If your pig looks like the one below it is TOO THIN. This can be an indication of
underlying health problems or simply not enough to eat. Are you starving your pig? In our culture we
value the willowy look to extremes.. if that is the look you want your pet to have you shouldn't have a pot
bellied pig; a greyhound or Siamese cat might suit you better. Pigs should be round and roly-poly.
Excessive weight on a pig is pretty common and will be less a problem than underweight. Watch the
shape of your piggy. Over weight will become obvious when the overall size is very round, the belly
reaches the ground and the shoulders exceed the hips in width. Stand behind the pig and look down his
back. If he is about as wide at the shoulder and hip then he is not excessively overweight. He may be big
and well rounded but not overweight.

A lean pig is not desirable. Left is an aging pig with health conditions that keep her thin, right is Fate, a
young boy rescued from a home where he was being kept "small and cute" as instructed by the breeder.
For 5 years he suffered near death starvation. When rescued he weighed 35 pounds. Today, a normal
sized pig for his body size he weighs about 140.

Do not feed chocolate (allergic reactions can occur). Never feed anything with mold, pork products or
anything with bones.

                           A dieting primer for overweight piggies:
Pot bellied pigs are fat. They are normal. When they become obese they have a problem, one that often affects his
eyesight. But dieting for a pig can be a dangerous activity. And usually isn’t very effective.

Here’s how it works , or doesn’t work.

Your vet says your pig is too fat.

Given that his weight really is too much, what to do? The first thought is often to reduce him to one a meal a day.
Wrong. He not only won’t lose weight but he will lose valuable immune function and cell repair while he suffers
hunger pangs all day long.

Metabolism works something like this:

If you require 1500 calories a day to do your job as a body, including both the daily "running" of your body's
metabolism and the cell repair and disease resistance that keeps you healthy, and you eat 1000 calories a day, you
will lose fat, right? No, it doesn't happen that way.. You may for a week or so but then your body takes actions to
stop losing that reserve by changing its distribution of caloric use. . If you have ever had that happen you know how
frustrating it is.. You starve but get no result. Why? Survival. It’s the body’s primary, nature driven focus.. So first
it takes what it needs to keep the engine running (Thats not optional, you are burning it up at a particular rate) and
the rest it stores as fat to protect it from "hard times". . What it doesn’t do is repair damaged cells, rebuild worn out
cells or do any “maintenance”. It sees those as non essential uses of calories and adjust your total caloric need to a
lesser level. That level may be exactly what you are taking in.. It sees starvation as the outcome and does its best to
stop that from happening by storing every calorie it can as fat. So what happens is that Mr. Piggy not only doesn’t
lose any fat but the general health declines as the body stops repairing its damaged parts. Every day it is wearing out
cells and needs new ones, has cells damaged by incoming viruses and bacteria and by pollutants, and if these
maintenance chores aren’t done then health issues will soon follow. So dieting has to be extreme malnutrition, and if
extreme enough, will eventually cause the loss of weight through starvation, but at a cost to health that is often too
severe to recover from after the diet is over.

                                                     What to do ?

1)       Increase the number of servings of food a day. Or at the very least do NOT DECREASE them. Smaller
     portions, more often. This sends the message to the body that it can expect regular feeding and isn’t going to
     starve after all. It will begin to use those reserves. SLOWLY.

2)     Reduce the quantity of dry feed and replace one half of it with vegetables . Use 3 cups of fresh or canned
     vegetables for one cup of grain removed.
3)      Increase the variety of fresh vegetables. Be sure Mr Pig gets to graze all day long if he can. There is no better
     way (or cheaper way!) to his health than unlimited grazing. Grazing and rooting for fibers in the roots and
     stemmy parts of plants is the most essential health aid you can give your pig. IT doesn't come from a package or
     a can, it comes in the form nature intended him to ingest it, grass and roots. No fat will be added by grazing ,
     and the general health, metabolism and immune system functions will be in high gear. Remember the 10
     servings of fruits and vegetables per day that the medical experts say we need to be healthy? Same goes for
     Mr. Pig. He can no more live in good health on a diet of grains that we can. He can get all the vitamins and
     minerals in the world from his "balanced" feed or from some high priced piggy supplement, but he cannot get
     good health without the fresh foods nature demands he eat, any more than you and I can. Vitamin supplements
     are falling under the wheels of the best medical knowledge available today. Your mom was right after all: "eat
     your vegetables" was and is, the only direct route to good nutrition and ultimately good health. Green leafy
     vegetables are the prime foods for piggy, as are carrots and broccoli. While I could very happily live on a diet
     of cold pizza and corn chips, grandly expanding my girth with my piggy Sebastian who hangs out in the house a
     lot these days, good health demands we eat these vegetables.. in far more quantity than grains, if we are going
     to maintain or recover our shape and our health. (note: the 2005 Pot Bellied Pig Symposium had a swine
     nutritionist speaking on the necessity of green graze to produce correct digestion and immune function. ).

     10 servings may be tough for you to manage for him (As well as for yourself).. If you have to skimp due to cost
      or the time involved to shop for fresh foods every couple days, you can give him a whole food supplement of
      dehydrated fruits and veggies. Its not the same as fresh.. but it does improve nutrition. Easy to feed and gives
      him a fighting chance of having the proper intake of nutrients that only fresh vegetables can provide. But don’t
      rely on the capsules entirely, give him fresh vegetables at least once a day, more if you can. You don’t need to
      peel or slice or chop them. Just wash them thoroughly. That provides added interest if he has to “work” a bit to
      eat it, and seeds and peelings are usually good sources of energy. Remove large hard pits to avoid them being
      swallowed; the rest is all good food.. The whole food capsules are best for sick pigs who have to be forced to
      take medications by syringing the into their mouth. Adding the open capsules contents assures that the sick pig
      is getting daily nutrition as well as his medication, even if he refuses to eat)

 4)      Use a very high quality, high nutrition feed while dieting. We use Mazuri Youth feed. Heartland Animal
Health also has excellent Youth feeds. I expect Buckeye feeds also has a pig starter feed and their feeds are very
good commercial feeds. A youth feed is more digestible and has higher levels of all essential nutrients. You do not
want a maintenance feed as you are not maintaining anything, you are stressing the body. and elder feeds are too
high in fiber and too low in energy. While he diets use a Youth feed. (We use Youth feed for all stressed conditions,
our arthritis pigs, aged, young, sick and rehabbing)

5) Water.. Always have plenty of water available and if he doesn't drink enough try adding a small
amount of fruit juice to flavor it . Keep in mind, once you start doing this he may refuse to drink plain

 6) Exercise . He needs it as much as anyone. Encourage him to walk, spend time with a kitten or
another pig to stimulate his interest. Give him things to do. (See lifestyles section). The reason he is fat
is because he is living a fat producing lifestyle. Its a lot more than fat that's the problem. Fix it early in his
life to give him the best chance of good health and happiness.

7) As with any stressful undertaking, consult your vet before beginning on the dieting and ask him to
check his blood chemistry to determine if there is any reason he should not be stressed. If there is any
reason he shouldn't have a radical change of diet, then you can still slowly add the correct fresh foods
and slowly take away the grains.. ultimately the goal for any pig, fat or slim, is to move into a more fresh
foods, less over processed food.

8) Do not expect to see any immediate changes. It takes years to get that fat.. it takes a long time also to
slowly and safely remove it. Expect to notice changes in 6 months.

Why Supplements can be ineffective and even harmful
1.      What research has recently "discovered" ...

When a particular nutrient, like a Vitamin, is separated out from the whole food it was in, it is separated from all the
other nutrients that helped it work. Just as a rake won’t get many leaves in a pile without someone using it, most
nutrients rely on other nutrients to work with them to do a job. Rebuilding a damaged cell wall may take hundreds
of compatible working nutrients, so no matter how much of one you push at it, the job can’t get done. Like repairing
a damaged wall with only the drywall tape.. Without the drywall mud, the lath and the screws, it still isn’t repaired at
the end of the day.

2.    Unless you are deficient (diagnosed through a blood profile ) in a particular nutrient, such as B-12, or the body
     is no longer producing a needed hormone or other material, like synovial fluid or estrogen, taking added
     quantities only causes the liver to work harder to get rid of the unnecessary materials. (There are, of course,
      genuine conditions requiring supplements. Your vet is the expert on your pig’s health, do not rely on internet
     information.. seek expert veterinary advice if your pig shows any health problems)

3.      Supplements are highly concentrated doses. They are absorbed directly through the stomach wall into the
     bloodstream. The same nutrient taken in via a whole food like a carrot, will be absorbed over a matter of many
     hours, all the way through the digestive system, a little at a time. It is the way nature designed the system to
     absorb its food. When a “burst” of highly concentrated substance is absorbed through the stomach wall it can
     cause damage to the stomach. Just as aspirin has to be coated to force it to be absorbed slowly to protect the
     stomach, nutrients need to be in the form of a whole food to do the same.. And that “burst” of a substance will
     be used only where its needed at that moment, the rest discarded.. So little actually does any work.

4.      A multi vitamin is one of America’s best marketed products and one of the least useful. In most cases you
     don’t need any of it, and it can cause your system to stop doing the job of synthesizing some vitamins because
     of the overload.

Feed him high quality feed, plenty of veggies and some fruits and if you must “supplement”, use a whole food
product , not a concentrated single nutrient.

And get him to exercise every day! Hup, two, three, four!!

For a more detailed study on pig nutrition please click here: Nutrition

Feed dishes that suit pigs are hard to find. Their faces aren't shaped to use the traditional dog dish types.
In order to eat they have to spill their food onto the floor which may make a mess for you to pick up inside
or dirt/ sand/ mud if he's eating outside. Use a large flat dish, like a cookie sheet or a rubber feed pan
from the farm supply store. The best ever dish we have found is a tray, like you would use at a fast food
place to carry your meal to the table. They are easy for piggy to eat from, easy to clean and easy to
store. We use about 20 of them around here for our Special Care and yard pigs and rinse them clean and
put them up after feeding.


All pigs should be neutered. Males are extremely rowdy, smelly and aggressive if not neutered. Females
can be aggressive and wander away when in season. The younger this procedure is done the better.
Boys can be neutered at 2 weeks of age and up. All boys should be neutered by 5 weeks of age as
they become fertile at about that time.
Gilts mature at 3 months or sometimes younger. Spay       girls at 4 to 5 months. (Some vets will spay

A litter of babies can be pregnant before its weaned. Scary thought!!

The younger they are done the better. Older girls have a harder time. But spaying is not an optional
procedure. Our sanctuary spays have clearly shown that if the girls are not spayed their chances of
surviving past 9 or 10 become slim, Cancer and other reproductive diseases take them very young. We
have spayed fat pigs and sick pigs and pigs from 3 months to 16 years. We have spayed girls with tumors
as large as 30 pounds and cancer that had spread into lymph nodes and other organs. Pigs ability to
recover and live a long life is amazing. Emily, one who had cancer in the lymph nodes and a 28 pound
tumor in the uterus, was spayed in 2000. She is quite well today.

9 out of 10 unspayed females will develop cancer and die 5 to 10 years earlier than they should. So
whether you have a boy pig around or not, spay that girl!! There are spay assistance programs available.
Contact the sanctuary near you to see what is available in your area.

 If you think raising baby pigs would be great, think about all the pigs dumped along the side of the road,
"adopted" from Free to good home ads by dog fighting rings who use them as training bait, being turned
loose on hunting ranges for target practice, being shot by animal control and all the other horrors for
unwanted pigs around the country. Your pigs, or descendants of them, will end up the same way. If you
want a baby pig to raise, go to a sanctuary and adopt one and save its life. And neuter it. Help stop the
cycle of homeless pigs before it reaches the proportion of dogs and cats (4 million put to death every year
in shelters).

Spay statistics for the period 2005-2008 ytd are below. Don't risk your girls lives. Many of
these spays were pigs who had carried 20 and 30 pound tumors around pressing against
their inner organs and causing them great pain for months, maybe years. If you have a pig,
spay her immediately and save her the suffering and premature death she can expect
unspayed. Uterine disease is the NUMBER one killer of all pigs in the US . Information for
pre and post surgical care, SPAY/NEUTER CARE

We do hundreds of spays . We have lost 6 pigs to spaying over the 8 years we have been
actively spaying all pigs who enter the sanctuary or who come through us for placements.
Consider that 6 against the hundreds that would have been lost if not spayed.

Boy Pig or Girl Pig ? Telling the difference at a glance

Boys look just like girls without the vulva! Unless they are boars, in which case about half way from the
rectum to the bottom of their buttocks will be an unobtrusive sort of muddy looking raised patch on each
side. Their penis is completely retracted UNDER their abdomen and cannot be seen. Observing urination
can tell you if it’s a boy simply by noting where the urine originates; if it comes from the back it’s a girl,
under the belly it’s a boy.

 One of the biggest problems with pigs being born today is the effect of inbreeding. Chryptordism. This
condition in boy pigs is where one or sometimes both testicles are inside the abdomen and not available
for conventional neutering. These neuters must be done surgically and present a higher risk and a higher
cost for the procedure. Usually cryptorchids are not neutered before the age of 4 months, though vets
vary in their criteria.
Girls have an obvious vulva underneath the tail and located below the rectum. When in heat the vulva
increases in size and will appear pinkish from the lining being exposed. . Photo at right shows a pig in
heat. Some pigs swell greatly and behave terribly, with jumping on you and biting you and loud whiney
behavior, others are quiet and you would not know they were in heat.

After the procedure; care at home.

When you bring home the post surgical piggy patient they will still be feeling the effects
of the anesthesia, even if they spent the night at the vets office. A lack of appetite is
common. The younger pigs will rebound immediately, the older and fatter and less
thrifty ones usually take considerably longer.

Unloading them with great care.. pushing and pulling and forcing the piggy to jump out
off something may rip her stitches. Pigs are not like dogs.. the muscle tissue is very
fragile and they put multiple layers of stitches in to try to hold them together until they
heal.. don't undo the good work by not being prepared for a gently return from the vet. A
ramp and a very short walk with no steps to her bed is essential. You can always carry
her in a blanket "pouch".. it takes 3 or 4 people to do so but is a safe way to move a pig,
especially a big one. Just lay a big strong blanket down beside her and push her gently
over onto it, the 4 people gather the ends up and put her into the center and lift and
carry.. Once in the van or trailer, let her keep lying on the blanket and it will be there to
unload with.

Place them in a cool but not chilly environment, completely out of the sun and weather
and on clean bedding. Straw is the best as it actually cleans the pig as they move
around on it. Shavings are OK but not sawdust. Hay is fair but can get up into the
wound and cause problems on open castrations. Dirt is not good and blankets can
become quickly infested with germs and drainage can cause flies to collect and lay eggs
in the wounds. Whatever you use change it daily for the first 3 or 4 days and more often
if there is any wound drainage.

With neutering the vet may use an open wound method, leaving the wound to drain and
cause less swelling, or a closed method where it is stitched closed. Many put a stitch in
the inguinal ring to be certain that a hernia doesn't occur later.

Pot bellies require special handling by experienced, trained vets. They are not like
farm pigs in many vital medical ways.. and nothing like a dog. I have seen many
fatal spays by dog vets who thought they could do the same procedure on a pig.

Spay the wound on the boys with peroxide several times a day and dust the wound
frequently with Wonder Dust, a Farnam horse product available at any horse supply
place, It will keep the wound caustic, (low PH) to reduce infectious bacterial growth and
keep the flies away form it. It is essential that flies do not congregate and lay eggs in the
wound . (they cause maggots)
With the girls, try to keep them dusted as well as you can. Be generous with the dust..
its a very inexpensive way to save a second trip and a second surgery to clean out a
wound gotten infected.

Don't fuss over the pig constantly but do feel the ears regularly for temperature increase
as you pet them and note if they are urinating and having bowel movements regularly in
these first few days. The girls especially will have some pain and not recover as quickly.
Do not give them aspirin unless its coated aspirin and only for a day or two.

If a pig doesn't eat by the 3rd day after surgery, a problem may exist, be sure to have all
the facts ready to relate to the vet:

   attitude of the pig (lethargic, anxious, restless, normal, wagging tail, flicking tail,
   Eaten anything?
   coming out to walk or graze?
   Any odor to the wound area?
   Visible draining and color?
   Vomiting or diarrhea?

Don't poke and prod the pig looking for an abscess. There are all kinds of lumps and
bumps and swellings in there from the surgery and knowing exactly which ones are OK
and which aren't is best determined by the vet .

Most surgeries heal without a bit of trouble; don't worry yourself too much about things
going wrong, but keep aware of the recovery process.

Once neutered the boys will continue to exhibit boar behavior and will be fully able to
breed (though not impregnate) females. So don't be alarmed at his behavior. Keeping
the newly neutered boys up for a few days won't hurt.. It gives them time to recover and
settle down a bit and assures that no stray sperm, still in the "system" can find a home.
It will take weeks, sometimes months for the hormones to settle down and he forget
about the ladies charms entirely but he will be noticeably less romantic after a week.

Adding a second Pig
Pigs are herd animals and it is best that they have one of their own kind for companionship. It has no
effect on their relationship with you. But it gives them a buddy to sleep with, argue with, and just be with.
It increases the quality of their life greatly.

If you already have a pig and decide to add another there are a few things to consider.
First, what is the size and attitude of your pig? If large and aggressive he will be very rough on the
newcomer. If large and shy he will still fight but won't be as rough. In general, a young pig is the best
choice to add as it is not as threatening to the resident pig and pigs will not hurt a youngster like they will
another adult pig.

Almost all meetings between strange pigs result in a fight. Usually it is harmless, a few scratches down
their sides and then they become friends. Occasionally they will rip an ear or a lip. Pigs with large tusks
should not be mixed without having the tusks cut first. It doesn't seem to make much difference between
introducing males to males or females. (Providing they are all neutered; never introduce two unneutered
males). The least fighting will occur if the pigs can be put together in an area which neither has claim to. A
neutral space. After they have been together for a day or two, then move them back to the regular living
area. Do not introduce them INSIDE the house.

One pig will end up being "boss" and from then on there will be no more fuss. If you adopt from the us we
will try to make a match that will be agreeable.

Many of a pigs woes can be cured by the addition of another pig. It is a natural condition for them.
People, dogs and cats are fine, but another pig is a true kindred spirit. They sleep together and pal
around together and fuss with each other, getting many emotional needs filled that we can't fill for them
any other way.

If your new pig and the original pig refuse to sleep together at first, give them time. They may need many
months before they feel comfortable enough to share their most vulnerable and private space. Plan to
accommodate separate sleeping areas if needed.

Pigs are wonderful, funny, and inquisitive. They create bonds with humans that defy reason. Giving them
a place to roam and grow up naturally and basic food, water and shelter will make for a well adjusted,
happy pig. Add a few belly rubs and a Starlight Mint at bedtime and you'll have a friend for life.

If you have problems with your pig or questions about pig care or behavior, give us a call. We will try to

Shepherd's Green Sanctuary

Cookeville, Tennessee 38506


Shared By: