Willows Day Out
Willow is a little (at the moment) piggy pet who came to visit recently. We see pets of all shapes and sizes at The Bloomin’ Vet and yes occasionally pigs. Willow is a 9 week old female pig who lives in our area with a family and their other pet dogs and chickens. She shares some space with the chickens and the yard and has plenty of room to express her pigginess for digging and scruffing around and enjoying life, play, scratches and food. She came into the clinic for desexing and a microchip in case she ever goes exploring.
Pigs can make great pets and can be trained very similarly to dogs especially with food rewards. They can sit, be taught to lead in a collar or harness and be trained to do obstacle courses like agility dogs.
Desexing is recommended for both male and female pigs. Female pigs when they reach puberty come into season each 3 weeks and become less predictable, restless and more noisy. Entire males become restless, sometimes aggressive and smell. A lot. Willow was a great patient. She had a sedative injection, 5 minutes later an anaesthetic induction injection and was intubated with a breathing tube and maintained on anaesthetic gas for her desexing which took about 20 minutes. About 8-10 weeks of age is the ideal age for the desexing before they get too big to handle at the vets and more.
Pigs love food. Long term a pig’s weight needs to be kept under control as obesity is just as bad for pig health as any other species and a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, grasses and roots and tubers is great (they love sweet potatoes and sweet potato vines). Fresh fruit is popular. A few beans and peas are fine, but minimising grains and high energy carbs like bread is a good idea. It is not advised and is ILLEGAL to feed pigs any meat, meat products or foods that could have been in contact with anything that may have touched any meat including table scraps, restaurant scraps and bakery waste. Clean water must be available at all times in something they cannot knock over. They should be wormed once a year. If they have pink skin, and a sunny pen with no mud to bathe in they will need regular sunscreen protection to stop sunburn.
They are very clean animals if they have enough space to separate the toilet from their living area, and can even be taught to use a litter tray/toilet area. They don’t appreciate hot weather but are fine if they have shade and mud pit or swimming pool. In cooler weather if they have lots of grass or hay available they will build a nest mound to sleep on and have extra loose hay on top to burrow under as a blanket.
Pigs love to dig. That's what they do. If you are considering a pig pet I recommend having a sacrificial area of the yard that they cn dig in as they are going to dig big holes given the opportunity. I don’t like nose rings because it stops pigs doing what pigs like to do by making it too uncomfortable or painful to dig with their nose. If you have acreage you can get your pig to help dig the next vege garden plot, garden bed or water feature.
Pigs can be hard on fencing structures. They love pushing ,scratching, digging under lifting up fences. I recommend considering electric fences to keep the pig contained in whatever area you choose. This is as simple as a single strand of electric wire/tape at pig shoulder height and a solar powered electric fence energiser will keep any pig contained. This way their area can be moved around and different areas rested or cultivated.