Pigs make great pets but they have their own specific challenges.
They should be handled quietly. Small pigs can be picked up to aid restraint but bigger animals may need a crate and backing board to work with them. A snubbing rope can be used by an experienced handler.
One of the most important things is to provide adequate shelter that is well ventilated and dry underfoot. Always ensure there is water available. Pigs cannot cool themselves by sweating and they need shade in the summer and shelter in the winter. They are susceptible to lung infections, so winter shelter is particularly important. Piglets will also need a warm, draft free area to nest in. Barley straw makes a good bedding material. It is preferable to sawdust which isn’t as good an insulator, and the dust in sawdust can irritate their lungs.
Lameness is quite common in Pigs as their hooves overgrow and crack. Wet/muddy conditions will soften the horn and make things worse. Stony ground can bruise hooves. Remember to trim hooves back and to provide good shelter as above.
Diarrhoea, especially the the young is often due to dietary changes. If mild, reduce food or return to the original food and introduce new food slowly. Diarrhoea may be due to internal parasites, in this case, worm treatment will be required. Remember to ensure the water is in constant supply.
Be aware that pigs can over eat. This will lead to a range of health issues caused by being overweight. Feeding a specific pig diet is better than food scraps. Remember that any food scraps should be cooked at 100 degrees Celsius for at least an hour before being given. Try to avoid feeding cooked bones, food containing string/plastic/wire, and mouldy food. You also need to be aware that garden clippings may contain poisonous plants.
Pigs are susceptible to internal and external parasites. If your pig itches excessively they may have lice or mites. Internal parasites can build up to the point of causing diarrhoea, which is more common in young pigs. There are a range of treatments available including Ivomec; your Vet can determine the most suitable treatment.
Digging and Ringing
As you are aware, Pigs are very good at digging and sometimes you may get your pig “Ringed”. This involves the insertion of a ring through the nose of your pig. Your Vet can perform this in a way that will help avoid stress and injury.
Take care if mixing pigs as this can be very stressful for them. Introducing new pigs into small groups of similar weight and size will work best. Make sure that you provide adequate space for the group.
There is a lot to be aware of when rearing Pigs, your Vet is a great resource, so be sure to contact them if you have questions or concerns.
Len Paki BVSc