Thursday, March 8, 2018

Fencing For The Pet Pig

Fencing is a must if you are going to have a pig for a pet. It will give your pig a place to be a pig - to run around, root and potty. It keeps your pig from wandering off and strange animals from coming in your yard. I don't care how many acres you have you need to have a fenced area for your pig. A pen is okay, but still should be inside of a fenced area. A pen is not a safe place when you aren't home. If you are going to be gone for the day or only a few hours the safest place for your pig is inside the house.

Types of Fencing

If you have full-time outside pigs good, no great fencing is a must as these pigs are outside 24/7. The best pen fencing is hog or cattle panels. They are 16 foot long and either 3 or 4 foot high depending on which you get. They are too heavy for the pigs to lift and difficult for dogs to climb. We have used this for inside the yard only...never to fence the property.

Below are pictures of Porky's pen. It is made with hog panels on 3 sides, the back is 4 board fencing with field fence on the backside. You can do this yourself as long as you have the right tools. I put fence posts at the corners, tall T-posts every 8ft and smaller T-posts in the middle as you can see for extra reinforcement.

Horse or board fencing is pleasing to look at, but should have at least 3 to 4 boards and wire fencing behind it as you don't want dogs crawling through it or trying to dig under it.This is good for property fencing. This what I currently have fencing the property and works well. Turtles seem to be the only animals digging under it.

Field fence or woven wire fence is fair. It is best with a board at the bottom to keep animals from digging underneath it. Must be put up correctly. When pens had to be added they put up field fence with a board across the top. I added the 2 bottom ones so pigs would have support if they leaned up against it.

Chain link will not hold a pig...dogs can dig under it or climb over it.

In our opinion property fencing is a must if you are going to have a pig for a pet. It can be the whole yard or just part of it, but fence an area off. DO NOT trust that just because you have lots of acreage that the pig will not leave and strangers will not trespass. If you are not going to be home put your babies back inside where they are safe while you are gone.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Winter Tips for Your Outside Pet Pig

It's winter out and you want to know how to keep your pig warm and safe from the elements. The outside pig needs a shelter out of the elements.


If you have pigs outside for the winter there are things you can do to ensure they are warm and well. Insulate their house. This can be done with sheets of insulation between ply boards, or placing bales of hay around the outside of their house. We have also placed them on the top to help keep the heat in. Houses should be full of straw, a natural insulator, not breaks up easily. Try to NOT use blankets in the wintertime. They become wet and soggy from the pig going in with a wet belly and can cause problems. You will need to change/add straw often.

Placing a sack-cloth, moving blanket, rug, or similar over the entrance is a must in the winter. This can be lowered over the entrance way at night, and will prevent loss of heat or drafts. This is key to ensuring your pigs don't catch pneumonia in the winter months. Make sure the entrance is facing away from the prevailing wind. The last thing you want is for rain, sleet, or snow to blow through the doorway and into your pigs sleeping area.

We are not fans of heat lamps as there reports of fires each year. Usually with good insulation; lots of straw they will be fine. If you want something extra for really cold nights and older pigs we have used heat mats successfully here.

The brand is Stanfield and they can be found at either eNasco or QC Supply

The mats are screwed on to a sheet of ply board. That is then put on the rubber horse mat that is their floor so that they are not directly on the cold ground. We then put straw on top of the mats. The mats are plugged into a control that is needed to regulate the temperature of the mats. The highest setting we used all winter was 3. This kept their bellies warm and the chill off of their condo. Our lows were generally in the low teens.

Food and Water:

Make sure that you feed well in the wintertime as food helps make body heat. We normally doubled the amount of pig can worry about a diet come springtime. Try and make the last feeding in late afternoon.

Your pig MUST have water…it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside he still needs water. Snow is NOT considered an adequate supply of water and neither is ice. A pig would have to eat a bucketful of snow to get an adequate drink and their stomach isn’t made to hold that.

Some people give warm water in the winter...we don’t because the warm water will freeze faster than plain water will. I don’t know if they just seem like they do or if they really do, but our pigs seem to drink more in the winter than they do in the summer. Could be that they just enjoy the fact that we have more work to do in the bad weather and like to watch. Heated water bowls are nice, but keep an eye on them as some pigs will still dump them.

Potty Time:

Make sure your pig is going to the bathroom on a semi normal schedule. Some pigs will try to hold it and they can cause problems for themselves this way. Weather permitting they should go twice a day...once minimum. Constipation is more common in the winter months than in the summer. We add some Piggy Lax to the feed of all the older pigs just to make sure. Getting them up and walking to go potty also helps prevent constipation.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pigs and Holiday Safety Tips

December means that the holiday season is upon us. The holidays can be stressful enough without having to worry if your pig has been poisoned or has gotten into something that he shouldn't.  There are lights, plants, ornaments, presents, the Christmas tree and food, lots of food. Here are a few tips to help make the holidays a little less stressful for you and your pig.

Room of Their Own: If you are going to be having guests or hosting a party be sure that your pig has a safe place to go. Visitors can upset pigs, as can the noise and excitement of holiday parties. Even pigs that aren’t normally shy may become nervous in the hubbub that can accompany a holiday gathering. Give your pig his own quiet space to retreat to complete away from the commotion and where your guests won't follow.

As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a pet's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pigs and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pigs are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

When you leave the house unplug decorations while you're not around. Pigs and other pets are often tempted to chew electrical cords. Take out the trash to make sure your pigs can’t get to it, especially if it contains any food or food scraps.

Christmas Tree: If you are putting up a Christmas tree you may want to securely anchor the tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pig. Place your tree in a corner where you can block it off or up off the ground on a table.

Flowers and Holiday Plants: Although they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants are only mildly toxic. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. If you normally use these plants to decorate your home, they should be kept in an area your pet cannot reach.

Food: Keep people food away from pigs. If you want to share holiday treats with your pigs, make or buy treats formulated just for them.

Make sure to keep your pigs away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pigs cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

Chocolate is an essential part of the holidays for many people, but it is toxic to dogs and cats. Although the toxicity can vary based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount they ate, it’s safer to consider all chocolate and sweets off limits for pets. A treat that they can have is peppermint moderation of course.

When it comes to the holidays, the best thing we as pet owners can do is get educated on common household toxins and pet-proof your home accordingly. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pet Pigs and Acorns

Is it safe for my mini pig to eat acorns? This seems to be one of those questions that it depends on who you ask. I say yes, BUT the key is moderation and/or limitation...and the age of the pig might also come into play.

In cows those less than 2 years of age seem to succumb to oak toxicosis more than do older animals, however older animals are still at risk. The same seems to hold true for our pigs.

Here at my place I have about 24 oak trees within the yard and pig pens. Most of the old acorns that had not been cleaned up for years were raked the pigs have to scavenge for them as they fall. The two species of oak here are the Live Oak and Laurel Oak. The senior pigs seem to enjoy them in the spring as their trees don't seem to drop too many acorns in the fall. There is one Live Oak that covers 3 pens and part of the seems to be the most popular with the pigs in the fall. Last year after Hurricane Matthew went through in early Oct. they went nuts...pun intended, with cleaning up the acorns. This year there were acorns from that tree during late August to Sept and now hardly any since Hurricane Irma. There are other trees dropping them now as I can see the pigs scavenge for them early in the morning and late in the evening. So here it is a good thing as it gets them up and walking around.

I have a friend in Texas that has a lot of ground with hundreds of oaks with millions of acorns and her pigs don't have a problem with it, but for a first timer you might want to rake them up like some people do so there aren't as many for your pig to eat. You can't possibly get them all, but it just cut's the number down. They can be fattening so that's a concern too. Or you could find a part of the yard without the oak for your pig to go in if that's possible during the time the acorns are falling.

Another friend in MS uses a shop vac to pick up the acorns on her property as one of her pigs will gorge on them and put on a lot of weight a couple of years ago...remember acorns are fattening.

On the other hand a friend in MO that ran a sanctuary would have neighbors bring in acorns for her pigs.

If you have just one or two pigs and lots of acorns you are going to want to limit their time in the yard especially if they just stand there and well pig out. Normal acorns don't seem to cause a problem other than the stomach ache that goes with eating too many of them, but the green ones tend to make them sick. A few acorns here and there shouldn't be a problem. Problems seem to arise when they eat massive amounts for long periods of time.

From The Pig Site: Whilst ruminants are more susceptible to acorn poisoning, outdoor pigs may be affected occasionally. Young oak leaves or green acorns are the major sources and signs are seen two to three days after ingestion. These include abdominal pain and constipation followed by hemorrhagic diarrhea. The kidneys may also be affected.

We also know that a hog (a non-ruminant or simple stomached animal) can tolerate a higher level of some toxins than can ruminants.

The poison in acorns (tannins) concentrates in the milk; knowing that feral (wild) hogs roam the woods, I am sure that they consume many acorns. Whether or not the tannins from the acorns concentrate in the milk of pregnant feral sows resulting in toxicity to nursing piglets, I do not know.

Why do we seem to have tons of acorns one year and not so many the next? 

Oak acorn production varies markedly year to year and by species. But every several years, like clockwork, masting oaks somehow synchronize the timing and quantity of seed production. Biologists suspect it may be some evolutionary adaptation to produce more nuts than foraging animals can eat. They aren't exactly sure how and why oaks suddenly shift into acorn overdrive, then go nearly dormant for years. It seems to happen about once every four to seven years, when oaks — even those located thousands of miles apart — produce and drop acorns en masse, in unison.

Weather alone can't explain it, scientists say.

One theory suggests oak tree masting is triggered by ideal winds. Others point to rain, drought and hurricanes. Scientists also suggest the mass acorn dumps may be something simply ingrained in the tree's genetic makeup, a hedge to guarantee germination of the next generation by flooding the ground with acorns.

Trees in canopy settings produced fewer acorns than those in more open settings, suggesting light also is a factor, the researchers found.

Some biologists speculate that hurricanes, infestations and drought also can stress oaks, possibly triggering large-scale masting, a sort of a last-ditch response to environmental stress.

Bottom line: know your pig(s) and know what they can safely handle if you have oak trees in your yard.

The Pig Site
Florida Today

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Quality Time With Your Pet Pig

With our busy lives and having a pet pig it's important that we remember to spend some quality time with them. Whether it's 5-10 minutes here and there or an hour or more. Make that time with them count.

For most people with an inside pig this can be an easy thing to do. Let them sit or lay with you while catching a favorite show on TV or catching up on reading. We did this for several years with Ziggy and Flower. Every afternoon we would stop what we were doing and take a break to watch a favorite show. The pigs had an hour of our attention and even learned to recognize the opening music. Take this time to love on them and groom them..they will look forward to it. Ours knew that I would be checking their ears and eyes and picking off any flakes that they had.

Years later when it was just one house pig we would go for evening walks around the property and even the cat would tag along. It was quality time that we spent together. As well as that hour with me sitting on floor in the evening with him.

Now all of the pigs here live outside and it is harder spending quality time with those that want it, especially now that life is busier. Yes there are some days when a real effort had to be made to spend that extra 5-10 minutes that they want. Rudy is that pig that is always into something and we have to wonder if he is doing it for the attention. He really just wants 5-10 minutes of our time for a belly rub and to be loved on. Gracie seems to be more independent and does enjoy a belly rub, but is always alert...never seems to really relax. Harley also enjoys a good belly rub. Of the rest 3 don't want to be touched and the other 3 will let you touch them, but are always cautious. They seem to be fine with a roof over their heads and food in their tummies.

Now with Porky who was an outside pet even before coming here seems to go through stages as to how much attention he wants. The end of summer we started taking a walk around part of the yard shortly before he was to go in his pen for the night. It is our one on one time. He hasn't been much for belly rubs until lately or letting me clean his face, but now he wants the belly rubs and puts up with me trying to clean his a point. We have missed some of our walks lately with Hurricane Irma and trying to get things cleaned up, but we are continuing to bond and have our one on one quality time every evening. Remember it is about quality not quantity...make that 5-10 minutes count! They will remember.

Dottie and Porky

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pigs and Sunburn

Can my pig get sunburned? Yes, pigs can get sunburned just like humans. They do not have dense fur protecting their skin like most animals do. They can get very bad burns from the sun if they are not properly protected.

Sunburn is common in the white non pigmented pigs, some of which can be highly susceptible to ultra violet radiation. The symptoms are similar to those in humans with rapid reddening of the skin and considerable pain.

This is why pigs like to wallow and coat themselves in mud, which protects them from the sun, helps to keep moisture in their skin and protects them from bugs.

Most people provide a wallow for their pigs, that is a mud hole, so that they can coat their skin with mud for protection from harmful UV rays and cool themselves down at the same time.

Trees, a shade structure such as a lean-to or barn left open so that the pig can go inside when it gets too hot.Various types of shade sails or fabric also work; see example below. It should be made with fabric providing 70% UV block or higher.

A sunscreen made for pigs is a good idea when you know that they will be out in the sun for a considerable time and don't want them to get dirty with mud.

There are several degrees of sunburn and sun stroke. Both are very harmful as you probably already know.

Sunburns can show up as a slight redness of the skin.The skin is warm and tender to the touch. In more sever cases the skin is very irritated and red. Often swollen and pressure sensitive. It can peel after a couple of days due to the top lay of skin being damaged. Proper moisturization is required (Aloe Vera gel is highly recommended) in order to help heal the damaged area and an anti-bacterial ointment is recommended for open sores.

Unfortunately, there is no real cure for sunburn. The best treatment is prevention. Using a sunscreen, mud, staying in the shade and staying hydrated are the best ways to prevent sunburn and sunstroke.

Sunstroke often goes along with sunburn, especially the stronger degrees of sunburn damage. The precursor to sunstroke is called heat exhaustion.


Heat stroke usually occurs where ventilation has failed or in extremely hot weather and/or high humidity.

The pig is a relatively poor controller of its own body temperature, not sweating (other than from the snout) and if it is unable - due to environmental conditions - to wet its skin and thus allow latent heat of vaporization to cool it (the exact process that occurs with sweating in man) it cannot lose heat from the skin.  Even if able to wet the skin (wallowing, playing a kiddie pool, etc) if humidity is very high, the water will not evaporate and thus there will be no cooling.

Always provide your outside pig with plenty of shade, mud hole to wallow in and/or pool. On those high humidity days when it is dry and dusty out wetting the ground down with the hose will help keep pigs cool. This gives the pigs a cool place to lay.

Symptoms are a very high respiratory rate, muscle trembling, red skin, high temp, vomiting.

Immediate attention is needed. Cool the pig down slowly with cool water (NOT ice cold) on the belly and behind the ears. Depending on the pig you can do this with a hose or cool washcloth. Offer water (cool NOT ice cold) to drink a little at a time. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Pet Safety Tips for 4th of July

Fireworks, picnics and other Fourth of July traditions can be great fun for people; but all of the festivities can be frightening and even dangerous for our pigs and other pets. Noisy fireworks and other celebrations can startle animals and cause them to run away; holiday foods can be unhealthy; summer heat and travel can be dangerous; and potentially dangerous debris can end up lying on the ground where pets can eat or play with it.

The safest and best bet for celebrating this Fourth of July with your pets is to exclude them from holiday festivities, at least this time around. Instead, find a safe, secure spot in the home for your pets while you go out and enjoy the loud bangs, bright lights and spectator fun. Your pets will appreciate the quiet a lot more than you’ll enjoy the noise.

Here are a few simple tips on how to keep pets safe… plus a bonus tip on how
pet owners can have a better chance of finding a lost pet.

1) Stay inside: Try to keep your pet indoors at all times during holiday celebrations. Ideally, someone stays home with your pet.

2) Make them feel safe: Comfort your pets with petting, hugging, talking to them in a soothing voice, providing a treat and staying nearby if possible. Make sure they can access their crate or “safe place.”

3) Avoid the noise. Try to drown out the fireworks sounds as much as possible by closing windows, playing music or turning on the TV. You can also do the same thing for pigs that in barns.

4) Act normal! Your pig takes cues from your and your family’s actions. It will help if you go about your normal routine as much as possible, talking and playing with your pet as usual.

5) Make sure your yard secure and that you have a current photo of your pet, just in case.

Preparing in advance:

  • Make sure your pets have identification tags with up-to-date information. If you have horses, you might consider marking a safety (breakaway) halter with your contact information and leaving it on your horse during this stressful time.
  • If your pets aren’t already micro-chipped, talk with your veterinarian about micro-chipping. This simple procedure can greatly improve your chances of getting your pets back if they become lost. If your pets are micro-chipped, make sure your contact information in the microchip registry is up-to-date.
  • Take a current photo of all of your pets.
  • Make sure the environment is safe and secure. If your neighbors set off fireworks at an unexpected time, is your yard secure enough to keep your pet contained? Are pasture fences secure enough to keep pigs or other animals confined? Evaluate your options, and choose the safest area for your animals; and make improvements if needed to make the area more secure. 

Safety during July 4th celebrations:

  • Leave pets at home if you are going out to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there’s great risk of pets becoming spooked and running away.
  • If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Better yet consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.
  • Keep outside animals in safely fenced areas and as far from the excitement and noise as possible. 
  • Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.
  • Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewers away from curious pets.

After the celebrations:

  • Check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard, where curious animals may pick it up to play with or eat.
  • Check your pastures and remove debris to protect horses and livestock.
  • If you hosted guests, check both your yard and home for food scraps or other debris that might be dangerous to pets.