Pot-Bellied Pig Care
Most miniature pigs seen in the United States are descendants of the feral pigs from Southeast Asia (Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig), the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico (Yucatan Pig) and Africa (African Pigmy Hog or Guinea Hog). The pigs most frequently seen as pets are descendants of the Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pigs introduced into the United States in 1985. These pigs have a sway back, short wrinkled faces, pot bellies, small ears, straight tails and black coloring with occasional white markings or they may have white skin and range in color from red to white to black and white. Pigs are very smart with an excellent sense of smell but poor eyesight. They have a life span of 20-25 years. Height at the withers (high point of the shoulder) 18 inches with the ideal height less than 14 inches. Length is proportional to height. The maximum weight is 95 lbs. with ideal weight less than 50 lbs.
Behavior: Pigs have a difficult time handling excess heat and cold. Pigs often choose to urinate and defecate in one place therefore they are easily housebroken. They enjoy rooting with their nose as a way of exploring their environment. They may adapt this rooting behavior to playing with a toy or rolling a ball. Play time activities are important to keep your pig from becoming bored and diverting the rooting to items easily damaged such as carpet, flooring and furniture. Outside exercise helps eliminate boredom and reduces the propensity towards obesity. Remember pigs can root under fences and destroy well-manicured lawns and flower gardens.
Housing: A dry, clean, sanitary and draft free habitat is important. Adult pigs are most comfortable at temperatures between 60-70 F while those without hair are more comfortable at 65-75 F. Extreme cold is not tolerated and outdoor pigs must be provided with shelter and supplemental heat in the winter. The smaller the pig, the more sensitive to cold it is. Hay bedding is helpful to provide padding and insulation. Pigs are not able to sweat; therefore they are very intolerant of heat as well. For this reason, pigs kept outdoors in the summer should be provided with a waterhole or children’s swimming pool to wallow in. Pigs kept in doors can be taught to use a litter box or trained to go outdoors to urinate and defecate.
Zoning Regulations: In many urban areas, zoning regulations prohibit livestock. Depending on the interpretation of these regulations, miniature pigs may or may not be included. To prevent misunderstandings, clarification of these laws should be obtained in writing prior to the purchase of your pig. In addition to city ordinances, your local neighborhood homeowners association may prohibit ownership of livestock.
Diet: Pig feeds are targeted to certain life stages i.e. starter, grower, maintaince and breeder. Mazuri Porcine Mini-Pig Diets made by Purina Mills are recommended. Young pigs are fed starter or grower ration. Pigs 4 – 8 weeks of age should be fed 0.6 – 1.4 lbs. of feed per day until weaned at 4 – 5 weeks of age. These are commonly called “creep feeds”. Once weaned, pigs can be started on second stage nursery diets (corn/soybean based diets. Mild diarrhea may occur at the time diets are changed. Generally, a rate of 3 – 5% bodyweight per day is fed. After 8 weeks of age, young pigs can be maintained on a grower ration until maturity. Adult maintaince diets should be fed at a rate of 2.0 – 2.5% of body weight.