Pet Pigs

Sometimes piglets are just too cute! These little ones are just getting to the stage where they are exploring away from the sow and romping out on the pasture. They are only about ten pounds in this picture so it this stage it is hard to remember that in just six months they’ll be well over 200 lbs.

Almost every month I get calls from people looking for pigs for pets. I try to discourage this or at least suggest they consider getting a Potbellied pig instead of a Yorkshire. Yes, our pigs can make a fine pet, just as a horse can. Like a horse, farm pigs get very big – they have been bred for fast growth and size. They can get over 1,000 pounds in just three years in the case of boars and over 500 pounds in the same time for a sow. That makes for one mighty big pet. They need a lot of space – keeping them in a stall or small pen isn’t fair to the pig and is likely to make them frustrated and more aggressive. Pigs, like most animals, can bite. They have big teeth including fangs (tusks in their case). Pigs are heavy and have sharp feet. They can even accidentally bump you up against a fence post and crush you.

So, when people ask if they can buy a pet pig I first try to encourage them to consider a potbelly pig which does not get nearly as big. If they must get a pig, I explain the above and recommend they have plenty of space, at least an acre for the pig.

Oh, and did I mention that a pig have a big, pig sized appetite? An adult pig can easily eat 10 to 12 lbs of grain a day. That’s about 4,000 lbs of grain a year which will cost roughly $700 a year for a pet pig food bill in 2005 prices.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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8 Responses to Pet Pigs

  1. pablo says:

    My son-in-law’s sister had a pot bellied pig (purportedly). When they finally shipped the pig off to a rescue farm in central Missouri, this tiny pig weighed in at something like 300 pounds. Obviously not what they had anticipated. This is a very elegant family living in a gracious and immaculate home, yet they had this giant bit of livestock in the basement. And they were very frank and open about it, loving the pig and showing it off to all who cared. Such a pleasant incongruity.

  2. Wow! That is quite the image! Here is irony, our house is the opposite – we would never qualify for “Home & Garden” yet we do keep the pigs outside in their pastures! :) I have heard that the potbellies can get that big but usually don’t. I wonder if it is an over feeding issue? Glad the pig got to go to the country. Sounds like a children’s book…

  3. Vanessa Andrews says:

    My home is Los Angeles I like to buy smell pig.

  4. My partner and I are American city boys who landed on a small olive farm in New Zealand. We’ve got a pet kunekune pig (Lucy) who grazes in our pastures. Lucy is an old lady but we discovered she was going into heat. Upon the advice of some pig breeders, we got on loan a very affable kunekune boar and now we’re breeding Lucy for meat. I was a bit conflicted at first about eating our pet’s babies, but in the end I figure at least we’ll know the piglets had a good life and were well cared for.

    I wrote about it on my blog (http://moonovermartinborough.com/2011/08/14/boytoy-for-old-lady-lucy/) and lots of city folks (some friends, some strangers, some Aunts) were horrified that we’re seriously considering eating our pet’s babies. But it strikes me that city folks, myself included before moving to the country, have become so disconnected from their food source that sentimentality interferes with ethics. Which is more ethical? Blindly buying pork from the supermarket when you have no idea about how it was raised, or eating your pet’s happy, well-cared-for babies?

    We’ll see. When the piglets come my partner might be overcome with cute piglet syndrome and the eating might be called off for good.

    Thanks for the posts on pet pigs.

    • Excellent post there on your blog. I think you’re doing the right thing. I’ve heard good things about the Kunekunes. From our perspective of raising pastured pigs for selling in stores I want the larger Yorkshire crosses but the Kunekunes have a wonderful reputation for homestead pasturing due to their smaller size. As you and your partner raise them, just keep in mind that they are part of the food web that you’ll be eating. You give them the good life and then humanely turn them into your food. This allows your to continue breeding their line. Without livestock farming the breeds would become extinct.

      As to telling if she’s pregnant or not, each female pig comes with a handy, dandy pregnancy indicator located on the rear end. This is her clitoral hood, the pointy thing on the back. Normally it has a bit of a downward point to it. As she becomes more pregnant the uterus becomes heavier and settles in her belly pulling downward on her vagina which pulls on her external genitalia – e.g., her pregnancy indicator. This causes the clit hood to point upward as she becomes more and more pregnant. I learned this years ago from a very old farmer and he is right. In the hundreds of sows and pigs we’ve had this is a very reliable indicator of pregnancy. As a sow has a lot of pregnancies she does get a little stretched out inside and this becomes less dramatic but still indicative.

  5. Farmerbob1 says:

    Walter, it appears as if you started rewriting the last sentence, but didn’t complete the edit.

    “That’s about 4,000 lbs of grain a year which will cost about That comes to $700 a year for a pet pig food bill.”

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