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.

About Walter Jeffries

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9 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.”

  6. I feel pretty strongly about “pet” pigs , after reading up some on what they go through. Those, expensive, fancy “micro” pigs? Sisterly there’s actually no such thing. They need them down, often inbreeding. And they starve them to keep them small. But their organs keep growing inside that small body, making for a painful, cruel existence for this creature that people dress up in clothes and paint their nails. I admit, I have painted a piglet’s toenails. They’re adorable.
    I have talked to a lot of rescue folks and shelters that get these pigs so often when they are older and bigger, no longer getting their nails painted and they are now eating the couch.

    Another thing people do is feed a little pig with big pig feed, making an obese, blind, crooked up behemoth. Often gets abandoned at that point. That’s how I got my last boar, Wilbur. His owners stopped trying to pen him and let him roam free, wrecking the neighborhood. He was burrowing under houses. He was about 400 lbs. My current boar is about that as well.

    So I raise small breed pigs for food, (beggsnachin.webstarts.com) and I flat out won’t sell to people that are looking for a pet pig. Have had folks get mad at me, but also, I kind of screen who comes into my farm, too. I’ve had some folks leave bad reviews and false information when they find out I eat animals. I can respect veganism, each to their own. But respect goes both ways. Drama is not invited here.

    I hope it’s ok, I’ve cited your boar taint pages in my FAQ pages and referred folks to them a lot in the boat taint debate. We raise AGH/KK and don’t castrate. We also are starting up a mix of “big/littles”, Hamp/York/Duroc x AGH/KK, to try for a bit bigger size. A lot of folks here want the bigger good to send odf to butcher, but I like my smaller boar and the easier feed bill of the smaller pigs. In a traditional farming community, the small pig can catch a lot of hate, bc people don’t want a lot of fat but they feed them like a big good would get fed and they wonder why they get a lot of fat and not much else. Humans that are smaller frame get obese on that diet, too. Dunno why people figure you can feed a small pig giant amounts of corn based feed and magically make their genetics grow like a big breed. I guess Idaho Pastured Pigs has already done what I’m doing, so I’m not doing anything new.

    Anyways, In baking. I really appreciate your big and draw a lot of useful info from it. Howdy from Washington State.

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