Mud Bath

Peanut Butter Relaxing in Spa

This is one of our sows, named Peanut Butter, relaxing in her beauty bath on a warm sunny day. It is not uncommon to see them sticking their tongues out like this when relaxing.

Mud is very important to pigs. There is a myth that pigs are very clean animals. This is a politically correct attempt to contradict the other myth that pigs are dirty, dirty, dirty animals. Both are wrong. Mud isn’t dirty and pigs aren’t clean.

Pigs love a good mud bath and mud is good for pigs.

  1. Mud moisturizes pig’s skin: Pigs don’t have the oil product we humans have so they have to invest in expensive beauty products to keep their skin youthful looking. This is a simple reality caused by their evolution. The mud helps their skin retain it’s healthy glow which assists with all the usual reasons people put mud on their face.
  2. Mud acts as sunscreen: Pigs are outdoors all the time and the UltraViolet in the sunlight can burn them. We don’t see sunburn in our northern climate in bigger pigs but sometimes will see a little in new piglets. Even dark piglets can burn. They recover but shade is critical for pigs for this reason. Perhaps part of why the older pigs don’t sunburn is they put on sunscreen, e.g., mud.
  3. Mud kills skin parasites like ticks and lice: Pigs don’t have any way to groom themselves. Not only do they lack thumbs to hold combs but they can’t even bend their feet around or snouts to clean themselves. A dog, cat or primate can reach any part of their body by twisting around and even their head by using their paws. Pigs bodies and limbs are far more rigid – they’ll never make it in the circus as contortionists. They don’t even do social grooming although you’ll occasionally see one pig lick a spot on another if there is something tasty spilled on the lickie. Pig’s solution to the problem is mud bath’s which coat their skin and kill pests. Different strokes for different folks.
  4. Mud keeps biting insects off: Pigs already have pretty thick skin but a layer of fresh mud helps keep biting insects off them. An even better solution is chickens which is why our pigs have the luxury of touring with their ensemble of guard hens that not only eat up almost all the bugs within a 1,000′ radius but also provide tasty eggs for younger pigs – cook the eggs to double the available protein and resolve the biotin antagonist.jn.n1716
  5. Mud is cooling: Pigs have very few sweat glands. Human’s great innovation was sweat. We are really good at cooling our bodies with sweat. This allowed us to become long distance runners that could track and run down much faster prey by just keeping after it in tag team packs running it into the ground so it was exhausted and we could kill it for dinner. This transformed humans from mere scavengers, like pigs, into very successful hunters. The extra protein allowed for our brains to grow swelling our heads until we thought we were masters of the Universe. Pigs on the other hand can’t sweat so they can’t easily cool themselves down. This prevented them from this ego mistake. The mud is their solution to heat. A cool mud bath gives them a lot of surface contact with the earth which soaks out the heat from their bodies.
  6. Mud is relaxing: No scientific data on this but if you ask Peanut Butter in the photo above she’ll give you “Relaxation” as her number one reason. Just look at that face, that expression, that tongue action.

All that said, pigs are capable of cleaning off remarkably quickly. Their hair seems to shed mud so that after a roll in the hay they look spankin’ brand new. In the winter they don’t tend to use or want wallows, being that they’re up on deep snow pack here, so they are quite clean in that season.

Pigs need wallows in the warm season. Wallows are good. Mud is good. Happy pigs.

Outdoors: 79°F/46°F Sunny, Crystal Clear Blue Skies
Tiny Cottage: 68°F/63°F

Daily Spark: Hippocracy: the ruling government for hippos.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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20 Responses to Mud Bath

  1. David B says:

    Pretty cute! Looking forward to having chickens ourselves once we get ourselves set up. Do they help a lot with mosquitoes or do the ducks/fish help more with that in the breeding grounds?

    • Yes, the chickens do help however a combination of fish, ducks, chickens, dragonflies, bats, swallows and killdeere are most effective. Creating habitats for the wild helpers helps them help you by getting the pesky flies at every stage. And they’re fun to watch. :)

  2. Ed Allison says:

    Do the pigs ever get stuck to where they have to be pulled from the mud?

    • That has happened to a newborn piglet but never to them after a week. The mud is not deep, just a few inches. Pigs are very strong and have evolved to deal with mud – it’s part of their ancestral environment.

      • Sharon says:

        I hadn’t considered this. We get deep mud here, in some places. Last year one of my irrigation pipes leaked and I, walking to turn it off, sank in up to my hip. We have some kind of creature that burrows and, when it gets wet, you can sink in anywhere that they’ve wrecked the sod a little if you don’t tread carefully. Would that kind of thing be dangerous for a pig? Any difference in danger between old and young pigs? I suspect that careful picking of wallow locations could prevent this, but sometimes the gaskets on the old pipes blow out and I don’t notice right away.

  3. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Walter, how do you prepare eggs for the pigs? Poaching with Hollandaise? How do they cope with shells? In other words, can you just hard boil the hen fruit and distribute them in their own packaging? And please, what is the biotin factor? I know albumin, uncooked, strips A and D vitamins in our own species . . .

    Do you do anything to establish and maintain wallows? Do the pigs create their own where possible?

    103 degrees F. here in Davis. Strategy for us mostly indoor types is to open habitations to the night air in the sixties, seal up before dawn, and hold still.

    • Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise and fresh parsley is their favorite, on bagels, of course. Seriously though, hard boiled, scrambled or baked right in the shells. :)

      Shells are no problem – they eat them right down. Here’s info on the biotin issue. Excessive consumption of raw egg whites is a cause.

      I tend to pick the places for wallows by determining where water flows. The pigs vote and if they accept it they use it. In other words, they’re opportunists and will use most any spot.

      With temperatures like that you need a good wallow! :)

  4. Emily says:

    We have no running water on our farm, and we rotate our pigs, what is the best way to create wallows?
    They always have shade, do they need wallows?

    • Can they survive without a wallow? Yes, probably. If it gets too hot (air temp) they might need misting. That is what some farms do.

      Do they want a wallow? Yes, if they have the opportunity they will use it in hot weather and even in mild weather.

      If you have pigs then you’re watering them so you might consider putting the wallow right next to the waterer. Some water spills. The pigs pee. It makes mud. (Pee makes excellent mud, according to the pigs, so let’s not use our human sensibilities – just don’t go swimming in the pig pond.) Another way to get water would be to setup a tarp or roof to provide shade and have it all drain to one corner dumping the rain water into a trough or right on the ground and mud you shall have. :)

  5. Eric Hagen says:

    I’ve noticed Peanut Butter is one of your most photographed ladies. Is she one of your top sows or do you just think she’s photogenic?

    • Hmm… Using a Google image search pattern I find five for Peanut Butter but many more than that for the sows Blackie, Anna, Petra, Angela, Jolie, QMane, Octavia, Oreo, Double Stuff and others. I suspect it may be she caught your eye as she is quite distinctive. She is one of our top sows, quite photogenic and current. Or maybe it is just that peanut butter sticks so well. :)

  6. I love your site everything is so nformative! We just got our first breeding sow named Bertha. She is light in color and also enjoys frolicking in the mud however she only covers one side of her body. She is still young should I be concerned about why she is favoring one side more than the other in the mud?

    • Perhaps she is right or left handed – animals are just like people – or it is possible that she has a sensitive spot on the other side that she doesn’t want to lay on. I would look her over for that. It may well be simply a preference on her part. I wouldn’t worry too much about it unless you see a problem.

  7. gandalf says:

    can I wallow in your mud

  8. CNB says:

    Peanut Butter is so cute. I bet he is smarter that most people!

    • Actually, he’s a she, a mature sow. And I certainly hope that all people are smarter than Peanut Butter – she’s a pig. She’s good at being a pig but pigs are not anywhere close to as intelligent as humans, or even dogs, apes and dolphins for that matter. Pigs have quite small brains and most of their brain is devoted to smell. After that comes sex. Hollywood promotes a big myth that pigs are intelligent through movie magic, advanced computer animation and by training many identical looking pigs each doing one trick to look like one smart pig. See this article about Teacups and Pig Brains. Fortunately pigs don’t have to be smart or intelligent to survive. They’re super power is they make great bacon.

  9. Laura says:

    Regarding wallows for sows that recently birthed – is it ok for the sow to be mud-diving and then the piglets to be nursing? Are they piglets ok getting mud covered so young? I was planning on keeping them away from wallows for awhile, but someone accidentally did a major water overflow and she took full advantage (hard to blame her – it’s hot out there!). However when I went out later to feed I noticed that all 8 little piglets (4 days old) were liberally coated in mud. They must have followed momma into her bath! Her teats seem relatively clean but her sides are particularly mud-covered. Should I get rid of the wallow, or add more water so it isn’t as thickly muddy?

    • Newborn piglets should not be able to fall into the wallow as they may not be able to get out. The mud on their mother is not a problem for them and may benefit them by providing minerals in their diet. Once they are strongly walking after say a week or two then they may well play in the mud without problem. Observe and use your judgement.

  10. Clementine Beauty says:

    mud is definitely great for skin health whether it be big of human. It is too bad that in today’s big farms, pigs don’t have the luxury of being outside or getting in mud to play.

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