Welcome to the official Hog Haven Farm blog! Check out more of our current residents (as of March 2018). A few days ago, we shared pictures and information on 20 of our piggy family members, names A through F–today, learn about piggies name H through L!
Everything you need to know before bringing home a new family member
Undoubtedly, piglets are one of the cutest, cuddliest creatures on this earth. The wagging little tails, cute snouts, and fast movements (we call it the zoomies) make them a desirable pet. But, unfortunately, there is an epidemic in the United States with unwanted pet pigs. Researching pig parenting prior to adopting a pig is crucial.
Pigs are smart–the fourth smartest mammal, in fact. This can be good and bad! Intelligence means that pigs can be easy to train as house pigs–they will learn to use a litter box, pee pads, doggy door, or have other ways to let you know when they need to potty (like ringing a bell at your back door). They are clean animals, and do not like to defecate anywhere near their food or bedding. But they can learn undesirable behaviors, too–like opening your cabinets and refrigerator, knocking over the kitchen trash, and pulling your bedding down to make their own sleep spot.
Having a pig as a pet is rewarding, but they come with their own quirks. Understanding their behavior is important; they are not like dogs, as many people like to assume. Pigs really are more like perpetual human toddlers; they have temper tantrums, attitudes, and will repeatedly push your buttons as they test boundaries.
Still think you want to bring home a pet pig? Here are a few important pointers for keeping one:
- Pigs need adequate space outside. As grazing animals, they like to munch on grass, dandelions, and other greens outside. They also having natural behaviors, like rooting, that are important to their psyche. While you don’t need a massive amount of land, having an outside area is critical. You can create a rooting area for a pig, so it won’t destroy your entire yard with it’s curious snout, but they do not do well cooped indoors all of the time.
- Pigs do not sweat. They need an area to cool off outside, like a kiddie pool or even a mud hole, and need access to fresh water 24/7.
- A pig is a routine-driven creature. They like to have their meals at the same time every day, and will let you know (loudly) if you deviate from their schedule. Like deviate by minutes. If you can’t stick to a routine, a pig is not a good pet for you.
- Pigs need companionship and attention. They love to have their tummies scratched, and to snuggle with you. They are not a good pet to keep if you work long hours and therefore can’t provide attention and companionship.
- Pigs can coexist with other animals, but are not a good combination with dogs. But there are so many cute dog and pig videos on Instagram! We cringe every time we see these videos. While dogs and pigs can coexist, they do not understand each other. Instinctually, dogs are predators and pigs are prey. Normal pig behaviors, like squealing or running, may trigger the predator instinct in your loving family dog, and that’s it–the pig has no way to defend itself from the attack. Pigs and dogs must only interact under strict supervision, and never be left alone together.
- Pigs are dominant animals, and will try to be alpha in your household. If not properly trained, a dominant pig can be aggressive (especially to house guests and strangers), and become rude when they want something. You must learn dominance training to be alpha to your pet pig, otherwise, they will not be a fun family addition.
- There is no such thing as a teacup pig. Yes, mini pigs are real–they are also referred to as potbellied pigs, Juliana pigs, micro-mini pigs, etc. But these labels are not a breed of pig–they exist for breeders to sell more piglets. Mini pigs range in size from 70lbs at the extreme low end to 250lbs at the high end, but in our experience, many of these minis stay in the 100-170lb range. Do not get a pig if you cannot handle the extreme high end of size. Much like humans, you will not know, even from seeing the parents, how big the piglet is going to be at adulthood. They grow until they are 5 years old, although the skeletal structure stops growing around 3 years. Want to know the size before you commit? Please, please consider adopting an older pig. There are so many of them in need of a forever home, and you won’t have to worry about size if you choose one who is already done growing. Adults also have established behaviors, and are much easier to work with!
- Pigs are a lifetime commitment. They bond very closely with their people, and they grieve when they are separated. They will cry real tears when surrendered to a shelter, or sanctuary, or even a new home. Pigs live 15-25 years, so be prepared for the commitment.
- Do you rent your home? Wait until you’re a homeowner before committing to a pet pig. PLEASE. Many landlords will not accept pet pigs in rental properties, and it is totally unfair (and selfish of you) to bring home a pet you may not be able to keep. Renting is not stable–you may move once in ten years, every year, every couple of years….change is stressful to piggies, and if you have to move, there is no guarantee your pig can come with you. So please, if you rent, just don’t go there.
- Ensure your new piggy is spayed or neutered! Unspayed females have a heat cycle every 3 weeks, which leads to aggression and bad moods, and simply, not a fun pet to have around. Additionally, females can develop uterine tumors or cancer later in life, so making sure they are spayed leads to a longer, healthier life. Unneutered males will attempt to break out of fencing and enclosures, and will mount everything and anything they can.
Ready to adopt? Please fill out an adoption application to start the process. Since we are a rescue/sanctuary, we want what is best for the pig. It takes a bit of time to adopt through us, but if you’re ready and willing, it is worth the extra effort!
Last week, we introduced you to some of our permanent residents at the farm; this week, we have more piggies to tell you about! These pigs are our sanctuary pigs, living their lives here for various reasons.
We currently have 7 pig pens; the largest pen accommodates 21 pigs, most of whom are permanent residents or long-term boarding pigs.
Hog Haven Farm is home to more than 40 pigs at any given time. We strive to place as many pigs as we can into happy, loving, permanent homes, but there are factors that make adoption unrealistic.
We’d like to introduce you to some of our permanent resident pigs, with stories behind the pigs and why they get to live at the sanctuary long-term! Continue reading
Miniature pigs–the exotic, amazingly adorable novelty pet–are often classified with such names as teacup, micro, nano, pixie, and micro-mini. What does this mean, though, and what exactly is a mini pig?
Hog Haven Farm brought Lucy home in July 2015. Lucy was only a year old at this time, and weighed close to 200lbs. Her obesity was so extreme, her belly dragged on the ground, and fat pockets in her face obscured her eyes. She moved slow, and was uninterested in veggies, most fruits, and most importantly, pig food.
At the close of 2015, Hog Haven Farm has 25 potbellied pigs and 1 Yorkshire pig in its care. Pigs have come and gone through our doors, and there are a number of pigs that we have offered permanent sanctuary to; we call these piggies our residents.
In July 2015, we received a request for a pig to be surrendered to us. He was 4 years old, 45lbs, and named Cupid. We had no idea how Cupid would melt our hearts, and were further clueless of how we would melt his.
We didn’t know much about Cupid’s past 4 years; it was immediately apparent that he was skittish, afraid of other animals, and had likely been tormented by dogs. There were wounds and sores on his back from dog attacks, and his ears were scarred from the same. Additionally, he had never received a hoof trim in his 4 years, and walked as though he was wearing flippers. Hog Haven had a foster family take care of him initially, and they made sure his hooves were trimmed and shots updated by a vet before he came to our care.
Cupid did not warm up to us for some time. He chose to sleep in a kennel outside for the first few weeks of bringing him in, and would run if we came too close. Erin, our very compassionate founder, was determined to charm Cupid and was relentless in her slow approach, bribery with snacks, and calming disposition. He finally started to come around, moving indoors at night but within the comfort of his kennel at all times.
Around the same time we took Cupid in, we brought in another rescue pig, Lincoln. A mere 5 months old at the time, Lincoln was also determined to charm Cupid, and would boss his way into Cupid’s kennel to sleep with him. The compassion that Lincoln showed Cupid melted our hearts, and started to help warm Cupid up to everyone else at Hog Haven.
In late August 2015, Hog Haven Farm relocated to Byers, CO–54 miles east of where we started. We moved 8 pigs in one evening to our new sanctuary, and Cupid really started to blossom. With nearly 3 acres to roam, Cupid started to come out of his shell and interact with the other pigs–but he and Lincoln shared a special bond, and still chose to snuggle up together at night. This time, Cupid broke out of the kennel routine, sleeping in blankets in the same area as the rest of the pigs. We rapidly increased our number of pigs from 8 to 15, to 20, then 26 by Christmas.
No longer one to shy away, Cupid found his place with the rest of the pigs at Hog Haven. He has gradually become more social with the rest of the herd, and changes who he bunks with at night. Better yet, Cupid has become social with our visitors and volunteers, and no longer hides when people come out to see him.
Watching Cupid’s development has been incredibly rewarding. From an abused and neglected, scared pig to a social, loving pet in the course of 5 months is amazing. As such, Cupid is a resident pig at Hog Haven–he knows how much love there is in the sanctuary, and has a strong bond with the other residents.
Q&A of the day! A lot of folks ask us what exactly Hog Haven Farm does as a public charity and why.
Pet pigs are becoming the new favorite exotic pet for a lot of people across the country, but like any new pet, a lot of folks do not research the requirements and needs of owning a potbellied pig. There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet regarding pigs as pets–many people buy into the concept of “teacup pigs,” which is a myth created by breeders to sell more piglets. Once the “teacup pig” reaches a larger size, the owners lose interest and choose to rehome the pig. This is one of the more common problems we see as a rescue organization. Continue reading
Plain and simple, pigs are herd animals. They form very close bonds to the other members of their herd, but integrating a new pig into the herd is a task that requires patience, diligence, and a bit of thick skin. Pig instinct is to establish dominance—and to establish dominance, pigs will fight each other. As animal lovers, watching the pigs fight is difficult and almost heartbreaking, but one must be aware that this is normal pig behavior and is a necessity in the process.
Before bringing a new pig into your home, there are a few steps you should take to prepare your environment for acclimating your existing pig(s) with the new addition. It is best to keep the pigs completely separate for a period of time; to do so, you must have areas where the pigs may see each other, but cannot come into physical contact. We recommend metal wall mount pet gates (you can purchase these from $35-$100 online or at pet stores) and maintaining separate areas of the house for the different pigs to stay in. Rotate the pigs between house and yard at separate times, too. It is helpful to have several pens within your yard if you have the space to do so; we have a large backyard that is divided into 3 sections of chain link fencing. We got our chain link fencing in Simi Valley as it’s much more cost-effective than other fencing types and we actually like to see our piggys and we like them to see us. Additionally, we think that this kind of fencing will last a lot longer than wood fencing. Our three permanent resident pigs can enjoy their own space, and the rescues we bring in can feel secure as well. The following pictures show three pigs in pen 1, and three pigs in the house separated by a wall mount gate.
Keeping this schedule for a minimum of one week is important. You must pay equal attention to the new pig, to build trust, and to your existing pigs to show respect and to keep your existing routine fairly normal. A two-week separation period seems to work the best for us. After two weeks, we will slowly let the pigs into the bigger portion of our yard to feel each other out without fences. In the event that you have more than one pig to introduce to the newcomer, try to introduce them one at a time. You should know the chain of command with your existing pigs; start with the most dominant pig. Ease them into the meeting as well—put each pig out separately, with a bit of time before meeting (say 10-20 minutes). They may choose to ignore each other at first, and then become aggressive to establish their ranks.
Allow the pigs to fight, but not to the point they cause severe injury and need veterinarian attention. Pigs are resilient, however, and so long as you keep any bites/scratches/wounds clean, they will heal relatively quickly. It is best to not do this step alone! Have someone else in the yard to help separate the pigs if needed. If you are uncomfortable in this step, you need to practice certain dominance training procedures first, such as move the pig, so that your pig responds to you as the alpha. When we introduce pigs this way, one person will “herd” each pig simultaneously in opposite directions. We will guide one pig to a separate pen, the other towards the house. Once you break up the fight, keep them separated the rest of the day. You don’t want to push your luck, and it’s better to offer small intervals throughout the week for introductions. Usually within a month time frame, the fights will be over with, and you can trust leaving the pigs alone together. In the following pictures, you can see results from fights; the first is broken teeth from fence fighting, and the second is chewed ears from a physical fight.
The time period for separation varies: do not expect typical results, as every pig is different. For example, if you have a pig that is used to all of your attention, and has been the only pig in the household for a long period of time, the adjustment may take longer than you’d like. Do not give up! Once they determine their rankings with each other, they will become family to one another.
At Hog Haven Farm, we get asked a lot of questions. Sure, it isn’t every day you meet people who are determined to do everything they can to support, rescue, educate and service the community with potbellied pigs. Many of the questions we are asked are centered around the bathroom habits of pigs–and the rest comparing pigs to dogs. People need a reference point to understand the connection of pigs as pets–and here is the answer to our most frequently asked question: Why Pigs?
Let’s talk first about the concept of keeping domesticated animals as companions–i.e. pets–in our homes. Psychological studies over the last decade have agreed that there are both physical and psychological benefits of maintaining a human-animal relationship. Research suggests that keeping a pet can reduce stress, lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce depression, loneliness and isolation, and increase social interactions and connections with those who have similar pets. Whether it be a typical household pet–such as a dog, cat, or bird–or an exotic pet, the bond between humans and companion animals is undeniable.