Lucy’s Transformation

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.

Check out those jowls and that belly! At only 1 year old, a pig should not look like this (July 2015)

Continue reading

Hog Haven Success Story: Cupid

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.

IMG_0580

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.

IMG_1212

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.

11753288_10153155568467982_6012778825892118994_n

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

Q&A of the day! A lot of folks ask us what exactly Hog Haven Farm does as a public charity and why.

IMG_9184

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

Introducing a new pig to your herd

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.

Pig-Pen-1

The three little piggies can't wait to try these delicious snacks!

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.

image1

IMG_9645

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.