Here we offer some friendly advice and guidance about keeping your own pigs. Browse the menu to the left for informal hints and tips.
Why keep pigs?
Pigs often receive bad press but it’s generally unfair – they are among the cleanest, most intelligent and friendly animals and they make great pets. An added bonus, for those wishing to rear their pigs for meat, is that they provide good home-reared pork and bacon and they’re an excellent recycler of waste food. It has been said that the only part of a pig you can’t eat is its squeal! They are certainly the most rewarding and enjoyable of all the ‘edible pets’. Many people keep a few weaners for home use and for sale to their friends, although on a smallholding they are also useful for consuming surplus goats milk.
Part of the fun of keeping pigs is that they are very engaging animals. They are highly intelligent and bore easily, so they need to be entertained. The best way to do this is to devote some time to them - they can be trained with repetition and consistency, using positive reinforcement to set rules and boundaries. Free range pigs are by far the happiest as they have a natural desire to wallow and dig in the ground, but you can further exercise your pigs by playing fetch with them and letting them run together.
Beware – if you don’t provide entertainment for your pigs they will seek their own. A favourite past-time is escaping. Pigs can get through wire mesh and lift doors off hinges, so make sure you have thought ahead. They are very curious, so providing toys to play with will be much appreciated. Hanging strips of cloth overhead has proved popular; rubber hoses, chains, etc are less popular as pigs like to tug and chew and these materials are not so easy to get their teeth around. They also enjoy rubbing themselves against things, so make sure that important structures are well anchored!
Pigs are very sociable and prefer to live in small groups. They are very clean animals and won’t spoil the areas where they eat or sleep. As pets they can even be house-trained! They love being petted and stroked, to scratch and be scratched and with care (including softly spoken words) they will become very tame.
Before deciding to keep your own pigs:
Be certain that you will have enough time to devote to them all year round and that there is someone willing and able to look after them if you’re not there. Pigs need regular attention.
Learn about common pig ailments and make sure you can spot signs of disease. Also ensure you’re happy to administer vaccinations and wormers. Introduce yourself to a trusted local vet, if you haven’t already, and know when to call them.
It doesn’t matter whether they are commercial, domestic or pet animals, all pigs are subject to regulations. You’ll need to familiarise yourself with them (see Regulations for more details).
Make sure that your pigs are not going to be a nuisance to neighbours. Pigs are naturally clean but they inevitably produce manure, the smell of which might not be appreciated by others living nearby. They can also be noisy at feed times.