Pigs can make great pets
Don't let this put you
off though as pigs can make absolutely lovely pets, if you know what you are taking on. As with any new pet, it is important to do your research to make sure that it is the right type of animal for you and your family.
There are many pig keeping courses widely available within the UK and elsewhere. Here at Animal Lovers Web, we decided that this was the best way to find out more about pigs. Sure, these courses generally are geared more towards people who are thinking of a more commercial slant to pig keeping (and a much larger commercial type of pig!) but they also cover all aspects of pig husbandry including housing, feeding, breeding, health, behaviour and the all important legal requirements associated with owning livestock. The course we chose, Yearle Tamworths, certainly helped us decide that pig keeping was definitely for us!
Why not visit our Pigs Discussion Forum where you can post your comments or questions about pigs.
Pig rules and regulations
In the UK, you can’t just go out, buy a pig and bring a pig home - there are strict laws and regulations that need to be followed before you can have a pig, whether it is as a pet or otherwise. The paperwork and legal requirements associated with keeping livestock can seem quite overwhelming at first, even if you are only planning on having a couple of pigs as pets.
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, is your first port of call. They have a great deal of useful and necessary information to support any prospective pig keeper. Their New Pig Keepers Guide is probably one of the most important documents to have a look at. This covers aspects such as registering your land/pigs, movement requirement and restrictions, identification e.g. tagging and feed restrictions. Additionally their Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Pigs discusses in more depth issues around pig husbandry such as health, accommodation and feeding. We would strongly recommend also having a chat with your local vet – do they have any experience with farm animals or can they recommend an alternative vet that will be able to help you. It is unlikely that a typical small animal vet will feel confident dealing with pig-related health issues.
Choosing your pig breed
Some of the larger breeds of pig do have a reputation for their even temperaments e.g. Gloucestershire Old Spots but most pet pig keepers will probably be thinking of a smaller type of pig e.g. Pot Bellied Pig or Kune Kune Pig (especially if you are going to let it roam the house!). A visit to some of the UK's many country shows will enable you to see at first hand some of these breeds and have a chat with prospective suppliers. Why not visit the Kune Kune Society online where there are usually piglets ready for sale most times of the year.
If you are thinking of one of the smaller breeds, you will also need to investigate feed suppliers as most small pet pigs require quite a specific low protein diet, which is found in pot bellied pig food (at least during the winter when grazing is more restricted). This type of diet will not routinely be available in your local pet shop and you may need to access this via a farm store or internet shopping.
Have fun with your pigs
With a reported intelligence similar to that of a three year old toddler, a pig can be a very interesting, rewarding and delightful pet to own. This natural intelligence, together with their curious nature and ever-present desire for food, does mean that you have a pet that can be tamed and trained. You will probably be familiar with some of the pet pig "superstars" that can outperform any dog with their tricks, dancing to music and ability to take pride of place on the living room settee!!
Here at Animal Lovers Web.com, our desire to keep pigs means for us having an animal that can live in an environment that allows it to express its natural behaviour, where it is safe and secure. Keeping a pig indoors was never going to be an option for us – we wanted our two girls to be able to have the freedom to run about, root and access grass.
Obviously, living outdoors has its own issues – you need very secure fencing and some form of shelter (Betty and Lottie HATE the rain!). We are using an old barn which, when padded out with straw, is a lovely cosy home for them. They have settled in really well and are getting tamer each day. It's lovely to see them charge over to us when we shout their names now (or maybe they just associate humans with food!!) and they love to have their bellies tickled.
Why not visit our Pig Discussion Forums where you will be able to find out lots more about pig keeping. You can ask any questions, contribute to the discussion and also find out about how our own pigs, Betty and Lottie came to live with us here at Animal lovers Web, all the way from a rescue centre in Scotland.