Saturday, August 24, 2013

Winter Shelter for Pot Bellied Pigs

It's getting to that time of year. We built a shelter this spring and moved my pigs outside for the summer and I am really feeling the fall chill in the air when I go out to feed them in the morning. I've never had pigs outside during the winter, but because of the recent rise in numbers, I won't be able to bring them all in this year. This will be hard for me. :(

Many people believe that pigs are fine in the crudest of shelters and this is not true. Pigs have a hard time regulating their body temperature and need a lot of help. In the summer they can get overheated quickly and need access to shade and fresh water at all times. In Alberta winters, they need to have a properly insulated shelter with an outside heat source (such as a heat lamp placed high enough that they can't touch it). It must be large enough for them to comfortably move around in, as they will spend most of the winter in it, but not so large that heat is lost to extra space. It should be filled from floor to roof with clean straw for them to burrow into, and it's never a good idea to keep just one pig. They snuggle together in the straw for warmth, and it's much harder for one pig to stay warm. The door should face away from the winter winds and shouldn't be bigger than needed for the pig to come and go. Our's has a big swing door for cleaning that always stays closed except in the spring when they like to lie in the shelter and enjoy the sunshine. A blanket of some type should be hung in the door to keep the wind and blowing snow out. The shelter should be on skids...to keep the floor from rotting so will need a ramp for the pigs to walk up. The roof should be slanted and shingled to prevent leaking.

I have seen people who keep their pigs in small, plywood rickety old dog houses during the winter with a handful of straw to lie on. This is cruelty. Those pigs live miserable lives. If you are considering getting a pig, please make sure you are able (financially and physically) to provide the proper care throughout its life. They will depend on you.

13 comments:

  1. I am a big fan of your blog. As a new mom to a 8 month old pot belly female, I'm trying to learn all I can. I live in southwest florida, and winter nights rarely drop below 40 degrees. I'm trying to figure out the best bedding for her - How cold is too cold for a pot belly pig?

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    1. Hi Lauren, I'm glad you like my blog! :)

      I live in Alberta, Canada and it can get to -45C here in the winter. My pigs live in insulated shelters (together) in straw that they can burrow down into for warmth, plus they have a plug in heater that keeps the temperature between 15C and 23C...depending on the outside weather. Because it's so cold here in the winter, mine need the warm place to go back to to warm themselves after being outside in the cold and snow. Being in Florida, you wouldn't need the heater, but your girl will still need a clean, dry, draft free shelter with plenty of straw. In the summer we don't use the plug in heaters, but I do have at least 5 pigs in each shelter for warmth.

      If there is one thing that I have learned about pigs over the years is that they love to be warm. When they were in the house, my pigs would lie right in front of my wood stove for hours until they were so hot you could barely run your hand down them!

      Hope this helped. Best of luck with your new baby!

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    2. I forgot to mention that pigs aren't very good at regulating their body temperature. Without help they can get very cold in cold weather and very hot in hot weather. In the summer it is just as important to make sure that she has plenty of shade, a pool of water or a mud pit to soak in and plenty of fresh water to drink.

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  2. Hi lorrie, Im a fan of your blog started reading it about a year ago
    My family and I have just recently moved to grande prairie and Im in love with pot belly pigs and want to learn more about them and how to help do more for them or help by volunteering

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    1. Thank you...and welcome to Grande Prairie Keely!

      Pot Bellied pigs are wonderful animals... when they are understood. Too many people have the wrong ideas about them, and I think it's great that you are wanting to help and learn more. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask. :)

      Some of the things we are needing most in our efforts to care for neglected and abandoned pigs are:

      *foster/adoptive homes
      *food (pellets and fruits and veggies)/straw/blankets
      *insulated shelters/building supplies
      *fundraising (bottle drives, etc,)
      *help transporting pigs to new homes

      and probably most important thing is people to help educate the public about these animals. People need to understand that they are farm animals, not house pets and there is no such thing as a "teacup/micro mini/etc" pig. They are all pot bellied pigs and the average size of a pot bellied pig is between 120-250 pounds. There are ones who do happen to stay smaller...but this is not the norm and the size of a pig cannot be predicted. If people understood this truth, there would be a huge drop in the number of unwanted pigs. The more people spreading this information, the better. We are always looking for more ways to get it out there. If you have any ideas...please let me know!!

      If you are interested in helping out in any of these ways, please let me know, we would be happy to have you on our team. :) You can visit the Potbelly Pig Rehoming Network on Facebook to learn more about what we do if you are interested.

      https://www.facebook.com/PotbellyPigRehomingNetwork?fref=ts

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  3. Hi, I'm Felicia I have a pot belly pig she is my baby I love her to death she is about 30 to 40 pounds and has always been an inside pet but just recently just got put outside permently. I still try to sneak her in when I can. But I live in South Carolina and its been getting like 20° outside at night. So will she be okay if she start sleeping outside more often, she has a big dog house like 4 blankets i warm one up for her every time i put her outside. I'm just wondering because I've almost been busted 3 times trying to sneak her inside...

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  4. Hi Felicia,

    She will be fine outside, but there are a few things I recommend. First, it is always best that pigs have a buddy to cuddle up to for warmth and also for companionship. Would it be possible for you to find a rescue in your area and see about finding a friend for your girl? Second, pigs are not good at regulating their body temperature (hot or cold). I always go by the rule...if I am cold, my pigs probably are too. If I am hot, so are my pigs. If you would appreciate a source of heat...give one to your pig. I have my pigs in well built, insulated houses with deep straw and thermostat controlled heat. I keep this on all winter, set at +10*C. I also have no less than 5 pigs in each house, which adds a lot of warmth. When it warms up to no colder than 0*C, I shut the heat off...but again, I have several pigs in each house.

    Hope this helps!

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  5. Hi Lorrie, Lisa her and first time pot belly pig mama to penny, my problem is she won't sleep in her temporary house,it is a dog house that I have straw in and had a blanket. How can I get her to sleep in there...as of now she sleeps in one spot and I have put some straw there for her,due to heavy rains I have had to bring her in. Also she shakes when I put her back in her play pen after I change her blankets. And sleeps all day in there which I understand when you have no room to move you sleep...just worry I am not doing enough to for her. Also I can't let her run around in the house because of the dogs,that's another reason for the play pen. Another thing I feel like she don't like us, the only time I feel like she likes us is when we feed her, I don't know if I am too concerned foe her or over worrying. Thanks for advice. Lisa

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    1. Hi Lisa,

      Is Penny spayed? This is where I always start when trying to figure out any behavioral issues with pot bellied pigs. I would also like to know how old Penny is and how much space she has access to. Pigs need a LOT of space to roam and root and explore to be happy. If you deprive them of this, you will have issues...both with behavior...caused from being bored (can even lead to aggression) and health...from lack of exercise. Pigs also need social interaction and do best with a pig friend. if you could let me know a little more about Penny's situation it would be easier to offer advice.

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  6. hi, I'm a new mommy to 2 poy belly pigglets. (so darn cute)we live in South Carolina, i put a heat lamp in their cage, lots of straw too.water and food is out side their fenced on area.i woke up at 4 am and they were out of their house, im affraid they maybe to hot?this is only the second night away from momma so I'm probally just jumping the gun. (oh until tomorrow they are in a large metel dog crate) im also trying to socialize them. any advise?

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    1. Hi Sherry,

      I am not familiar with the weather in your area. I live where it gets quite cold and my pig shelters have thermostat controlled heaters that keep them a steady 10 degrees Celsius. They are fully insulated shelters that are also filled with straw and I have a minimum of 7 pigs in each shelter which provides extra warmth. Hope this helps.

      The best way to socialize them is to spend as much time as you can with them. If they are afraid of you, bring a book out and just sit with them. Bring treats to give them and just spend time with them. Sometimes this will take a day...sometimes a few months...all pigs are different and it depends on their personalities and what they have been through before they came to you. If you are consistent with this, they will learn to trust you. If they are already friendly, just spend as much time as you can with them and introduce them to new people whenever possible. The more time they spend alone, the more skittish they will become.

      Good luck with them!

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