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 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.

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