Friday, November 22, 2013

New Babies...and lots of them!

I was told it should take no more than 3 hours...start to finish, but after 15 exhausting hours Olivia was finally finished. It shouldn't have surprised me that she had so many, but it did. She's a young pig and not fully mature in size yet. 14 piglets (1 stillborn) is too many for her. I am up supplementing 3 of the weaker babies with goats milk every hour and a half. I'm not going to lie, getting up with a baby was a whole lot easier when I was younger!! My vet says that goat's milk will cause diarrhea and possibly kill them, but I have no other choice...they will die for sure without it. I have read a lot and goat's milk is the preferred choice and many people have had success with it. I am saying my prayers with every feeding.

I was ready for cute, but what I wasn't ready for was the noise. Piglets are very loud!! They are also very active. It sure didn't take long for them to steal my heart. It's been so busy that I haven't named them all yet, or even figured out how many are boys/girls. When they are awake it is like you stepped on an ant hill and it's so hard to keep track of who is who. I have, however, pinpointed the piglet who I think is going to cause me to tear my hair out many times over the next 15-20 years. We named him Taz.

Mama is doing fine, she is a great mom and is very protective of her new family. Because she is one of our recent rescues, she was still a little cautious of people before she gave birth and that has only magnified with the arrival of the babies. We are able to handle the babies, but we have to be aware of her mood at every moment. She will charge and she will bite.

These next few months are going to be long and difficult. Olivia came from proper shelter, no food, no clean water, male and females breeding at will with no plan for the unwanted piglets. I am so glad that we found her when we did. She was being given away with a (yet) undiscovered 14 babies in her tummy. Because she was allowed to breed at will, her babies were born when the thermometer outside read -30C. These babies would not have survived. If she had been given away there is a good chance that the people who took her would not have been set up to care for 13 piglets, nor would they have probably been willing to. We had no way to separate Olivia from the other pigs and still have her in a proper winter shelter, so she is inside the house with us. This situation is far from ideal and creates many problems of it's own, but at least the babies are warm. It's not easy  to transition animals from inside to outside in the middle of winter, so they may have to be in the house until spring. If this is the case, it puts our life on hold. I have a plywood 4x8 box where my kitchen table belongs. I have 2 farm style gates in my house to separate Olivia from Leland (another pig who needed to be in the house for the winter) and I have 13 piglets who will get a lot bigger and much more destructive and time consuming over the next few weeks/months. Sometimes it is hard to think about the lady we rescued these pigs from. So irresponsible, so unaware and unconcerned with what she has created and what somebody else's life is like because of her actions.

I am part of the "Potbelly Pig Rehoming Network" (look us up on FB!) and we are getting requests daily from people "needing" us to take their pigs. All with the same story, it exceeded it's ridiculous "tea cup" weight by 6 months, it's wrecking my house, no time, it's urine smells bad, it's aggressive. There is just no place in the world for these animals, yet people like this lady and the many, many others like her out there (breeders for profit included) who just don't care and keep letting them breed. People involved in rescue are the ones who pick up their pieces, and it's getting harder and harder to find people who will help.

Please don't support this. Take to heart what you read here. Pigs are NOT easy pets. They aren't happy in the house and will eventually destroy it...which in turn will make you miserable as well...believe me. Pigs need other pigs and they need a lot of room to roam and root and do normal pig things. Pigs need proper food and proper insulated winter shelter with an outside heat source. We use plug in heaters for our shelters that have a display in the house letting us know what the temperature is (15-20C). Pigs need to be spayed/neutered to be a good pet. Pigs need to have their hooves trimmed regularly and males also need their tusks trimmed regularly. It is very difficult to find a vet who will deal with a Pot Bellied Pig beyond the basic care. If your pig gets sick, often you are left to watch it suffer and die because no one knows what do do for him. Pot Bellied Pigs on average grow to be 150-200 pounds...there is no such thing as a "teacup" pig, don't buy into the lie and be one of the people contacting an already maxed out rescue saying "I had no idea!!" Every rescue I know is maxed out with pigs and there are more and more and more coming to our doors every day. I can't count the number of 150 pound "teacup" pigs in shelters.

Only you can stop this, by doing your research and being honest about whether you are able or willing to care for a pig for 15-20 years. Don't ever buy from a breeder... even an "accidental" breeder. These people are irresponsible and will continue to breed as long as there are people taking their "product". If you are one of the (very) few people who know a pig is truly the companion for you, make sure you are set up to properly care for it for it's entire life... in a way that is right for the pig... not for you. Adopt from a rescue (if you are in Alberta, check out "Potbelly Pig Rehoming Network" on FB.) I can't stress enough that a happy pig makes a happy life. A bored, cooped up pig with no room or time to be a pig makes for a miserable life for all involved. Too many people have learned this the hard way and many pigs have suffered so much because of it. Please don't be that person.

*UPDATE* Unfortunately one of the smaller babies didn't make it. He passed away 3 hours short of 1 week. 14 piglets is just too much for a young pig and his little body wasn't developed enough to survive in this world. He fought hard for me, but was just too small. Rest in Peace Little Billy. You were loved much. <3*


  1. Hi Lorrie,
    My name is Joe Morgan and my pig Sue just had her first litter of 6 piglets. My wife and I are new at this and your blog was the first place that I could find to ask my questions. We live in Florida and contrary to popular belief it does get cold here. I have a heat lamp in there house right now. Will this along with her body heat be enough? Also one of the piglets has a leg that is either broken or deformed. Do you have any suggestions for what to do about it? Any help or advice would be great. Ty and have a great night

  2. For the first month, at least, I would recommend keeping the heat lamp over the babies as they don't regulate their own body temperature during this time and rely on mom and outside sources. Even as adults, pigs are not very good at regulating their body temperature...both hot and cold. I don't know how cold it gets where you are, but my rule of thumb is if you are cold, your pig probably is too. If you are hot, your pig is hot. If you would appreciate some type of heat to help you stay warm...give your pig the same heat. I can only be envious of the warmth in Florida, but this rule applies to summer too. Pigs need shade and a mud or water pit or pool to help keep them cool in the heat as well, along with constant access to cool, clean water.

    As for the leg, I would get him to a vet as soon as possible. Sometimes this happens with newborns and taping it is all that is required, but this should be checked immediately.

    Best of luck with your new family! :)

  3. Hi lorrie,
    I am one of the people who got a potbelly pig and was told that he would get to be about 40 lbs. we have had Otis for almost a year and he is around 120 lbs. we found an equation involving girth and length to get an approximate weight. He sleeps inside the house at night (he moved himself under the dining room table). He goes outside into the yard every morning. We had a ramp made and permanently attached to our deck. He seems content with us we have a boxer dog that takes spa with him a cat as two Guinea pigs that go outside with him (outdoor cage) during the day. I do have concerns. I don't think I can handle two pigs under my dinning room table. Otis is a part of our family and I have no intention of getting rid of him. Will he suffer if he is an only pig? Also what is the correct weight for Otis I am afraid he is overweight. I clip his toes myself but he has no tusks when do they grow in? What about his teeth they seem so long is there dental care I need to know? I am trying to find a local vet to see him but I can't find one that treats pigs in my area. Any info would be great.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Noelke

      It is very difficult to give a proper weight for a pot bellied pig as they can really be anywhere on the scale. 120 pounds for a year old pig does sound very high...but he may have some farm pig mixed in with him as's very hard to say. A pot bellied pig should never look obese...being overweight is very hard on them and can be fatal if not remedied. You should be able to clearly see their eyes and the folds of skin surrounding them should never look to be covering them. They should be able to walk around easily...especially at such a young age. Otis still has another 3 years of growing to he may be a very big boy. I have 2 year old pot bellied pigs here who are ranging in weight from about 60-80 pounds...but again, it's hard to say without seeing him whether he is overweight or not. More than one unsuspecting pet owner has brought home a farm pig (or farm pig cross) without being aware.

      I completely understand your concerns about not wanting another pig in your house. This is part of what happens with pigs when they are brought home without the full knowledge of what is being taken on. I did this too with my first pig, and it's why I try to get this info out into the world. You are caught between a rock and a hard place now. Pigs are herd animals and do best with other pigs. They learn social behaviors that we just can't teach them from other pigs and they are much happier with others of their kind. That's not to say that Otis won't be able to live without a pig friend, just that you are more likely to face issues with him as he matures. There is a higher chance that he may become more aggressive. This is not always the case...but it is common in lone pigs. As a rule, I always believe pigs should have other pigs...but that is not always the answer if your pig's only option is to be a house pig, as it compounds other problems as they mature (they tend to get quite destructive in a house as the years go on.) You are not in an ideal situation, but I am so happy to hear that Otis is a part of you family and that not keeping him is not an option. Best of luck. :)

      As for tusks, they generally will start showing at about 2-3 years of age. I have 2 who are two and a half and their tusks are just starting to poke out of their mouths. As they grow, they will need to be trimmed yearly. I've never had to do other dental work on any of my pigs. their bottom teeth do appear quite long...this is normal.

      Hope this has helped.