Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pigs Need Other Pigs

This is Leland. Leland came to us in August, but August was so busy after taking in 6 pigs in less than 2 weeks, so I never got around to introducing him.

Leland has turned out to be the most troubled pig I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. He is supposedly just under 2 years old, suffered through a home neuter (extremely cruel and painful) and was living a solitary life in a pen far from anything with no other pigs or companions. When we brought him home, he had terrible mange...his skin was literally falling off. We had to keep him in a separate pen for this reason, and also because he had zero social skills due to his solitary life. I have taken in and introduced many pigs (most wild) over the years with only minor problems, but because Leland had no idea how to act around others (people or pigs), it was extremely difficult. He was obsessed with humping everyone and everything in sight. He would try to hump people, garbage cans, shovels leaning against the fence, chairs...anything. He was also so amorous that he turned aggressive if his advances were turned down or reprimanded. Our first thought was that he hadn't been fixed as we were told, but a trip to the vet proved otherwise.

He was also EXTREMELY aggressive to my other pigs. Our attempts to bring them together always ended in serious injuries that required medication. My socialized pigs wanted nothing to do with him. They knew he was acting strangely for a pig. We were beginning to think that Leland was going to have to live his life in a pen alone...we had never seen anything like him, but thankfully MacGyver (our biggest pig) knew exactly what he needed. One day Leland went after MacGyver with every ounce of aggression he could muster. MacGyver (who doesn't like to fight, but will when he is challenged) took him on. The fight lasted for 25 long minutes before Leland finally admitted defeat and ran away. That was all it took. Leland's disposition changed dramatically that day. He no longer humps things and is able to be friendly with pigs, people and all animals. He has found his place in his new herd and is much happier.

His story has proved an very important point that I would like people to understand. Pigs need to be around other pigs. Leland could have been passed from home to one willing or able to understand or deal with his extreme issues. He would have ended up dying alone in a pen, being sent for slaughter or being abandoned because he developed a problem that could have been so easily avoided. It took ONE other pig to solve what people did to him. They learn how to behave from other pigs. They learn where they fit in to their world and who they are from other pigs.  Just like people, they need this security.

To keep a single pig is not in the pig's best interest. I've heard people say that a single pig will bond to its owner better, but the sacrifice that is made to fulfill this human desire is cruel and unfair to the pig. Just like a pig needs room to roam and root and do pig things, it needs a pig to learn about life.

While Leland has come a long, long way and is able to function within his herd, there have been lasting problems that may never go away for him, and this is sad. Because he was so strange for so long, he has been allowed to enter his new herd, but he is still looked at suspiciously. He is allowed to roam free with them outside, but he has not yet been welcomed into the winter shelter. Because winter has hit and we don't have another shelter, Leland has had to learn to be a house pig. There is hope that things will be different after another summer with his herd, but for now his lives inside, which cause a whole new set of problems. Without human interference, Leland would have been fine. It is time that people look at who these animals are and what is best for them and stop trying to make them fit into an idea of what they want them to be. Give them what they need and let them be pigs.

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