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.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pigs and surgery

Yesterday was an emotional day. Todd, Toopy and Binoo all went in to be neutered. These are always hard days for me.

Pigs are VERY sensitive to anesthetic and it's VERY important to use a vet who is familiar with Pot Bellied Pigs or there is a good chance that you will lose him/her during the surgery. The preferred anesthetic to use is ISO (spelled either Isoflourine or Isoflorine Gas). This puts them to sleep quickly and they wake up quickly with no after effects. Please make sure that your vet knows to use this on your pig ... not all vets know this as not all vets are familiar with Pot Bellied Pigs. We have found that very few vets are.

All in all everything went well. Toopy was cryptorchid, so his surgery was a little more difficult. One of his testicles hadn't dropped, so they had to go into his abdomen. It was a little scary because it was buried in his intestines, but all turned out well. A little more medication for him to prevent infection, but he's alright.

The vet decided to keep Binoo's extra two feet on. He said that they are fully formed feet (with bone), so it would be major surgery to remove them. They shouldn't cause him problems, he walks just fine, but the hooves will have to be kept trimmed at all times. He's my special pig...I think his extra feet will make him fly. ;)

I am just glad yesterday is over. In a few weeks Olivia will go in to be spayed and I will be in for another emotional day, but until then...all is well!                                                                            

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pig Tusks

I just wanted to post a photo of a pig tusk that was trimmed from one of my pigs today.

People tell me time and time again that breeders are telling them that pot bellied pigs don't grow tusks. This is NOT true...they grow impressive tusks and they need to be trimmed. They are sawed off using a wire and pigs DO NOT like this activity. Please be aware that performing this task on a 200 pound pot bellied pig is not easy and many of the people who bring a baby pig home don't look far enough into the future to consider this.

Also be aware that pig tusks cannot be removed. They are part of the jaw. When I got my first pig, our vet (at the time) told me he could remove them. He pulled 4 little teeth and we thought we were done with the problem. Once my pig started to mature (2-3 years) did his tusks. You cannot have them pulled...yet many vets who are not familiar with pigs will tell you otherwise. Don't believe it.

This is ONE of the FOUR tusks that were trimmed. Picture a 200 pound pig with four of these in his mouth when you are considering adding a pig to your family. ALL MALE PIGS GROW TUSKS. Females do as well, but they are smaller.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More pigs

It happened again. A very sad story has led to me being the proud new owner of 5 new pigs. I went on a 12 hour journey to pick these ones up. Living where no one cared about them, in a small dirt pen with so little human contact that they were scared of everything and serious medical issues went unnoticed.

Here's Todd. He's anywhere between 8 and 15 years old and not fixed. He was going to be killed (for no reason). He's a very sweet guy and is going to be neutered in a week.

This is Grandma. She is also anywhere between 8 and 15 years old and was also going to be killed (for no reason). Although this picture doesn't show it (don't ask me how that happened!!), she is very overweight, limps and is completely blind due to the fat rolls covering her eyes. These are issues that cause her distress and someone who cared at all about these animals would never have let it get to this point.

This is Olivia. She is about a year and a half. She had 6 babies, but 4 of them had been sold by the time I found her. She is underweight and was still in with her 2 male (unfixed and able to breed) babies. She was also in with Todd, who is also unfixed, when we picked her up. Chances are she could be pregnant again. This lady was starved for attention...she follows me everywhere I go.

This is Toopy. Toopy is 12-14 weeks old and wild as wild can be. He's never been touched...his old owners couldn't even tell me...after that much time... whether he was male or female. It's not hard to just looking into the pen. Just shows how much attention was given to these pigs. We have been able to hold Toopy and his brother and get them into a harness after the first week...but they are not happy with it yet.

This is Binoo. Binoo is Toopy's brother. He has 4 front feet (that the straw in the picture is hiding well), possibly caused by his mom's malnutrition during pregnancy. He's smaller than Toopy and just as wild. They are both going in next week to be neutered and we will see what the vet says about his 2 extra feet. If they will cause him problems as he grows, we will have them removed.

Here is them arriving at their new home after a long drive. This picture (first) of Grandma shows her fat a little better. She's the one on the left, Todd is on the right.  I really don't know how she looked so much slimmer in the last picture...but I wish I could bottle that photo genius that I obviously posses!! ;)

I am sure that the people who sold/gave these pigs to this home probably felt like they were going to a good home. Most people do not intentionally give an animal to someone they think will abuse or neglect it (although some people just don't care). People who have no business owning an animal of any kind can make themselves sound like the perfect owners for the few minutes that you are speaking to them. It happens all the time. Please keep this in mind, both when you are considering getting a pot bellied pig/piglet and when you are trying to rehome one. Chances are this is the type of place they will end up if it doesn't work out with you. They are NOT easy to rehome as adults. If they are lucky, they will stay in a sad place like this until someone involved in rescue comes to get them before they are killed or sent to another equally sad existence....and then if they   are lucky, they will stay there until someone involved in rescue comes to     get them before they are killed or sent to another equally bad existence......

 All it would take to stop this is to do your research before bringing one home. Make sure you know all the difficult parts of pig ownership that breeders forget to tell you. Adopt from a rescue if you decide that a pig is for you. If you take away the demand of these precious babies, you take away the supply (more and more being produced for profit). You get a wonderful friend, who is fixed and socialized and you get ongoing support from people who care deeply for the pig you take home, and you save a life. It's a win/win situation.