MICRO PIGS AS PETS – WELCOME TO THE PIGFATHER
You have come to this site because, like many people interested in buying their first pet piggy, you have many questions about Keeping Micro Pigs as Pets. What is a Micro Pig? Is a Micro Pig different from a Miniature Pig? What do Micro Pigs eat? How to look after my Pet Micro Pig? How long do Micro Pigs live for? Can I train my Micro Pig? Do I need a Licence to Keep a Micro Pig? Can I keep my Micro Pig in a House? These are some of the most common questions prospective owners ask when thinking about Buying their first Micro Pig as a pet.
Welcome to The Pigfather. We are a family run business specialising in Therapy Training Pet Miniature Pigs. Offering Mobile Miniature Pig Visits to Care Homes, Parties and Events, Weddings and Hen Dos, Corporate and Community Events, Schools and Nurseries as well as TV and Media appearances, our Micro Pigs bring lots of smiles wherever they go. Our piggies have been on TV and met some celebrities including a recent visit to Sir Rod Stewart’s Durrington House!
Being the UK’s First Company to train Micro Pigs to a recognised Certified Therapy Miniature Pig Status, we consider ourselves the industry leaders in Miniature Pig Training in the UK.
In the course of our business we sometimes have pet piglets for sale to responsible and loving homes. Therefore, it is our utmost wish that we can provide answers to all your questions and that you become fully informed about what it takes to become a Micro Pig Owner!
Finally, before buying your own piglets from us you could consider booking Borrow My Piggy Experience – a unique opportunity to look after our friendly and Therapy Trained Miniature Pigs Biscuit and Popcorn from 24 -30 hours in the comfort of your own home to find out if Miniature Pig Ownership is for you. You can see photos of Biscuit and Popcorn on our Gallery page.
We are currenly offering a 20% discount on all Borrow My Piggy Bookings during half term from 19th October – 1st November 2020! Find out more here.
WHY CONSIDER MINIATURE PIGS AS PETS?
Owning your very own pet Micro/Miniature Pig is an amazing journey. Micro Pigs are incredibly intelligent and are considered the fourth most intelligent animal in the world! Being so quick and so willing to learn is a great advantage when training them. More information on Intelligence of Pigs and how we train them can be found on our “How Intelligent are Pigs” .
Being a cute and an unusual choice of a pet, Micro/Miniature Pigs always attract a lot of attention when out and about. Therefore, if you are looking for someone different to walk with, then Pet Pigs are your perfect choice!
Pigs are also considered a hypoallergenic pet, meaning they are less likely to cause animal related allergies than other pets such as dogs or cats. This is due to the fact that pigs do not have the same type of fine hair but rather a tougher coat.
Another advantage to keeping Miniature Pigs is that they are less expensive to keep than other pets especially cats or dogs. The pelleted food is inexpensive and lasts for a long time, hay and straw are also affordable especially if purchased at a Farm or Equine store, as opposed to a Pet Shop.
When properly trained and well socialised your Micro/Miniature Pig will become your friend, your companion and your beloved pet. We have heard it being said “a Dog will look up to you, a Cat will look down on you, and a Pig will look straight at you!” This is true when referring to a relationship that you can have with your Micro Pig!
We, therefore, welcome you to join us on a Discovery Adventure into the Ownership of a Micro/Miniature Pig so that you can discover what this means for yourself!
BUYING A MICRO PIG, MINIATURE PIG OR A TEACUP PIG?
Let’s begin at looking at the differences between a Micro Pig, Miniature Pig and a Teacup Pig. Is there a difference? In essence, these terms mean the same thing – a type of pig which is smaller in size at maturity when compared to traditional or rare breeds of farm pigs.
In the UK a term Micro Pig is most often used, whereas in America, Mini Pig or Miniature Pig is the preferred term. On the other hand, Teacup pigs only stay teacup size for a very short time after birth when they can fit into a cup or mug, but they will always grow! The rate of their growth and the eventual size is genetically programmed.
You may have also heard that Micro Pigs do not exist and of the horror stories of people purchasing a Micro Pig who would very soon turn into a huge monster weighing several hundred kilogrammes! That is true in some way. The word “micro”, being associated with something very small, almost minute, is not the best descriptive word for a pig, in our opinion. It is well known that a couple of decades ago Media played a large part in wrongly describing smaller sized pigs that were being bred by some breeders to be sold as Micro Pigs. Therefore, the public got an idea that these Micro Pigs were tiny, able to fit into a cup (hence, teacup) and would always stay very small. Unfortunately, this is not true.
At The Pigfather we prefer to use the term Miniature Pigs for this very reason but only use the term Micro Pig in our marketing as this is what most people are familiar with in the UK. Miniature Pigs can be pure bred but most often people refer to Miniature Pigs and Micro Pigs as crossbreeds.
HISTORY OF MICRO OR MINIATURE PIGS
Miniature Breeds exist in many other types of domesticated animals such as rabbits (Netherland Dwarf; Miniature Lop, Mini Rex; Miniature Lion Lop), hamsters (Roborovski Dwarf; Chinese Dwarf; Winter White Dwarf), ponies (Shetland and Miniature Shetland), cattle (Miniature Belted Galloway; Dexter; Miniature Zebu), goats (Pygmy; Nigerian Dwarf), sheep (Ouessant), horses (American Miniature Horse), donkeys (Mediterranean Miniature Donkeys), dogs (Chihuahua, Toy Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, to name but a few) as well as other types of animals.
Pigs are no exception. There are pure bred Small Breeds of pigs which exist around the world such as Kune Kune, Vietnamese Pot Bellied, Meishan, Swedish and Juliana among others. However, it is the crosses of some of these breeds with other breeds and/or wild boar that are most commonly kept as pets in the UK. These pigs are commonly referred to as Micro or Miniature Pigs in the UK.
It is also of importance to note that Micro or Miniature pigs are not runts of the normal sized pigs, as some people may think. A runt is a piglet who is unusually small or underdeveloped at birth. Majority of runts grow to the same size as their litter mates although they may take longer to get there. Micro Pigs are not runts – they have been developed by breeders over many generations with the aim of reducing the size of the animals for ease of managing them better as pets. More information on the history of Micro Pigs can be found on our page Myths About Mini Pigs and History of Miniature Pigs where you can also watch a You tube video of various Rare Breeds of Pigs we created to give you an idea of the size and variety of large pig breeds.
In summary, Micro or Miniature Pigs most commonly kept as pets in the UK are crossbreeds of various pure breeds of pigs and/or wild boar and other crossbreeds. Adult Miniature Pigs are smaller in size when compared to fully grown traditional breeds of pigs or wild boar.
HOW BIG DO MIRCO PIGS GET?
The eventual size of a Micro Pig depends on a number of factors. Firstly, Genetic Predisposition dictates how big a pig will grow when fully mature. Miniature Pigs become fully mature at around 5 years of age, however, most of their growth is completed by the age of 2, after which they mature and bulk out.
Because they are not pure bred, they do not always breed true to type, meaning that their sizes can vary from litter to litter. It is, therefore, important to see the size of parents and grandparents, if possible, to understand the potential size your piglet will grow to.
Secondly, the Environmental Factors and Nutrition play the second most important role in determining the growth rate of your Miniature Pig. Animals cramped into small living conditions without much stimulation, handling or room to express themselves will inevitably become stressed and unhappy. Unhappy animals are at an increased risk of becoming ill from a variety of causes and their growth rates will also be affected.
Underfeeding, overfeeding or feeding foods that are high in simple carbohydrates (sugars), even if they are natural (such as fruits which are naturally high in sugars) are other very important factors affecting Miniature Pig growth.
According to the American Miniature Pig Association (AMPA), Miniature Pigs’ heights can vary from 36 cm to 50 cm (14 inch – 20 inch) at the shoulder with weights ranging from 23 – 68 kg. However, a lot of pet miniature pigs get overfed and as a result their weight can increase to 100 or more kg!
As can be seen from above, miniature pigs cannot be compared to dogs, as you may have heard before. Dogs of similar heights are usually much lighter in weight than miniature pigs. This is because miniature pigs are built differently to dogs having much more muscle in their body structure. Therefore, they feel denser to the touch and are much stronger than most dogs of similar size.
So, Miniature Pigs do not remain tiny and this is one of the most important things to factor in when considering buying a Miniature Pig. For more information on this, please, visit our Myths about Miniature Pigs page.
DO I NEED A LICENCE TO KEEP A MICRO PIG?
You do not need a licence to keep a Miniature Pig but there are a few important legal considerations that need to be taken into account before becoming a Pig Owner. Although pigs make wonderful pets, in the eyes of the law they are farm animals or livestock and, therefore, all legal requirements necessary for farmed pigs also apply to pet pigs. We will guide you through all the important steps to ensure you comply with the law and will provide you with detailed information on what you need to do before you get your pet Miniature Pig.
IMPORTANT LEGAL STEPS TO MINIATURE PIG OWNERSHIP
- Obtain your CPH (County Parish Holding Number) by calling Rural Payments Agency (RPA) on 03000 200 301 before you get a Miniature Pig. This is free.
- Register with eAML2 before you get your piglets once you have your CPH number. This is an electronic register of all pig movements. You can register online here or by calling 0844 335 8400. This is a free and easy service. All Miniature Pig movements will need to be logged onto this site and a Movement Licence will be created. We will explain more on how this system works.
- Within 30 days of bringing your Pet Miniature Pig home, you need to call Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) on 03000 200 301 again (chose a different option for the correct department) to arrange for your Herd Number. This is another free service.
- Your Miniature Pigs will need to be identified by either a tag, tatoo or a slap mark. Again, we will guide you through the situations where and when this will apply.
- You must not feed your pigs food that has passed through a kitchen, or even vegetarian kitchen to avoid any possible contamination with disease causing microorganisms. Vegetables and fruit can be bought from places that do not handle prohibited food items or if they have a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures in place. More information can be found in this NEW PIG KEEPERS GUIDE SMALL SCALE PRODUCTION (AHDB, 2019)
- You can walk your Miniature Pigs in your local park – you would need a Pig Walking Licence which you can get free of charge by calling APHA on 03000 200 301.
HOW LONG DO MICRO PIGS LIVE FOR?
Miniature Pigs can live for up to 10 – 15 years with good care and attention. This is longer than the lifespan of most dog breeds. For this reason, it is very important to ensure that the pigs will be provided with care and love for the duration of their life span. Keeping pigs, like any other long-lived animals, is a serious commitment and should not be taken lightly. Provisions for holiday care should also be factored in – most often this would be a relative or a close friend with a passion for pigs! This should be considered before purchasing your pet pig.
CAN I BUY JUST ONE MICRO PIG?
Miniature Pigs are by nature herd animals preferring to be in each other’s company. For this reason, we strongly recommend that they should be purchased as a pair (minimum) as they are very social and require constant communication and presence of each other. A lonely micro pig can easily become destructive due to boredom and unhappiness.
Another reason for not buying a lonely miniature pig is that they will require a lot of your attention to remain happy, especially if you choose to keep them indoors, something that we never recommend.
However, there may be circumstances where one miniature piglet can join a family who will be interacting with him/her on a constant basis and give the piggy much needed attention. This will be assessed on each individual basis.
An important factor to also take on board when deciding whether to buy one or more Miniature Pigs is pigs’ strict hierarchy. Unlike other animals, pigs in general are not very welcoming when a new pig comes to their territory. Therefore, it can sometimes be quite hard to befriend the two when they first meet and it may take weeks to achieve peace between them. It is much easier when two different piglets meet when they are young rather than when they get older or when introducing a young piglet to an older pig. For this reason we encourage prospective buyers who wish to start off with one pig and later add another one to consider this important fact.
CAN I KEEP MY MICRO PIG INSIDE A HOUSE?
You can, but we would not recommend this. Piggies are much happier when they live outdoors where they can fully express their natural behaviour. Your pet can certainly visit your house during the day for special times, cuddles and training, after which they should be returned to their outdoor pen. Such practice would also encourage good routine and discourage undesirable behaviour such as constantly begging for food or destroying the house.
CAN I TRAIN MY MICRO PIG?
Absolutely! At The Pigfather all our piggies get training from a very young age which helps their minds to grow and develop an increased ability to learn. In addition to following the American Mini Pig Association (AMPA) Mini Pig Therapy Pet Certification Programme, we have developed our own training methods over the years which ensure our piggies are well mannered and are a joy to own.
Your own pet Miniature Pig can certainly be trained. Engaging the piggies in training sessions is not only fun, this can also increase the bond between the piggies and you, the owner. Miniature pigs have very inquisitive minds and they are very willing to learn for food. Embrace it and enjoy the wonderful opportunities that training will provide.
In addition to engaging your pet piggy’s mind, training can help instil respect in piggies towards their new owners. As we mentioned before, all pigs have a strict herd hierarchy which they establish among themselves from a very young age. Establishing yourself as the “top hog” in the very beginning is a road to success!
HOW TO LOOK AFTER MY PET MICRO PIG? (HUSBANDRY)
First and foremost, it is important to find and register with a Farm Veterinary Surgeon who is experienced in treating pigs. We recommend this is done before you purchase your piglets to ensure you have sufficient time to find an experienced vet.
Miniature Pigs need to be fed an appropriate amount of specific pig food, be provided with fresh clean water (mains water only), have their shelter and pen cleaned out and have their emotional and other physical needs met.
The piglets’ enclosure needs to be cleaned on a daily basis to prevent the build up of dung and the piglets stepping onto it and bringing it on their hooves into your home.
You will also need some straw for bedding and hay as the piggies love to eat it. Both hay and straw can be purchased at your local Farm or Equine Store at very reasonable prices.
Miniature Pigs’ hooves will also need looking after by regularly trimming them to prevent lameness. The Blog on How To Trim Your Pet Pig’s Hooves will give you more information on how to do this safely.
The best miniature pig food that we have found from experience is Allen and Page Pot Bellied Pig Food as it contains a higher fiber content and less protein and fat than other types of manufactured pig foods on the market, which are designed for larger pig breeds reared for human food production. These feeds typically have higher protein and fat content and less fiber. Miniature pigs fed such feeds can easily put on too much weight, which can be detrimental to their health and well-being.
Allen and Page pelleted feeds have been supplemented with a variety of minerals and vitamins to meet the nutritional requirements of pigs and contain a variety of grains such as wheat, barley, oats, as well as molasses, flax seed (linseed), grass feed, sugar pulp and beans and a herb yucca for improved digestion and appetite. They are also free from Genetically Modified ingredients. The Pig food can be purchased either online or through your local Farm or Equine Store.
In our experience, for their health and welfare, as well as for ease of their management, Miniature Pigs are best housed outdoors. A strong, escape proof pen is ideal. Pens are best constructed of strong stock fencing designed for livestock such as pigs to prevent animals escaping. To see how we build our Miniature Pig pen, please, watch our Youtube video which shows what materials we used and how we built it.
The pen can be covered with woodchip, which can be obtained free of charge from your local tree surgeons, or bought from a garden centre, or it can be concreted for ease of cleaning. Woodchip would provide the pigs with hours of rooting opportunity thus preventing boredom and other undesirable behaviours. Select woodchip free of poisonous plants such as yew, laurel and ivy as well the one free of thorns as the pigs’ toes are very soft!
Your Miniature Pigs needs to have a sheltered area in which they can rest. This can be in a form of a pig ark or pig shelter. There are many suitable arks and animal shelters on the market. They can be wooden or plastic. Metal arks can get very hot in the summer and for this reason we do not recommend using them. The pig shelter needs to be dry and draught proof, at the same time having good ventilation to allow air to move in freely.
ARE YOU READY TO BECOME A MINIATURE PIG OWNER?
If after reading this page you would like to become a Miniature Pig Owner, congratulations! We would be delighted to welcome you to visit our Piglets for Sale Page. With every piglet bought from us we supply a Welcome Pack containing more detailed information on how to look after your piggy and how much to feed.
We look forward to meeting you and helping you make Piggy Ownwership a dream come true!
MINIATURE PIG BLOG
In August 2020 we were asked to provide Borrow My Piggy Private One to One Therapy Experience to a girl with severe anxiety/PTSD.
From being hired by Sir Rod Stewart to many Borrow My Piggy adventures, our Therapy Trained Miniature Pigs have been busy in August 2020!
Sir Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster hired our Miniature Pigs Biscuit and Popcorn for Borrow My Piggy Experience at Durrington House! At The Pigfather we love Sir Rod Stewart’s music and seeing him in real life was a great highlight of our visit!
What Plants and Foods are Poisonous to Miniature Pigs? In this blog we discuss the most common toxic plants in the UK and foods which should be avoided.
In Part 3 of Miniature Pigs as Pets you will learn if dogs make good companions to Pigs, if Mini Pigs are difficult to keep and if they are noisy animals!
Miniature Pigs as Pets – Commonly Asked Questions. Part 2: Housing Requirements and Permanent Identification of Miniature Pigs
Miniature Pigs as Pets. We answer the most common questions prospective Miniature Pig Owners ask. Part 1: Pigs with other Pets and Buying one or two Pigs
Every Year Mental Health Awareness Week highlights the importance of good mental health. Find out how our Therapy Trained Miniature Pigs can help.
Did you know that Miniature Pigs’ hooves grow constantly? Learn how to trim your Pet Miniature Pig’s Hooves in this blog. We will show you why, how and when to trim the hooves of your Pet Miniature Pig for the health of your pet.
Welcome to Part 3 of our Series. We will be discussing the life of a Miniature Piglet at weaning and beyond. Join us on this exciting adventure!