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Pot Bellied Pig Health and Information Articles
Just a few of the articles Phyllis has written on the care and well being of Potbellied Pigs.

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Here you will find Questions that people like you have asked Phyllis over the years with her Answers.

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LOTS of pictures of pigs that call Pig Pals Sanctuary home.

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Potbellied Pig FAQ's and Information

Below: Baby Pigs

Q: just got my baby last evening a little over 24 hours ago and she still has not drank anything she did find a cracker and ate it but other than that she has eaten nothing. She is still very afraid of her new environment how long does that normally last? Also how long can they go without food and water? By the way she has urinated and had two nice bowel movements. Thanks for the help

A: It would help if I knew the age of your baby. It sounds to me like she wasn't really weaned from her mom....by that I mean that she hasn't learned to eat pig chow on her own. In that case go to the Gerber's Rice baby cereal for a while..you will find some tips on my web page for feeding baby pigs. You also might want to soak some bread in milk and start her on that. Pigs have to learn to eat solid food and this they learn from their moms as they drop a few pieces and babies pick them up. Sounds like yours may have been taken away while still nursing on mom. Pigs that are weaned right are about 6 weeks old and no longer with mom.

As for being afraid...yes she would be. We always kept them in a playpen with blankets and after about 24 hours they settled in. If she wasn't weaned before you got her she is not only missing mom but also her siblings so she will be afraid for a few days. You can try to give her a heating pad on low to snuggle with and it might help her a little. Don't try to return her as moms usually won't take them back after 24 hours. Its important to get her to eat some formula and cereal at this point and don't worry about moving her on to pig chow just yet. Please check out the articles on the website and see if they don't help you a little.


Q: My husband and I just got a 5 week old pot belly. What should we feed her?

A: Hi Sherril. Welcome to the world of pigdom!! Your new baby should have what they call "starter chow" food for babies. If you plan on feeding reg. food than you ask your feed store for the very FIRST food for baby pigs. If you plan on feeding potbelly food then you can find starter chow at Pigs4Ever.com either one is good and she needs that till she is several months old. I'm assuming of course that this baby was weaned and not taken away from her Mom without knowing how to eat the pelleted feed. If I'm wrong than e-mail me back OK?


Q: I have a baby domestic, 8 days old, approx. 2.5-3 lbs. has diarrhea (yellow liquid) for a couple of days. The vet says use Pedialyte in place of formula (bottle with calf replacer as sow replacer not available) also give drops of children's Kaopectate I have been doing this for two days and "Tough Guy" has very good appetite, very active and appears quite well except still has diarrhea..I would appreciate any suggestions...Thank you. Sandy

A: You might try to find some goats milk which is about the best supplement you can have to start them on. People tell me that its even available at the larger grocery stores. Whatever you do if you change formulas...DO IT SLOWLY..by mixing them together little by little till you have him switched.

My other suggestion is the old stand by with us. Make his formula a little thicker and weaker. Add a little more water than the formula calls for when you mix it and then add Gerber's Rice Baby Cereal. The rice cereal seems to do wonders for firming up stools. I assume this boy is on a bottle even though they can learn to eat out of a pan as young as 12 hours. If he is on the bottle it will be hard to change him so the only option is to make the nipple holes larger to let the cereal through. Start off with it pretty runny then keep going till you have him on a paste with very little replacer and some water.

Many a pig has been raised here on Gerber's rice Cereal. The milk replacers are good but almost always you will come up with this problem when using them. Better less milk till he gets back to normal so make it with mostly water or the Pedilyte and just a tiny bit of milk to flavor it for the next few days...then SLOWLY give him a little more milk until you have him back on schedule. As I said we even make the replacer weaker than the directions to begin with to avoid this problem.

The only drug that we have had good luck with is Genicin or Genimyicin given by injection for just one day only. The problem stems from the natural e coli bacteria in the stomach. It feeds on the milk and over multiplies which causes the diarrhea and causes a cycle of milk making more e coli which in turn destroys the stomach villi which is what allows them to digest their food and that causes the diarrhea. So for a couple of days the less milk the better for him. Let me hear from you.


Q: I have a pot-bellied baby that is approx. 9 weeks old and 2 nights ago she started acting like she couldn't walk real well. She is eating, drinking and going potty but it seems like her back-end is bothering her. She improves with baby-aspirin but I don't know what is going on. She is being treated for mange mites and was given Ivomec this past Monday and this started Wednesday evening, she ran a few steps as she always does when she is coming in the house and then slowed down and by Thursday morning she was really struggling to stand up and 2 1/2 days later she is doing better but is shifting her weight from one back foot to another when she eats until sometimes she finally lays down to finish. I am hoping she just pulled something but her stool is also a little hard so maybe it's her belly?? I love these pigs but boy are they confusing. Maybe you can help. Thank you. Amber

A: Could be your baby has what is called "navel ill" ask your vet about it. Its an infection that can settle in the joints and is easy to fix with antibiotics. l would also like for you to read up on my web site about what we pig people call "Dippity Pig" if it is that it should be gone by now as it usually passes in 24 to 48 hours.

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Q: Thank you for the info and I took her into the Emergency vet yesterday, no fever, they did x-rays and an exam and found nothing medically wrong, as far as they could tell anyhow. They are ruling it as a reaction to the Ivermectin her other vet gave her last Monday, but I don't agree. I did not get your e-mail until after I got home so I did not mention "Naval Ill". She has been on baby aspirin 2 times per day since Thursday ( that could attribute to no fever) and did seem to improve once the aspirin kicked in but once I brought her home yesterday she was actually worse. She screamed when I even acted like I might pick her up (which she never does) and she will not or can not stand up. She actually trembles and kind of growls (like in pain), when she even tries. She is still eating as normal and drinking water but in order to get her to go to the bathroom I have had to physically hold her up on all fours since last night. Her stool is a little hard but she is going. I am at wit's end here and am hoping when I call her regular vet this morning her will give me an antibiotic or something. I really don't want to take her in again, it is too stressful besides the fact that she is not improving. Do you think this all still sounds like "Naval Ill?" Please help. Amber

A: Even more so now. They have oral antibiotics like Amoxicillin that you can give with a dropper if needed.


Q: How old do they have to be to leave there mother?

A: Six to seven weeks is the norm. By that time they are learning to eat the pellets that mom gets fed and have a pretty strong immunity.


Q: Hi, We are looking at getting a baby pot belly pig that'll need bottle fed. I was wondering which is the best type of milk formula to purchase. Cindy

A: No baby pig should be taken away from it's mother before six weeks. The only time you should have to bottle feed one is if mom died or refused to care for them at birth. Babies taken away from mom for the purpose of making them easier to train is a cruel thing to do to any animal and bottle feeding is a real pain plus dangerous to the pig.

Babies learn to eat pellets by being left with their mom during these weeks....getting one too early means they don't learn this and it's hard to get them to eat solid food when the time comes. A six week old pig that has been weaned correctly will already be eating solid foods and there is no need for a bottle. If the pig is under six weeks and needs a formula than you run the risk of diarrhea and that is the number one killer of baby pigs....the risk goes down with each week of age. Check out the article on Orphan Pigs.


Q: Hi .. my name is Cindy ... I just brought home a piglet from a feed store. I fear after reading all the info ... that he is very young. I would guess .. that he weighs 2 or 3 pounds. I had bought pig pellets. Now I'm not sure he doesn't need formula. Any thing you could tell me would be appreciated!

A: Hi Cindy, check out the website and go to the article on the orphan pig. It should have most of what you want to know. If your baby is eating pig chow at all or if you want it to start than there is a very first pig starter made for farm hogs that is really great because it has milk in it and they usually love it when they get the idea of how to eat. Its put out by Purina and is called "Premy pig starter...for premature piglets and the next stage is Infant pig starter...either is very good.


Q: On July 19th of this year I sent you an email because a pig had babies and wouldn't take care of them, the baby I took home had never had mothers milk and was only about two hours old when I contacted you. You were very very helpful to a new parent who had never even been near a pig never mind cared for a newborn!

I just wanted to fill you in on what's been going on since. "Bacon," our pig, is now 8 weeks and 3 days old. I had no trouble at all with diharea or any of the other problems that most newborn pigs have.

Well, we did have one, she wouldn't give up her bottle, she was almost 6 weeks before she finally decided to part with it. Other than that it went really well.

After I talked to you I took a ride to Tractor supply and picked up an all purpose formula, I made it the same each time never changing, then when she was about 4 weeks we started adding Gerber baby rice cereal to it, we upgraded to oatmeal from there. I have to say, I expected something to go wrong since baby was new and so was I, but things went rather smoothly and she's doing great!

Bacon lives in the house with us, 8 dogs and 4 cats. I was very concerned about the dogs at first but they've gotten along well so far. She has her favorite pillow that she sleeps on and has gotten to love dog food. When we have company she meets them at the door and casually un-tie's their shoes while their not looking. Bacon definitely has her very own personality, if you scratch behind her ear she will roll over so you can also scratch her stomach, that makes you her instant best friend..........she'll follow you anywhere after that. We take her for walks at the park and she loves to go out in the back yard with the dogs and play chase.

I just wanted to thank you for all the help you gave me, I'm sure she wouldn't have made it this far if you hadn't taken the time to email me with information and answer my questions the way you did. We had just moved here from the city up north when she fell into our hands so we had NO idea what we were doing. I wish there were more people who would take the time to help out the way you did, even the smallest thing can have the greatest affect on someone else. I know it did for us....I wouldn't part with my baby for the world!!

I'll try to send some pics when I can, my computers been down so I borrowed one until I can get the time to fix it.

Bacon and I just wanted to say "Thank you" we think what you do is wonderful and we wish the very best of luck. Sincerely, Brenda & Bacon

A: Hi Brenda, your email sure made my day.....that's why we try to answer peoples questions cause it might mean a pig saved and in your case it was a wonderful outcome.

One word of caution though. I don't know the size of your dogs...small or large but pigs and dogs don't mix very well after the baby gets some age on it. Usually happens about four of five months old and gets worse. The pigs instigate the problem but they end up losing the battle. They don't learn to back off like another dog will do and once they go after the dog its time to watch out. If they are small dogs there isn't a really big problem unless they gang up..which does happen. I wish I didn't receive so many emails where the pig was raised with dogs, only to end up dead while the mom is out shopping or gone for a while. We also have dogs but we NEVER leave the pigs alone with them even for short periods and never feed the dogs in the same room with the pig. As much as we would like to change things...dogs are predators and pigs are prey..its just nature.

Having said that I'm glad things are going good for you and the baby and thanks for the kind words in your email. Keep me posted and if and when you're able I sure would love to see pictures!



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Q: I received a baby pig last night, she is 1 week old. I have never adopted baby pigs before. Only cows, horses, dogs, cats, and a sea bird with an identity crisis. I really want her to survive, are there any signs or symptoms I should worry about? She tries to drink from the bottle, I didn't realize they could pan drink that young, but she got maybe a half ounce. How much does she need? Thank you for your site. She now has my heating pad as I didn't realize they didn't keep warm on their own. Any info you can give would be oh so greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Rochelle

A: She won't take much at one time so she needs to be fed about every two hours for a week if she will take it. Better the pan feeding than the bottle if she will do it. Main thing at this age is to keep her from getting diarrhea as that is the main killer of babies. The Gerber's Rice cereal will help control that if you can start on some of that with her milk. Call or e-mail me if you need help...618 459 3619

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Q: Thank you for returning my e-mail so quickly. I was at a loss as to what to feed her a friend recommended a recipe for me the night she was dropped off. She is eating well but is starting to get diarrhea. I am not sure if this recipe is too rich for her and not sure if or how to switch her over to the Sow milk replacer I have, the recipe is 1 can evaporated milk (12oz) 1-cup milk, 4 egg yolks, 1TSP of Kayro syrup. She has a lot of energy, and a healthy appetite. I have started the rice cereal like you recommended, what can I do to clear up the diarrhea? I really appreciate your help and now have your web site in my favorites for referral. Thanks again for all the help. Sincerely, Rochelle

A: The rice cereal will help with the poos, but you might get them as a result of changing formula too quickly so try to add some of each and do it slowly. Each day giving less of your formula and more of the milk replacer. Remember that the milk replacer is for large sows. If you have the sow milk replacer so only make up as much as you will use in a day. It can go bad quickly so throw out any left at night and make a new batch. Add enough rice cereal to make it a little thicker and that should help the diarrhea. Feed only what she will take at one time. She should be eating about every four hours and don't overfeed her. Rather a little thin than to have diarrhea. The Gerber's Rice cereal is a wonderful thing! Let me know how she is doing OK? Phyllis


Q: I am in Ontario Canada and have one day old pigs. Four have died so we really hope we can help the other survive. We are feeding them baby formula in a dropper. We will go to goats milk in a dish as you suggested. How often do we feed four day olds? Thanks, Beth

A: Feed them every three to four hours if they will take it. It takes very little to fill them up and they will only take what they want at any given time. Hope they make it and remember to keep them very warm. Newborns like it at about ninety degrees, so we use a heating pad for them.


Q: Hi, I’m writing to update you on the piglets. His nose is starting to run a little, and his feces look dry (it’s like a bunch of little pellets). He’s still eating great. I added in a little bit of molasses (hoping they’ll help things go through better) and half a drop of some children’s vitamin/iron drops. I think I”ll go in the AM and get some antibiotics. How often do I give them?

Also, they’re both boys, and they like to “root” each other around, one will be asleep and the other will start pushing him, then later, they’ll switch, is this normal? Thanks!!! Lauren

A: That behavior is normal for them and sounds like you have it pretty much under control. If you get Amoxicillin from the vet its usually in liquid form and you can give half a dropper full twice a day.


Q: MY HUSBAND AND I BOUGHT A BABY POT BELLIED PIG AT A FLEA MARKET 09/11/05. I THINK WE MAY HAVE MADE A MISTAKE DUE TO IT BEING A SPUR OF THE MOMENT IDEA BECAUSE SHE IS SO CUTE. WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT PIGS IN GENERAL BUT ARE WILLING TO LEARN. WE PLAN TO DO ALL WE CAN TO PROVIDE A GOOD LOVING HOME FOR POLLY. THE FAMILY WE BOUGHT HER FROM TOLD US TWO DIFFERENT BIRTH DATES, ONE PERSON SAID SHE WAS 6 WKS OLD AND ANOTHER SAID SHE WAS BORN LABOR DAY.

THEY TOLD US SHE WOULD HAVE TO BE BOTTLE FED FOR A LITTLE WHILE. THAT DID NOT GO WELL, SHE HAD A FIT. I DO NOT KNOW IF THIS IS THE RIGHT THING TO BE DOING BUT I HAVE BEEN FEEDING HER OATMEAL WITH EXTRA MILK IN IT. SHE HAS BEEN DOING WELL IT SEEMS. I KEEP HER IN THE GARDEN TUB THAT IS NEVER USED ALONG WITH HER FOOD, WATER, LITTER BOX AND AN OLD RUG. SHE LEARNED TO USE THE BOX ALREADY AND HER STOOL SEEMS TO BE A CLUSTER OF BROWNISH COLOR WASTE. HOW LONG WILL SHE BE ABLE TO USE THE BOX? I SAW A FEW PICTURES ON YOUR WEB SITE AND I DID NOT REALIZE HOW BIG SHE COULD POSSIBLY GET.

I HOPE WE CAN KEEP HER IN THE HOUSE, HOWEVER THE BACK UP PLAN IS MOVING HER TO THE BARN OR HER OWN DOG KENNEL AND HOUSE BEHIND THE BARN NEXT TO THE CHICKENS, GEESE AND RABBITS. NOT KNOWING FOR SURE HOW OLD SHE IS WHEN SHOULD I START FEEDING HER MORE SOLID FOODS? IS THE OATMEAL OK FOR NOW? WHAT KIND OF FOOD DO I ASK FOR? DO PIGS NEED VACCINATIONS OR RABIES SHOTS? I CALLED ONE LOCAL VET WHO SAID NO, ANOTHER WHO SAID YES BUT DOES NOT CARRY THE NEEDED VACCINES AND ALSO SAID HE HAS NEVER REALLY TREATED ANY KIND OF PIGS IN THE PAST. I RESPECT HIM GREATLY FOR THE HONESTY AND KNOW HE WILL HELP AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE IF NEEDED.

ANOTHER CONCERN I HAVE IS POLLY IS SOLID BLACK WITH A WHITE TIP AT THE END OF HER TAIL AND THERE IS TIMES WHEN SHE FEELS WARM/HOT TO THE TOUCH AND IT APPEARS HER SKIN IS EVEN A LITTLE RED. SHE ALSO SEEMS TO CHILL EASY. ALSO SHE LOVES TO HAVE HER BELLY RUBBED AND WHERE HER UMBILICAL CORD WAS LOOKS LIKE A LITTLE WHITE BUMP IS THAT NORMAL? WE HAVE 2 CATS, 4 DOGS, HORSES AND THE OTHER ANIMALS I LISTED EARLIER DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE ANY PROBLEM OR ANYTHING I NEED TO DO SPECIAL TO HELP THEM GET ALONG?

POLLY WANTS TO CHASE ANYTHING THAT MOVES EVEN THE HORSES RIGHT NOW. DO YOU THINK SHE WILL GROW OUT OF THAT? THE CATS ARE THE ONLY OTHER INSIDE ANIMALS AND THEY SEEM TO WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH HER I GUESS CAUSE SHE WANTS TO CHASE THEM. POLLY ALSO SEEMS TO HAVE A MAJOR TEMPER. SHE HATES TO BE PICKED UP, HATES THE HARNESS AND WHEN SHE DOES NOT GET HER WAY, IF POSSIBLE SHE TRIES TO BITE. LUCKY FOR US AS OF NOW SHE ONLY HAS CANINE TEETH. HOW DO I DISCIPLINE HER? I HAVE BEEN USING PAPER WHEN POSSIBLE AND TELLING HER NO. IF YOU KNOW OF ANY NEW PARENT TIPS OR ANYTHING I NEED TO DO DIFFERENT OR NEED TO BE AWARE OF PLEASE HELP. WE HAVE NO CHILDREN AND CANNOT HAVE ANY UNLESS WE ADOPT WHICH WE HOPE TO DO LATER, HAVE RECENTLY LOST 2 VERY SPECIAL PETS, ONE WAS MY 21 YR. OLD CAT AND THE OTHER WAS OUR 6 YR. OLD DOG WHO STARTED HAVING SEIZURES AND THE MEDS. GIVEN CAUSED LIVER FAILURE. I GUESS WE (MOSTLY ME) ARE TRYING TO FILL THAT VOID LEFT IN OUR HEARTS. I REALIZE NOW IT WAS WRONG TO GET POLLY WITHOUT DOING RESEARCH FIRST BUT I HAVE NO PLANS OF FAILING HER EITHER. THANK YOU, TINA

A: I think your doing a good job for a first timer Tina. Your girl is fine with the oatmeal and the only problems that might develop are diarrhea and you can watch for that. I would like you to go to the web site and read the articles on the Orphan Pig and that should help you. I prefer the Gerbers Rice Cereal and goats milk but now that she is started on the oatmeal you don't want to switch her over because that might cause a diarrhea problem. It sounds like her stool is normal...brown pellets is the usual.

We don't vaccinate here at all on the eighty pigs that live here. There have been many problems from the vaccines on the pigs and I certainly wouldn't do a baby under any circumstances. The vaccines are made for farm pigs and there is NO potbelly vaccines out there that are made for these smaller pigs. Rabies isn't a problem with pigs and rabies vaccines given don't seem to have any effect on the pigs titers in the blood at all which means they do nothing for them. There are places that demand that they have rabies shots and a rabies vaccination won't hurt the pig per say but they do no good either.

When you start her on food the best is the weaning chow that you can ask for at the feed store....we go with a Purina product that is for orphan piglets or just ask for the very first baby pig food and we put it dry in a shallow bowl and then soak some in a cup and mix it in with her cereal. She is a little young yet to start but by about six or eight weeks or you can start about anytime...it's just she won't eat enough of it in the beginning so she will still have to have her cereal.

As for being picked up...most pigs don't like it. It's a matter of instinct since the only thing that picks a pig up is a predator. They have no control when their feet are off the ground.

As for the biting...some babies do this only because its an instinct with their siblings to bite sideways if touched on the side of the face. (During feeding from the sow the siblings do this to keep the others away from their selected nipple.) For biting in general a strong NO and a tap on the nose is ok. When we harness train we do it on older babies by feeding them while putting the harness on so they equate the harness with a good thing. Think the other question was the heat of her body and that she chills easily. Babies do chill quickly and ours usually have a heating pad set on low beneath a towel until they are older. Body heat is high on babies so that doesn't bother me as long as she is eating with gusto.
Hope this helps. Just remember that there is bad info on the net as well as good and make sure that you don't try to incorporate it all into your care.


Q: I have two 10 week old piglets. These piglets came to our house with a mite problem that we cannot seem to get rid of. We have tried everything that anyone tells us. They still have mites. The second problem is that in the last two days, their bellies look very swollen. We have them on a very strict feeding program and have given ivomec for mites and worms. What else would cause them to be so big. Their bellies look like they are ready to explode. They are potty-ing well, and not over-eating. Help Please. Jenifer

A: You might be underfeeding! These are babies and we don't underfeed any other animal baby so it shouldn't be done for a pig either. Babies that aren't getting enough to support their growth and their bone and immune systems get sick. There is plenty of time to control their weight and food intake when they have finished with all the growth spurts. You have seen the bellies of children that aren't getting enough food....? They are also old enough to have a one a day children's vitamin....we get the generic brand of Flintstones at Wal-Mart.


Q: We just recently adopted a 3 week old piglet (Scarlett). She was an orphan and bottle fed and now she drinks her formula from a bowl. My question is this, we have had her 3 days and fell in love immediatly. She is wonderful, smart and amazing. She will run into our laps when we sit on the floor, she crawls up into the fold of our arms and not really biting, but nibbling. I am wondering if its time to start adding the baby rice cereal to her formula. I dont want her to start biting, but I dont think that is what she is doing?

She eats well and loves her formula and lets you know when the bowl is empty !! Please let me know what you think. Thank you Robie

A: Yes she is plenty old enough to start on the Gerbers Rice Baby cereal. Start with a little and keep adding as you go along. I don't think she is biting either just more of a taste and feel type thing like any baby does.


Q: My piglet seems to be having trouble breathing, hissqueal isnt normal and he almost seems to be panting..if that makes sense. He eats out of a bowl and is not bottle fed. He will be 2 weeks old on the 23rd..I don't know what to do. Thanks Michelle

A: Michelle, your baby might have pneumonia. Take a temp which should be between 98 and 101 and see if she is running a fever. If she were here I would take her into the vet for a check up and get some antibiotics started with her. They can give you liquid Amoxycillin that you give with an eyedropper but dont wait a long time to get her there ok?

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Q: I gave him a shot of penicillin last night and he is quite a bit better this morning..is penicillin ok for him? I only gave a very small amount...but it seems tobe enough to help. Thanks for getting back to me! Michelle

A: The Penicillin is fine but I like the liquid better on these poor little babies but at two weeks he could have a fourth a cc of the Penicillin if you have to do it that way. Try just calling a friendly vet and see if he wont give you some of the liquid stuff. (or do you have any friends with kids that might have some on hand. With the liquid you would give it twice a day .... a dropper full for a few days.


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