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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.

FAQS Center
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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A few pictures of some of the other critters that call Pig Pals Sanctuary™ home.

King Charles and BinBin

Potbellied Pig FAQ's and Information

Below: Pet Pig Feed & Diet Questions

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 got some new pig food today. I was getting 14% hog finisher, but today I got 36%. It is for weaned pigs which Mollie seems to like(we finally named her) but it's kind of like a powder. Is it OK for my big pigs? 36% protein is the highest they have here. Any ideas?

A: Kelly, what you got today is regular hog feed which is ground corn with supplements. Not what you want for a new baby and pigs used to pellets don't like the powder. She should be on a pelleted feed. If indeed this is really 36% protein that's really way too high. Most starter feeds for baby pigs is 15% to 18% and that is made for babies.

Did you ask for the first pelleted feed for baby pigs? its called starter chow and is a slight bit higher in protein but not anywhere near 36%. Even for grown pigs that's too high. The ideal is something between 12% and 16% for grown pigs and 16% to 18% on babies. Are you sure that the stuff is 36% protein?????

Q: Thanks Maryann. Does the feed not have salt in it? I feed the Mazuri elder PBP food. I'm glad you told me about the salt I had no idea. Shanna

Shanna, be careful with the discards. I don't even give my kids the skin from peeled vegetables because of the wax coating and stuff. Basically if it can cause cancer in people it can harm pigs too. My pigs like apples, watermelon or any melon, carrots, baked sweet potatoes. Sometimes I just put an extra potato on with our supper and give it to one of them with breakfast.

We try not to give animal protein to the house pigs. That can cause gas and it's just not right to eat cousin. Some people use unsalted treats like rice cakes. Try not to give salted treats because it can make them die. I think pigs can't sweat or get rid of excess salt so it just builds up and damages them. I just shared cantaloupe with Agnes AND the two little dogs. They all love it. Maryann

A: Mary Ann your right, pigs can get salt poisoning from becoming too thirsty and over drinking. But as far as snacks...moderation is the key. One pretzel will not hurt your pig. One potato chip will not hurt your pig. If your pig gets into turkey or chicken food...THAT WILL hurt your pig as the salt content is so high compared to other feeds.

As for chocolate...not a good idea but my house pigs have all tasted it at one time or another. It is like anything else...some dogs and pigs have an allergic reaction to it some don't. But ask poor Ann Daniel's when Oink ate the whole bag of Hershey kisses...foil and all. As I speak, Maggie is gobbling down one of the cookies that Ann brought. I'm sure its not to our liking but these pigs even eat grub worms from under the rocks and stuff.

They can handle a lot of things but it HAS to be in moderation. The outside pigs here only get goodies once in a while as I'm a firm believer that pig chow has what they need, was made for pigs and should be their basic diet. But heck everyone enjoys a break from routine sometimes.

I'm wondering if poor Misty is reading this. I went to her house for a BBQ the other night and when we were all done she sat down and fed Gilbert on a fork a bite of baked beans, a bite of hamburger, one of potato salad, think there were a couple pieces of Mac and cheese...and he would have gotten left over deviled eggs but we ate them all!!! MODERATION is the word.

No matter what we would like to think these guys are pigs and if different stuff was going to kill them than the old farmers sloping the hogs with dishwater wouldn't have had much to eat. Our pots in their own country ate much the same way. Its good to be careful but not paranoid.

My Maggie says Yep! she chokes on even wet food spread out over the floor so guess what...Heaven forbid) she is on dog food!! The old frozen pig that took two years to get on her feet again lived those two years on wet dog food, canned dog food and Pig treats or anything else I could get her to eat. She is still alive and is now cruising the back yard looking for a man!!

Q: Hello,
I loved your web site, but couldn't find anything on the net regarding my question about my pig and was wondering if maybe you could help. My pig is about 4 years old, in great health and not overweight. But sometimes when she is sleeping she will cough and up will come some water. There is not a lot and it doesn't seem like vomiting, it is just a few ounces of liquid.

She doesn't seem in pain or in any discomfort but it soils her bed and wakes her up. I was just wondering if there was anything I could do to help prevent this or if I should be concerned.

Any information you could supply would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, Stacey

A: Stacy, some pigs do this more often than others. My first question would be are you putting water on her food? This tends to cause spitting up after they eat. What kind of food is she on and how long has she been doing this. How often does this happen?

Pigs are prone to ulcers that's why I ask all the above questions. I don't think she has them but would like to know what her daily diet consists of. Let me hear back from you OK?

Q: My pig's diet is oats, farina, grits or (once in a while) dog food for her dinner and snacks of vegetables, some fruit, nuts, but never sweets, salty foods or processed foods.

She doesn't do this coughing water after eating. It happens in the middle of the night, when her dinner is around sunset. It never happens when she is awake and standing, only when she is sound asleep. Like I said before, she shows no signs of pain or discomfort and seems surprised by this when it happens. She will be sleeping and then cough up the water. It's not like a dog or cat getting sick (and I know this is gross) because there isn't any motion prior to the cough.

It has only happened a few times and I was curious as to the cause. I searched and searched online but could not find any other similar questions or health concerns. I have since been putting less water in her food, thinking that her gobbling the water with the food might be the cause.

Have you heard of this before?

A: Hi Stacy, yes its not uncommon for pigs that have water put on their food to do this. It is kind of like putting your whole supper in the bottom of a big glass of water that you have to drink to get to the food even if your not thirsty. If you are going to wet the food than just dampen it with a sprinkle of water and try that for a while.

I have to admit I have never heard of a pig eating the diet that you sent me but then again if she is healthy guess it works for her. Though I would have to think that a good pelleted pig chow would be better for her since it is made with all that a pig needs in it. Pigs are omnivores which means they eat meat as well as grain and they can't make their own protein so it has to be fed to them.

That is why even the commercial pig chows have some animal protein added. We feed the 73 pigs here the commercial hog maintenance chow (which is the cheapest hog chow you can find at a price ranging from 5.50 to 7.00 per fifty pound bag. The cheaper the food the closer to potbelly food it is since it wont have all the stuff that makes them gain for market). Anyway give it a try without water on her food or very little water and let me hear from you.

Q: Could you tell me how much to feed Yorkshire pigs in order to keep them in good shape and not overweight? How much can I expect them to weigh? I am getting a couple Yorkshire piglets and want them as pets on the farm. I am not going to sell them for slaughter and want to keep them on a good diet. Any suggestions? Thanks Kurt

A: Hi Kurt, what you feed will increase as the pigs increase in size. I feed mine twice daily with a three LB coffee can. They grow so fast that they need extra just to keep up with the growth rate. As they grow you will be able to tell if they are getting enough just by looking at them and feed them accordingly like you would your dog. I would never feed less than a three LB coffee can twice daily but there are time I feed more.

The modern day Yorkshire pig is a lean animal usually until about their third year. Its the breeding that determines this and the fact that they were not bred to have to worry after the first couple of years Cause by then they have gone to market...boo ..hiss..). The Yorkshire at three years is usually about 800 lbs and our Baby Henry was a thousand lbs when he was ten years old.

Q: I will try to answer your questions about what Miss Piggy is eating. We had been feeding her swine food it was a maintenance food for pigs and then we finally located a place locally to get pot belly pig food. What they had was Mazuri Mini-Pig food, Youth. We got Miss Piggy from a woman who had bought her at a yard sale for her mother and she didn't want her and the daughter had already been abusive to her that afternoon. Miss Piggy was scared and it took a while to get her tamed.

We got her in July and we guess that she may have been 2 or 3 months old. I feed her a cup of food in the morning and another cup in the afternoon. We also have a garden and we raised broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and Brussel sprouts this fall. I go out every day at lunch and pick the leaves and broccoli florets, usually a gallon bucket full and feed them to her. We had an Amish friend make her a hot pink harness and leash and I have got her used to it in her pen but she is still too wild to take out in the yard yet and now the weather is not cooperative.

She has also been eating persimmons because her pen is under 3 persimmon trees but they are about gone now. I would mix a handful of shelled corn in with her feed in the afternoon but Kathleen Myers said this might be part of the problem. She had mange mites a couple of months ago but we got medicine from a vet and it cleared up. Thanks for any help you can give. Sheryl

A: Sheryl, nothing wrong with feeding pig chow...we have 73 here that have had nothing but for the last 16 years since we started the sanctuary. I ask about what you were feeding cause there are some potbelly pig foods out there being sold that are not adequate in nutrition. These are companies owned by single individuals not the big ones like Purina.

I ask because I wanted to make sure she wasn't being fed one of those that might not have been giving her enough of what she needs but any commercial hog chow is complete in giving what a pot needs as well as the farm pigs. The Mazuri is good but I can't say its any better than the regular pig chow.

In any case diet does not seem to be the problem since it sounds like she gets a pretty well rounded diet. Most pigs that eat their own stool are pigs that have not had a good start in life. Sounds like she didn't have it too good till you got her. Some of these pigs do it because they are bored. Can't imagine that being under three persimmon trees!! Which leads me to another question:

What does she do with the seeds?? I ask because there have been several cases of pigs getting blocked intestines from the seeds in persimmons and peaches. Some pigs spit them out some swallow them.

Have you noticed any change in her behavior or her digging a lot? Some pigs will eat their own stool (and dirt) when they are in pain. If this pig is acting normal in all ways and anxious to eat like a healthy pig than you can rule pain out as a reason. If you can do that then you might want to start her on a one a day children's vitamin. We use the generic Flinstone ones that come in flavors and they will eat them from your hand.

Also would ask if she started this AFTER you switched her feed or was she doing it before? And what area of the country are you located. If she didn't do this on the pig chow and is doing it on the Mazuri than the answer would be that Mazuri doesn't have the selenium added and your farm pig chow does. If you are in a selenium deficient area that might be your reason. If it started before than that is not the case.

I would rule out habit since this has not always been a problem for her and I can see no reason why she would be hungry enough to do this with what you are giving her so if we rule out pain (which you would know by watching her and how willing she is to eat). That means it has to be a deficiency in something she needs. I would try the vitamins for a time and see if this helps but get back to me on the questions I ask OK?

Q: I have a potbellied pig who lives with two miniature goats, I currently feed her dog "dinner" as it is the only thing the goats don't pinch off her, now I read that this is bad for her. What should I feed? And what is the ideal diet for a pig? I live in Belgium and there are currently no books available on potbellies. HELP!!!

A: I don't know if Belgium has commercial pigs that people eat or not but, some pigs are on farm pig chow....the maintenance formula not the grower stuff which can be found at most feed stores. This seems to be the choice for people that do not have access to Potbelly pig chow.

As for the dog food....that will not hurt her. Some pigs spend their whole lives on it and do quite well if not overfed. I would suggest putting a children's vitamin (we use a generic brand of Flinstone's chewable ) on top of her food and they think its a treat. Pigs are omnivores and they can't make their own protein so it has to be fed to them. The dog food has a high protein content so it covers that part.

If you give veggie treats like carrots and lettuce and any fruits then you are supplying what the pig needs. The vitamin will also help there. On another note ....How do the goats do with the pig. We have had several e-mail's from people where the goat has butted the pig causing spinal injury to them. Seems to be only the pygmy goats that do this. Hope this helps you some and stay in contact OK?


Q: Thank you for your reply, I was relieved to here that the dog food won't hurt my pig! She lives outside sharing a large stable and paddock with two pygmy goats, a castrated billy and his wife, plus lots of chickens and guniea pigs, and until now they are one big happy family!

Only on occasion have the goats butted the pig usually if I scatter food around for the last few scraps, and sometimes in play and the pig is no innocent by-stander!!! She will herself start pushing into the goats and gives as good as she gets! If let into the garden she will happily run around (as fast as a pig CAN run!) with our four dogs playing, although the dogs get quite worried and are not quite sure what to make of her! Especially the Chihuahua!

I once read an article from an English newspaper, that said pigs needed company and it was cruel to keep just one pig. Do you think this is true? And is the companionship of the goats enough? (I'm not quite sure my husband would cope if I announced I wanted another pig! It took two days of me not speaking to him before he relented and bought me this one!!!) Many thanks for taking time to reply to my last e-mail. Hope to hear from you soon. Rachel.

A: Hi Rachel, I disagree big time with people that say these pigs need company. They are perfectly happy being an only child or having the goats and dogs for company. They fight each other terribly when you put two of them together. Whoever it is that keeps preaching that they need another pig has evidently not had to run one to the vet for stitches.

We have 74 of them here with a few being house pigs. It took two years before George would allow Arnold to sleep in the same area that he is in or even the same room. They are very territorial and unless you get two when you get the first one, I tell people to forget it. It isn't worth the battles that they go through.

Your girl is happy just the way things are and believe me if she could talk she would tell you...No more pigs. These pigs don't know the name of sharing and they really resent new ones brought in.

Q: Hi Phyllis, It's me again. The move went fine and Max loves it here. He adjusted to the new house better than anyone - my husband, me and our cats. Max also has a real bedroom now that he thinks is pretty cool.

I have a concern though. We have a huge oak tree in our yard and I am worried that the acorns might be poisonous to Max. The tree is now getting new acorns he Max seems to like them. Are acorns harmfull to pigs? Thanks, Tammy

A: Normal acorns don't seem to cause a problem other than the stomach ach that goes with eating too many of them, but the green ones tend to make them sick. A lot will depend on Max and his individual make up.

I have a friend in Texas that has a lot of ground with hundreds of oaks with millions of acorns and her pigs don't have a problem with it, but for a first timer you might want to rake them up like some people do so there aren't as many for him to eat. You can't possibly get them all but it just cut's the number down. They can be fattening so that's a concern too. Or you could find a part of the yard without the oak for Max to go in if that's possible during the time the acorns are falling.

Q: Phyllis - Toby will be 3 years old in Jan. He gets regular pot belly pig food (pellets) 1 cup twice a day. He is an inside pet at our business. Toby is such a sweet guy and we care for him very much. Thanks for your help. Shirley

A: Ok, here is what I would do. A three year old pig doesn't need two cups of chow a day if he isn't out in the cold or doing a lot of walking around. His growth spurts are done so he needs a maintenance diet at this time of his life. Our house pigs (ten of them) get only one cup a day divided into two feedings...some get even less depending on their daily exercise.

You won't be able to do this all at once but a slow decrease over a week or so will do it. We also use oats to fill in if the pig is used to big meals. Not horse oats but the oats like Quaker oats that you eat for breakfast. They are non fattening but have no nutritional value either so we never go below one half a cup of the good ole pig chow at any meal.

You feed the oats dry and most pigs love it. If Toby was here he would be getting one half a cup of pig chow in the morning and when he was finished with that I would sprinkle a handful of the oats out on the floor and he would have to work to eat it. (you might want to let him get a taste of them in with his food first to make sure he finds that oats taste good.) He would get the same at night feeding. He could have a few pieces of lettuce if he likes that during the day or a few plain puffed wheat pellets for treats if he is used to getting treats.

I'm assuming that Toby does go outside for potty time? He needs a little exercise to make sure the muscle tone stays when he loses the weight. (helps keep the skin from sagging) So after you find out if he really likes the oats you might want to (weather permitting) take those outside when he goes and throw them scattering them in the yard so he has to hunt for them. With the onset of winter you will have to play hunt and peck indoors. With this you should see a pretty big change by Spring time. You can if you want, give him a one a day children's chewable vitimin once a day while he is on the diet. (we buy the generic brand of Flintstones at Walmart)

When Toby gets to the weight where he looks good and yet healthy too.... we can re-evaluate how things are going and if any changes need to be made. Keep in touch ok...and give the big guy a tummy rub for me.

Q: My pig is now 4 weeks old and is used to the enviroment he also has already learned to eat out of a bowl. What I need to know is now what can I feed him. I mean what do miniature pot belly pigs eat. What type of solid foods also do I statr him off on?

A: At four weeks your baby is still just that a baby. You can start now with putting some starter baby pig chow pellets in a bowl in with him....they usually will play with it but won't eat it just like that. They learn to eat pellets from mom and he hasn't had that time with her to learn so it will be slow going. There are brands of potbelly pig foods out there...Purina has one called Mazuri that a lot of people use. It is easy to get or order from your feed store...there is one called Manna Pro and others that say potbelly pig chow. At four weeks I would continue with his regular feedings and in two weeks or so if he isn't at least tasting the pig chow you might have to mix it with what you are giving him for a while and slowly go to the chow. It sometimes encourages them to eat it if you sprinkle a little powdered milk on the pellets...you don't have to wet them at that point...try it dry first.

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Q: We have 3 pot bellied pigs Sophia, Wilbur and little Sugar. We feed them a mixture of pot bellied pig pellets and 4 way grain. We've had Sophia since last Octoberish, Wilbur since DEC 6th and Sugar we've had about 2 ish months. I have a question about what is the proper ratio of pellets to 4 way grain? Or do you recommend an alternative feed? My biggest question though, is HOW MUCH is enough for them to eat.

I know over feeding is bad. Right now Sophia and Wilbur get a 3/4 to 1 cup in the morning and at night and Sugar gets about a 1/2 cup morning and night. Sophia weighs about 80-90 lb. Wilbur probably weighs close to 30ish and Sugar is only about 10-15 lb. I always make sure they have lots of clean water. Also could you help me on summer heat. I understand that pigs don't sweat. They have lots of shade but it's about to get to be in the high. As always, Virginia

A: Yes pigs can't stand the heat unless they can get the body temp down. That's why they lay in mud holes or in our pigs case a children's swimming pool. Even with lots of shade they need the wet to stay cool.

I can't tell you how much to feed each pig as they are all different but if your Sugar is still a baby than she needs more than she is getting to build the bone she will need to carry her weight when she is grown. We believe in feeding babies very well. Out of 71 pigs here we have some that get a cup twice a day, some that get two cups twice a day and some that get a half a cup twice a day. It depends on the metabolism of the pig.

Pigs that are active need more than pigs that do nothing but lay and sleep. Young pigs need more than old pigs..... until they get really old than they get fed more again. There is no set formula. You are the best judge of what your pigs need as you know them better than anyone else. If they appear to be a little light than up the grain. If they are getting a little fat cut it back some (not in young pigs under a year though). Sorry I couldn't have been of more help. If you go to our web page you will see by our pictures that we do believe in feeding well!

Q. What kind of vitamins should we be giving Harley? I read somewhere a children's multi vitamin is good? And besides the obvious chocolate what should they NOT have? I cook for 6 parrots every night and I always put a bit of warm food in her dish also is that OK?

Tonight I made the birds kashi with veggies and sliced kiwi. Harley loved it. Am I wrong for giving her a bit with her food? I've been really good about not over feeding her and only feeding her good healthy things. Well tonight I did give her a bit of a granola bar and last night we had a birthday for our cockatoo so they all got a little piece of rice krispy bar but other then that we have been real careful. I just want to make sure were doing the right thing for our little girl. Erika

A. Erika, I use the cheap generic brand of kids vitamins and it is a for sure that they like them (Toonie prefers the grape ones). I also give them to the old pigs that need a boost to keep going. I probably will be outvoted on this but my pigs get a bit of anything that I eat.

I have found that the key is moderation. Just because they get a bite of pizza or chili Mac once in a while it isn't going to hurt them. I have 13 and 14 year old pigs here and we have always allowed ours to have a treat of something real good once in a while. While chocolate isn't good for pigs or dogs mine have even had a bite of that once in a while. My Maggie was eating whip cream and peaches off a spoon last night!

Pigs eat anything but moderation is the key word here. I don't feed salads or fruits very often because of the number of pigs we have but I feel that the pig chow has all the stuff that a pig really needs and that should be his basic diet. The rest is just for fun. My pigs take their pills in hot dogs when they need them!

Q: I have a one year old female piggy. Last winter she was small enough to be kept in the house, this year she has grown to be about 120 pounds. We live in north Alabama, Huntsville to be exact. We need to know, if there should be any special arrangements to be made for her to be outside?

She has a big back yard and a dog house with Straw inside, I would like to know if there is anything else I need to do , or should do to keep her warm.

Also, when we checked this website, we did not notice any special diet, that should be fed during the winter months, I do feed her adult pot belly pig food. Any help or info you can send us would be very much appreciated. Thank you piggy much!!

A: Hi Heidi, your girl should do fine outside if she has a good house. One thing to watch for if it is a dog house is that she doesn't track the wet or snow (if you get that stuff) into the house and get the bedding wet. She should be OK as long as she has lots of dry bedding.

Also if you do get snow than you might have to make her come out to do her business as some pigs won't get out of the house in the snow to go and end up getting constipated. I like the outdoor houses with an overhang built over the front giving a place that is in out of the rain and snow for them to eat and drink with no problem.

Since your in Alabama it is a far cry from here in Illinois with the 20 below wind chill and snow, so we do move all of ours into the barns for the winter. We keep the same food schedule and food that we use all year round but we do increase it a little during the winter months. Its also important to keep fresh water for them in the winter because they drink as much in the winter as they do in the summer.

Again I'm not sure what kind of dog house you have for her. I'm not fond of the igloos in the winter because of the condensation that forms on the inside making the bedding wet but a well insulated well built dog house is fine. I would definitely want an insulated one for her even in Alabama. If you have more questions feel free to ask OK?

Q: When you are talking oats are you meaning oats you would feed your horses from the feed mill???? I have two pot bellies that I love very much but they are way to porky (as you put it). The one cannot even see he runs into everything. I do not give treats. They get 1 cup of pig food morning and night, plus carrots and lettuce. They can go to the barn and get hay. I will throw Reduced diet dog food in the yard to keep them moving so the at least get a little exercise. I am not sure if the dog food will put weight on them, but it is Science diet Food Reduced diet ?? Please help??

A: The oat diet that we use is steamed oats ...like Quaker oatmeal oats...you can even use those if your feed store doesn't have the fifty lb bags of them. NO..you don't cook them! The best method for you would probably be just feed half a cup pig chow morning and night and make up the difference with the oats (Half a cup pig chow and half a cup oats). They love the things and I don't know why. Doesn't seem real appetizing to me, but they seem to like them and it works well as a filler so they don't know they are on a diet.

Yes dog food is fattening but I use the oats like you use the dog food. I spread it out and at least they get exercise finding every little morsel. When these guys get older they don't move around as much and we usually have to cut food intake down when they aren't using as much. But at least this way they don't think they are hungry and there is something in the bowl when they get fed.

Q: I hate to be a pest, but do you give anything else at all carrots, lettuce, I make air popped un-buttered popcorn but if this is not helping their weight I will gladly stop. Both my guys are about 10 to 11 years old and I want to have them around for as long as I can. Thank You again.

A: We don't give treats very often here as I believe the pig chow has what they need and it is kind of hard to do it with 73 pigs! We do have ten in the house and if I clean a head of lettuce they get that and the air pop corn shouldn't be that fattening. Lots of people use that as a treat but if your going to cut something out it would be the pop corn for right now and the dog food. The lettuce and carrots won't hurt them but I would even give those in moderation until you get them to a better weight.

Mine all gain a little weight in the winter time as we tend to feed more to the outside pigs and the house pigs don't get the exercise they should have in the winter. You know they hate going out in the cold or the snow. Your right to correct the overweight problem now if possible cause a lot of these older pigs are coming up with arthritis problems.

I mean I sure don't advocate having thin pigs. If you go to my web page and see the pictures you will be able to tell right away we feed well. But there is a difference in each pig. Some take more than others some don't take as much. You are the best judge of your pigs and if their weight is close to correct. We have found that on the older ones the metabolism is slowed and it takes less to keep them in good shape.

We like our pigs well rounded and even a hair plump so that the immune system stays in good working order and they have something to work with should they run into a health problem. You don't want them so fat that they have trouble getting on their feet or that the legs give out or they have trouble walking.

There is a formula for finding out what they weigh on the web page too so you can do that with a string or tape measure and get a pretty good idea within three lbs of their actual weight, but you also have to take into consideration their size.

I would have to say if your kids are ten or eleven years old and have always been healthy happy pigs than you are doing something right! So maybe just cutting out the pop corn, and dog food and reducing the feed to one half cup twice a day with another half a cup of oats added to each feeding should do the trick for you. Don't worry about asking questions...thats what we are here for.

Want to keep all these guys as healthy as possible for as long as we can. Please stay in touch OK We have a neat pig list that I belong to with some good people and its free with nothing but pig people on it. If your interested let me hear from you too.

Q: This is not life or death at all, but I feel strongly about it and I'm not sure if I'm right or wrong. One of the folks that bought one of our piglets just had him neutered (all went well). I have been gently nagging her to get him off dog food and onto pig food. She asked the vet and he said as long as it was measured and not free fed that it would be OK. I might be wrong but I figure if dog food was best for pigs then that's what would be in a pig feed bag.

Can you arm me with any ammo to sell her on the idea that pig food is for pigs and dog food is for dogs or am I wrong. I can handle being wrong, I just don't wanna see him get bigger than he needs to and although he is very healthy, he is bigger than his litter mates. He is not fat, you can see his eyes clearly (grin), but he is bigger. Well, I will wait for you to tell me what is best for a pigs diet. Thank much as always in advance.. P.S. all my 3 are doing well and I just love them so.

A: Hi Virginia, Well to answer your questions....dog food won't kill the pig, but he would be much healthier on a pig chow. Even the maintenance farm pig chow the cheapest you can buy (mine runs about 5.60 a 50lb bag) that's the one without the growth stuff in it that they feed sows or feeder pigs.

The dog food has a lot more protein than he needs and yes he will be larger sooner because of that. Vet may have said this without thinking about the fact that this pig will be around for ten or twelve years as opposed to the farm pig that may be taken into a home for a short period of time.

While the dog food is partly the same grains as pig chow it lacks some of the vitamin's and minerals that a pig chow has in it and has some things in excess of what a pig needs added into it. That's why it is so much more expensive than pig chow.

When people bring this question to me I respond with the fact that pig chow has been made with the health of the pig in mind and to include all that they need in the way of nutrition and this was done with huge laboratories and many, many years of experience and tons of money spent to make a chow that is complete and safe and that adds to the health and well being of the pig on a long term basis. Dog food was developed the same way for the health of the dog.

Pigs are Omnivores....Dogs are Carnivores....two different species with two different nutritional needs.

We have resorted to using dog food on occasion here if we have a sick pig that isn't eating well but it is a temporary thing and they go back to the pig chow as soon as they are well. We are FIRM believers in a pig should have pig chow as his foremost most important part of his diet. Hope this helps. Phyllis

Q: My name is Maureen and I reside in Orangeville, Ontario. We are about 1 1/2 hours northwest of Toronto. I really enjoyed your website and found that it gave me a few helpful hints, on how to keep my pot bellied pig occupied during our long winter months. She is just over 1 year old and is queen of our castle. One problem that we are having with her, is that she will not eat her pig chow. I purchased her from an animal sanctuary and she has been raised on a vegetarian dog food. I am concerned that she is not getting the proper vitamins.

Also, any more ideas on how to keep her occupied during the winter in the house? My husband is retired, so he spends the day with her. She has a bowel movement every day, so there are no concerns there.

Thanks and keep up the good work. Regards, Maureen

A: Hi Maureen, glad to see you joined the ranks of the pig lovers!
First is the food question. You can feed her the veggie dog food and start putting pig chow with it. (Maybe half and half) Then decrease the dog food and increase the amount of pig chow you put in it. For the first few days don't give her full meals, but maybe a half a meal so that she is hungry enough to eat it all. Or if you think your hard hearted enough to do it put the pig chow down....leave it for fifteen min. take it up and wait till the next feeding time and do the same thing over again.

It,s a lot like a spoiled dog. You can give her a one a day children's chewable vitamin. We use the generic brand Flinstones here for the pigs and give them one a day. Also I like to remind people that this is not a herbovore...pigs are omnivores which means they like meat and veggies and they can't make their own protein so it has to be fed to them. That's why the pig chow is important. I'm not big on salads or veggies for them other than as an added treat once in a while...if they were rabbits maybe? That pig chow should always be the main stay of her diet because it is made for pigs and what they need. Not that dog food isn't close cause it is but that's normal dog food ...I don't know about veggie dog food. Hope this helps and let me know how she does.

Q: Hi! We have a new 6 week old potbelly baby in our family who is extremely pushy with our dogs food. (No worry we have 2 Chihuahua's). My Chihuahua's do not eat their meal all at once. They may nibble on it all day. But we do feed morning and night. Pearl, our pig just insisted on trying for the food 4 or 5 times. We chased her out of the kitchen away from their food every time. Finally, she came back in with us, but stayed away from their food. I just know it's going to be a problem. She even ate her own dinner before this started. I know they love food, can I teach her that that food is not hers? What is the correct thing to do?

Potty training, doing great in the pine, no accidents. Even tried moving it outside today, but no potty outside except in her little makeshift pool-for-a-day. My husband took her out when he left this morning, I took her out after she ate, both times, and still no potty. She's sooooo skittish. Can you help.

I think she likes us, but she hates it when I pick her up, even just to let her lay on the couch with me. It's like I'm killing her. She settles down in a sec. or two laying or sitting down, but to stand with her, no way.
Help? Thanks sooo much! Jeni and Pearl (the pig)

A: Pigs live to eat and there is NO WAY to teach one that one food is not there to be eaten. We never feed the dogs in the same room with a pig! Either separate her during a certain feeding time or it might be easier to teach the dogs to eat in a different location where you can close a door.

Pigs don't like to be picked up...its instinct with them since the only thing that picks a pig up off the ground is a predator. When you pick her up to hold sitting or laying make sure you always use the word "UP" first. In time she will learn that "UP" means she is going to be picked up and it's a good experience and she won't complain so much....not that she will ever really like it but then you can figure there will come a time when you can't pick her up anyway because of the weight.

Is she loose when you take her outside or on a harness? Never had one that didn't like to and prefer to potty outside if they are loose (in a fenced in safe area). She will eventually go on a harness but it just won't be as quick as the other way. I think she is doing really well for a baby that's only 6 weeks old.

Q: I'm concerned about the weight loss of my 12 yr old spayed female, a vet and a nutrition expert told me to just feed her more......she has maintained her weight, But do the dietary needs of the older pbp change?

My other older pigs one is 13 yrs and the other 11 yrs, seem to be doing ok with their weight. These two are outdoor pigs, but live in a luxury barn. The 12 yr old is an in/outdoor pig.

Any comments are very much appreciated.....Thank You, Cyndi B

A: We have several old pigs here....well more than several actually...and I have seen some of them start this problem with weight loss when they get old. I think that just as in people, their matabolism changes and while some hold their weight there are those that don't. We increase the feed in quantity and give vitimins to those that are losing weight. We give two children's chewable vitimins a day ...one morning and one night. And increase the feed slowly over a period of time. We also keep the old pigs on a horse product called "Next Level" this helps with any arthritis problems and joint problems and is not a drug but a supplement and its safe and they like it.

Q: I wrote earlier re: my piglet who refuses her pig food. I have tried the milk and the apple juice in her feed and she still won't eat it. I tried a little sweet feed and she won't eat that either. Is there any way I could mix her up a home made feed using fresh fruits, grains etc? She won't even eat lettuce..HELP

A: I don't remember the age of your pig...too many emails....but guess you saw the formula on my web page for orphan piglets. Gerbers Rice baby cereal and goats milk. If this piglet is over three weeks old than she will eat if you hold out long enough without changing anything.

Q: Okay, here goes...I have a few different things. I have Rosie who is now about 6 months old.  We are definately "in love" with her.  I have read a lot about pot-bellies, but cannot find exact info about her menstrual cycles. She has not had any bleeding yet, but last week exhibited signs that she might be going to, but alas that seemed to pass (it was about a 36-48 hour period of "affection" i.e., whining, pouting, humping the dog, and peeing next to my son in his room, she really seems to like him). Sounds like bawdy talk to me, but don't quite know any other way of putting it.  Also, she has never liked to be picked up, which is a shame as we love to love on her. 

Also, the diet...she eats mini pig feed and very little else, she gets a banana peel most mornings, I sometimes give her a little bit of my cold coffee, 2 or 3 grapes every now and then, a carrot every once in a while.  I feel like I should let her have some greens, how about that?  Some advice on diet would be real nice.  She sleeps in the house at night, and forages our land every day.  So really, 2 points, the menstrual cycle and her diet, please.  Thank you so much in advance for your responce. Karen

A: Sounds to me like your Rosie has a very good healthy diet. The basis of her food should always be her pig chow...which you are doing....this has all of what she needs to be healthy and happy and anything else should be considered just extras. Pigs are Omnivores just like us and eat both meat for protein and veggies for other things. Her pig chow probably contains some meat byproducts...or most do...if not, the protein is added from other sources and the veggie part is covered under roughage etc and grains. There is nothing wrong with giving grapes, apples other fruits and tomatoes etc and this time of year they love to have a piece of a real pumpkin to eat. They also enjoy lettice once in a while. But all of this is in moderation. The pig chow is the basic food and the rest is treat type stuff that they enjoy but dont really need to be healthy. Matter of fact our ten house pigs have probably tasted everything that we have eaten at one time or another. For real affect try a teaspoon of ice cream or a bite of hot dog and watch the reaction! But MODERATION is the key word on all of it. People keep trying to make these guys into herbavores and give them nothing but veggies and that isnt healthy for a pig. That's why the pig chow is such an important part of the diet...it has it all.

As for heat cycles...yes she was in heat. Pigs dont show blood when in heat unless there is a problem. Most just have the behavior changes and some have a swollen vulva at the time. They cycle every month and it lasts two or three days. Your girl is not too old to be spayed and it might save a lot of problems if you have a vet in your area that would do her before she gets any older. Not just because of the aggravation of her heat cycles but we are finding that about half of the unspayed ones in later life at about ten years are showing up with uterine tumors and pyometrias (uterine infections) It has been our expierence that the pigs that really get carried away during thier cycle with snuffling and pushing etc. (we call them whore pigs) are the ones most likely to have the problems in later life. While your pig doesnt seem to be that bad you might want to think aboout getting it done while she is young so you dont have to worry. 


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