Baby Potbellied Pig Care
A responsible breeder will not sell you a baby pig until it has been weaned from it's mother. This should be done at 6-8 weeks of age at the earliest! Any breeder that tells you that a baby pig has been weaned earlier than this is trying to make a sale at the expense of the baby piglet's health.
But, things do happen, and in case you end up with a very young baby potbellied pig for one reason or another, here are a few suggestions to help you along.
First, you have to understand that this baby pig was taken away from its Mom way too early. It doesn't know how to eat, misses it's Mom and siblings and is confused, scared and lonely, does not know it's surroundings. The piglet is SCARED.
While some think this will make for a stronger bond with its people, it is very tough on the baby! I would never ask that people take on a one week old baby piglet unless it's a case of no Mom at all. Even for the oldies out there that have done this for years, the mortality rate of raising one week old piglets is about 50%. Not very good odds for the babies.
Piglet's should be raised in a playpen where they are confined and safe from picking up things that they don't need. Did you know that baby pigs do not generate their own body heat for about their first two weeks of life? Mom usually takes care of that!
The ideal temperature for a baby is 90 degrees. Put a heating pad on low and wrap it in a towel in the playpen. She does need a playpen to keep her out of drafts. If you have air conditioning she is going to be cold so keep this in mind. The wrapped heating pad also feels close to Moms body heat. If she is cold she will go to it. Give her soft blankets and a soft stuffed toy for her to sleep with.
Another thing to use if you want to stay away from using electric is tie about 2 pounds of dry beans in a pillow case and knot the top. This is then warmed in the microwave oven (do not make it so hot it will burn the baby!). They are able to snuggle over it (it will conform to the shape of their body) and will hold the heat for almost 2 hours. Because it conforms he will be able to rest his tummy or butt against it and make his own nest.
Most new pig parents don't know it, but momma pigs do not nurse their babies all the time. When you see those kids hanging on to Mom it is like a kid with a pacifier for good feelings only (LOL). Momma pigs only drop their milk when they nurse, about four times a day. When you hear the soft grunting "call to dinner", this is the only time that anything is really coming out.
It is very hard, even for those with lots of experience, to raise a healthy baby pig from very young ages. You cannot provide what Momma did, so it is a hard battle. The main concern with ones this age is diarrhea. Once that hits it is hard to keep them going.
Don't change their food anymore than you have to at the beginning. Goats milk is best, formula with baby rice cereal is also good. At about age 3 weeks start adding the pig pellets (Heartland Starter Feed , Mazuri Pig Food, etc.).They will not be crazy about the pig pellets at first so you can powder the pellets in a blender, or add them to the milk or formula.
You can give them liquid vitamins with iron (made for puppies) that you can get from the vet. Another option is to give them a flat pan of clean dirt in a cookie sheet so they can 'snuffle' in it. That is how they normally get their iron, from dirt.
Feed the same thing mixed the same way each time. Try pouring the goats milk into a flat pan. You can use an ash tray for this. Then stick their nose in it or hold the pan up till you stick their nose in it. She needs to get a taste of it before she is going to eat it.
12 hour old piglets will eat out of a pan, but you have to teach them. For the first time hold the piglet in one hand and put the pan to the nose and dunk it. It may take a few times, but you have to remember all she knows is Mom and Mom's dinners. This is not Mom, so you're going to have to teach her. Start with the flat pan.
Use the goats milk and baby cereal and feed small amounts often. A couple of spoons doesn't sound like much, but this is a tiny baby with a tiny stomach. If you overfeed she will get the poops. A couple of spoons every four hours until you teach her to eat will keep her going, but sure won't make any weight gains.
It's hard to tell you how much a baby should get ....it depends on the age and the size of the piglet. With really young ones...one to two weeks or under it's all different cause they grow so fast. For newborns only half an ounce or so at a time and one week olds an ounce, if they will take it. Ususally the piglet will let you know when they have had enough and won't take any more. You don't want to push them to eat more cause that causes diarreah.
Feel their little tummy and when it's rounded quit, but most babies will tell you when they have had enough and you don't want to push it. Their tummys are small and it doesn't take a whole lot to fill it up. Three week olds will for sure tell you they are full. This holds true whether you are using a dish or bottle.
Remember, do not try to force more into a these young piglets. It may not seem to you like they are eating very much, and their not, because at that age their tummies are about the size of your finger!!
A two week old baby piglet should be able to last over the 6 or 7 hours of night time while you sleep. You do not need to get up to feed them. Five meals during the day is one more than Mom would give her as a rule. Try for feeding every four hours during the day, but no feed during the night. Last meal may be at 11 or 12 midnight, but then they don't eat again until 6 the next morning.
You will need to increase the cereal part, making it a little thicker as the days go on and for sure on the last meal of the night before bedtime. If you mix it and put it in a flat ashtray she would be able to get it herself if she is really hungry.
I was recently told that baby pigs that were taken away from their Mom's too early do good when given either Cottage Cheese or Yogurt till they are 6 months old. Start with only a tablespoon and work up to a half a cup a day. This will also help to discourage E-coli from forming and your baby getting diarrhea which can be deadly.
Piglet Sight: Baby pigs are born with eyes open and able to see unlike dogs and cats. A pigs eyesight is not really great at the best of times and they go by smell and hearing more than their sight. Don't worry about piglets not seeing as well as they hear or smell, as they depend on those things more when still with their mommas. It is rare to have a blind piglet unless its due to injury.
Sometimes these babies that are hand raised come from mom without the afterbirth sac being removed completely after birth. It can dry and completely covers the piglet. Sometimes even the head or face. In that case, usually the eyes are not completely open as they should be after birth and you have to use warm water and gently, repeat GENTLY remove it.
It is transparent, but you can feel it as being kind of dried out skin and eventually it will make dry skin like flakes as it peels off. But if your babies head is soft to the touch without dry scaly feeling and eyes are completely open than just give him some time to adjust his smeller and hearing.
Another Thing: Remember to take lot's of pictures. Baby pig pictures are priceless and you only get the chance while they are little. After all, it is tough to get baby pig pictures when your pig is 100 pounds!
Bottom Line: Avoid getting a piglet younger than 8 weeks minimum. Yes, they are really cute younger than this, but their chances for survival away from their Mom at these early ages are not good, even for those who have lot's of experience with pet pigs.
You do not want to go through watching your little angel die, so avoid this at all costs. If you do end up with one, know that YOU will become the Mother and YOU will be spending lot's of hours feeding, warming, cuddling, and keeping your piglet alive. It is NOT an easy thing to do.
For more info see: The Orphan Piglet - How to Care of the Very Young Baby Pig
The information presented within our information and resources section has been collected from what we consider experts and various reputable persons including vets, sanctuary owners, and private pig owners among othsrs. Information shown is the latest available. Although we have had pet pigs for 20 years and consider ourselves quite knowledgeable, we are by no means veterinarians. Any health related information presented below should be checked out with your personal veterinarian.