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Food & Nutrion: What and How Much?

A Diet for a Healthy Pig

Food

Pigs love to eat (what else is new?) and the proper type and amount of food he/she gets is very important. There are several companies that make mini pig chow. The most popular feeds are Heartland, Peak Performance, Mazuri by Purina, Nutrina and Manna Pro.

These feeds are designed for pot belly pigs and should always be the mainstay of their diet. Pig chow has what they need in it. It is a complete food made to give them what they need, especially protein that a pig has to have and can't make themselves.

We have to try and remember that these pigs are Omnivore not Herbivore. They cannot make their own protein. That is why it has to be fed to them and they will get that in their pig chow. In the wild the protein would come from; dead animals, worms, bugs, etc. The pig chow we give them has the protein added so it makes our life easier.

As long as the pig gets its normal feeding of the pig chow things are OK, but a pig fed nothing but fruits and veggies will have problems.

Part of good pot belly pig care is proper diet. Feed your pig at least twice a day. A general guide is piglets should be fed on a free-choice basis (as many times as they want) or about 2 cups of pig chow from 6-8 weeks old (or as soon as pigs will nibble on it) until 1 year old. At around 1 year you may need to decrease the amount slightly. This will depend on your pigs metabolism and activity level. Each pig is different. Click here for more information on piglets.

Avoid feeding your pig dog or cat food
Cat food is made for cats as dog food is made for dogs. They do not have the proper nutrients for your potbellied pig and the protein level is too high. Dog food can be given in case of emergency (like you ran out of feed) but only for a short period of time.

Get a feed that is low in protein, 12% or 14% and has as little fat as possible. If your pig constantly goes back and forth between the food and water bowls then you may want to either put the water bowl farther away or put some water on piggy's food. Do not soak it, put on just enough to moisten it.

Food amounts should be cut down if your pig is able to graze a great deal. For instance, in the summer months my pigs are outside grazing all day so I can cut back on the amount of food I feed them. Usually I will cut it in half. In the winter we do increase the amount fed to the outside pigs as they need that protein to burn off. In the winter we usually double what would be their normal amount.

Please do not feed your pet pig "people food" or you will end up with a fat and unhealthy pig. They are just like humans: Eat junk food and you get FAT!! Plus, it is not good for their (or your) overall long term health. When a pig becomes overweight, their legs will eventually give them problems. This is quite common in overweight pigs, along with other health conditions.

Give your pig one children's complete chewable vitamin daily. Your pigs overall health and appearance are the best guides to determine the proper amount of food. Basically, when it comes to diet, good care of potbellied pigs is pretty much the same as good care of yourself. No sugars, low fat, do not overdo it with feeding! The key is moderation.

Foods to Feed in Limited Amounts

  • Fruits: High in calories from fructose.
  • Corn: High in sugar from fructose.
  • Potatoes, Yams, Sweet Potatoes: Starchy and high in calories.
  • Tomatoes: Highly acidic.
  • Spinach: High in sodium, is okay if pig has clean water to drink.

One other thing: There are many unscrupulous people and breeders out there that tell you if you want your pig to stay small in stature (physical size, not just weight), just feed it less. Not only is this completely ludicrous and false, it can be considered animal abuse in many locations. Pet pigs, especially those just starting out in life, need all the nutrients they can get to avoid serious health problems later.

You would not underfeed your child just to keep them small of stature, would you? And besides, it would cause severe health problems. Do yourself a favor: If anyone ever tells you that the way to keep a pig small of stature is to feed it just a little, tell them they are crazy and then report them to the authorities.

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Treats

Some of the most popular treats used are Cheerios, bite size shredded wheat, and plain, un-buttered, un-salted air popped popcorn. The most popular treat for training purposes is Potbellied Pig Treats made specifically for potbellies that come in P-Nut Butter flavor. Others use grapes and tiny bits of cheese. Pigs love cheese so make sure the pieces are very small.

Please, do not feed your pig chocolate!!!

There are some reports that chocolate can be deadly for pigs, so better safe than sorry! In fact, try not to feed your pig any candy at all. It is much better for them and is good pot belly pig care.

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Water

Make sure your potbelly pig always has access to clean drinking water. It is as important to them as it is to us. In some cases potbelly pigs develop a taste for fruit juice and the like. My house pigs rarely drink plain water any more as we made the mistake of adding 100% fruit juice to their water. They now prefer, I mean demand, to have some fruit juice mixed into it. That is fine. As long as the fruit juice is sugar free, 100% juice! But I still have a bowl of water around just in case and they do use it on occasion.

If you are going to mix in fruit juice, make the mixture mostly water. Just a hint of sweetness from the juice seems to be fine. If your pigs are anything like mine they will let you know if the mixture is not right! Even in cooler weather pigs will need to have drinking water available.

However, the best thing for your pig is pure water. So, get them used to that as it is completely natural for them, just as it is for us.

When your pig is thirsty he will drink. Some pigs need a lot of water, some pigs seem to seldom touch it. But NO, you don't need to put juice in if your pig drinks enough to keep you happy.

It amazes me that we give these guys all kinds of credit for being so smart yet we think they don't have enough sense to get a drink if they need it? Some just don't require what other ones do. But once you start with the juice they can and will hold out for that until you come through with it, so if they are drinking well I wouldn't do it.

Keep in mind that there are times of the year when pigs will drink more. Winter is one time. Many pigs drink much more in the winter than normal. Or, if it is abnormally hot, some pigs may increase their water intake, so make sure you keep them supplied with clean, fresh water.

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Do Pigs Sweat?

Pigs do not sweat! Actually the only place they 'sweat' is out of the top end of their nose! You will see little tiny droplets of water forming there. To help them keep cool during those hot summer days you will need either a kiddy pool (those cheap plastic ones they sell every spring do fine, but only last about one season) or a nice mud hole.

Rolling around in the mud hole cools them off by covering them in cool mud. Plus, caked on mud keeps insects from getting to their skin and works as a sun screen.

You will need to train yourself to clean the pigs before bringing them into the home once they have been enjoying a nice mud bath.

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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.

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