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Miniature Pigs - Living on a Small Farm

Updated on December 21, 2013

Pig Care

Knee-high miniature pig likes to be brushed. It is not much different to brushing a dog.
Knee-high miniature pig likes to be brushed. It is not much different to brushing a dog. | Source

We were offered a miniature pig.

We have a small farm and all the locals know we like to keep pigs for weeding our vegetable gardens. Our last two pigs, Bacon and Eggs, went back to their place of birth to become breeders. They were fit and healthy and, by the time they left, they had grown big and strong.

At a local soccer game we were asked if we'd like to give a new home to a much-loved miniature pig who was sadly neglected after his owners became too busy to give him any care or attention. The timing was good and the price was excellent.

A miniature pig, however, sounded like it would be of little use on any farm. We certainly were not looking for another pet.


Have You Heard of Miniature Pigs?

Perhaps I'm the only person who was unaware of Mini, Micro and TeaCup Pigs. Had you heard of them before?

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Miniature Pigs and Other Small Farm Animals

The smallest cow in the world is a miniature Dexter, standing only 33.5 inches tall. The smallest cat is a tiny 6 inches - which is taller than the smallest dog, a 4 inch tall long-haired Chihuahua ... and the smallest horse stands only 17.5 inches.

I quite like the idea of smaller animals on my small farm, but what use is a horse that's smaller than a Shetland Pony? To be honest, I have no need for a Shetland but if I had a young child who wanted to learn to ride or a cart that needed pulling, I would consider buying one.

We had a Shetland pony come to stay a few years back during a lengthy drought when we had grass and its owner had bare soil. It was friendly, cute and loveable ... but we sent it home after a few months.

We have been discussing buying a Dexter cow to provide us with fresh milk. Some of our neighbours have Dexters and there are definite advantages to owning an animal slightly smaller than the regular size. It will need less feed, be happy in a smaller paddock, and be less intimidating at milking time.

Our bantam hens are smaller than their full size cousins. We keep large and small breeds of chickens, providing us with a range of egg sizes and playing different roles in our gardens. The larger chickens scratch and clean the earth before planting. Smaller bantams wander between the vegetables, eating caterpillars and pests throughout the growing season without tearing the plants from the ground.

When it comes to dogs, we like Mini Fox Terriers. Our Mini Foxies have always been good at announcing the arrival of visitors, and detecting snakes on our farm. They sniff out mice and dispose of them, chase rabbits away from our boundaries, and have bravely and effectively challenged and killed venomous snakes.

We don't need farm dogs to round up sheep or herds of cattle, so our Mini Foxies are perfect. They take up minimal space in the house, protect our farm and our family, and it doesn't cost much to feed them.

But what good is a Miniature Pig?


These Were Tea Cup Pigs?

Miniature, Micro and TeaCup Pigs

Research on the internet introduced us to the new phenomena of miniature, micro and teacup pigs.

Paris Hilton had one. Jonathon Ross, a British television host bought two. Tea cup pigs were described as a new fashion accessory.

Cute photos of micro pigs snuggling up against fluffy pillows, dressed in pretty outfits, and posing comfortably inside tea cups (of questionable dimensions) gave the impression that miniature, micro and teacup pigs would never be more than a handful of trouble.

Price tags for micro or teacup pigs ranging from $750 to $950 each had 'sold' signs plastered over them. Clearly selling tiny pigs is big business.

The largest 'miniature pig' is supposed to be about the size of a labrador dog, but news reports showed instances of mini pigs that grew to be massive porkers.

At four years old, the miniature pig we were offered was fully grown and allegedly the size of a labrador - big enough to be a help in the garden - so we went for a look before deciding whether or not to bring him home.


Malnourished Miniature Pig When It First Arrived

Click thumbnail to view full-size
We adopted a four-year old boar the shape of a lean dog, with a lovely personality but serious malnutrition.The owners had warned us he was out of condition, but we were saddened to see his tail and rump rubbed clean of hair.Hips protruding and hair fallen out, we accepted the challenge of restoring the pig to good health.At four years old, Mr Pig has tusks. He has clearly been an active member of a family in the past, however, because he is not at all aggressive - even now that he is well-fed and strong.
We adopted a four-year old boar the shape of a lean dog, with a lovely personality but serious malnutrition.
We adopted a four-year old boar the shape of a lean dog, with a lovely personality but serious malnutrition. | Source
The owners had warned us he was out of condition, but we were saddened to see his tail and rump rubbed clean of hair.
The owners had warned us he was out of condition, but we were saddened to see his tail and rump rubbed clean of hair. | Source
Hips protruding and hair fallen out, we accepted the challenge of restoring the pig to good health.
Hips protruding and hair fallen out, we accepted the challenge of restoring the pig to good health. | Source
At four years old, Mr Pig has tusks. He has clearly been an active member of a family in the past, however, because he is not at all aggressive - even now that he is well-fed and strong.
At four years old, Mr Pig has tusks. He has clearly been an active member of a family in the past, however, because he is not at all aggressive - even now that he is well-fed and strong. | Source

Mr Pig - Our First Miniature Pig

A pig can live for up to 20 years. Miniature or full size, pigs are not short-term visitors unless you are simply fattening them for the freezer.

Many people neglect their pigs after the novelty of owning a pig wears off. It seems quite common for families with young children to spend time loving and nurturing their piggy friend, only to banish it to a barren enclosure when the kids become preoccupied with some other activity.

It is hard to know how many are discarded at animal refuges, and how many are simply destroyed.

Our first miniature pig was destined for a bullet had we not rescued him.

He was unfamiliar with electric fences, but quickly learned to respect and avoid them. He had never been expected to drink from a water nipple, but quickly mastered that skill. He'd never been a gardener and I suspect many of the vegetables he discovered in our soil were new to him, but he has settled in really well and our first miniature pig is now an active member of our family and farming team.


Mr Pig Adapting to Life on our Farm

Click thumbnail to view full-size
When introduced to a new area for digging, Mr Pig carefully chooses a spot to start work. A curly tail is a sign of a happy pig. Mr Pig is obviously happy. :)I'm not sure whether it's because he's so happy to have a new fresh area to dig, or whether he wears himself out and needs a rest, but he often lies down on his freshly dug area and rests for a while - before digging again.There are many treats to discover over winter in our vegetable gardens, like young globe artichoke leaves.Mr Pig gets a regular brushing, and stretches out to express his delight. He's a miniature pig so brushing him doesn't take long.We hoped that brushing his back might help stimulate circulation and restore hair growth.
When introduced to a new area for digging, Mr Pig carefully chooses a spot to start work. A curly tail is a sign of a happy pig. Mr Pig is obviously happy. :)
When introduced to a new area for digging, Mr Pig carefully chooses a spot to start work. A curly tail is a sign of a happy pig. Mr Pig is obviously happy. :) | Source
I'm not sure whether it's because he's so happy to have a new fresh area to dig, or whether he wears himself out and needs a rest, but he often lies down on his freshly dug area and rests for a while - before digging again.
I'm not sure whether it's because he's so happy to have a new fresh area to dig, or whether he wears himself out and needs a rest, but he often lies down on his freshly dug area and rests for a while - before digging again. | Source
There are many treats to discover over winter in our vegetable gardens, like young globe artichoke leaves.
There are many treats to discover over winter in our vegetable gardens, like young globe artichoke leaves. | Source
Mr Pig gets a regular brushing, and stretches out to express his delight. He's a miniature pig so brushing him doesn't take long.
Mr Pig gets a regular brushing, and stretches out to express his delight. He's a miniature pig so brushing him doesn't take long. | Source
We hoped that brushing his back might help stimulate circulation and restore hair growth.
We hoped that brushing his back might help stimulate circulation and restore hair growth. | Source
When less than a year old, our previous pigs were already the size of our current miniature pigs. They grew to be huge, then went to another farm to be used for breeding.
When less than a year old, our previous pigs were already the size of our current miniature pigs. They grew to be huge, then went to another farm to be used for breeding. | Source

A Boar or a Sow?

Most farmers with small farms choose to have one or two female pigs in preference to males. Sows can have piglets without needing a full-time boar, either by artificial insemination or taking the females to visit a nearby boar.

Sows are said to be more placid than boars, and we'd also heard that sows do a better job of digging and weeding the ground.

We would not have chosen a boar, had we been buying another pig. However the miniature pig we were offered was a male, so we took him. There has been no indication of aggression, and even our teenage daughter happily brushes him - although she is never alone with him.

Mr Pig has proven himself quite capable of preparing our garden areas for springtime planting. Had he not been so hungry, it is hard to say if he'd have been as effective as the female pigs we've had in the past.


Two Mini Pigs Make a Happy Couple

A few months after the boar moved in, I spotted a sign offering a free miniature sow. She looked an ideal match, so I had her delivered to our home.

When first introduced, there was a lot of screaming as they tried to avoid each other but within 24 hours, they were the best of friends.

My husband hastily constructed a shelter large enough to contain them both but we also left the boar's bachelor pad in place so there would be no conflict about sharing the bed. The female, however, had lived in a confined yard with no shelter other than trees so it took a couple of days for her to get used to the idea of sleeping anywhere other than out on the ground.

She too had been a family pet for years and comes running when her name is called.


It's a Pig's Life

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The pigs have their own pen, linked to our large vegetable gardens to the right. During the summer growing period, they stay in their own yard area and we toss grass and vegetables over the fence.Regular brushing with an old broom is pig heaven.The easiest way to tell if a pig is genuinely tame (as opposed to an owner just saying it is) is to try patting or rubbing it. If it stays still while you brush it, you know you have a good one. :)Our pigs are very peaceful and love a snooze in the sun. It is funny to watch as we brush them ... they melt and lie down on the ground. :)It didn't take long for the boar and sow to become comfortable with each other. lol.Miniature pigs don't need a big house. To give them shelter, we recycled some wooden pallets, corrugated iron and chopped down one thin tree trunk. Quick and easy.This is the first time Peppa had seen an actual 'bed'. Until she came to us at three years old, she'd always slept outdoors without shelter.Peppa Pig's first snooze in a comfy bed.In the foreground is the large water bin filled with drinking water. The small tub is also filled with water so Peppa can cool the ring in her nose.
The pigs have their own pen, linked to our large vegetable gardens to the right. During the summer growing period, they stay in their own yard area and we toss grass and vegetables over the fence.
The pigs have their own pen, linked to our large vegetable gardens to the right. During the summer growing period, they stay in their own yard area and we toss grass and vegetables over the fence. | Source
Regular brushing with an old broom is pig heaven.
Regular brushing with an old broom is pig heaven. | Source
The easiest way to tell if a pig is genuinely tame (as opposed to an owner just saying it is) is to try patting or rubbing it. If it stays still while you brush it, you know you have a good one. :)
The easiest way to tell if a pig is genuinely tame (as opposed to an owner just saying it is) is to try patting or rubbing it. If it stays still while you brush it, you know you have a good one. :) | Source
Our pigs are very peaceful and love a snooze in the sun. It is funny to watch as we brush them ... they melt and lie down on the ground. :)
Our pigs are very peaceful and love a snooze in the sun. It is funny to watch as we brush them ... they melt and lie down on the ground. :) | Source
It didn't take long for the boar and sow to become comfortable with each other. lol.
It didn't take long for the boar and sow to become comfortable with each other. lol. | Source
Miniature pigs don't need a big house. To give them shelter, we recycled some wooden pallets, corrugated iron and chopped down one thin tree trunk. Quick and easy.
Miniature pigs don't need a big house. To give them shelter, we recycled some wooden pallets, corrugated iron and chopped down one thin tree trunk. Quick and easy. | Source
This is the first time Peppa had seen an actual 'bed'. Until she came to us at three years old, she'd always slept outdoors without shelter.
This is the first time Peppa had seen an actual 'bed'. Until she came to us at three years old, she'd always slept outdoors without shelter. | Source
Peppa Pig's first snooze in a comfy bed.
Peppa Pig's first snooze in a comfy bed. | Source
In the foreground is the large water bin filled with drinking water. The small tub is also filled with water so Peppa can cool the ring in her nose.
In the foreground is the large water bin filled with drinking water. The small tub is also filled with water so Peppa can cool the ring in her nose. | Source

When you're sweating like a pig ...

Pigs love to cool down on a hot day. I worry about how hot the ring in the sow's nose must get on a hot sunny day.
Pigs love to cool down on a hot day. I worry about how hot the ring in the sow's nose must get on a hot sunny day. | Source

Washing the Mud from the Pig's Water Spout

Our pigs drink from a 'water nipple' inserted in the bottom of a large plastic garbage bin used to hold fresh water. It is attached to a tree or a fence post and raised up on cement blocks, preventing them from spilling and wasting it.
Our pigs drink from a 'water nipple' inserted in the bottom of a large plastic garbage bin used to hold fresh water. It is attached to a tree or a fence post and raised up on cement blocks, preventing them from spilling and wasting it. | Source

Peppa Pig with a Ring in her Nose

The previous owners of the sow called her Peppa after the popular British children's animated tv character. She's obviously the wrong colour and I doubt the animated Peppa would be happy about having a ring in her nose.

It concerns me that the ring must get extremely hot and uncomfortable during the summer months but she's had it in place for years and has somehow managed until now. I try to keep a bowl of cold water available for her to dunk her nose into in addition to their fresh drinking water.

To keep their drinking water fresh, we fill a large plastic garbage bin with water and the pigs access the water from a drinking nipple near the base of the bin. The bin is raised on concrete blocks and secured to a tree so it can't be overturned.

It seems ironic that the ring was inserted in the pig's nose to discourage it from digging the earth yet I almost didn't take the pig because I like mine to dig freely.

Peppa's friendly character and her quiet disposition were enough to win me over.


Who would put a ring in a pig's nose?

Does getting the ring out of a pig's nose hurt as much as putting it in? Our latest addition to the pigpen came with a ring her nose. I'd have it removed, but it would probably require a general anaesthetic and a big vet bill.
Does getting the ring out of a pig's nose hurt as much as putting it in? Our latest addition to the pigpen came with a ring her nose. I'd have it removed, but it would probably require a general anaesthetic and a big vet bill. | Source

Just like real pigs. Phew!

It is our peak growing season so every morning and every evening we go and toss the pigs some food. They love the greens from the garden, and the occasional loaf of bread. :)

When the hens are laying more eggs than we can eat, they score a few eggs as an extra treat.

At the end of our harvest time, they'll again have the job of digging up the gardens and eating whatever they find. Meanwhile, there's lots of time to rest.

These two pigs are not the cute little 'teacup' type you see sold on the internet. They look far more feral than fancy. lol. Truth be told, they may well be descendents of wild pigs that someone caught and tamed ... but wild pigs originated from domestic pigs let free, so perhaps it is just the completion of a circle.

Despite my initial reservations, I am happy to have them. They will weed and fertilize our gardens in the winter and because they are small, they don't take much effort to feed in the summer.


Win-win Farm Management

Our winter vegetable gardens provide a smorgasbord of delights for pigs ... and pigs do a very effective job of preparing the gardens for springtime.
Our winter vegetable gardens provide a smorgasbord of delights for pigs ... and pigs do a very effective job of preparing the gardens for springtime. | Source

Miniature Pigs as Pets

I have had plenty of time to think about people buying miniature pigs to keep as pets. They would want to be a lot smaller than my two if you were to consider keeping them in the house ... but mine actually fit the definition of 'miniature'. Yikes. You could be in trouble if you didn't own a farm.

The thought of pigs living indoors unsettles me. It seems unnatural.

Yes, pigs are actually very clean animals if you provide them with enough space to keep their toilet separate from their living area. Ours always use a far corner of their large pen as the toilet and even when they are working our gardens, they choose one small area to use.

Yes, they learn their names and come when they are called. They can be trained to follow you (useful for us when we want them to weed vegetable gardens on the other side of our property) and they seem happy to follow basic instructions.

But they also love to run and play. On a hot day, they like nothing more than making a mud bath from a running hose. They make themselves muddy then shake themselves clean. They dig and snuffle and do what pigs do.

I'm not sure all that can be achieved within a house. Somehow, watching tv on a comfortable couch just doesn't seem the same.


The Cute Type of Mini Pig

© 2013 LongTimeMother

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    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia

      I look forward to reading your future hubs as your family gets settled in your new home and starts becoming more self-sufficient, peeples.

      It has been raining at my house today as well. It is nearly evening time on Christmas Eve (Australian time) and we have a thick fog rolling in. Kind of odd for summer weather, but my daughter was laughing at the idea of a 'white Christmas'. (Not sure that fog counts ... but it is certainly more white than strong sunshine!)

      Maybe your kids can start with some chickens and a vegetable garden in preparation for pigs one day. The chicken poo will help strengthen the vegetable garden that will one day produce enough food to feed your entire family - with enough left over to feed some pigs as well. lol.

      And if the kids are eager enough to collect eggs every day, maybe they'd be willing to help milk a cow every day when they're a little older. Gee, the possibilities are endless!!

      Merry Christmas to your family. I hope 2015 is brilliant for you all!

    • peeples profile image

      Peeples 2 years ago from South Carolina

      I would so love to live as you do. I have been trying to talk my husband into getting a mini pig for years, while he has been trying to talk me into getting a hog, which is simply too big for where we live. I think one day me and my oldest will manage to talk him into it. I had never heard of mini cows, but I think the idea sounds great. Now I need to find out if the milk they produce is the same. Great articles, I have been reading many of them this morning, and sharing the pics with my children. Now I have to go put some boots on and go put out a bucket to collect some of today's rain in. You've inspired me to get outside today even in the rain!

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the comments. :) The pigs are more pig-shaped now that they've settled in and been receiving regular meals. I will have to take some photos so you can see Mr Pig's 'before' and 'after' photos. He is proudly porky. lol.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glad to hear that this is working out so well for you. I never realized that there were three sizes of mini pigs. I had only known about the pot bellies.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      This is a very enjoyable hub. I've been intrigued by pigs since I read the results of scientific research that proved their intelligence may be greater than that of primates. In that study, pigs routinely bested primates at playing video games. If they had fingers and toes instead of hooves, they could probably learn American Sign Language like gorillas!

      The famous teacup pigs of Pennywell Farm in South Devon, England, are both adorable and photogenic. The farm's website is enjoyable to view, and I find these little porcine characters so darling that my 2014 kitchen calendar is titled, "Pocket Pigs" and features the Pennywell teacup pigs in delightful staged photos. They photograph the very young ones when they're still quite tiny (though slightly chubby) and babyish looking, much in the way puppies are photographed at their most precious stage of development. Fully grown, these little pigs obviously don't fit into a teacup, but are still fascinating creatures.

      Voted Up++

      Jaye

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Interesting. I've not read much about miniature pigs (didn't know they came in that size actually), and haven't read much about keeping them as pets either. In fact, I'm surprised to learn how many different kinds of animals come in miniature. (Found your hub in the Hub Hopper, FYI.)

      I grew up on a farm and never thought of Holsteins as intimidating. I used to pet them and hug them and feed them by hand when I was just 4-5 years old.

      Yes, as FlourishAnyway says, pigs are very smart. As stated in this article, some people don't want their pigs burrowing or rooting in the ground and put a ring in their nose to discourage it.

      Interesting and informative article. Voted up!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I love your little piggy hub. They are beautiful animals and smarter than we give them credit for. I wonder how in the devil (and why) the prior owners put that ring in the sow's nose? People sometimes just aren't very nice. It's good you have given them a quality home where you can mutually benefit one another. Voted up +++ and sharing.

    • Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

      Beth Eaglescliffe 3 years ago from UK

      I love the idea of a pig weeding the garden. Fascinating hub. Voted up.