Like the spring showers that were causing our creek to swell, I felt like my proverbial cup was about to overflow. The month of April found me driving my daughter to horseback riding lessons and my son to basketball practice, tournaments and track meets. I also was working full-time while keeping an eye on my goats due to kid, or have babies. Just when I thought we’d get through this kidding season without the need to bottle feed any babies, I found myself nurturing four of them.
I’m a sucker for babies, whether they have two legs or four. There’s something about having little creatures need you – and look forward to seeing you. Perhaps that’s why I said “yes” when a neighbor called and asked if I would take her three-week-old potbellied pig.
As Charlotte’s Web author E.B. White writes, “By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
Wilbur, as we started to call the mini pig, has certainly filled our spring with amusement and adventure.
The first thing I did after learning I was going to be entrusted with a mini pig was Google “potbellied pig care.” My daughter and I made a cozy bed for Wilbur inside our new chicken coop. Then the next day I realized that the cedar chip bedding could make him sick, so we replaced it with pine bedding and blankets.
We set up a schedule to feed Wilbur every four hours: 7 and 11 AM, 3 and 7 PM. It was the same schedule as our newborn triplet goats were on, so it worked well. Let me rephrase that… it worked relatively well.
Feeding babies every four hours is exhausting as any parent of an infant will tell you. It’s especially exhausting when you must schedule the feedings around a full-time job and extracurricular activities. Just when you are making progress on a work project or getting projects done around the house, it’s time to stop and feed the babies. I’ve also had to miss a few of my kids’ track meets and basketball games to stick to the feeding schedule.
Pet pigs need a great deal of time and attention, so it’s no wonder rescue organizations and pig sanctuaries have formed because people don’t realize how responsibility it is to be a pig owner. It’s not like you can entrust these babies to just anyone. Thankfully, Wilbur and my triplet goats were down to three feedings per day by the time I traveled on a four-day business trip to Orlando. (Shout out to my husband for doing the breakfast and supper feedings and to my parents for traveling 30 miles each day to feed them lunch!)
Wilbur is 8 weeks old now, so he’s been getting fed pig chow for about the past two weeks. Each new age and stage brings a learning curve.
Here are a few cool facts I’ve already learned:
Pigs are omnivores. They will eat veggies but they also need protein. In the wild, protein comes from eating dead animals, worms and bugs. Since I’m not about to do that, the pig chow that Wilbur eats has protein added. Piglets should be fed about 2 cups of pig chow from 6-8 weeks old through 1 year old.
Pigs love treats. Some of the most popular treats used are Cheerios, bite-size shredded wheat, and plain, unbuttered, unsalted popped popcorn. Pet Pig Training Treats made specifically for potbellies come in Peanut Butter, Apple/Oat & Cheese flavors.
Pigs are intelligent animals. Piglets enjoy pushing balls around with their noses. Like dogs, they get bored by playing with the same toys. Swapping out your piglet’s toys once every few days will help ensure his entertainment.
Pigs love to root around in the mud for roots and other tasty treats. You can create a place for your indoor piglet to root. I did so with a cardboard box, which worked well until Wilbur learned how to disassemble it. My next project is to build a wooden box. Then we’ll hide treats among the fist-sized rocks, so Wilbur can root around and eat treats.
Pigs don’t sweat. Rolling around in mud cools pigs off by covering them in cool mud. Plus, caked on mud keeps insects from getting to their skin and works as a sun screen. We’re going to place a kiddy pool outside for Wilbur’s enjoyment this summer.
Perhaps the best advice I read online is this: “Potbellied pigs have delightful personalities and quirks. They are like 2-year-old children: intelligent, curious, mischievous, and sometimes manipulative. These sensitive creatures can be playful and even humorous. It takes an understanding, firm and intelligent companion to successfully own one of these intriguing animals.”
Wilbur has certainly entertained us this spring. Find fun videos of Wilbur on Enchanted Acres' Facebook page here! We look forward to sharing our adventures online with his throughout the summer, and we hope you’ll come meet him for yourself this fall!