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Planning Retirement Online

Out of the box - Keeping miniature pigs

May 2011

This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try.

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.

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 THIS LITTLE PIGGY STAYED HOME

miniature pigsRetirement is a wonderful time for starting new interests and hobbies, but one that is not top of most people’s must do list is keeping pigs.

Pigs are actually extraordinary animals, highly intelligent, very social, very inquisitive and fascinating to look after. For most of us, pigs are well out of our range but recently new breeds of miniature pigs have been developed that have all the characteristics of normal pigs except size.

With their tiny little snouts and cute faces, these tiny pigs can be quite adorable and have become a firm favourite with celebrities. Now they are being snapped up by families across the UK and for many they can make an enchanting new hobby.

Miniature pigs are generally less than around 21 inches at the withers and weigh less than 150 pounds. Some can be as small as just 14 inches tall and 65 lbs in weight. When you first buy them, they can be tiny and as cute as a kitten. They can live up to 18 years and are reasonably low maintenance; they don’t need walks like dogs and they don’t make much noise. They can even be toilet trained and certainly bond with their owners and can become very friendly. Some owners say their pigs sit on their laps and can even talk to you.

However, before it all gets too farfetched, it must be remembered that these cute little animals are just that – animals – and while you can derive enormous pleasure from them, they also require a bit of time and effort from you.

For a start, they are not indoor pets. They require dry, well ventilated but draught free housing; they need dry bedding – straw is ideal; they need access to fresh water of course, and their housing will need to be cleaned on a daily basis. Pigs tend to use one area as a toilet area, but this will need clearing. Pigs also have problems in hot weather because they can’t sweat, so you need to cool them down in hot weather and also provide somewhere where they can wallow.

Feeding is reasonably straight forward and you can buy very good quality commercial products from agricultural feed merchants. Access to some grazing is recommended, but this can be replaced with additions to the diet. As with dogs and other animals, they will require worming and other treatments and checks to keep them healthy.

Probably the biggest problem of keeping miniature pigs is adhering to regulations. According to the government, even miniature pigs are still livestock, and as such you have to comply with all the associated laws. This means the pig has to be officially registered with Animal Health and to comply with various measures to control the spread of animal viruses. The laws re livestock cover feeding – it is against the law to feed pigs kitchen scraps – and also movement; you will need a license to move a pig to other premises including to a vet’s surgery.

There is also concern about the morality of breeding micro pigs – they are the product of selective breeding and this can have associated welfare problems including an increased risk of deformities. Many hold the belief that selective breeding should not be undertaken just for looks and convenience.

Also, no miniature pig can be guaranteed and there have been instances where people have got their pets home only to find they have grown into full sized animals, or have for some reason developed quite aggressive personalities.

However, without doubt there are many happy miniature pig owners not only in the UK but across the world. Many say that keeping miniature pigs can prove to be a delightful experience, but it is absolutely vital that you take the time to research all aspects thoroughly and take as much advice from varying sources as possible before embarking on this different but potentially rewarding hobby.

Two websites which can help with information include:

www.defra.gov.uk and

http://www.rspca.org.uk

 

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The above article is part of the features section of laterlife.com called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to laterlife.com written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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