Sometimes a new blog idea comes to me in the strangest of ways! Sincerely, I have no idea how some of these topics come to mind! However, most of the topics arrive at my doorstep because of many passionate and dedicated pet pig parent's that reach out to me directly with questions and concerns for their piggies. Some I am able to answer or direct them to a better source for their specific problem and others really do need to seek advise from veterinarians, or multiple vets in some cases. With that said, this week I had a very honest and intriguing topic come up that I know plagues the pet pig world as much as it does farmers and commercial swine. As much as the majority of the "pet pig world" despises commercial hog farmers, there are things that we need to look for in their practices and carry them over in to our pet pigs health. Understand on some level, that hog farmers have been at this a lot longer than the pet pig community has. They know the ups and downs, they know health issues, how to best treat some and what will and wont work. Although there will always be some issues we hope to eradicate with commercial hog farmers, we also need to take a page from their book on other topics. Today's blog post is exactly one of those topics...
Videos that provide an excellent example of the methods we touched on...
An example of working with your pig or training it to be comfortable with routine, non restrained, hoof trimming.
An example of putting the pig on it's back to trim hooves and administer vaccines. Done by Dr Christina Wilson DVM of Equiheart Veterinary Services out of New Jersey. Video posted here with permission of Dr Wilson. (2015)
This video is presented by Zinpro Corporation. It is a hoof trimming of a sow, in the Feet First Chute. Please visit their website video library for further educational guides and materials.
I recently had a discussion with someone through email regarding the "projected size" of their so called micro pig. They were floored and appalled that the breeder would tell them that their new piglet would stay under 25 pounds full grown. I was frankly quite appalled! They were also instructing them to feed elder mini pig feed to a piglet and about the size of a shot glass twice a day with no other food. I couldn't believe it and had to slowly coach this new friend back to reality. Reality was... this cute 5 month old pig was already ripping out her drywall inside her home. I have heard many a tales of owners finding out the truth that their cute babies wont stay as small as breeders told them, then coming to grips with it. But this time, I found myself smack dab in the middle of trying to assist this person through the process. We love our pigs but that reality can be hard to stomach when you were conned in to the purchase and everything you thought you knew is no longer true.
I also had a friend reach out to me privately awhile back because she knew I had an ongoing issue with a somewhat local, mini animal breeder, who also runs a large scale petting zoo (they are out of Smithfield, VA). I started having issues with her sale ads almost 2 years ago now. She started a side business with another family to breed and raise mini animals that would make it in to her petting zoo and act as another venture for her to make money off the animals. As soon as the animals were no longer super tiny and cute, they were sold off. Not only was she processing these pets through her petting zoo like processing meat through a plant, just to make money, but she was yanking them from their mother at just a day or two old and forcing them in to her traveling petting zoos. That is a health risk to the animal at such a young age that has not developed the proper antibodies, which they wont just get from colostrum. But the ultimate issue is the behavior of this "so called breeder," it is just deplorable! She also habitually lies about the projected size of her animals and breeds runts to runts in an attempt to create a smaller pig. Anyways, my friend reached out to me for assistance in trying to shed some light on this individual and her business. She wasn't as familiar with them as I was but she was slowly seeing the problem. When I went after this lady and her improper business practices a year and a half ago, I had no crowd standing behind me willing to help out in numbers, to speak out. I was too new in this area and they ended up threatening me with a cease and desist letter from their so called lawyer. However, I did call up the lawyer and give them an earful about how there was no way he could take any action against me or request of me to take down social media posts on a private profile and that he could go shove it. Lets just say I never heard back from that clown! I still hurl the facts out from time to time at this lady and her so called business on social media, but it has become a lot more infrequent. Since I stopped breeding pigs (Vietnamese) myself, the pigs stopped being front and center for my farm as I do have other livestock and horses. I also felt that it was a battle I could not fight alone knowing that this lady had thousands of blind followers that knew nothing about animals or proper animal husbandry; she acquired them all from the petting zoo venture. The sad part, she claims to be a big christian and every thing on her website contradicts what is actually going on. I will openly admit that she does medically care for her animals but her breeding practices are so unethical, she needs to be shut down as quick as possible! I will forever stand behind my statements regarding this lady and her breeding practices until the day her doors close or she starts singing a new tune and becomes more educated in her breeding endeavors.
Back to the reason I stopped breeding mini pigs... I felt that with all the lies out there surrounding these mini variations and so many now ending up in shelters or rescues, that it was unethical of me to continue. I was one of the few breeders that not only didn't stretch the truth or flat out lie about the piglets projected size but I tried and still do, to desperately educate any prospective owners on what a mini pig really is, their health needs, their nutrition requirements, housing needs, social/training needs, and what owners need to expect. I always had and still have, an open door policy with all my animals. I am always here for support, questions and further education. Just last week I was at a local business giving an educational talk to it's employees about care and what to expect, as they decided to take on some unwanted mini pigs. Regardless of my passion in educating owners and finding a proper match, it is still not ethical of me to breed knowing that there are so many unwanted piglets out there due to other breeder's lies and deception. The ultimate issue here is, it has become a national growing concern on many platforms.
At first I thought it was very localized situation, in some of the more farmland and rural type communities, but it is not. The problem has grown in to our metropolitan areas and highly populated cities; it has become a worldwide issue. If you can recall, Paris Hilton and George Clooney started the "Micro Pig" celebrity trend back in the early 2000's. Paris primarily claimed to have a "designer pocket pig" that could fit in her purse and she could take it every where with her. Although the piglet was very small when she first obtained it, mostly due to being yanked and bottle fed at a startlingly young age, it is safe to say her "designer pig" is now over 200 lbs. She was told by the breeder that it would stay under 30 pounds full grown. Not only are these Posh Pigs type breeders unsafe to buy from, but the web of lies that they spin is mind boggling. They also tell you that if your pig grows over the measly projected poundage, you have overfed your animal and it is now obese. They always recommend to drastically underfeed their pigs in order to stunt their growth (they wont admit it stunts their growth); they usually offer a shot glass or measured equivalent for the daily food measurement. This, leads to organ failure, just so you are aware. Would you starve your children to keep them small? We thought not! There are children's books, TV shows, news clips and internet controversy over these types of breeders and their pigs every where you turn now. There are so many people who have been preyed upon by these breeders wanting to make money off their lies, that the animals and families suffer. How much money you ask? Some of these so called designer pig breeders ask anywhere from $5,000 to $1,200 a piglet. Of course a lot of them also ship, which is extra and even more unsafe for the animals. Lets just get it out there, that pigs are NOT puppies! Their needs, behaviors and temperaments are wildly different!
If you have ever roamed my website you can clearly see that I am openly opposed to these types of breeders and their inhumane practices. My warnings are every where. I will say it again in this blog... Please understand that the terms "Micro", "Nano", "Pocket", "Designer", "Toy" and "Teacup" are ONLY made up marketing ploys to peak your interest and feed you the size lie. These labels sincerely do NOT exist! All form and variations of Pot Belly Pigs (Vietnamese Pot Bellies) although "mini" in comparison, can grow to be anywhere between 60 lbs to 250 lbs and still not be obese, this includes Juliana's who breeders still like to claim stay WAY smaller and it just isn't true, as they too are a mixed breed. They all originate from the farm hog that weighed in at over 800-1200 lbs. Just like humans, each pig is an individual and looking at the parents in this case, is not a good representation of what your pet will eventually look like! Because most breeders breed their sow and boar (breeding stock) at extreme and unhealthy young ages (before one year of age), they are not fully grown and will NOT reflect the size of your piglet. It is like babies having babies in the human world. Would we consider a 12 year old child full grown? No, so we cannot expect that of the breeding stock. Don't be fooled!
I have compiled some videos and links so you can see some of the individuals that have specifically fallen victim to the breeders ploy. The breeders will tell you that we are incorrect and these descriptive size terms do in fact exist. I repeat, they do not. There are some smaller pigs developing out there but they are unhealthy and they most likely wont live to see their 5th birthday. A healthy pig should and could live to 20 years of age. The small variations that do manage to stay on the more miniscule side, are inbred so bad that they eventually die of organ failure. This is heart breaking to watch and expensive to try and save, when in reality, there is nothing you can do. Let these educational videos be your guide as opposed to my opinions and experiences. See the mini pig through the eyes of all the other owners out there. I personally love my pet pigs that are part of my farm but I have always known what to expect and how to raise them. My pigs, pictured at the top of the blog, regardless of size are healthy, happy, loved and enjoy our farm, us and my other animals immensely. But most people do not have the luxury of owning a farm. Pigs do not belong in apartments, condos or rentals of any type. They are simply too destructive and it is not their fault, it is normal pig behavior. Please visit all the Mini Pig Facebook Groups that are out there for educational purposes and watch our Facebook page and website for more reading material. If you need more help, please feel free to reach out to us!
With every thing in life, please do your homework first! Being educated is the best thing we can do for ourselves, our families and the health of all involved. The truth is out there, it's damming but real! This is only a small list too, I found more than 200 sites claiming false advertising of these pigs. Please be smart enough to distinguish fact from fiction.
www.petpigeducation.com (The Size Myth)
Nat Geo Article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/09/140930-animals-culture-science-miniature-pigs-breeders-sanctuaries/
Vet Street Article: http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/why-i-cringe-when-i-hear-a-client-bought-a-teacup-pig
Southern Fried Science, Article written by a Biologist: http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=13808
The Dodo Blog: https://www.thedodo.com/whats-misleading-about-the-tea-843842300.html
Care2 Article: http://os.care2.com/all/how-the-mini-pig-trend-is-causing-big-pig-trouble#1
The Daily Mail, a UK Article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1327917/Call-micropig-Cute-litttle-piglets-turning-oversize-porkers.html
One Green Planet Website: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/why-you-should-think-twice-before-buying-a-teacup-pig/
Columbia University Article: http://columbianewsservice.com/2010/02/miniature-pet-pigs-may-be-too-good-to-be-true/
Teacup's Fact or Fiction: http://www.teacuppig.info/
The Hog Blog...
Jodi will be keeping up the blog but we are more interested in guest bloggers! Please contact us via email if you may be interested! Check back to see who our guest blogger is and what topic we will be exploring.