Things to know before you bring potbellied pigs into your urban homestead


Guest post by Adrienne
My piglets
My piglets

Urban homesteaders raising backyard chickens has been a popular trend for a few years now. Chickens provide companionship, a learning opportunity for kids and fresh eggs! If you have been looking to expand your backyard homestead, you may be thinking of branching out into different farm animals.

Are you thinking of adding a potbellied pig to your homestead? I have had my two potbellied pigs Clem and Tubbs chilling in my backyard for about three years now, here is my advice to help you know if you are ready to bring a pig into your family.

Potbellied pigs are different than hogs

Potbellies are smaller and not traditionally used for meat. They do make a great pet if you have the right environment for them to thrive in.

Keeping pot-bellied pigs as indoor pets

I have heard of people keeping pot-bellied pigs as their indoor pets. They have domesticated them to be able to walk on a leash, sleep on the family couch, and, in the case of a family friend, even take a shower with them! If you want a pot-bellied to be this tame and indoor-friendly you need to start when they are as young as possible. The more time your pigs spend with humans the easier it will be to domesticate them.

Pot bellies like to "root" into the ground in search of bugs and other yummy treats

My pigs are outdoors only — and for good reason. Here is the thing, they will root — even indoors. They'll dig up your tile or flooring, and possibly make a snack out of your drywall. So be prepared to have a special space for your pig where they can root to their hearts content. Otherwise they will destroy your garden and landscaping.

Space for your piggies

Pigs like to roam — especially mine. You need to make sure their area is properly secured. We have an electric fence to keep them in their large pen, otherwise they will wander into my neighbor's yards or worse, onto the busy road. Make sure you have the proper environment to keep your pigs safe and secured. It is not an easy feat to round up a wild pig. Trust me!

Make sure you have access to a nearby vet and feed

If you have the right space, and, after reading this, you still want an adorable little piggy, another consideration is to make sure you have a vet nearby who knows how to properly treat a sick pig, and administrate the proper vaccinations they may need. You also need to make sure you have a feed store is nearby to purchase the proper grain for your pig.

They will eat pretty much anything

Our pigs make great little composters. They are all over any leftover food that is about to go bad, food scraps, and garden waste! The only thing they don't seem to like are Brussels sprouts and other brassicas.

If you have the resources and you are ready to welcome a pig into your family there are some benefits of pig-ownership. They make wonderful pets — our pigs love to be pet, scratched and loved on. And if you have the right environment for them, you should definitely consider a backyard pig.

Any other pot-bellied pig owners out there? What are your pieces of piggie advice?

  1. I was all excited reading this, being a farm girl living in the city. Urban pig rearing sounds like a blast! But what do you do with potbellied pig output?

  2. Awesome post! There are a decent number of pot bellied pogs given up to specialized animal rescues, so also see if you can adopt them!

  3. There's a lot of warnings I wish were included in this article, but I'll offer one of the main ones: there is not really such a thing as mini/micro/tiny potbellied pig. Either the breeder is lying to you and these pigs will grow to full size or the pigs are poorly bred for traits that will lead to poor life quality and sickness (many "miniature" breeds suffer from this). I realize the author did not mention mini-potbellies, but anyone searching along the lines of "pet pig backyard" will be lead to sites selling them.

    Do your research and then do even more research! Pigs can be very sweet and companionable, but most folks would be better off with a dog or other animal more intended to be a pet. Pigs are smart, can be manipulative, and can throw their considerable weight around and lead to accidental injury of their owners. Also check your local ordinances in regards to what kind of animal can be kept in a residential area.

    Sorry, it's me, I'm the killjoy, but pigs can be tricky! I hope everyone who goes the piggy route finds a lovely adventure in swine-related tending, and may your pigs be oinky and happy for their long lives.

    EDITED TO ADD: If you're hell bent towards pigdom, please also check out the Kunekune breed. They're small (relatively speaking as pigs are still big), smart, and fuzzy!

  4. I know nothing about pigs, so please correct me in necessary, but since it wasn't in the article: I guess pigs are pretty social animals. Will one alone get lonely? I think they need a companion, right?

  5. As the owner of a 3 year old 25lb indoor pig I might be able to offer some insight on having a pet pig in the house. Please note this is my personal experience and since every puppy does not eat your couch and every kitten does not climb your blinds keep in mind this is how it has been for me.

    The first question you have to ask yourself is would you like a toddler that never grows old throws daily tantrums and is constantly vying for your attention? Will you love them the same at 10lbs as your would at 140lbs? Are you prepared to have trouble finding places to live and constantly trying to "out-smart" your manipulative little friend? Having a pig as an indoor pet can be an uphill battle, one that I could no longer imagine living without. I have raised her since she was 8 weeks old through many trials and tribulations. Screaming every hour in the middle of the night for cuddles, pushing up all the heat vents trying to get even warmer, only storing foods above knee height, massive patches in the lawn where she has rooted up all the grass, peeled corners off of cheap furniture, more screaming and tantrums, constant squeaking sounds of grinding teeth, peeing on anything with texture on her hooves (read:all carpet), peeing in clean laundry baskets, peeing when she is angry, peeing when she feels pretty, hurt feelings and bad days, her being very picky about who comes and goes in "her space", the list goes on. Pigs are opinionated, intelligent, affectionate, and do not like change. As an autistic adult, she is perfect for me. I can relate to a lot of her attitudes and behaviors. I understand her distress at changes in routine or changes in and around our home. When I first brought her home it took a full day of me sitting on the floor with her for her to trust me enough to eat from my hand. Our bond strengthened every day. In the last 3 years I have grown in her heart as she has grown in mine. Anytime I am sitting she wants to sit with me (correction: on me). Curled up in the most awkward ways imaginable. Her preference is to have her snout buried deep in my armpit. She always jumps out of her blanket forts to greet when when I get home. She smiles, she cries, we have even caught her "singing" along to Disney movies. She requires mental stimulation and daily affection. She can learn tricks easily and will perform them if the reward is "good enough". On cold nights she will sleep in the bed sometimes even under my pillow. She loves to have her hair brushed and during the winter has a 6 inch mohawk that she can stick up or down to show her emotions. Once a month she gets bathed. We tried baths, she wasn't too keen. Her preference is to be held tight against your body in the shower. (She loves it so much she closes her eyes sometimes even falling asleep). The perfect cadence of her breathing as she is laying next to you is the absolute best way to relax and usually leads to an utterly calm nap. There have definitely been hard days with her but she has helped me through my hard days and I will be there for hers. I love her to pieces and I can't imagine life without her.

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