Juliana Miniature Pig Care
Juliana Mini pigs usually stand 14-19 in at the shoulders and are 24-30 in (0.6-0.8 m) long. Miniature pigs reach half their adult weight by about 1 year of age and will continue to grow slightly until 4-5 years of age, when their growth plates completely fuse. The life span of miniature pigs typically ranges between 8-15 years, with a maximum life expectancy of 20-21 years. Mini pigs begin puberty as early as 2-4 months of age.
Many cities, counties and municipalities do not allow livestock, including pet pigs, within their boundaries. As livestock, miniature pig transport is also regulated by strict rules that may differ from state to state. Most states require a health certificate signed by an accredited veterinarian. Many states also require pigs be tested for pseudorabies and brucellosis before a health certificate can be issued.
Wild pigs are opportunistic omnivores, eating roots, berries, and whatever else they can expose with their snout and hooves. Free-ranging pigs forage for food by grazing and rooting for approximately 7 hours each day.
Domestic pigs will eat almost anything, but pet pigs should be fed diets specially formulated for pet pigs. Complete feeds are available from a variety of manufacturers, including Ralston Purina’s Mazuri® Mini-Pig and Heartland and Ross Mill Farm’s Champion™ Premium Pet Pig Food. Commercial hog feeds are formulated to produce rapid growth over a relatively short time period and should not be fed to pet animals.
Feeds are often classified as a starter ration (for piglets in the process of being weaned), grower (fed until puberty), breeder, or maintenance. Maintenance rations are started at about 8 weeks and they contain approximately 12% protein, 2% fat, and 12–15% fiber.
Pigs easily gain weight and cannot be fed free choice. Food should be fed in measured amounts. Adult pigs should be fed approximately 2–3% body weight on a daily basis. Small meals in multiple locations encourage activity and exercise.
~1 cup complete pig chow for every 50 lb (23 kg) of pig
Divide this volume into at least 2 daily feedings
For pigs that spend some time indoors, a rooting box is also recommended. Create a rooting box from a low, roomy container, like a child’s wading pool or the bottom half of a kennel crate, filled with a layer of large, smooth stones. Offer dry pig feed and treats in the rooting box to promote foraging behavior and provide stimulation. Clean the rooting box monthly or when it gets wet. Feeder puzzles can also challenge pet pigs. Cardboard boxes and crumpled newspapers can be used to hide food items and commercially available enrichment toys are also available like the Kong® Wobbler (Kong Company, Golden, CO, USA), Busy Buddy™ Kibble Nibble™ and Magic Mushroom™ (PetSafe, Knoxville TN USA), as well as The Manna Ball and Buster® Cube.
Secure food and water bowls to the ground so the pig cannot climb in the dishes or tip them over. Place the bowls on an easily cleaned surface, like a shower stall or a large, shallow tray. Even though pigs can get messy as they go back and forth between food and water dishes, it is important to offer plenty of water. Restricted access to water can lead to health problems like bladder infections and bladder stones.
Treats may include small amounts of:
- Grass hay (fiber to help control hunger)
- Fresh vegetables like celery or lettuce
- High-water content fresh fruit (grapes,
watermelon, etc.) cut into pieces
- Dry, unsalted popcorn
- Whole grain cereal (no sugar coating)
Adult PBPs are most comfortable at environmental temperatures ranging between 60–75ºF (15–24ºC) with a humidity of 50%. Pigs are incapable of sweating and they are susceptible to overheating at temperatures exceeding 85ºF (30ºC). Pigs will begin to pant as they get warm, but this is often insufficient for cooling. Fans and water for wallowing should also be provided when it’s hot. Water for soaking and cooling outdoors should be provided in a separate container from drinking water. Shade is also important because pigs have sensitive skin that can sunburn.
Strict indoor life (e.g. apartment dwelling) is never a good option for pet pigs. Pigs restricted to the indoors will root on objects like carpet and walls. While pigs are indoors, provide a designated rooting area and/or rooting box (see Diet above) to minimize destruction and confine pigs to a pig-safe room when they are unsupervised. All house pigs should spend several hours each day outdoors exploring and rooting the ground. The outdoor pen should be at least 8 x 15 feet (2.5 x 4.5 m) per pig, although more space promotes more exploration and
exercise. Pigs are strong and intelligent, so fencing and enclosures need to be strong and secure. Suggested fencing materials include wood, chain link, hog panels, and T posts. Pigs will also attempt to dig under the fencing, so at least 1 foot (30 cm) of mesh fence should extend beneath the ground.
The pen should include a clean, dry, draft free insulated “pig house” for sleeping and nesting, measuring approximately 6 square feet (2 square meters). The floor should ideally be lined with linoleum or tile. During the cold winter months, a commercial pig heating blanket or a heat lamp safely placed out of reach are recommended. Provide proper nesting material to improve footing like old blankets or comforters, sleeping bags, hay, straw or hardwood shavings (avoid cedar). Bedding must also be deep enough to allow for rooting or for the animal to completely cover itself. Replace wet or dirty bedding daily. Pigs are highly social animals that can demonstrate aggression and dominance, which often stems from territorial disputes, like defending a prized sleeping space. For this reason, pot-bellied pigs are not recommended in households with small children. Miniature pigs should also not be left unsupervised with dogs. A startled pig will instinctively run away while squealing, which can elicit a natural predatory response in some dogs.
Vaccination should be performed for both indoor and outdoor pet pigs. Routine vaccines for adult pets may include: erysipelas, leptospirosis, and pleuropneumonia. Depending on your pig’s risk of exposure, your veterinarian may also recommend vaccines for Mycoplasma, Bordetella, Pasteurella, swine influenza, and tetanus. Young pigs begin a vaccination schedule between 6–8 weeks of age. The initial series consists of 2 injections, 3–4 weeks apart. Vaccines are then administered semiannually or annually.
Sexual behavior begins very early in pigs—before weaning—and can include: unpredictable behavior, aggression, rooting destruction, and mounting behaviors. Intact pigs can also be difficult to housetrain, and intact boars also give off a strong odor. Spaying and neutering is recommended to improve pet quality, reduce destructive behavior, and prevent uterine infections and tumors in female pigs.
Pigs are able to reproduce at a young age. Male pigs are fertile between 6-12 weeks of age, and females can cycle as early as 10-12 weeks. Surgery is often recommended between 8-12 weeks of age, but can be performed as early as 6 weeks.
Most pet pigs require periodic hoof trimming.
Pet pigs usually urinate and defecate at a single latrine site separate from sleep and food areas. Therefore mini pigs can be trained to use a litter pan. The pan should be placed at the opposite end of the room from the sleep and rest areas. The pan must be large enough for the pig to turn around completely and shallow enough to allow easy access. A shallow child’s pool with a cut out entry way can be used as long as it is secured to the ground. Older pigs prefer to go outside to eliminate.
Gradually familiarize your pig with wearing a harness (specifically designed for pigs) and walking on a leash. Introduce the harness while your pig is eating a meal or favorite treat.
Regular walks provide a great form of exercise, but are not a replacement for somewhere to dig. Allowing your pig to walk over a concrete surface daily can help wear down the hooves.
Acclimating your pig to a carrier is useful for trips to the veterinarian. Feed your pig in the crate for several weeks before the car trip. You can also teach your pig to walk up a ramp into the vehicle.
Pigs are usually quiet animals but they will squeal and struggle when firmly restrained (or when frightened or begging for food). Scratching or petting your pig’s neck, sides or belly can help to keep him calm.
- Hold a small to medium-sized pig by placing one hand beneath the rump and the other hand in front of the forelimbs and under the neck.
- Do NOT pick up miniature pigs by the legs as shoulder, lower back, and leg injuries can occur.
- Since regular hoof trims are required, teach young pigs to tolerate their feet being handled. Also teach pigs to roll onto their sides and reward them with a belly rub or treat.
Pigs are intelligent animals. Training basic skills (e.g. sit, stay, come) and even trick training, provides enrichment and mental stimulation. Pigs can also be taught to target and manipulate objects. Behavioral problems, like aggression or dominance displays, are more likely to occur in pigs that are not properly trained or socialized.
Obesity is a very common problem in pet pigs that is often associated with free choice feeding and lack of exercise. Obesity contributes to heart disease, respiratory disease, excessive skin folds around the eyelids that cause vision problems, and lameness.
Minimize the risk of obesity in your pet pigs with:
- Meal feedings
- Avoidance of feeding table scraps
- Measured feedings
- Low-calorie treats
If possible, weigh your pig regularly at home. You can also evaluate your pig body condition. It should be easy to feel each individual rib underneath the skin.
Be mindful of the risk of household hazards. Exposure to toxins is common in pet pigs due to their voracious appetite, strength, and rooting behavior, which allows them to access protected areas in the home (like closed cabinets or the area behind the refrigerator).
Arthritis is very common in pet pigs and the condition often involves the shoulder and elbow joints. Obesity increases the risk of arthritis. Preventive measures include good hoof care, non-slip walking surfaces, adequate bedding, and weight control.