Winters nearly here again so I thought id share some advice on how to care for your pig during the winter months.
Before the winter months really kick in you it is recommended that you give there shed or sty a thorough inspection.
A great way to find problems with your pig’s home is to sit in it for a few minutes on a really bad day. You will want to check for any leaks or other possible damage that may let the cold and wet weather in. Repairs might need to be made to help prevent the bad weather from entering their home/sty, and therefore helping to keep your pet nice and warm during the bad weather.
Just remember that if your pigs bedding straw gets damp it will need replacing. If you have to do this regularly due to a leaky roof, or something similar, it will cost you more money in the long run. Make sure you fix any leaks to help prevent their bedding straw from becoming damp and wet.
If the wind really does seem to be getting into you sty it might be worth fixing a door onto their home or constructing a wind break/barrier. If you are lucky enough to own a pig house which is easily moved it might be worth repositioning the door so it’s out of the wind and less prone to the wind or draughts.
Any micro pig owner knows how much pigs love their bedding. Pigs love to immerse in their bedding straw, so make sure they have enough to cover themselves which will help keep them warm during the bad weather. Make sure you frequently check their bedding straw as they will be spending a lot more time inside their home during the winter months. Their bedding straw will breakdown faster during winter so you will need to top it up more regularly than the summer months. Just remember that barley straw is best, it tends to last a lot longer than wheat straw and not break down as quickly.
Mud might also become a problem during those wet and winter months. Deep muddy areas can make it hard for your pet pig to move and can also increase the chance of an injury. Make sure you check the entrances to your pig’s home as these areas are the area’s most likely to get muddy first. Permanent feed and watering areas are also prone to mud build up due to the pigs using them frequently. If mud does become a problem consider moving their feeding troughs and water bowls to hard ground if possible.
Our usual solution to muddy areas is to dump wood bark chippings in the affected areas. This helps provide them with a cleaner and a more stable type of ground to walk on, and it also has the added bonus of aiding the removal of mud from your pig’s feet and pads.
It’s far cheaper to purchase wood bark chipping from a local tree surgeon rather than your big DIY stores like BQ, Homebase, etc, even if you have to pay for delivery. Please be aware that if you buy chippings from a tree surgeon they will need somewhere where their load can be easily dumped upon delivery. The chippings might come on the back of a lorry in a half tonne bag so you need a storage area that’s easily accessible. Also depending on your set up you might need a wheelbarrow to help move the chippings to your pig’s paddock.
Heat Sources and Electrics
You shouldn’t need to use heat lamps or heat mats if you pigs home is watertight and weatherproof. Heat lamps and heat mats can be fire hazard if they are set up incorrectly; also the electrical heat lamps/mats also run the risk of electrocuting your pig if they chew through any cables. It is far safer just to make sure your pig’s home is weatherproof rather than providing them with a powered heat source.
If you do insist on using, or your pig has access to heat lamps, fireplaces, portable heaters, etc make sure that these are guarded properly and correctly installed. Pigs can easily burn themselves on these things so correct setup and guarding is a must.
If you set up any Christmas or holiday lights at your home make sure that any electrical cabling is out of your pet pigs reach. Pigs love to chew things and they can easily chomp through thick electric cables so make sure your pet cannot get access them.
Your pig can still get dehydrated during the cold months so make sure a fresh supply of water is available. During the colder months you will need to make sure that the water source is accessible and free from ice. If you have a watering system that is fed via the mains you may need to switch off when the temperature is expected to drop below freezing. Any water pipes that are outside and above ground are prone to bursting if they are not insulated or covered correctly. If this is a problem switch your watering system off before the freeze and water your animals via a bucket or bowl. It might be more work but this far better than having to fix a burst water pipe on a freezing cold day.
A bucket with low sides in an old car tyre makes an excellent sturdy watering bowl for pigs. You can also throw a few brick and stones in the bottom to make it really sturdy and secure and prevent your pig from tipping it over.
Hope you’ve enjoyed my 5 top winter pig tips. Please feel free to post a comment below.