Pigs, just like sheep and goats, are cloven-hoofed animals. So it’s necessary to trim their feet whenever the need arises.
If left untreated, overgrown hooves will cause ligament damage and an increased chance of severe arthritis later in life. Also, it places extra stress on the pig’s bones and joints.
Hoof care for pigs can be a difficult job to do. A lot depends on how tame your pet is, and if they’re used to you touching their feet. However, there are solutions to problem pigs and preventative measures you can take to help minimise the chances of hoof trimming being necessary. We shall discuss these later in the chapter.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of trimming your pig’s feet then it might be worth getting the vet to show you how it’s done.
Tools for the Job
Make sure you buy a good pair of hoof clippers that are nice and sharp. We usually use foot rot shears; however, I’ve known people use rose clippers, goat trimmers, sheep trimmers and horse trimmers. Don’t buy cheap as pig hooves are notoriously tough and hard to cut, so make sure you buy the best quality tools for the job.
Secateurs can also be used on hooves; they have a long blade which can be used on a pig when it’s standing. If your pigs don’t like their hooves being trimmed then these can help. You can use them to snip the odd bit off when they’re drinking or feeding.
A cordless Dremel type tool is also handy, to smooth cut edges and shape the hoof. Just be careful with these though as the sound of the tool can make pigs nervous – introducing it slowly over a period of time and hoof treatments should accustom them to the noise.
Whatever tools you use make sure they’re of good quality. Pig hooves are usually very hard and tough to cut. Hoof trimming can be distressing enough for owners and their pigs, so make sure you have a good pair of clippers that will allow you to complete the task as quickly as possible.
Hoof Care and Piglets
If you want to make regular hoof care easy, it’s best to start training your pig when they’re young. You need to get your pet accustomed to you touching their feet; you don’t want them to panic when you start to use the hoof clippers on them.
To start foot training you should play with your piglet’s feet, when they’re lying down on their side. To start the training you should:
- Scratch your piglet’s belly to try to make them fall onto their side.
- Once down, start touching the feet.
- Gently pick up the hooves and move them around slightly – try to replicate the motions that you might use when performing a trim.
- If piggy becomes nervous just go back to scratching the belly and leave the feet alone for a little while, once they’re comfortable again just repeat the process of touching their hooves.
- After a few days or weeks of this, they will have become used to you touching their hooves. Once this has happened, you’ll need to get your pig used to the sensation of the hoof clippers.
- While your pig is lying down and letting you play with its feet, just try touching their hoof with the clippers. Try scraping the clippers gently against their hoof, you can also try nipping the tips (you’re not aiming to remove anything from the hoof, at this stage, you are simply introducing your pig to the sensation).
When performing training like this it’s a good idea to talk to your pig in a reassuring and calm manner throughout. This will help to keep them calm and let them know they’re being good. Once you are finished give them a little bit of a treat for being well-behaved.
Training your piglet in this way makes hoof care a lot easier. You will really appreciate this once your pig is fully grown. You can still train tame adult pigs to get used to the sensation of hoof trimming, however the process usually takes a bit longer.
When it comes to this sort of training, some pigs will tolerate it, others won’t. Only time will tell which one yours is, and whether he’ll be happy to have his feet trimmed without restraint
Here’s another good video demonstrating the technique:
This is just a brief guide. If you’d like more details you should consider getting a copy of my book. In my guide, I show you how to trim problem pig feet and untamed animals piggy hooves. You can get a copy from Amazon by clicking here.
Do you have a special technique for dealing with piggy feet? Why not share it in the comments below.