Understanding Pig Behavior – Critical When Handling and Dealing With Your Pigs
Raising pigs can be difficult, especially for first time pig owners. Pigs are intelligent, independent animals that are generally easy to handle, until one begins to act up. Once a pig begins to behave in an unusual, or even a violent way, many pig owners become frustrated and confused as to how to properly handle the situation. This is why pig owners need to have a good understanding of common pig behaviors, in order to properly care for the animals.
Common Pig Behaviors:
Pigs are usually very independent creatures. While they may enjoy interacting with each other, they do not need a lot of human interaction. Unless they have been handled since birth and kept as a pet, they only require shelter, food, and water from their owners. However, they will usuallly tolerate human interaction, but should be approached with great care.
Pigs like to play and wade in mud and shallow water. Pigs can easily become hot when exposed to the sun for long periods of time. This is because a pig’s sweat glands are located on their snouts, instead of their skin. Therefore, to protect and cool their skin, pigs will get mud on their skin, which will protect them from sun exposure and work as a cooling agent.
Pigs also like to bring treasures back to their shelter or home. They will bring debris that they find in their pen, pull up plants, and basically carry anything that they find amusing to their shelter. Therefore, pig owners should not plant flowers or plants within a pig’s reach or they will be sure to find them uprooted. This is an instinctual behavior and is done to provide food for the other pigs, even when they are supplied with adequate food.
Another interesting thing about pigs is that they can be trained. They are very intelligent animals with a sharp sense of smell. In fact, they are the fourth smartest mammal, right after dolphins and whales. They can be taught to fetch or even do tricks, like jump on command. To train a pig, it’s owner would simply need to use positive reinforcement, like treats, the same way as they would when training a dog.
Negative Pig Behaviors:
Unfortunately, pigs can also exhibit some unusual or baffling behaviors. One very normal, but somewhat confusing behavior is when a female pig suddenly begins distancing herself from the herd. When a female pig, or sow, becomes pregnant, she will begin to distance herself from the other animals. Generally, when this happens, the female pig will also begin to build a nest out of dirt, mud, sticks, leaves, and other debris. She will usually do this away from the herd and may begin to seem restless. If a sow begins to exhibit this behavior, her owner should take it as a strong hint that she may be expecting.
Pigs are also very playful animals. They are not the lazy, dirty animals that many people assume. Pigs like to explore their surroundings. Unfortunately, pigs also like to explore the surroundings outside of their pen. Because pigs are such intelligent and large animals, this can be a big problem for pig owners.
In order to keep pigs from running away, they should be kept in pens that are sturdy and large enough for them to roam. Pigs will chew through pens or even simply destroy them if they feel the need to escape. Therefore a pen should be extremely durable, large, and include mud pits, pens, and other amenities that will keep the pigs happy.
Pigs are very social creatures that live in groups, called herds. Within these herds are hierarchies. A male pig will be the leader of the herd, until another male takes his place. Unfortunately, changes in hierarchy do not only occur when the leader dies.
If two males begin to fight, push, and become agitated, it is best to let these males work it out amongst themselves, as this is a natural behavior and interference could cause a disturbance amongst the herd. Fortunately, with the correct knowledge, pig owners will know what to do to handle these situations and properly care for their pigs.