Pot-bellied pigs are a big commitment; they have many needs, and they can live 20 years or more. Unlike production pigs, which can weigh up to 900 pound, most mature potbellied pigs weigh between 100 and 250 pounds. They’re typically less than 20 inches tall. Check your zoning laws and homeowner’s association regulations to be sure you can legally keep pot-bellied pigs. Pot-bellied pigs can live full-time in a safe outdoor enclosure or inside the home — Those who live indoors need plenty of time outdoors.

Pot-Bellied Pig Housing

In the house, pot-bellied pigs need a space of their own with a bed, pillow or blankets. This space may be a large dog crate, a closet or a quiet room. If you have more than one pig, or other pets in the household, each should have his own bed. Some pigs like to sleep together; others prefer to sleep alone and should have the option to do so.

Pot-bellied pigs are intelligent, playful and curious, so you need to pig-proof your home by clearing items from low shelves the pig can reach. Put a latch on cabinets and the refrigerator, as pigs will attempt to open these doors if they see that they are where their food comes from.

Place potted plants on tables out of a pig’s reach.

Create an indoor rooting box for your pig using rocks or balls. Teach your pig to use the box by sprinkling treats in it. Give you pig plenty of toys. Good toys include old magazines, old shoes and clothes, balls, dog and cat toys, and toys that can be filled with treats.

You can potty-train a pig to go outside in the yard or in a litter box in the house. Pigs don’t like to step over things, so make sure that at least one side of the litter box has a low edge. Fill the box with pine shavings, old towels or pads. Train your pig to use the litter box by placing him in the box when he wakes and after he eats. If you catch your pig eliminating outside the box, pick him up and place him in the box to finish.

Outdoor Enclosures

Indoor pigs need plenty of time outdoors to root and get necessary nutrients from the soil. Some pigs will prefer to live outdoors most of the time. Pigs do not climb or jump, so the fence or enclosure walls do not need to be more than 4 feet tall. Your pig should have shelter and bedding. You can use a pillow, blankets or timothy hay for outdoor bedding. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your pig needs access to a heated shelter. Unlike people, pigs do not sweat and cannot cool themselves. In warm weather, your pig needs access to shade and water, such as a wading pool, where he can keep cool.

Feeding Requirements

Provide commercial feed formulated for pot-bellied pigs. The protein content should not exceed 14 percent, so dog food is not an appropriate diet for your pig. Pigs should be fed an average of 1.5 and 2 cups of food per day, divided into at least two meals. The amount varies based on your pig’s size and activity level.

You can give your pig leafy vegetables and iceberg lettuce as a snack. Fresh fruits and vegetables can also be given as snacks, but they may cause your pig to gain weight. Feed fewer fruits and vegetables if your pig grazes on the grass in your yard.

At his ideal weight, you should be able to feel a pot-bellied pig’s hip bone through the layer of muscle when you gently press with your fingers. If you have to search for the bone through layers of fat, your pig is overweight. Adjust his diet and exercise levels to maintain a healthy weight. Pigs need access to fresh water at all times, both indoors and out.

Training and Exercise

Pigs need exercise to maintain a healthy weight and to prevent destructive behavior. Encourage movement and engage your pig is to hide food or scatter it around the yard. This allows them to root and move around the property in search of more food. You can also walk your pig with a harness and leash, and you can train them to sit and shake using treats and praise, just as you would train a dog.


A potbellied pig enjoys playing with toys, just as other pets, such as dogs and cats do. Potbellies are quite intelligent and enjoy toys that are challenging, especially if they contain small pig treats or pig chow inside for his reward in solving the puzzle. Heavy, rubber dog treat dispensing toys are among the favorite toys for potbellied pigs. Also, pigs naturally love to root with their noses and enjoy toys and games that let them explore surroundings as they would in the wild. Hiding pig pellets or small treats in blankets allow your pig to root around with his nose to find them. Pigs also love a dirt box to root in on an outdoor patio so they can find a favorite toy or treats in it. Potbellied pigs require daily exercise and engaging activities to stay mentally and physically healthy according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.

Health Care Requirements

Before getting a pot-bellied pig, locate a veterinarian in your area who accepts pigs as patients.Treatment methods for pot-bellied pigs are different than those used in farm animals, so a farm vet may not be appropriate. Common diseases among potbellied pigs include Campylobacteriosis, Atrophic rhinitis, Ringworm, Salmonella, and Yersiniosis.

Vaccinate your pig every year against hemophiles, pleuro pneumonia, rhinitis and erysipelas with the vaccine Pleurogard 4 and against microplasma pneumonia with the vaccine Respisure. Deworm your pot-bellied pig with ivermectin.

Most pot-bellied pig health problems are a result of improper diet. Underfed pigs may die from malnutrition. Overweight pigs may develop arthritis or heart problems, or may go blind. Stress can also kill a pig. If your pig is stressed for more than a couple of minutes, he may be experiencing porcine stress syndrome. Some symptoms of stress include squealing, grunting or making a clicking sound in the mouth; flinging his head from side to side; raising his hackles and twitching his tail. It is critical that you calm him down by removing the thing causing stress and covering him with a blanket.


A hog on the loose can be a fearsome sight. Pigs — as anyone who has ever tried to catch one knows — are emphatically not slow. As such, it is important to keep your hogs under control and moving where you want them to go, not where they want to go. One of the crucial times in moving swine is loading and unloading them from a trailer. If the ramp you use to get the pigs in and out is too steep, they won’t travel up it. Using angle iron and treated wood, you can make a hog ramp that will keep your pigs going in the right direction for years.

Measure the height of your stock trailer and the dimension of the doors. Your ramp will need to come up to the level of the floor of the stock trailer.

Calculate the distance of your hog ramp. Divide the height by 3 — this will give you the number of feet the ramp ought to extend from the trailer (For a 6-in. trailer height, your ramp will be 2 feet long, for a 12-in. height, 4 feet long, etc). Multiply this figure by 1.04 to attain an angle of approximately 15 degrees for your hog ramp. 15 degrees may seem shallow, but it is best to have a shallow angle — domestic hogs don’t like steep ramps.

Cut two pieces of angle iron to the final length attained above. Cut two more pieces to the width of your trailer doors. Weld them all together to form a rectangle such that the profile of the angle iron is like an “L” with one side facing the ground, and extending toward the interior of the rectangle.

Cut and weld legs to your ramp. Cut the legs such that each set will extend 4 ft. above the surface of the ramp. Attach the set of legs at the top end of the ramp first by blocking it up the correct height above the ground, placing the legs on the ground and checking for plumb with a level, then welding them in place. Repeat the procedure for each set of legs. At the bottom of the ramp, weld two upright pieces of angle iron in place and attach a brace from it to the next set of legs with another piece of angle iron.

Cut treated lumber in pieces the width of the ramp and lay it in place. Make sure the boards fit loosely to allow for swelling and contraction with heat and cold.

Position a section of fence on the inside of the legs so that it overlaps each end of the ramp and is flush with the decking of the ramp. Tack weld it in place at multiple points, then trim the ends with a bolt cutter or acetylene torch. Repeat on the other side.


You may want to integrate a level portion of ramp to allow your trailer doors to open and close above the ramp. Build a platform in a similar manner to that described above, but without legs that extend above the decking of the ramp. Build the platform to the width of your trailer doors. That way, when you open the doors and tie them to the upright legs of the ramp, they form part of the fence that directs the hogs onto the trailer. When the hogs are loaded, simply unfasten and close the trailer doors.


If pigs call your farm home, make sure the size of their pen is dependent adequate. The size depends on the number of pigs you intend to keep. Ensure there’s plenty of space for pigs to roam around, eat and defecate. Also, it’s important to build pens in well-ventilated areas, as unventilated areas can cause poor health.

How to Build a Pig Pen

Lay out your cedar posts, mocking up how large you’d like your pig pen. Make sure all sides are parallel and lined up. The pig pen can be designed to be square or rectangle. Leave room for the gated entrance.

Dig a hole for the first post. This hole will act as a guide for the rest of your holes. Place the first post into the hole and attach the first cedar rail into the cedar post. Cedar posts can be purchased with these holes precut into the sides.

Continue working your way around the perimeter, digging holes and placing the cedar posts and cedar rails, until you have the entire perimeter posted.

This is an optional step. If you think any of your cedar post are not secure, try mixing some cement and pouring it into the holes. When the cement dries, the poles will be secure.

Mount the gate, securing it with screws to the final pole placed. Use metal wire to secure it to the opposite side’s post. Leave the knot loose, so you can come and go, or install a latch.

Wrap the 4-by-2 welded wires along the inside of the fence you’ve created. Use a staple gun to secure the wire to the posts and rails. The actual amount of welded wire you’ll need is dependent on how far apart you set your posts and how large you’d like your pig pen to be.

Use your scrap wood around the base of the pig pen, filling any holes that may be present. This will prevent pigs from escaping through any unsecured areas.

How to Build a Pig Pen Shelter

Create a rectangular box nailing together two 12-foot 2-by-4s to two 2-foot 2-by-4s.

Saw an opening through the rectangular box. This will serve as your pig’s entrance, so make it wide enough for them to fit through.

Create a second rectangular box on top of the first, using screws to secure the boxes together. Make the entrance taller, by sawing through the wood, directly above where you created the first opening, thus making the entrance taller.

Continue to build on top of the rectangular box, until it is five 2-by-4s tall. Stop sawing the entrance after the second box, unless you think your pigs require a taller entrance. If that’s the case, continue to saw through the wood until the entrance is the right height.

Secure a tarp around the top of your shelter, using the staple gun to hold it in place. This serves as the roof to your shelter.


Pigs are intelligent, strong and hygienic farm animals. Raising pigs requires a pen area with adequate space and access to food, water and shelter. Despite their reputation, pigs are clean animals when provided a nice pen. Keeping pigs in a mud puddle is not acceptable and will cause discomfort.

Portable vs. Permanent Pens

The argument between portable and permanent pens is ongoing and the decision is ultimately in the owner’s hands. Portable pens provide the advantage of rotating the pigs on fresh ground. This provides natural forage, disperses waste naturally and reduces the need for cleaning. Simply move the pen after the pigs have worn through a patch of ground. Portable pens are only an option for landowners with the space to move their pigs. Permanent pens allow for a permanent shelter and stronger fencing buried in the ground. They require regular cleaning but the pigs have a sound shelter and are less likely to escape.

Piglet Housing

Piglets are small and capable of squeezing through tight gaps. The housing needs for piglets are the same as adult pigs but with less space to escape. Cover your fence with wire panels to cover large gaps in your boards or metal panels. Also provide food and water troughs at a reachable height for piglets. Isolate weaning piglets and their mother for natural feeding in a rearing pen.

Bedding Options

Keep your pen floor covered with dirt or grass and add soft bedding to the covered section of the pen. Use straw or cedar shavings as bedding material for comfort in the protected area of the pen. Remove and replace the bedding at least once a week to maintain a clean area. The unprotected section of the pen will wear over time as the pigs dig and move dirt around. They will work through grass quickly and mold the area to their liking. Maintain a small ditch or sloped area to encourage drainage and to keep the ground dry. Water and mud will combine with feces to create an unsanitary environment.


  • Build a french drain with gravel before you build the pen. The drain allows for pressure washing and cleaning pigs inside the pen. The easy cleanup and drainage makes maintenance easy.

Housing Needs

Pigs require roughly 50 square feet of space per animal. They are hardy animals and do not require insulated housing but they do need protection from the elements. Build a roof or overhang on the pen where your pigs will escape rain, snow and wind. In most scenarios, you will raise pigs through the spring, summer and fall months and butcher before the winter. Provide a constant supply of water and place your water trough in an isolated area. Pigs urinate close to the water supply and space between food and bedding is ideal. Keep a food trough with a constant supply of mash and grain to grow your pigs before butchering.

Fencing Options

Sturdy fencing is critical for a pig pen. Use metal livestock fencing or large round fence posts and boards to contain your pigs. Bury a board as your lowest level railing to prevent digging and burrowing. Pigs will burrow and escape when given the opportunity. Also consider electric fencing to prevent burrowing and attempting to escape. Put electricity everywhere except the gate area. Pigs have a sharp memory and will refuse leading outside the pen when the threat of electricity is present


Pigs — regardless of breed, size or level of domestication — are notorious for rooting and digging. They subvert fences with apparent ease. Whether you want to keep your domestic pigs in or keep wild pigs out, you will need to reinforce your fence specifically for the purpose of keeping them from going underneath it.

Starting From Scratch

Pigs are strong, and they’re surprisingly fast. Your best bet for discouraging pigs from going under, or through, you fencing is to build the sturdiest fence possible. If you’re building a pen from scratch and your primary concern is pigs digging underneath the fence, then you want to choose a type of fencing that is difficult to penetrate. Wire fencing, including those made of hog wire, can be bent or torn by a determined pig. It is difficult to reinforce the bottom of a wire fence to be sure pigs can not dig under it, making hog wire a less-than-ideal choice if you want to prevent pigs from going underneath. The sturdiest fences are those made of concrete or solid wood. You can use electric fencing to contain hogs so long as your fence charger delivers a strong-enough shock that your pigs to respect it. If you are building a fence from scratch, you want the best-quality fence you are able to afford.

Preventing Ground-Level Escape

You can prevent pigs from going underneath your fence by creating a barrier that will physically stop them from going underneath. If you are in the initial stages of building your fence, you can make your fence very difficult to penetrate. Dig a trench directly underneath where you are planning to build your fence and bury a foot or two of fencing in the ground where your fence bottom is going to line up. If you have a pig who is very determined to dig under the fence, you may want to consider constructing a solid barrier such as one made of concrete underneath your fence line to prevent digging. You can do this by filling your trench with quick-drying concrete. If you already have your fence built, you need to incorporate your existing fence into your barrier. Dig your trench directly underneath your existing fence. Install a barrier in the trench and fasten it to the existing fence where the top of the underground barrier and the bottom of the fence come together. Woven wire fencing is a good choice for burying, as are concrete and pressure-treated wood.

Using Multiple Types of Fencing

It is common for pig owners to use multiple types of fencing together in efforts to keep pigs where they belong. A sturdy fence, such as one made of small-animal livestock panels or wood, is more secure when reinforced with several strands of electric fencing, for instance. An Auburn University web page recommends having hot electric wires located between 8 inches and 10 inches off the ground for pigs, with additional hot wires being placed at 16 to 18 inches and at 28 inches. If you are housing nursing pigs, you may want to lower the height of the bottom strand to 6 inches from the ground.

Providing for His Needs

Your pig may try to dig underneath your fence if his needs are not adequately met within his living enclosure. Make sure to provide your pig companionship, food and always clean water. He will also need an area of dirt where he can safely root in the ground without facing reprimand. A happy pig is less likely to try to escape than a pig who is hungry, thirsty or lonely. If you are keeping multiple pigs in a single enclosure, make sure all of them have their needs adequately met. Otherwise, escape attempts are more likely.


Pigs are farmstead favorites as a cost-effective food source, putting weight on faster and with less feed than most other meat animals require. A butchered pig can feed a family of five for a year, and small-scale pork operations, once called “mortgage lifters” for their small farm profit potential, offer creative individuals an income source. Though relatively easy to raise in an established system, there are cost considerations that pig farmers and homesteaders must face.

Pig Out

Pigs’ voracious appetites are more than just cultural caricature — hogs love to eat. Though they have a profit-friendly feed conversion rate, their food requirements are not negligible; in fact, feeding a pig intended for meat is potentially a pig farmer’s biggest cost. Feed costs are variable and subject to inflation, with conventional versus organic price differentials and available supplements affecting final numbers. In 2012, conventional feed cost about 30 cents a pound and organic averaged 80 cents a pound. A single pig consumed an average of 800 pounds of feed in the time required to reach slaughter weight, so one hog will consume more than $200 in food.

Water Your Hog

Pigs cannot sweat. They need a lot of water to stay cool and maintain biological functions. In fact, a pig denied water will die in a matter of hours, and improper water cleanliness is a potential source of pathogenic disease. By the time a pig has reached finishing weight, he’ll need 3 to 5 gallons of clean water every day. Water prices are highly variable, ranging from free well water to city water prices from a local municipality, so hydration costs can only be calculated on a case-by-case basis. Alternative water sources such as rainwater collection/cistern storage systems or on-site bodies of water can greatly offset water costs.

Pig Pen

One of the biggest challenges to keeping pigs is keeping the pigs: These highly intelligent creatures are adept escape artists who require adequate containment to prevent their mad dash to the woods. Technically, one pig needs only a 10-square-foot space to live in, so a minimalist enclosure is possible — though many prefer to pasture their pigs to decrease waste buildup and offset feed costs. Electric fencing is a popular containment system, though costs for this run well over $200. Hog panel fencing is another option, with one 16-foot section costing around $20.

To Slaughter

Pigs raised for food require one final and all-important set of costs: Processing. Home slaughter and butchering are a solution for family food sources, but most states require USDA-inspected facilities handle any meat intended for public sale. Slaughter of one hog runs around $50, butchering around $150 and further processing, such as sausage making or bacon and ham preparation, around $60 . Informed decisions made with a trusted processor can reduce costs, but the average price for processing one hog will likely run between $250 and $300.



You can use either a commercially prepared hog feed or cracked corn in your feeders. Both will help put weight on your hogs.
The phrase “pigging out” is used when someone overindulges and eats too much. It’s no coincidence that overeating is linked to hogs, because most hogs are allowed to eat as much as they like all day long. Hogs are free-fed to make sure they gain as much weight as possible before they’re sent to market. Building a hog self-feeder makes it simple to keep fresh feed available at all times for your hungry hogs.

Cut an empty 55-gallon barrel in half lengthwise with a saw. This will separate the barrel into two long troughs. Drill 15 or 20 small drain holes along the bottom of the troughs to keep the feed dry.

Use the saw to cut two, 4-inch long slits in one end of each PVC pipe. These slits allow the feed to flow down and fill up the trough as the hogs eat.

Set two PVC sections inside each trough, approximately 6 inches from each end. Hold the pipe against the back of the trough, and draw a short vertical line on the trough to indicate the placement of the pipes. Cut a small slit through the trough over each line.

Hold the first pipe in place with one hand, and thread a zip tie or piece of wire through the slits and around the pipe. Tighten the tie or wire and trim away any excess. Repeat with the remaining three pipes.

Move the feeders to the hog pen and fill each pipe to the top with hog feed. Cover each pipe with an end cap to prevent moisture from coming in contact with the feed.


Since Paris Hilton bought a teacup piglet in 2010, these animals have been trending up. Teacup piglets — also called minipigs, micropigs and micro-mini-pigs — are small and adorable when young. However cute they are, they do not stay small when mature. This poses problems.


Technically speaking, no breed of “teacup pigs” exists. Teacup is merely a nickname that refers to the tiny size of the piglet. A breeder offering teacup pigs for sale most likely has miniature pigs. There are more than 50 types of miniature pigs, including the Juliana, Sinclair, Yucatan and Vietnamese potbellied. Even small species of miniature pig grow to over 66 pounds in their first year of life and take four to five years to reach adult size.

Piglet Size

Teeny-tiny teacup piglets, like other pets called teacups, are ostensibly small enough when young to fit into teacups, hence their name. Their small size and trendiness lead some breeders to misrepresent the true adult weight of the animals. The piglets are social creatures, naturally smart and funny. While a teacup piglet may make a good pet for some people, it should never be an impulse purchase. In part, this is due to its true adult size.

Adult Size

When fully grown, even little pigs weigh 40 to 50 pounds at the low end to 100 pounds or more at the high end. Unhappy buyers have surrendered pigs to animal rescues at this point, because many were not prepared to care for such as large house pet.


Some pig retailers and breeders claim miniature piglets will mature to adult size of no more than 12 pounds, but this is not a fact. Breeders have also tried, without success, to breed piglets that weigh less as adults. An adult pig who weighs less than 40 pounds is unhealthy and is probably not receiving enough food. Unscrupulous breeders may try to dupe buyers by breeding baby pigs then showing prospective buyers the piglets and the so-called parents, claiming the piglets will grow to the size of the not-fully-grown parents.


If you’re thinking of getting a teacup piglet for yourself, beware. Different miniature pig species grow to different adult sizes, but none fit the teacup description as adults, unlike some other domestic pets. If you’re alright with purchasing an animal that grows this large, do one last bit of homework: Check to see whether your community has zoning restrictions that prevent keeping pigs as pets. Many areas do, which means well-intended pig parents sometimes must surrender their family animals.


Castration is a process whereby a veterinarian removes the testicles of male livestock to prevent them from reproducing. Castration is a standard practice among virtually all livestock operations, and it’s the smart thing for any livestock owner to do for any animal that’s not specifically part of a breeding program. Castration provides behavioral and health benefits for the animals as well as makes them easier to care for.

Cattle and Hog Reproduction

The most obvious benefit of castrating boar hogs and bulls is that you will not have to worry about them producing unwanted or undesirable offspring. Castrated boar hogs are called barrows; castrated bulls are steers. Animals who are not breeding quality due to genetic flaws, physical flaws or health problems should always be castrated before they can pass on undesirable traits to their offspring. Unplanned and unwanted offspring are just as costly to care for as wanted, well-bred and planned offspring. Most male cattle wind up as steers, in work or meat programs, rather than bulls, the best specimens, left intact and set aside for breeding.

Escaped Hogs

It is especially important to castrate hogs; the wild and feral hog population in the United States is a growing problem that has led to overpopulation and property damage in many states. Hogs reproduce quickly without restraints, and they have few natural predators to keep their wild population in check. Castrating domestic hogs helps prevent your animals from adding to the expanding and problematic wild hog population should they escape or should a feral pig get to your females.


According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, male hogs who are castrated early in life are easier to handle and less aggressive as adults. These individuals are also slightly smaller than their intact counterparts. The same general principal holds true for cattle. According to North Carolina State University, steers are more docile and get along better with other animals than bulls do.

Meat Production

Both hogs and cattle are kept by farmers and hobbyists as a source of meat. Beef Magazine reports that bulls consistently sell for less at auction and at slaughter for meat production than comparable steers do. North Carolina State University reports that steers are more marketable, and the meat from steers is considered to be better quality and more tender than that of bulls. The meat from boar hogs, meanwhile, has a distinct flavor considered undesirable by many consumers; many meat businesses are not interested in processing and selling meat from boars, according to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


The National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, administrates agriculture and animal husbandry programs at high schools nationwide. Students participating in the FFA livestock program can raise hogs to a specific weight limit and sell the animals at a county or state agricultural fair. Most students raise their hogs at FFA livestock barns at their schools, although students can raise them at their own home setups.

Choosing a Pig

Look for a well-muscled animal with good bones, feet and legs. An FFA adviser must approve each pig before purchase. Most students accompany the FFA adviser to a hog breeder’s barn or a swine sale. This gives students an opportunity to view many pigs and learn why a particular animal is or isn’t a good choice for the project. Take the date of the fair into consideration, as pigs must reach a minimum weight by that time. If a student purchases a pig on his own, the FFA adviser must view the animal and deem the specimen acceptable for the program.

Raising a Hog

Keeping your pig at an FFA facility means you’ll benefit from the regular presence and advice of faculty. Since pigs need feeding twice daily, which means trips to school on weekends. If you keep your pig at home, an FFA adviser should do a home check every few weeks. Before the show, you’ll work on properly showing your hog to the best advantage for judges. In addition to feeding and cleaning up after the pig, you must walk the specimen for exercise so muscles develop attractively.

At the Show

You can show your swine in the breeding class or the market class, but you can’t show an individual pig in both classes. Breeding classes feature purebred stock, while market class specimens are judged against an ideal meat animal. When you bring your pig to the show, the pig will be weighed. If the specimen weighs less than 230 pounds, the animal can’t show in a regular market class but might compete in a lightweight division. Students, meanwhile, are judged on how they present their hogs to the judges.


At the end of the show, your hog is auctioned off in the FFA sale. While the hog becomes the property of the top bidder, you are responsible for caring for the animal until the specimen leaves the show facility. Under FFA rules, you must write a thank-you note to the pig purchaser and place it in an addressed, stamp envelope. Failure to do so means you won’t receive your check for the pig at the FFA awards banquet.