Posted by kfleet on Nov 21, 2014 in Uncategorized | 4 comments
It is so important for a pig to be allowed to forage and be allowed to have natural things to do to enrich their lives to ensure they do not get bored and lead a sedentary life!
Pigs love toys, especially any toy that has food in or on it. They get such a kick out of newspaper, magazines and wrapping paper. Here’s a funny video of my pet pig Kwynn playing with wrapping paper on Christmas morning:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJQ1f8z977o They love to shred different types of paper.
Kwynn loves playing with lunch size brown paper bags. I put different things inside and twist the end of the bag shut. She will take it from one room to another, shred it, shake it and jump around and get all the vittles out. Some things I will use are apple pieces, raisins, Cheerios, puffed wheat or puffed rice, the lower calorie content the better or even will put some of her feed inside (a whole cup of puffed rice and puffed wheat is only about 25 calories and can provide a lot of entertainment for your pig.
You could even put their grain in a foraging/enrichment toy or in a rooting box at mealtime to prolong their meal times.
There are many different foraging/enrichment toys on the market for dogs, which is what I use for my pigs as well. I have tried many, but the Orbee and Mazee (links below) are my pigs’ favorites of all, especially the Orbee. They keep them busy and occupied for longer than any other toy I have found.
A rooting box is another thing you could use to allow your pig to get some natural foraging and enrichment time in. There are many different ways to build a rooting box. You can use a shallow square or rectangle wooden box filled with smooth round river rocks about the size of your fist. You don’t want any rocks smaller than that or they might eat them. There are many different options of what to sprinkle in the rooting box to entertain your pig with. Some ideas on what to use in these toys are Cheerios, puffed wheat, raisins, vege pieces, fruit pieces or air-popped popcorn, etc. The rooting box should of course be made out of wood that is very smooth or sanded so they don’t get any splinters in their noses! A box that is about 2′ X 2′ square and 4″ deep seems to work well. You could also get a plastic tub and use that. Some people like to use those plastic balls that you put in a kid bouncing toy. I think those are too light and prefer the rocks.
Pigs are so extremely smart, so they can get bored very easily. A bored pig is an unhappy pig, which means they may become destructive or mischievous. Pigs are naturally social animals, and if there is no human or other pig available they like to play with toys.
Here are some ideas of entertainment items to help keep your pig busy:
Baby toys provide hours of fun for pet pigs. Just make sure the toys are not too small that your pig can swallow them and they don’t have any parts that can easily break off and be ingested.
Traditional cat and dog toys such as wicker balls, plastic balls with bells, squeakers and other hard plastic toys such as a wiffle balls are great as well. Toys with crinkly sound in them are good as well. They love to root on them.
A homemade foraging toy idea is to drill some holes in a milk jug, water bottle or the like and put some grains or treats in there that will barely fit out the holes and they can push it around foraging for their treat.
They love sleeping bags too, although they don’t play with them, they love to get all snuggled up in a pocket of warmth and get all cozy!
Musical toys fascinate some pigs too.
Horns they can grab with their mouths are good too. A couple of our pigs love their squeak toys too.
A radio is a good thing to leave on when you are gone to make them feel they have company.
Large diameter PVC pipe with thick walls make fun tunnels and hideouts for them as well.
In the summer time, fill a kiddie pool with water for your pig to play in. It will keep him or her entertained and cool. You can put some floating treats in the water too, as they love to bob for treats!
Recently I found the best foraging/enrichment toy of all. It is called an Orbee. Kwynn plays with hers for at least 1/2 of an hour and so do the other pigs. It is clearly engaging, clearly rewarding and clearly fun. It is a puzzle toy, an interactive brain teaser that is designed for long-lasting play. With a pliable, Orbee-tuff outer shell, and unique inner maze. Pour in an appropriate treat your pig eats and enjoys. Also very cool and entertaining is the Mazee, which I have also put the link to below. I prefer the Orbee because it doesn’t roll as fast and is more entertaining for the pigs in my opinion.
Hopefully this will provide you with some new ideas so that you have plenty of toys for the special pig in your life and he/she can and will enjoy hours of fun, playing, foraging and gaining enrichment which is so beneficial for both of you!
Orange Orbee – Please use the below link to buy from Amazon:
Blue Orbee – Please use the below link to buy from Amazon:
Raspberry Planet Dog Mazee – Please use the below link to buy from Amazon:
Green Planet Dog Mazee – Please use the below link to buy from Amazon:
Posted by kfleet on Oct 1, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
Most pigs are not comfortable being restrained so having their hooves trimmed can be a challenge. Your veterinarian can trim your pet pig’s hooves for you, but may require your pig to be sedated and it will cost a pretty penny for sure. For the pet pig owner who would like to trim their pig’s hooves themselves, here a few basic steps to help you out. It is one of those things that has to be done irregardless of their protests and will need to be done by two people. You can make it a less traumatic experience for all if you do some of the things stated in this blog.
It is best to touch your piglet’s feet often when they are young to get them used to the feeling. When your pig is relaxing next to you or lying on your lap, gently touch, move and play with their feet so they become used to having their feet touched. Pigs enjoy having their belly rubbed, being brushed or scratched. While they are having a happy, relaxed moment, pick up and hold each foot one at a time for a moment so the pig gets used to the feeling and will not be as afraid as it gets older to allow you to trim its nails.
The traditional pig’s foot has two toes and two dewclaws. Each toe is surrounded with a hard nail similar to a human’s toenail. Each hoof has nerves and blood vessels in it that are sensitive so be careful and gentile when trimming. There is a soft pad on the bottom of each hoof. A nail file can be introduced slowly, doing one hoof at a time. If your pig becomes upset or does not want to cooperate, stop and give them a treat or a belly rub to reduce their uneasiness. Then try again. All four hooves do not need to be done at the same time. Go slow and work on your pet’s
Using a nail file on young piglet’s hooves is fine, but we prefer to use a dremel.
Here is the one we use:
If you would use the link above, we get kickbacks for sending people to Amazon through our blog. Thanks very much.
I find that the nippers are too easy to get to the quick and cause them to bleed, so I prefer the dremel. While your pig is resting, you should look at the bottom of its hoof. Check your pigs hoof for a build up of dried flaky nail on the bottom. You will want to remove this build up first because it can cause a pig to stand incorrectly, and by removing it, you will be able to see exactly where to trim its hooves without injury or pain. You want to have the bottom of the nail flat with or just higher than the pad. Trim back both sides of the nail on the sides and then curve the front. You can usually see what part of the front of the hoof is new growth (it will be lighter than the rest of the nail). You can then smooth the rough edges with a nail file if you like (a metal file may work best). Do not leave any sharp edges. The dewclaws can be shortened and round the points and sides with the dremel, leaving a blunt cut. Smooth out the edges using a file and you are done.
Allowing your pig to play outside or to walk on cement will help keep its hooves worn down. Many pigs will almost never need a hoof trimming if they are allowed to wear them down naturally.
Posted by kfleet on Sep 16, 2014 in Family | 2 comments
Our farm in Ohio has a lot of rock in the landscape, thereby making it very difficult to put in fence posts, so being from the west, we used what’s called rock jacks on the corners of our livestock pens.
The Ohioans who’ve come to our farm always ask, what are those? When we tell them, it’s a rock jack, no one has heard of them or knows what we are talking about.
A rock jack is a pillar of rock that is contained by a wire basket and fence posts. This provides anchor points for the fence. A rock jack provides a stable point in a fence which the fencing can be tensioned from.
People use rock jacks in places where it’s hard to sink fence posts. A corner post needs to have a good bite into the soil so that it won’t wiggle or move when tension is put on the wire so that it doesn’t sag. Since the fence wire needs to be stretched so tightly, the posts have to be solid to be able to withstand that force. When they can’t be sunk into the soil well enough people in the west build rock jacks to take the force of the tensioned wire. A rock jack allows a fence to be tightened and they are also used to turn corners.
We recently went on a trip to the beautiful state of Oregon and while there I took several pictures of the different types of rock jacks we happened upon to show you. Some are very crude and some are very aged; however, they all serve their purpose! I also included a picture of one of the ones we have on our farm (It’s the one with the green grass).
I never thought about it, because they are part of the landscape in the west. They just are, and it shocked me when people didn’t know what they were, so there you go…now you know.
Posted by kfleet on Aug 30, 2014 in Uncategorized | 3 comments
WARMING UP TO AND GETTING THE HARNESS ON:
It is not too difficult to do harness training with your pig. Start young! As soon as your pig is comfortable and trusting of you, then that’s the time to start putting the harness on him/her! Make sure and ALWAYS talk to your pig and tell him/her what you are going to be doing. They love to be talked to and learn what certain words mean quickly. For instance, when I am going to put Kwynn’s harness on her, I will say to her, “You wanna go outside Kwynny?”
DO NOT leave the harness on your pig for long periods of time. It will make wear spots in their hair and on their body. DO NOT use the harness and lead to tie your pig up without supervision. I do put Kwynn in hers and do use a long lead and put the end around a big rock nearby when I’m working outside so she can munch on grass and weeds and I feel confident she won’t run off when I don’t have my eye on her.
The right kind of harness makes training much easier. I have a blog with my favorite type of harness (Rogz) http://blog.fleetwoodfarm.net/2014/03/12/best-micro-mini-pig-harness/ There are two different styles A & H. Most A style harnesses slip on over the pigs head and will snap behind the front legs or girth. The H style has two snaps; one that snaps around the neck and one that snaps around the girth. Either will fit the pig securely and comfortably.
To get the correct size harness, you measure the pig using a flexible tape measure (the kind used in sewing). Measure around piggy’s neck and piggy’s girth (around the body just behind the front legs and over the shoulders). If the piggy is resistant to allowing his/her measurements being taken, just use a treat to distract him/her. With the right harness in the right size, you’re ready to begin.
IS YOUR PIG READY FOR HARNESS TRAINING?
If you are able to touch and scratch your pig, he/she is ready. If your pig is not quite comfortable yet with you, then forgo this harness/leash training until he/she is comfortable and trusting.
NEVER force your pig into a harness or he/she will never forget it and he/she will form a forever dislike to it. It should be enjoyable! The first step is to be sure it is going to fit your piggy once you convince him/her to let you get it on him/her for the first time. Introduce your pig to the new harness. Show it to him/her. Tell him/her what it is. Let him/her sniff and taste it. Rub it all over his/her body. Set it on his/her back. Pick the piggy’s front legs off the ground with one hand with piggy facing away from you and put the harness in the other hand and bring it to position below the front legs of putting it on. If piggy struggles or gets uncomfortable, then stop. Try again. ONE STEP AT A TIME… Talk to your piggy the whole time, telling him/her what you are doing. Keep trying until you get further and further until you get the front legs through the harness and piggy isn’t struggling. Give treats as you are doing this. Distract the piggy with the treats. Set the piggy’s front legs down and see if he/she will tolerate the final snap at the shoulder area to secure the harness in place. Perhaps someone else giving treats and distracting him/her might help.
HOW TO BEGIN HARNESS TRAINING
After getting the harness on, the piggy might jump around frantically since he/she is not used to the harness being on. Talk to piggy, give him/her a treat…reassure your piggy it is okay……nice harness, good piggy…it’s okay, etc. If he/she is really upset, and does not settle down quickly, take the harness off, using the phrase you want to associate with taking the harness off. Wait a while and try again. When your piggy gets the harness on without too big of a struggle, afterwards you can leave it on the piggy for several minutes to hours at your discretion. While it is on, do some of your piggy’s favorite activities and he/she will become accustomed to it. By the second or third time, your pig should become comfortable enough to wear his/her harness for longer periods of time (provided he/she stays in safe, familiar surroundings).
If you need to adjust the harness while piggy is wearing it, don’t just reach down and grab. Tell your pig what you are going to do first.
ONCE YOU GET THE HARNESS ON YOUR PIG
When you can slip the harness on and off quickly and easily with minimal protests on piggy’s part, you’re ready to attach the lead. Show the piggy the lead. Show him/her the connector, the sounds it makes. Put it near the loops it goes onto. If your pig doesn’t protest too much, click it on. Do this in a confined area such as indoors or a fairly small, fenced area. Use a fairly short (10′ or less) lead.
NOTE: Understand your pig’s feelings during this unnatural process for them. Pigs in the wild are prey, and the only time they are ever restrained is by a predator, shortly before they get eaten. So, when your piggy realizes he/she is restrained by the lead and harness, he/she may freak out. Again remember, this is a normal reaction that Mother Nature has given them. When they are restrained, they can get freak out pretty strongly until they learn that the harness lead and you are actually not hurting them at all, but guiding them to a fun activity.
Let him/her wear it and drag the leash for a while. Next pick it up and let him/her go wherever he/she wants to. Then, put a little pressure on the leash, call his/her name, and give him/her a treat the minute he/she turns his/her head in your direction and reinforce with “good” or whatever you want to use. Next stand a few steps away, pull the leash, call and hold the treat so he/she has to walk a step or two to get it. In a couple of days, he/she should be walking on the leash very well. The secret is the immediate reward as soon as he/she looks at you as well as the reinforcement word, “good” or, clicker or whatever you are using to acknowledge/reinforce the good behavior in your training.
After a couple of times, your pig will understand that he/she is free to move around as long as he/she stays close to you. Getting a harness and lead on your pig is easy. Getting him/her to walk along with you is trickier. Pigs have minds of their own. It may seem as if the harness and lead will let you control where the pig goes, but from his/her perspective YOU are the one on a lead. He/she may happily try to lead you around, or take a slow and leisurely stroll, stopping to dine along the way. Try and keep piggy moving as you desire, not as he/she desires.
To teach your pig to walk along with you at your pace, start in the direction you want to go, speaking the phrase you want him to associate with walking nicely on a leash, like “walk”. If piggy stays with you, great! Give him/her a tiny treat and tell him/her what a good pig he/she is. If not, when you are as far apart as the lead will allow, call your pig to you and give him a single treat. When he/she approaches you, continue walking in the direction you want to go, and give him/her the treat and reinforce (“good”) as soon as he/she is close to you. Keep doing this over and over again. Remember to keep sessions short.
One other note, if you attempt any of this by forcing the pig by pulling him/her along, jerking him/her with the lead, etc., you can pretty much forget about having a pig that is well-trained with a harness. Remember, they learn and respond quickly to you using treats, reinforcement, gentleness, compassion and consistency!
Once a pig is harness trained, he/she is harness trained for life. A pig will never forget, so make it positive and enjoy walking your pig!
Posted by kfleet on Aug 25, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
When piglets leave Fleetwood Farm they are litterbox trained within their quarters! It is up to you to keep them litterbox trained in their quarters as well as teach them about being potty trained outside of their quarters!
While getting them accustomed to their new surroundings, it is important to keep him/her confined to a small area of your home. Do not give the pig free run of the house while training. They should be placed in a penned area. During training, do not overclean the litter box. Leave at least one “pigberry” in the box. The scent of it stimulates him/her to go, and tells him/her that this is the proper place to go.
No food rewards for correct potty behavior. Doing this tends to take the pig’s focus off of what comes natural and they are so smart that they will fake you out just to get a treat. Pigs are naturally clean animals that like to go outside, or in the same place every day. Pigs are creatures of habit.
Do not give your pig free run of the house until he/she is going to their litterbox when out of their pen for certain. Young pigs are prone to accidents. Keep that in mind and don’t get mad or hit your pig because they had an accident! It is up to you to teach your pig where to go. Remember, they are very intelligent. Most learn to use a litterbox in 1 – 5 days.
If you catch them having an accident, go over and get them and take them rapidly to their pottybox while saying in a mad, unhappy, loud, stern voice, “NO! BAD POTTY! NO! BAD POTTY!”. When they get put GENTLY into their pottybox, say in a nice, calm, gentle voice, “Good potty! Good potty!”.
NOTE: Very young pigs aged 6 months or less, have not yet developed complete control over the muscles that control their bodily functions, much like a puppy.
Your piglet was used to being confined in a pen at Fleetwood Farm and I highly encourage you continue to use this when the piglet goes to your home! They do not mind it. They like it and it is a safe place to put them when you are not able to attend to them. Never give a new pig full run of the house till ALL housebreaking is over. Confining them to a crate or small area is the best route to go when you leave, or at nighttime.
If your pig has relapses with housebreaking and is having accidents again, go back to the beginning and confine them to a small area and monitor monitor monitor!
You can teach your pig to go outside as well. You can hang a bell near the door for them to let you know and teach them to ring it when they have to go. Or, you can have them use a dog door. Kwynn uses our dog door as well as the litterbox, but we primarily use the litterbox due to our winters being so cold.
Be sure to take him/her over to the box at least every 2 hours to “remind” them. Put your pig on a schedule; potty first thing in the morning, after breakfast, (every couple of hours throughout the day).
The bottom line to housebreaking any pet is patience, diligence and close attention. It is mostly up to the human and laying down the ground rules and monitoring heavily and paying close attention and not letting them run free till they have it!
Posted by kfleet on Jul 27, 2014 in Uncategorized | 1 comment
Over time, I have figured out a great pen setup for Micro Mini Pigs! I use the North States SuperYard (link below) for Kwynn and I put lace around the outside to pretty it up. I use 6 of the 8 panels and put a thick, water-tight tarp in the bottom and cove it up the sides of the pen to about 6 inches or so (to retain any food or litter crumbs). I attach the tarp with zip ties around the entire bottom of the pen. The tarp also helps to keep the area easy to sanitize and wipe out!
I put the pigs in this pen from the git go so they are used to it. Our pigs do not mind it a bit. It is their home, their secure and safe place!
I set it up with a litterbox at one end (a Sterilite 30-gallon tub from Walmart which has a rectangle cut out of one end, leaving a 2-inch lip on the bottom and the top handle portion intact for durability). Next to the litterbox, I put a 9 x 13 pan to keep water spills and drips contained and use a 1-gallon gravity-feed type waterer (link below) to the side of the litterbox, and at the other end I put a nice fluffy dog bed with a blanket and toys beside it as well as in-between I have a feed bowl.
Please use the links below, as we get kickbacks for sales made through our website to Amazon, since we plugged the items here. I’d appreciate it! Thanks!
Posted by kfleet on Jul 17, 2014 in Micro Mini Pigs | 1 comment
When you think about it, this makes TOTAL sense for our animals! I was floored when I heard this talk by Jason Crean, MA, MS, is a degreed biologist, biology instructor and zoo consultant who specializes in avian nutrition, animal wellness and exhibit problem solving, at last weekend’s health seminar held at Lara Joseph’s Animal Behavior & Training Center!
As he spoke, I thought to myself, WOW, that’s really so true, why didn’t I think of that? When animals drink in the wild, they don’t have purified and filtered water to drink! They drink from muddy puddles where all sorts of natural ingredients run into them, thereby making TEA…plant matter, leaves, twigs, bark, berries, herbs, mud, etc… The benefits are endless and obvious!
Interesting history how tea started for humans. A Chinese emperor, Shen Nung, was drinking hot water and some random leaves blew into his mug, creating a colored water, tea. He was very pleased with the taste, after which he started experimenting with different leaves and things and that is how tea began, quite by accident. Way to go Shen!
Since the accidental brewing the emperor had in his cup, scientists have discovered that drinking tea introduces important nutrients and minerals to our systems and has a wide variety of health benefits.
Even though water quality is important for our pets, what animals drink in the wild is far from sterile. All animals drink from water sources like tree hollows where various plant components are along with other compounds and minerals. We have all seen wild birds drinking from what appears to be dirty puddles and other water sources. However, many contain pretty much “tea” from the leaves and other debris which have fallen into the water.
Here is the website on Facebook to Tea4beaks: https://www.facebook.com/Tea4Beaks (It has human grade ingredients – we are drinking it ourselves now.)
I am happy and excited to report after speaking with Jason he is going to be creating a tea just for pigs….WOW, did you say piggy tea? I am testing out some now with our Micro Mini Pigs and after only a half a week am seeing benefits already. He will call it Tea For Snouts.
Here are the benefits of the ingredients in the teas Jason Crean has developed and proven the benefits of (information taken from Jason’s handout at the seminar):
Green tea: Green tea possesses potent polyphenols, antioxidants found in plants that have amazing benefits that include regulating cholesterol, reducing blood pressure and aiding weight loss. Research journals have cited additional benefits. It may prevent gene damage, which can lead to cancer, reduce heart disease and decrease the incidence of stroke. Green tea also helps boost the immune system.
Black tea: This tea also possesses antioxidants that help maintain healthy blood vessels and promote healthy blood flow.
White tea: White tea has a host of important antioxidants that deters gene damage and inhibits the start of cancer. It helps the body break down cancer-causing agents and acts as an antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral agent. Evidence suggests that white tea supports bone health and density as well as enhancing skin health.
Herbal teas originate from plentiful sources of various flowers, leaves, buds and other plant components. Each herbal tea has its own array of health benefits corresponding to its unique chemical composition.
Chamomile tea: A well-liked tea. The flower is used to brew this tea and many find it effective in settling indigestion and calming nerves. It also contains antibiotic properties and relieves muscle spasms. It has frequently been offered to birds that are prone to night frights. Chamomile acts as a natural sedative and helps eliminate insomnia, anxiety and stress.
Calendula tea: Calendula, a flower in the marigold family, contains fair amounts of beta-carotene. It has been used as an antiinflammatory and antibacterial agent. These properties make it beneficial for the skin. It has been successful in reducing sunburn. This tea assists in detoxifying the body and helps limit the occurrence of digestive problems like ulcers.
Rose hip tea: This tea has a tangy citrus flavor and it’s high in Vitamin C. Rose hips help cleanse the blood and maintain liver and kidney health. Some find it good for fatigue and seems to help the body recover from illness.
Peppermint tea: This tasty tea has an irresistible flavor and is useful for digestive upset. It has antiseptic properties and contains compounds believed to possess antiviral characteristics.
Ginger root tea: This tea has been used to relieve pain from arthritis and to improve circulation. Ginger root aids in eliminating nausea.
Anise seed tea: This tea is effective in treating respiratory irritation like bronchitis. Anise can be used to halt coughing and soothe inflamed airways and has been found to ease indigestion.
Raspberry leaf tea: This tea is a very useful and potent tonic and can be a valuable aid to breeders. Raspberry leaf tea helps stimulate the muscular contractions in the female reproductive tract and helps pass the egg with less complication.
Rooibos tea: While lesser known than other varieties, rooibos is high in mineral content and has many advantages. It is known for calming muscle spasms and indigestion as well as possessing antiallergenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Rooibos also works all the way down to the genetic level by maintaining chromosome integrity due to its anti-mutagenic elements.
Spot Of Tea Anyone?