If you're bringing a potbellied pig or micropig into your household, feeding your new pet the right diet is key to his health in general and to preventing obesity in particular. "Fat as a pig" is not what you're aiming for when you own a porcine pet. On the other hand, don't put your pig to risk of malnutrition in a misguided attempt to keep him small.
Whether they're called potbellied pigs, miniature pigs or micropigs, smaller pigs have gained popularity as pets. When full-grown, they range in size from 60 to 150 pounds, the equivalent of medium to large-size canines rather than the 800-pound pigs bred for pork. Even though pet pigs aren't bred for meat, obesity is an issue since they gain weight easily. Keeping your pig on a strict nutritious diet prevents excessive weight gain and the accompanying health issues.
Have pet pigs neutered or spayed at an early age. Miniature pigs reach sexual maturity at the age of 4 months and cultivate all the difficulties animal hormones present. Once your pig is spayed and neutered, he has much less need for fat and protein than in animals intended for breeding. A mature, neutered potbellied pig requires feed providing approximately 2 percent fat, 12 percent protein and between 12 percent and 15 percent fiber daily.
Feed your pet a commercial food specially designed for a potbellied pig's needs. If such diets aren't available in your area, you can feed your pig feed designed for meat pigs, but not in the same amounts. Those feeds are manufactured with quick weight growth in mind, so do your best to find a mini-pig feed. Illinois-based Hilltop Animal Hospital recommends feeding a miniature pig between 2 percent and 2.5 percent of his body weight daily. If your pig weighs 100 pounds, that means about 2 pounds of feed a day. Make sure your pig always has clean water available. Feed your pig morning and evening, not just once a day. You can supplement his diet with small amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits. Don't give your pig spoiled or rotten produce.
What to Avoid
There's a reason that saying someone eats like a pig is a pejorative term. Left to their own devices, pigs eat just about anything, garbage included. That doesn't mean much of what they'll consume is good for them. Don't feed your pig table scraps or dry dog food. They only contribute to obesity. While you can feed your pig an occasional healthy treat, be careful you don't turn him into a food beggar. It's not considered good manners for people or dogs, and you don't want people to think your potbellied pal's a hog.
- Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences: Pot-Bellied Pigs
- Northwest Miniature Pig Association: About Potbellied Pigs
- Hilltop Animal Hospital: Care of Miniature Pot-Bellied Pigs
- Forgotten Angels Rescue and Education Center: Potbellied Pig Husbandry and Nutrition
- Mazuri: Mazuri Diets Keep Pot-bellied Pigs From Tipping the Scales
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.