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Pot Bellied Pig Health and Information Articles
Just a few of the articles Phyllis has written on the care and well being of Potbellied Pigs.

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Here you will find Questions that people like you have asked Phyllis over the years with her Answers.

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LOTS of pictures of pigs that call Pig Pals Sanctuary home.

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Potbellied Pig FAQ's and Information

Below: Baby Pigs

Q: Hello,my name is Brandy. I just got a baby pig it is 3 weeks old I'm having trouble getting it to nurse.The man I got him from said to feed it Similac soy formula because he's not yet weaned. I tried to feed him mashed up pig chow that I mixed in with the formula but he would not eat it. I am becoming very worried. I have never owned a pig before he is a potbelly (in case u needed to know). Please email me as soon as possible I really need your help! Thank You very much.

A: Brandy, go to Health Articlesssection of the web site. There is one there about raising the orphan piglet and that's what your girl is. At three weeks she probably won't take to the bottle too well so try the flat dish method...I use an old ashtray for this. I really prefer the goats milk and Gerbers Rice Cereal for a formula cant imagine that soy milk would have such a good smell for a baby used to having mom.


Q: Thank you for all of your help,our pig is eating now. We gave him dog milk and he really enjoys it! I have one more question how old does my pig have to be when I wean him? Just wondering! Thank you very much! Brandy

A: Give him some time Brandy. When they are raised with their mother weaning is usually about 6 to 8 weeks. When you are hand raising one it starts slowly as you go along. We put pellets (first time baby pig starter chow) down from the time they are a couple of weeks old in a seperate pan for them to get a taste of. They play with it etc but arent usually weaned onto it for a few weeks.

Q: Hi! I just got a piglet last Saturday and she was 10 days old. We have had a hard time bottle feeding her, she just won't take it. A day or two ago, she started eatting dry Cat Food ... is that okay for her? Also, is putting powdered milk on the cat food okay? I heard that she doesn't need alot of protien, how much Cat Food should I feed her? Is lite brown poop an okay color? How many bowel movements should she have in a day? I think that's all my questions for right now. Thanks! :o)

A: Go to the Health Articles....there is one on there about the orphan piglet and feeding. If your girl will eat cat chow from a dish than she can eat the Gerbers Rice Baby Cereal and goats milk. I use a flat pan.... usually a small ash tray works well.

At ten days you certainly don't have to worry about protein yet...this is a baby. We worry about that when they get on their feet and well on their way but the cat chow is not made for pigs so it lacks some of the minerals and vit. that a pig needs and has more salt than is really needed. Most babies fight the bottle and do better with a dish.

A second thought would be if she can eat dry cat chow than she might be wanting regular dry "starter" pig chow. They learn to eat the pellets from mom while with her. You can either ask for "starter" pig chow or baby pig starter and if none is available than go with regular potbellied pig chow and sprinkle with the powdered milk. You can use any name brand potbellied pig chow like the one Purina puts out called Mazuri or you can hurry and order starter chow on line from Pigs4Ever.

The strarter chow is smaller pellets and eaiser for them to eat but if you can't get it than you can use regular potbellied food with your powdered milk sprinkled on it. Be careful trying lots of things cause you don't want to make her have diarreah at this age. Find a pig chow that works and stick with it. I'm surprised that she is eating the cat chow since most ten day olds want nothing but the formula and rice baby cereal so if you can get her on a pig chow that would be great.

Q: Hi. My name is Natalie and I work on a farm in western Mass. We have 2 large and 2 small pot bellied pigs. Our mini girl had a litter of 8
about two weeks ago. She sat on one and it died, but the other 7 have been doing fine until about 4 days ago. One little boy stopped using his back legs, he could stand but usually dragged himself, and now he has stopped using his front legs. It almost seems that his belly is too heavy for him.

He crawls around like a caterpillar and seems to be moving fairly easy considering. He's still nursing and can move pretty fast. He does cry out sometimes but I can't tell if it's cause he's in pain or if he's upset. Now 4 of the other little pigs seem to be losing their back leg use as well. They seem to buckle and not to be very sturdy. They were given iron shots 2 days ago and that is the only thing that has been done to them since birth.

I originally thought that the mommy sat on the 1st little boy, but now that the other ones seem to have similar problems, I'm wondering if it's a genetic thing. Have you ever heard of anything that resembles this? Do you know of a vet that specializes in pigs? All the vets I've spoken to have said that "it's not their field" or that they could "guess". Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated. The owners are considering putting them down, but I'd like to save them if possible.
Sincerely, Natalie

A: It sounds like the babys might have what is called "Navel Ill". It,s an infection that goes into them from the navel cord and can be treated with great results if caught soon enough. You need to get them on some antibiotics as soon as possible and if you can't find a vet to do it than you can buy a bottle of Penstrep antibiotic from any feed store and give them yourself or find someone to do it for you.

I use the very smallest syringe and needle they put out that the stuff will go through and I give one fourth a cc in the butt muscle. You could also use Lincocin if the vet will give it to you as it's a clear liquid and goes through a small syringe and needle that they use for diabetic patients to give themselves insulin.

It is much easier on the babies or any antibiotic that is clear and passes through a small needle. The important thing is to get something in them as soon as possible!! The Penstrep works but you have to hold the syringe in your hand to warm it to room temp before its easy to get through the needles. But I'm sure if you tell the vet you want them treated for navel ill that they should know what you want and need if its a country large animal vet. Let me know OK?

With "Navel Ill" the infection settles in the joints in the babies legs...thus the mobility problems.

Q: Hi, I have a 9 week old piggy, to start off with his mother ate the whole litter except him as he managed to escape into the neghiboring pen with another litter that was 2 days older than him. The baby piggys nurse off both of the mothers, but because he was so tiny he was pushed aside at 7 weeks old. I brought him home and gave him baby formula. He only weighs about 4 lbs right now.

Ii can not get him to eat the piggy pellets. He is not sick and he is full of enegry. He loves to run and play but I am concerned about what to feed him other than people food which he loves if he can get it. I have tried mixing the pellets with his milk and he seems to filter it out with his teeth, he also refuses to drink water help me please what can i do?

I have added a bit of milk to his water to see if he would drink it but he empties the dish and pushes it over to my feet. He also does this with the pellets he empties the dish and brings it to me as if to say give me something good to eat. How can I convince him to eat what is good for him and not what tastes good to him? The piggy is very spoiled and we love him to death, he is very round and plump, but right now he is eating baby food. I have raised 2 pigs before and never run into this problem. Concerned mom in Ontario

A: This is one spoiled piggy! Your best bet is to try and get some very first baby pig starter for farm pigs. Don't know if its available in your area or not but Purina puts out one called INFANT BABY PIG Starter. It's much tastier than regular chow and is very small pellets. We have never had one that didn't dig into this stuff.

If that's not available to you than put some of your pig pellets (1/4 cup) and cover the pellets with hot water and let them sit till they are mushy. Pour just a very tiny bit of his formula over this. Not enough that he can suck the formula off, but just enough to make it smell good to him. At his age you might be able to get away with just giving the dry pellets and putting a little formula or powdered milk over them. (The powdered milk is impossible to filter off or you can mix in a spoon of the baby food...decreasing the baby food daily until you aren't putting any in there any more.)

As long as he is on formula that is taking the place of water for him but he needs to learn to drink water. We use the bottle with a bowl attached and we anchor the bottle to the side of the pen so they can't knock it over.

Now for the HARD PART...NO MORE people food for now. NO MORE baby food fed by itself...and NO MORE formula. Leave a small dish with a little plain pellets in with him...changing it daily to keep it fresh...and put his pellets with milk or baby food added to it down three or four times a day....if he doesn't eat it in the first hour...pick it up....and do the same with all his feedings. BE STRONG!!! NO TREATS ect. untill you see him start to nibble or eat either the dry plain pellets or the ones with the baby food added in that you are putting in with him. baby food should get less and less each day. A healthy pig will not starve himself to death!! When he goes without the formula he will start drinking water.

Q: We recently adopted a baby, she is now 9 days old.  She has feed well, gain weight, but today she is sick.  We took her to the vet and apparently she is constipated.  The vet gave her a laxative and gave us some drops to include in her milk.  She seems to be in a lot of pain.  She could barely walk.  WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP HER? She still has not passed a bowel.  Its been approximately 6 hours since the vet gave her the laxative.

Hope to hear from you. Thank you in advance for any information you could provide us. Sincerely, Marisol

A: Well I would doubt if this baby is really constipated. It is very unusual for a baby pig in that age range. At nine days there isn't a whole lot to come out with only milk going in. My first thought if she is having trouble getting around and appears to be in pain would be that she has what we call "Navel Ill".

It is an infection that goes through the body and settles in the joints. If she were mine I would ask my vet for an antibiotic shot for her and some liquid Amoxycillin to give her at home for a few days. If it is Navel Ill than she would have trouble going to the bathroom because of the pain not because she is constipated. I would be very careful about any laxitives etc on a baby that young as once they get the poos....its hard to keep them alive.

The antibiotics are very important if she does have the infection so maybe call your vet as soon as you can.

Q: Dear Pigpals, My granddaughter was given an infant pig for her birthday. At 3 days old we are told to feed it Karo Syrup and milk mixture and other than that we know very little.  How can we keep this little one healthy and safe?  Do you recommend any publications that will coach us through raising this little pot-bellied baby? Grammy

A: There is a good article on my web page called the Orphan Piglet. Your baby is WAY too young to have been taken away from mom and siblings unless it was a case of mom dieing or not taking care of the babies. Its too late now since she is there and mom wouldn't take her back but you do have a tough road ahead to keep this little thing going. Even those of us that have had long years of experience have trouble with keeping a hundred percent of them going at that age without their moms.

Fatalities usually run fifty percent of the litter. The main thing is to keep her warm (heating pad on low) and avoid diarrhea at all costs. DONT drastically change anything in the diet without doing it gradually and slowly. I would suggest you start adding the Gerbers Rice baby cereal to the food in very small amounts to help lessen the chance of diarrhea.

No drafts, a playpen works great but drape the sides to prevent drafts and no playing with her on the floor til she gets a few weeks on her. Each week improves her chances of becoming a healthy porker. No wormer, no baths no nothing til she gets older. There are liquid vitimins that you can get from a vet for small animals and in a week you could start her on small dose of that. For iron at this age put a flat pan (like a cookie sheet) of dirt in her play pen for her to nose in and walk in. Thats how babies born with moms outside get their iron. It is the safe way as giving them iron shots or meds at this age can cause diarrhea which is deadly to babies.

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Q: Hi, I was given a pbp when she was 7 days old... she is now 3 weeks old today.. I have been feeding her goats milk and have started adding gerbers rice cereal..she seems to love it and she eats every drop every four hours except over night....she also has a heating pad in her little home....I need to know how long the heating pad is needed and when do I start feeding her something else and what?

I take her outside everyday and allow her to romp in a little pen for 30 minutes or so only with my supervision...she roots around and seems happy. I have never had a pig before. I am an equine rescue center www.bluehorsemukwa.org I really love my little pig though. I call her Whisper piggy, as she is so silent..haha any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Rabiah and Whisper

A: Hi Rabiah and welcome to the wonderful world of pigs. Sounds like your baby is doing great and she will stay on the rice cereal mixture for a few weeks yet but you can get some of the regular farm pig very first starter pellets if you like and start putting them in a bowl dry daily for her to taste and play with to get her used to the idea of eating on her own. Purina mills puts one out called Infant baby pig chow that makes getting them onto pellets real easy cause they like it so much...only problem is it comes in a fifty lb bag which means it will last her all through her youth and into adulthood LOL.

We use it here but then we have 80 + pigs and always have an old one or one that's not feeling good that we can feed with it since it's so rich that a healthy pig doesn't really need it. Your baby is also getting to the point where a HALF of a childrens vitimin is good for them. We start those about four or five weeks (any generic brand is good without the high price of Flintstones)

A pigs normal heat development kicks in at about two weeks but you didn't say if the baby is indoors or outside...if she is outside than it doesn't hurt to keep it with her a little longer and she will move off the pad if she gets too warm. Hope this helps and stay in touch ok?


Q: Hi, Thanks for all your info... I have been doing the best I can for her..she is growing and wow is she funny...they said her father was 35 lbs..so I am thinking she may not get real big..she is extremely tiny..she looks like a toy...but she EATS....:) she chatters she grunts and she squeals... I put her outside for about 3 minutes each day in a shady location where she can root around in the grass and dirt and she loves it. I was wondering about water..she does not seem to interested in drinking it right now, is that ok? She turned 3 weeks old yesterday.
I always loved pigs...and all animals.. I have been a vegetarian since I was 10 years old....anyway thanks again. Rabiah

A: She won't be interested much in water as long as she is on formula but I always keep it there just in case. Sounds like your having fun and thats what pigs do best....make us laugh. They are truly the most unique critters I have ever come across in my 61 years. Stay in touch and give me updates once in a while....love hearing the good stories.

Q: I have taken on the responsibility of trying to raise a precious baby Pot Belly. The mother was lost 2 days after birthing. The baby did get to suck the first 24 hours from the mom. Bo Bo is 1 week old today. Here's my problem. When the original owner brought Bo Bo they dropped him off with my husband when I was not home. The Powdered Milk Replacer they provided (a very small amount) was in a clear plastic sandwich bag with NO indentification of what it was or where it was purchased. I am getting down to the last bit and have no ideal what to replace the powder with. I'm scared to death that making any change in his diet will make him sick. At present he is as healthy as all and sucks his bottle with no problem. He's very playful. Please make a suggestion a replacer. I noticed on your web site you use goats milk. Would this be OK?

New Mom, Montgomery, Alabama

A: The goats milk would be great and if you have any of the milk replacer left mix it together for the first few times adding more goats and less replacer as you go. Done slowly this shouldn't cause him a problem.

Q: Hi! We own a 4 week piglet named Romeo. Romeo has been with us for about a week. My wife has been baby bottle feeding it since then. However Romeo has not been cooperative. We were told Romeo needed to be fed 4 times a day with goats milk. Romeo does not want to eat milk or Mazuri youth pig feed. My wife has been struggling to feed him. Is this normal. Please give me advise. Thanks, Mayra

A: Well.....first off it isn't normal that a four week old be taken away from his mom and siblings (unless Mom had a problem). He was not old enough to be properly weaned. Second he knows that a baby bottle isn't his Mom. At four weeks I would be trying a flat dish (here we use an ash tray) to feed him with. You pick the piglet up in one hand and hold the dish up to his nose and stick his nose into the dish...letting him get a taste of the food.

Dish feeding is much better for him in the long run because it's easier to switch him to the pellet food that way than if he is attached to a bottle. Baby pigs learn to eat pellets from their moms...they pick up the part that gets scattered around and learn that it tastes good. Your baby was just getting to the point of doing this when he was taken away. Another thing is the stress factor. He has lost his mom and siblings and is in a strange place so he is afraid.

You can't take him back because mom won't take him now that he has been gone so we will just have to work through this. There is an article on the web site about caring for the Orphan Pig. Two things to be very careful of are diarrhea and letting him get chilled so read the article ok? Keep in touch and we will try and get him through this.

Q: Hello, I don't have a pot bellied pig, but when driving home 2 nights ago my mother saw a small piglet runnig between the traffic on a country lane. I don't know its age being about 10" tall and about 14" long I've taken it to the vets who sold me puppy welping food. Then told me I needed sow welp I'm getting some of this tommorow, he also said I needed piglet paste? Is this the iron supliment? I have also been told it can start having creep, is this some kind of food? I know that it is not really the place for a small pig here, and as soon as I know it can take care of itself I will take it to the small holder who wants it more for stock than food. I hape that you can help me, as I am an animal lover and don't discriminate what animal... Thanks L

A: First of all...thank you...for not leaving this baby to be on its own! Go to my article on the Orphan Piglet. That might help you some. We feed baby pigs goats milk with human baby.... Gerbers Rice Baby Cereal added in. The Gerbers Rice Cereal helps control diarrhea that they might get from changing milk when they are brought in. If the little guy has been loose than I wouldn't worry about the "paste" part on it as it has gotten the iron from the dirt that it needs. (sometimes the iron can cause diarrhea also when its given by artificial means)

The creep feed is just starter chow that babies are put on when they are learning to eat. For those that we aren't sure of age on we get the Purina brand "Infant Pig Starter"....its very small pellets and they like the taste better than most of the starter chows and will usually eat it with no problem. If you cant get that than ask for the very first starter chow that they have for pigs. Feed the goats milk and cereal about every four hours, but also put a small bowl of the starter chow in with him so he can get a taste of it. The sooner he goes onto the starter chow the better off he is.

Q: We are now the proud "parents" of three orphan piglets the sow died during birthing Wednesday evening...As of this evening, they are doing well but I do have a question. Currently we are feeding them goats milk and they are doing great. Two of the three got some colostrum from the mother but the third one was too weak. I found someone who had some goat colostrum and got it to him. He is now doing great....

I have noticed tonight that one of the piglets is "hunched over" and acting like she needs to have a bowel movement. I rubbed her rear end with a warm wet towel and she passed some stool. The stool was black with a little yellow mixed in (maybe the goats milk is kicking in.) I have read in your website that giving them some pumpkin was a good natural way to loosen them up. My question: "How much do I need to give her and how often?" They are eating every two hours regularly. They are registered Hamps.

I know your website is for potbellies, but any help would be appreciated. Thank you, Tracie

A: They usually go through a period at about he third day of having the "mustard" colored poo so that's no problem. I hesitate to give anything by mouth at that age because if you set off diarrhea than its hard to stop and its the number one killer of babies. It's possible that she was just having a problem going from the feces that was in the intestines that was in there at birth to what she is eating now.

I would continue to watch her and see if it doesn't get better in the next couple of days....which means not straining hard enough to make her stay hunched up to get it out. A little bit of straining is still better than the diarrhea as long as its productive and not constant. If you feel she needs some help we use the human baby suppositories and only use half of one of those up the rectum.

Q: We are now the proud grandparents of 10 little pot belly piglets. All piglets appear healthy and mama seems to be doing well and is following her instincts. We have seen all babies moving about and nursing. We are greatly concerned about 1 baby whose skin hasn’t finished forming and it has about a half dollar size oval on its back of exposed flesh.  Little “Chance” isn’t lethargic at all and is full of life and energy and so we would hate to think that the only solution is to put her down.

We have cleaned the wound to the best of our ability and are planning to keep her indoors for the next couple of days to give that area time to heal.  We were then hoping to put her back with her mama and siblings. We have read the other tips on this site and have gone and purchased some goats milk and rice cereal to start making her formula. In instances such as these, do you think it is best to leave the baby with her mama or do you think we are following the best route?

A: This would be a hard one to make that decision on without seeing the little piglet. My first inclination is to try if at all possible to leave them on their mom. They have a much better chance at survival on her than anything that any of us could do for them. You might be able to keep her in for a night but if you wait much more than that mom might have a problem taking her back again.

My thought would have been to leave her with mom for the first twenty four hours then if it was necessary to take her away she would have had the benefit of moms milk and colostrum for the first day and night. Not knowing just how bad the area is its hard to say what I might think the better way to go is. If its just the outer skin thats involved she would be ok to stay with mom. If her actual organs or nerves are exposed....that would be another story.

Please keep me posted on how she does ok?

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