A couple weeks ago, we bought a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig and named her Olive. Olive is 8 weeks old, weighs about 4 pounds, and is smaller than our Chihuahua mix. For the moment, she stays inside the house until we can make her a secure pigpen, which should only be another week.
There are many benefits to having a pig, especially if you garden. I read once that pigs are one of the best animals to have if you are committed to sustainability — properly managed, pigs can be a huge benefit to your garden and your life.
- Zero waste. Pigs eat nearly any type of kitchen scraps imaginable, from potato and carrot peelings to slightly overripe fruit, cucumber ends, and greens. Avoid giving your pig anything moldy, though, and aim for more veggies than fruit.
- Great fertilizer. As long as their manure is thoroughly composted, it’s perfect to use as a fertilizer or soil amendment. Avoid using raw manure especially in edible gardens, though, as pathogens haven’t had the chance to break down.
- Living rototiller. Pigs love to use their snouts to dig in the soil, turning it over to look for roots and bugs. We plan to let our goats eat down the end-of-season veggie garden, then put Olive in the garden and let her naturally turn the soil over before we add compost.
- Amusement. There’s no denying that pigs are sociable, funny, and smart. Whatever you can teach a dog to do, pigs can learn. They are also a bit stubborn, so be sure to let them know what the rules are from the beginning or they’ll run circles around you.
A note on pig size: Only buy a pig from a trusted source or breeder. There is no such thing as a miniature pig, but many “breeders” will try to sell you a tiny piglet with the promise that it will stay small and cute. Most pot-bellied pigs will grow from 75 – 200 pounds, with some variation on either end. Compared to full-grown hogs that weigh in at 1500 pounds, these pigs are small but they will not remain tiny like ours is now. Please understand the mature size and weight of any animal before you commit to raising it.