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Pork belly futures pretty good in Hancock County
By Daisy Mae Delray
Dec 10, 2013, 21:21

Jasmine is a potbellied pig whose owner lived in an apartment. The manager of the apartment building was not thrilled to discover a 250 pound indoor pig as a tenant. Jasmine had to go!
The Hancock County Animal Shelter got the call and agreed to take possession and try to place her. One of the veterinarians in the area offered to take our portly pig and put her on a diet, then get her to a pig sanctuary where she can be with others of her kind. So far so good -some pig chow and fresh vegetables and walks are taking the pounds off.
Two days later we were on our way home and spotted a beagle in the street. We slowed down to check the dog out and then we saw a black potbellied pig in the children's park. The gate was open so we closed it to keep the pig inside and off the road. Dorty Necaise, our Bay Saint Louis Animal Control Officer was called, and as we were waiting we walked up the street looking for a likely house where the pig resided. We found it. There are two potbellied pigs at this home the owner told us, Porkchop and Miss Piggy. It seems that Mr. Porkchop was out of the pen when the gate was being repaired and liked it so much that he has become quite an escape artist, going under and through to be out in the world, followed by his Beagle pal. This is not safe for either of them. Dorty had a talk with the owner and promised to come back and give him some ideas on keeping the pig in his pen.
We did some research on potbellied pigs. They are also called mini or Vietnamese or Chinese potbellied pigs. Kune Kune pigs are called minis but they reach 400 pounds.
Our new friends Porkchop and Miss Piggy are about a year old, nearly 100 pounds and will top out at 125-200 pounds.
The breed was introduced in the mid-1980's to the United States and when sold very young are soooooo cute. Consider that our pig pals are about 16" at the shoulder and are still growing. They will be around for 12 to 15 years so raising a potbellied pig as a pet is a significant investment in time and chow.
We read about the trendy new teacup potbellied pigs. Be very careful here. While it is possible to breed down in size, many of the places selling these pigs are promoting limited feeding to keep the size down which means malnourished pigs. Plus these designer pets cost a fortune and they get pretty good sized if fed correctly.
If you are considering a potbellied pig as a pet here are some points to ponder.
• Pigs are generally clean, odorless animals but, if they spend a lot of time outside they need a pool or puddle for cooling off because they don't sweat. They can be litter trained but if they do their business outside expect some rooting around. A person wanting a well manicured lawn will be fighting a losing battle.
• Our pig pals need to be spayed or neutered when they are about eight weeks old and their needle feet need to be removed. An unspayed female will go into heat at around 12 to 16 weeks and can go into heat every 21 days and become very moody. An intact male, to be blunt about it, stinks and gets very aggressive. Potbellies are herd animals with a strong pecking order and if spoiled they become territorial and can be aggressive towards humans, especially strangers.
• Pigs generally are very healthy but they need yearly vaccines, hoof trimmings and an overall physical. Not easy to transport, this can be a major issue when treating for pneumonia or bronchitis which they are susceptible to because of their small lung size. Finding a vet knowledgeable in the health care of potbellied pigs can prove difficult and, or expensive.
• Pigs are very trainable if taught to trust their owner with firm but gentle discipline. Food is a good positive reinforcement. Most owners that understand their personalities do very well and teach them tricks as pigs have great memories and respond well to demands.
•Gee, these guys sound great on paper but you have to be a certain kind of person to adapt to life with a potbellied pig. Winston Churchill said, " Cats look down on you; dogs look up to you; but pigs look you in the eye as an equal." Studies show that these porcine playmates. "Have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated, even more so than dogs and certainly more than three year olds." Donald Broom, Professor of Animal welfare at Cambridge University made these remarks when ranking pigs just below chimps, dolphins and elephants on the intelligence scale.
The studies also show when comparing pigs and dogs in the smarts department that we have a real advantage in our reasons for doing things for you. Pigs are more independently minded with food as their motivator while loyalty and eagerness to please are our primary motivators. Have a potbellied pig if you must but be prepared to live with a three year old for 15 years if you are not willing to do the work that keeps you "top hog" in your family.
Keep your tail high and your feet dry .

– Love
Daisy Mae


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