Photo Credit: @abythepig3
If you keep your mini pig outside year-round, you will need to make some accommodations for the cold winter months. Even just 50 degrees might be too cold for a very young pig and can hurt them, while older pigs can actually withstand some pretty cold weather.
How do you keep mini pigs warm in the winter?
Along with a fenced-in area outside for your mini pig, you need to create an enclosed area such as a barn or pigpen to keep them dry. Along with that, you need to get extra bedding (stray and hay). I recommend getting a second pig so that they both can heat each other with their body heat.
You can also use blankets, heat lamps, and whatever else you can find to keep your mini pig warm. The main thing you need to worry about is keeping your pig dry. Wet and cold pigs are when there will really start to become a problem.
How cold is too cold?
Generally, if the temperature is below freezing, your pig will start to really feel the cold and it can cause many problems. If you notice your pig(s) are shivering, coughing, snotty, or have sunken eyes, get them warm as fast as you can.
Pig’s hair and fat keep them warm in reasonably cold weather. They like the cold much more than the warm because pigs don’t really have a way to cool themselves of by sweating, so that is why they roll in the mud during hot summer days.
If your pig weighs over 60 pounds they should be able to handle most cold temperatures (even freezing). I still recommend creating an indoor area though because there will be times they get cold and will want somewhere to warm up.
Creating an indoor area for your pig
When the temperature gets too cold, an indoor area such as a barn, pigpen, or shed is necessary. They need to be able to block the wind and have insulation to protect your pig from the cold. Many people install heaters or heat lamps inside their indoor area as well.
Sometimes you can even create an indoor/outdoor area where half of it is outdoors and half indoors. This is very common on farms and it will give your pig(s) lots of freedom.
One of my friends on Instagram has two Kunekune pigs that she keeps outdoors. Below is what the inside of her indoor area looks like. Her pigs sleep there every night.
As you can see, it doesn’t even have to be that big. As long as it blocks the wind and provides enough room to sleep, your good. If you do decide on making it small though, you need to have a fenced-in area outside where your pig(s) can roam.
Insulating and bedding
Now that you have an indoor area, you will need to make sure your pig(s) will be worm inside. By using straw and/or old hey, you can create bedding that will also keep them warm. Having multiple pigs will also greatly help as they can heat each other with their body heat.
Depending on how your setup is, you might have an opening that leads to a fenced-in area outside, or you might just have a door. If it is open to the outside, I would recommend getting a heat lamp so on very cold days your pig(s) can stay warm. Just make sure the heat lamp is positioned correctly so your pig(s) won’t get burned.
How do you give your pig water in below-freezing temperatures?
Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to give your pigs water when the water just freezes overnight. Most people do the dump the ice out and refill the water supplies with non-frozen water every morning. This can be very time consuming and takes a lot of work.
If you heat your barn or pigpen, you could keep the water from freezing or you could get a water heater. Tank water heaters such as this one here on Amazon can keep your water from freezing but will use a lot of electricity. Make sure to read the instructions and be careful, you don’t want to accidentally electrocute your pigs.
How to keep your pig entertained in the wintertime?
With the lack of grass and dirt, it becomes harder for pigs to root (something they do often when they’re bored). This may cause a bored pig that can start to squeal loudly or even destroy your stuff out of boredom.
Straw and hay are a great way to replicate grass and give your pig a place to root during the winter. Fill in their area with an excess of this to keep them entertained.
There are also plenty of toys and clever ways to feed your pig(s) as well. I talk about these in this article here. You can use food to entertain your pig in so many ways. Hiding treats inside their bedding and having them root around trying to find them is something I’m sure they will love doing.
How do you get your pig to go outside if they don’t want to?
The simple answer is to use food. Pigs are extremely food driving and you can get them to do most things just by using it as a tool. You want to try to incorporate outside time as part of their daily routine.
This will start to make your pig realize that the cold isn’t really that bad and they’ll start to become more willing to go outside and do their duty.
How the cold can help your pig
If it’s too cold it will obviously not be good, but if it’s just a little bit cold, it actually can be good. Mini pigs have troubles with parasites, and you are supposed to deworm them every 6 months or so. When the air is cold, the parasites die, so you don’t have to worry about them infecting your pig.
Can young pigs be kept outside in the wintertime?
Adult pigs (at least one year of age) are much better suited for the outdoors as they have enough fur and body fat to keep them warm. Younger pigs might have some troubles especially if you don’t have a heat lamp or multiple pigs to keep themselves warm.
If your pig is under one, you can test to see if they are ok outside by letting them stay out there for a couple of hours and if they seem to be shivering, coughing, snotty, or have sunken eyes, get them to warmth and keep them there.
If the temperature drops far below freezing, let them inside your warm home. It’s not worth taking the risk with young pigs.
Additional things you might need to worry about
During the fall season when the acorns start to fall off acorn trees, make sure you don’t let your pig eat any. They will probably try and eat them, but acorns can actually be very poisonous to pigs and can cause many health problems including death.
Make sure to cover the ice with sawdust, blankets, or something that will keep your pig from slipping. Trust me, it’s actually very common for pigs to slip and get injured from falling on the ice. Remember, pigs usually don’t know what ice is and how they can slip on it, so it’s your responsibility to account for it.