All pigs should live in a suitable and comfortable environment. A pig’s home affects how a pig feels, thinks and behaves. Providing your pig with shelter and a comfortable resting area is one way you can make sure that your pig stays healthy and happy.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act outlines how people must take care of and act towards animals in New Zealand. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Police and SPCA work together to make sure people in New Zealand follow these laws.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all animal guardians (owners) are responsible for making sure the welfare needs of animals in their care are met. Learning about the Five Domains helps us to understand these welfare needs and how we can make sure we provide these. One of the Five Domains is Environment. In this section you will learn about this domain and how you can make sure your pigs have the right environment, shelter, bedding, etc. they need for positive welfare.
If your pig will be living outside, you will need to make sure their housing area is safe and secure from either them being able to escape or from other animals coming into their environment.
This requires sturdy fencing to help keep your pig in its own area, and to prevent them from going into places they shouldn’t or possibly becoming lost, or getting hurt. A sturdy fence will also help prevent other animals from disturbing or upsetting your pig.
All pigs need a weatherproof, well-ventilated, comfortable shelter to feel safe and secure in. This might be a shed, or barn or even an arc. Your pig's shelter should keep out the rain and the wind, keeping your pig warm and dry inside. It is also important that their arc is in a sheltered area and not placed directly into the wind.
During the hot summer months, your pig’s shelter should also protect them from becoming too hot and should be well ventilated. Make sure that your pig’s shelter (arc) isn’t made out of material that heats up in the sun (like metal) and it may have vents in the back or side walls which allow the air to move around in the shelter, so it’s not too hot.
Inside your pig's shelter, they also need bedding to help keep them warm and dry. Otherwise, it would be like you sleeping without blankets in winter - brrrrrr! Pigs also love to build nests, so the best way to provide for both comfortable, warm bedding and being able to make a good, deep nest, is to provide material for your pig to use. For this, you should use clean, dry straw or hay.
You will need to top up your straw bedding in your pig’s shelter regularly, and make sure to check that the bedding is clean and fresh all the time, otherwise, it’s not very comfortable for your pig. Make sure you provide enough straw so the bedding and nest can be quite deep. If you have more than one pig, which we recommend, you might notice your pigs cuddling up together, as they are very affectionate and also cuddle up to one another for warmth.
Depending on whether your pig lives in a barn, where the floor might be earthen, or whether they sleep in an arc outside with a wooden floor, the flooring of your pig’s shelter should be sturdy and stable, as pigs like to feel their hoofs are firmly on the ground at all times.
The flooring should be slip resistant so that your pig is not likely to slip or fall over and injure themselves. You can ensure this by either using rubber matting on the floor where they walk about in the barn, or cover the area they live in, sleep in, with hay. The flooring should also be comfortable enough that it will not hurt your pig’s feet to walk or stand on.
An interesting fact is that pigs are not able to cool down by sweating – like we can – therefore it is very important that they are able to keep cool by other means when the weather is warm. To protect your pig from the sun, and hot temperatures, you should provide shade for their environment outside. This can be done with shady trees or hedges or areas covered by shade cloth, or a sheltered area which provides some moving air out of the sun.
Some pigs also have very light skin and can become sunburnt outside if no shelter is provided – just like you and me. Another way to keep your pig cool is to provide them with a wallow. Pigs love to wallow in mud as a way to cool down and not overheat. For smaller pigs, you might use a small kiddie pool with fresh, clean water, or even hose them down with water outside. For larger pigs, a hole in the ground filled with enough water that the ground around becomes muddy is just perfect for your pig.
This way it creates a wallow, in which your pig will “wallow” in, just make sure that the wallow doesn’t dry out or become too deep with mud. Mud can also act as a sunscreen for your pig, providing protection from the sun and keeping your pig cool at the same time.
Pigs love to forage and root up the ground, so there should be grass/pasture available to pigs in the area they live in. You can read more about the need of pigs to root up the ground in our Behaviour section.
Just remember to keep any flower or vegetable gardens fenced off from your pigs if you don’t want these to also be rooted up and destroyed by your naturally curious pig.
Contrary to popular belief, pigs are not dirty animals. They actually really enjoy being clean and having a large enough area where they can keep their different living areas separate.
For example, your pig needs an area large enough so that the toilet area can be separate to where they sleep. If you provide a large enough area outside, plus a warm comfortable shelter or arc, your pig will go outside to toilet. Pigs are very smart and can also be toilet trained.
Pigs are naturally intelligent, playful animals, therefore the more space you can give them, the better off they will be. A pig who does not have a lot of activity throughout the day or is frustrated because of lack of space can become destructive.
If you have enough space for the pigs to root around on the ground and forage, grassy areas, area where your pig can go to the toilet (far away from their sleeping area), enough room for a good muddy wallow, good sturdy fencing and a comfortable shelter – you should have enough space for your pig to live comfortably.
There are many different breeds of pigs, which grow to different sizes - allow more than enough space for your pig based on the final size your pig will become.
Depending on where you live, it is always important to check with your local Council on conditions for keep farmed animals on your property.