Owning pigs can be a rewarding and profitable experience, but it also comes with certain responsibilities concerning the proper care and welfare of the pigs. This fact sheet provides some basic information regarding your obligations as an owner of pigs.
Pigs have 5 basic needs:
- Readily accessible food and water to maintain health and strength.
- Freedom of movement to stand, stretch and lie down.
- Visual and social interaction with other pigs.
- Accommodation which provides protection from the weather without causing injury or distress.
- Rapid identification and treatment of injury and disease.
Key requirements for transporting pigs:
- Pigs are intelligent, inquisitive animals that should be handled quietly and patiently and by an experienced livestock handler. Beating or continual prodding of any animals is not acceptable!
- Transportation of pigs should be conducted in a manner that minimizes stress, pain and suffering. Livestock selected for transport should be fit and healthy, be in good condition and able to stand without assistance for extended periods of time.
- Pigs should always be moved using a stock board (pictured above).
- Pigs showing signs of stress, such as sudden collapse, panting or trembling should be allowed time to rest and relax before being transported or moved.
- Pigs are unable to sweat to regulate their body temperature. Therefore, transporting pigs during hot and humid conditions can be dangerous to the health of the pig.
- Transport should occur either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and stocking densities should be reduced by 10% if the temperature is above 77oF.
- Vehicles used for transport of pigs must be constructed from materials that allow thorough cleaning to prevent transfer of disease.
- Floors should provide a non-slip surface that does not injure hooves or legs. Pigs have very sensitive skin, so transport vehicles must be covered to provide shelter.
Speak with your livestock hauler or broker if you need to organize transport for your pigs.
Caring for your pig:
Handling and housing facilities:
Pigs entering a new environment will be cautious and unsure. Handle them in a quiet, calm manner, allowing them to investigate their surroundings.
Closely observe the pigs for the first 24-48 hours to ensure that they are settling into their new home and are able to find their water and feed.
Housing facilities for pigs should be designed so that they are able to be cleaned easily. They should also be dry and protect pigs from adverse weather, injuries or other harm. Pigs are susceptible to both heat and cold stress. Therefore, they should be housed in facilities that allow for appropriate regulation of temperatures all year round.
In extremely hot weather, a form of cooling should be provided, such as misters, fans, water drippers, or an area of cool, damp ground. In cold weather, straw bedding, wood shavings, and/or supplemental heaters should be supplied to allow the pigs to remain warm and avoid drafts.
Pigs are very clean animals and if given the opportunity and the correct ventilation, they will defecate away from their sleeping and eating area. They will continue to go back to the same place each time.
Clean, fresh drinking water must always be easily available to pigs to meet their physiological needs. Water provided should be fresh, palatable and cool.
Water can be supplied through nipple or bowl drinkers. The delivery rate or flow rate of the water should be compatible with the requirements of different classes of pigs.
Different classes of pigs will drink different amounts of water (see Table 1). Water availability should be checked daily and more often in hot weather.
Table 1. Water requirements for pigs.
Class of Pigs
Average water consumption
(gallons per day)
Grower (60-100 lbs)
Finishing (100-250 lbs)
Sow with litter
Pigs are omnivores and only have one stomach. To keep them in good health and provide them with the required energy and nutrients, commercially produced feedstuffs are the best feed option. Commercial feeds can be obtained for nursery, grower, finisher and breeding animals.
Pigs should be fed at least once a day. Lactating sows, piglets and weaned piglets should be fed more often. Typically, growing pigs raised under commercial conditions are provided with unlimited access to feed from weaning until harvest.
The nutritional requirements of individual pigs are dependent upon their age and reproductive status. For a more detailed analysis of requirements, please contact your local Extension Educator or feed supplier.
** Feeding garbage, raw meat, meat scraps, or restaurant waste to pigs is illegal in the United States. Feeding unapproved foods may lead to an increased risk of disease in the pig and human.
Assessment of health of the pigs:
It is essential that owners of pigs are able to detect early signs of distress or disease.
Signs of ill health may include separation from other pigs, reduction in appetite, changes in urine or feces, vomiting, skin discoloration, shivering, sneezing, coughing, lameness and unusual sores.
Sick or injured pigs should be treated immediately and isolated if necessary. If the person responsible is not able to treat the pig or identify what is wrong with it, they should immediately seek advice from experts, such as veterinarians or other qualified personnel.
Many swine diseases are preventable through a well-designed swine vaccination program. Consult your local veterinarian for practical swine vaccination advice.
Identification and record keeping:
It is important to keep records of the person from whom you purchased the pig, as well as the date of purchase.
Accurate records should be kept on the case history and treatment of any diseased or injured pig, including assurance that appropriate drug and vaccine withdrawals are met prior to harvest. For this reason, accurate identification of animals is essential.
For more information, please contact:
- Dr. Steve Moeller (614-688-3686; firstname.lastname@example.org).
- The OSU Department of Animal Sciences website: http://ansci.osu.edu.
- Pork Information Gateway: http://ohio.porkgateway.org
This fact sheet was prepared by: Jessica Pempek, Dr. Steve Moeller, and Dr. Naomi Botheras. Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University. June 2013.
Information was adapted from: Transport and Care of Pigs, Ben Fahy, Department of Primary Industries, The State of Victoria, Australia. July, 2007.
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Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Director, OSU Extension TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868.