Pigs are very smart with an IQ of a three year old child! Because pigs are so smart they can get bored and destructive easily. Whether you own livestock pigs, or a potbelly pig in your house, enrichment will help prevent your pigs from getting bored and destructive.
There are all sorts of toys and ideas of things for pig enrichment. Make sure you switch it up with your pig. If you gave him the treat ball yesterday, don’t give it to him today. Try to wait at least a week before they get that same type of enrichment again. That way they won’t get bored of the enrichment.
A type of feeding enrichment should be done almost everyday for pet pigs. With livestock pigs you do want them to eat all of their food, so if you do want to try a food enrichment for them make sure they’ll still be able to eat all that you gave them.
Throwing the food- For pet pigs you can help them use their rooting instinct to find their pig food either in your yard or inside the house. By throwing their food instead of just feeding it to them, they get food and exercise and you get entertainment watching them find it all!
Food balls- There are several different types of food balls, or food dispensing toys. And you can get one specifically for feeding pigs their food. There are several different kinds and they all are solved in different ways, but having one or two for your pig is a good idea.
Rooting boxes- Pigs love rooting, and if you have an indoor pig it could be hard to provide that for them. However by getting a ball pit, or a large cardboard box filled with paper shreds you could give them a nice place to root for their food!
Snuffle mats- Snuffle mats are usually used for dogs or cats, but pigs love them too! You can scatter their food throughout the mat and the pig can find it by rooting and snuffling for it.
Hay pile- You could use a hay pile and throw treats inside. The pigs will go go about rooting for the food, but they get an extra challenge because whenever the hay pile moves the food will move. This can be quite messy, but if you wanted to do this enrichment idea for your livestock pigs, you could. Any type of food could be put in the hay pile, but if there’s smaller pieces of food opt for a smaller hay pile.
Frozen treats- You can freeze fruits and vegetables inside of a big block of ice during the summer when its hot outside. The pigs can then try to eat the treats while the block melts.
Training- Because pigs are very smart, you can train them to do all sorts of tricks. You could even feed them their daily food this way! The pig gets little pieces of food when they do the trick correctly. Not only is your pig challenged at learning new things, but they are also creating an even closer bond with you.
Hang a watermelon(or other large treat)- Hang a watermelon or large squash and watch you pig try to eat it as it’s swinging around! Freeze the watermelon for an even harder challenge.
Bobbing for treats- During the summer take a kiddie pool and fill it up with water. Throw treats inside so the pigs can go try to get them!
Olfactory enrichment, or scent enrichment can be very entertaining for pigs. Since they have such a strong sense of smell they will love having new scents to explore. Use essential oils on things like soccer or basket balls so that pigs can roll them around. Some safe essential oils for pigs are but aren’t limited to:
- Hay Leaf
Just do your research about an essential oil before giving it to your pigs. Also make sure that whatever you’re applying the smell to can’t be swallowed by your pig. Only scent things like big tree stumps and large balls so that the pig can’t eat it.
Sand box- Pigs love rolling around in the sand, so by providing them with a sand box or sand pit they can be having fun rooting and rolling around instead of being bored!
Toys- Make sure your pigs have toys to play with! Things like balls and buckets. You could get a toy that was specifically made for pigs or you could get some horse toys. Baby toys can work too, as long as the pig can’t swallow the pieces.
Mud wallow- Pigs love rolling around in mud, they do it to keep cool in the summer time. By creating a nice wallow for them they can roll around in there and get lots of enrichment!
Take your pig on walks- Harness train your pig and walk them around! Pigs love exploring and even if it’s just around the block, they will enjoy all the new sights and smells!
Scratcher- Scratchers or mounted brushes can be lots of fun to let your pig use. You can mount a brush outside on a pole and watch your pigs rub all over it! Livestock will love this one too!
There’s lots of fun things you can do to give pigs a wonderful life! I hope that if you have pigs that you’ll try some of these things out! Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for more posts on enrichment for your animals!