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VACTF Manual: Chapter 6: Animal Care Practices


Female - Sow
Young female - Gilt (female that has not yet given birth)
Male - Boar
Castrated male - Barrow
Young weaned pig, either sex - Shoat

Basic Animal Care Practices

NOTE: Feed and water requirements will vary considerably depending on the age of the animal, its size, amount of exercise or work that it performs, and physiologic status (e.g. whether pregnant or lactating, climate, etc.)

Remember that The Department of Agriculture must be consulted before any enforcement action is taken involving livestock or poultry (Title 13, Section 354 (3) (a))

  • It is recommended that fresh, clean water be available at all times.

  • Should be fed complete pig ration at least twice a day; many complete pig rations are available on the market today. Vermont state law prohibits the feeding of food waste or garbage to swine without a permit (See Title 6, Chapter 113). They can be fed table left-overs only from one's own household that are free of any plastic spoons, wrappers, animal bones, etc. Area should be large enough to allow all animals access to food.

  • Don't need a salt block as long as they get a minimum of 1 to 2 pounds daily of a complete swine ration.

  • Should be provided with shelter that protects them from rain, snow, and drafts. Concrete, sloped pens that can be hosed down, expanded metal or slotted floors, or a clean, bedded pen are necessary for housing. Straw should be used in cold weather to help keep them warm.

    IMPORTANT: In the summer, shade is extremely important; if they are not provided with sufficient shade, pigs may die of heat exhaustion. It is NOT acceptable to have them in the mud constantly because of the parasite potential. An occasional mudbath is very enjoyable for them, but pigs should have a dry area available to them.

  • Shelter should allow enough room so that the pigs are not overcrowded.

  • Hoof care is not needed.

Additional recommendations

Should be wormed twice a year and receive shots based on veterinarian's recommendations (including rabies in endemic areas).

Signs of neglect/cruelty - what to look for

Appearance of animal: thinness; scratching and reddened or scabby skin may indicate the presence of lice or mange; limping. (If you see any of these signs, contact a veterinarian to examine animals.)

Housing Conditions: filthy, muddy, sloppy, manure and trash-laden pens; lack of ventilation; lack of light; no dry areas for them to be dry and clean; overcrowding can lead to disease and sickness in pigs, and will prevent the weaker ones from gaining access to food sources.

Behavior: dull, minimally responsive, listless, not interested in surroundings; drooping head. Note that pigs are shy with strangers.

If any of the elements above are present, arrange to have a veterinarian examine animals.

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