It’s not very well known, but there is a big issue with little pigs. Lollypop Farm currently has over 20 potbellied pigs, the majority of whom were admitted because they were not the “micropig” their family was expecting.
Time and time again, sickly, malnourished and mistreated pigs arrive at rescue shelters, their conditions often misunderstood by their previous owners. Pig owners that purchase “mini,” “micro,” or “teacup” pigs are shocked when their tiny pets grow into full-sized potbellied pigs and are often horrified to learn that they have been feeding them only a fraction of what a growing pig needs to consume to be healthy and strong. To illustrate this unfortunately common problem, we’d like you to meet Willie.
Willie arrives at Lollypop Farm
When this 3-year-old pig arrived at Lollypop Farm, it was immediately obvious to the farm staff that something was wrong. His head was too large for his body, a result of being malnourished. He was skin and bone, and he collapsed under his own weight when he tried to run. The farm staff learned from Willie’s previous family that this little pig had been purchased from a breeder and sold as a “micro-pig.” Without proper dietary instructions, Willie didn’t receive the amount of food that a growing pig needs and his body didn’t develop the way that it should have.
The unsuspecting family had no idea the severity of his condition because the expectation from both the breeder and the media was that he would stay small. Willie was so thin when he arrived that he had to be fed in very small amounts to start, just because his stomach couldn’t handle the amount of food that a pig his age should have been eating.
The myth surrounding micro-pigs
Pigs are wonderful, intelligent creatures who deserve homes that understand their needs and recognize that they won’t stay small forever. The average pot belly pig tends to weigh anywhere between 80 and 180 pounds. The concept of a “micro pig” that will remain less than 50 pounds when fully grown is an unfortunate myth often perpetuated by breeders.
Even with all of the information available about the reality of potbellied pig growth, the media and pig breeders still perpetuate the idea of “micro,” “mini” or “teacup” pigs, when in reality none of these exist. These terms were first used as size references because potbellied pigs are naturally much smaller than farm pigs. When breeders realized that there was a market for tiny pigs, they began breeding pigs specifically to get smaller and smaller creatures. These types of breeders make many claims that their pigs will stay small, but to achieve these results they instruct unsuspecting buyers to underfeed their baby pigs, resulting in stunted growth. Some breeders will show interested buyers the parent pigs as a guarantee that the offspring will remain small, but this is still no guarantee – pigs are often bred before they are fully grown, which isn’t until they reach 4-5 years old.
Willie regains his health
With the help of the farm staff at Lollypop Farm, Willie was able to recover from his rough start. Through a careful process, they were able to wean Willie onto an appropriate diet and help him put on some much-needed weight. Willie went to a permanent home at a potbellied pig rescue, where he will be able to live a happy, healthy life.
Want to learn more about our potbellied pals and other farm yard friends? Join us May 5th for Pig-a-palooza and Farm Day! It’s going to be a pig-tacular day filled with family fun. Learn more at: Lollypop.org/farmday.