Everyone seems to tell us how pigs are supposed to be smart, so before we bought our two we believed this. Unfortunately, I’m really starting to think our pigs aren’t very bright. I’m not sure if its their breeding or just their individual personalities.
Everything seemed to be going along fine until we let them out of the small square cattle panel pen. We thought they would love to roam and root around and explore their new expanded digs. Along with expanding their pen we also installed a gravity feeder. Their little feeder was getting annoying to fill multiple times a day.
Well, the pigs didn’t like their new feeder. It made noise when they bumped it. They wouldn’t eat out of it unless we were standing in the pen right next to it. Finally we resorted to taking off the lid of the feeder so they would be less skittish. It seemed to work a little.
Then the pigs seemed hungry and we weren’t seeing them using their feeder much at all. They are basically afraid to venture out of the little square cattle panel pen. The feeder station was set up outside of this comfort zone. When they don’t eat very much, it’s bad for us because they aren’t gaining weight (making them even less cost effective on butcher day).
Finally Lee decided to move their feeder into the enclosure of the cattle panel pen. He chose a spot right next to their bed and the waterer. It is installed on the cattle panel with a piece of scrap board between them.
Suddenly we have happy pigs and the next few days after that we start hearing the clanging of the lid signaling to us that the feeder is in use. The pigs seem to be back on track for gaining weight and are tearing through their food again.
They still won’t explore their pen. About as far as they will come is up to the gate. If I walk into their pen they will follow me around and start rooting. As soon as I leave they run back to the safety of their cattle panel pen.
Another thing people like to tell us is how clean pigs will be if they have room. Well…they seem to like to pee and poop right next to their feeder and waterer. Yeah, it’s all basically in one spot, but that “spot” is about half of their original pen. I thought they would pick a place further from food and shelter, especially when they have so much room.
I guess I am wondering what people mean when they say pigs are smart. Are those smart pigs heritage breeds? Are there certain pig traits that make them smart that I am missing? Or is this just a myth that seems to get passed from person to person without anyone knowing what they are talking about? Regardless of whether they are smart, I have really been enjoying having them around. They are always excited to see you, just the aspect of having a pig suddenly makes your place seem cool, they aren’t much work, the smell isn’t that bad (for our two), and they are interesting to watch.