Mini Pig Body Condition Scoring and Hoof Health
[Latest Update: 3 Jan 2022]
Miniature pig body condition and hoof health go hand in hand. If your pig is being fed optimal nutrition and maintains an ideal mini pig body condition score, they can lead a comfortable, active, and healthy quality of life.
Miniature pigs vary in body type. Just as humans, pigs have different sized frames. Weight varies from one ideal mini pig body condition to another, so please do not think automatically that 100lb pig is at their ideal body condition score. A Kune Kune pig is structurally much larger than the average potbelly pig. Kune Kune and other larger swine breeds tend to range in the 250-300+lb range than other miniature pig breeds. A 75-100lb Kune Kune is often 12-16 months of age and still growing for another few years. However, a Potbelly pig could be fully grown at 5 years of age in that same weight for their frame. Even littermates fed identical range in weight and size once fully grown depending on their activity level and genetics. The key here is to make sure your pig is at a healthy body condition for their frame by adjusting their feed and activity levels as appropriate. Luckily, there are many visual cues you can take to make sure your pig is at a healthy body condition.
Feral vs. Domesticated
Pig do not ask to be obese or starved. In the wild, feral pigs are constantly on the move. They freely forage, find water and shelter, and keep with their herd to escape or fight potential predators. Feral pigs are genetically built for speed and power. Domesticated Potbelly pigs are at the mercy of their owners. In short, this can be for the best interest or most detriment of the pig.
In this blog, three mini pig body conditions will be covered: 1, 3, and 5. 1 is considered starvation, 3 is considered ideal, and 5 is considered obese. Body scores of 2 is considered underweight, and 4 is considered overweight. At the end of this blog, a mini pig body condition chart is available to see where your pig ranks. Please note these body condition images were designed for the most common Potbelly pig, a breed known for their round belly, erect ears, and a straight tail. There are many crosses/mixes of pig breeds that fall under the classification of a miniature pig. Most of the explanations apply for all pigs.
OBESITY IN MINIATURE PIGS
What does obesity in miniature pigs look like?
A miniature pig with too much weight on their frame can have one or more of the following traits:
- Belly dragging the ground
- Difficulty standing or laying down
- Slow, almost painful movement
- Grumpy or depressed behavior
- Lethargic behavior
- Severe dip in middle of spine due to excess belly fat
- Excess fatty tissue covering eyes, near ears, cheeks, neck, hocks, and/or shoulders
What common culprits lead to obesity in miniature pigs?
- High starch foods
- High sugar foods
- Processed human “junk” food
- Dog food (this should NEVER be fed to pigs)
- Hog finisher/grower feeds
- Large amounts of nuts/seeds (especially when grazing)
- Lack of activity levels
What issues can arise from obesity?
Common issues that can arise from obese pigs include the following:
- Vision impairment
- Hearing impairment
- Low to nonexistent activity levels
- Difficulty walking and easily winded
- Organ failure
- Reduced life expectancy
What hoof issues can arise from obesity?
- Overgrown hooves due to lack of activity
- Weaker hooves due to their inability to hold excess weight
- Hoof and coronary band trauma/stress present
- Stress cracks on underside of hoof wall
- Hoof wall flaring on the sides of the hooves
- Laminitis most often related to a diet of low quality and high sugar foods
Pigs are adorable. Because of their adorable faces and high intelligence, they will try to bribe owners and visitors into giving them treats and extra food. The term “loving your pet to death” is especially true when owning a pig. Pigs will constantly eat if given the opportunity. It is important to find the healthy balance of energy in (food) and energy expenditure (exercise) to keep your pig from becoming overweight. More often than not, proper hoof care will also raise activity levels if you are not seeing a change in your pig’s weight even after a diet change. If your pigs’ hooves are uncomfortable from being too long, having cracks, or sit at an uncomfortable angle, they will not want to move. After a proper trim with a professional pig hoof trimmer, many pigs begin to lose weight and become more mobile.
STARVATION IN MINIATURE PIGS
What does starvation in miniature pigs look like?
A miniature pig that is being starved or has been recently starved and currently being rehabbed can have one or more of the following traits:
- Hunched/arched stance
- Larger head in proportion to body
- Sunken in eyes
- Constant vocalization
- Frenzied and almost aggressive behavior, especially when food is present
- Dry and flaky skin
- Excessive spinal, rib, and/or hip bone protrusion
What common culprits lead to starvation in a mini pig?
- Too little commercial feed
- Minute amounts to no fresh produce offered
- No outdoor grazing time allowed
- Genetic/medical issues causing nutrients to not properly absorb
What issues can arise from starvation?
- Muscle atrophy
- Bone deformities
- Gum and tooth decay
- Overall poor skin/coat
- Organ failure
- Reduced life expectancy
What hoof issues can arise from starvation?
- Coffin bone and phalangeal joint deformities
- Stunted hoof growth pattern
- Uneven hoof growth pattern
- Hoof wall layer separation
As mentioned before, there is no ideal “weight” a miniature pig should be at. Those in the miniature pig rescue community know this as a fact. Due to the misinformation passed along by unethical pig breeders and misled pig owners, many pigs fall victim to starvation from being kept at a certain weight. Depending on the age of the pig, they can recover and live a healthy life. Unfortunately, not every pig can make it through the organ damage caused by malnutrition, such as Beacon who passed away mere months after being rescued.
OPTIMAL MINI PIG BODY CONDITION SCORE
What does an ideal body condition look like for a miniature pig?
- Rib, spine and hip bones felt when firmly palpated; otherwise cannot be seen visually
- Eyes easily visible
- Slight hourglass shape when viewed from the top
- Belly does not hang well below wrists/hocks
- Smooth locomotion
- Sound hoof health
- Ability to run and have zoomies
What does an average diet consist of for a healthy pig?
Average diets for pigs in an ideal mini pig body condition score contain a variety of foods. In order to maintain a balanced lifestyle for a pig, many pig owners look for seasonal fruits/vegetables in addition to their pelleted or natural mixed foods. Discounted produce can often be sourced at local farmer’s markets, produce co-ops, and smaller chain grocery stores.
- A mix of fresh leafy green and/or cruciferous vegetables a few times a week to daily salads for nutrients and added fiber
- Commercial feed offered at an average of 2% of a pig’s optimal body condition; this may adjust depending on their access to grazing outdoors and activity levels. If feeding a pelleted food, it is highly recommended to soak feed in water to avoid choking and keep pigs hydrated
- Mindful additions of fruits, colorful vegetables, and starchy foods (especially those high in oxalates) throughout the day/week
- Additions of omegas in the form of capsules, oils, or whole foods for optimal skin, hair, and hoof health
- A daily organic multivitamin (this too may depend on the pig and their individual needs)
Pigs in an ideal body condition with sound genetics tend to lead the longest life expectancy of 15-20+ years of age. Diligence pays off to keep your pig happy and healthy. In many cases, it is a family team effort to make sure your pig stays at a healthy body condition. When your pig is at his/her best, he/she tends to be more friendly, feisty, and everything in between.
Getting to an Ideal Mini Pig Body Condition Score
Need help to get your mini pig back on the right track, but unsure of where to begin? We offer a 3-month guided program to get overweight and obese pigs in better health. Send us an email with the subject “Pig Summer Body Program” for more information.
Also, check out these links for more resources to help your pig lose/gain weight and live a healthy life. The pages/groups below are excellent at providing information and positive support to help your pig get to their optimal body condition. NOTE: There are many resources available via social media and websites. This list is not all-inclusive, however, these are groups TMPF has personally consulted and refers clients to.
I Love Pot Belly Pigs (closed Facebook group)
Magnificent Pet Pigs (public Facebook page with linked closed Facebook group in their “community” tab)
Pigipedia.org (private Facebook group)
“Feeding Your Pig” by Gina Whalen of Magnificent Pet Pigs Education and Entertainment Group (Facebook closed group)
“Are You Starving Your Pig in an Attempt to Keep Them Small?” by Gina Whalen of Magnificent Pet Pigs Education and Entertainment Group (Facebook closed group)
About The Mini Pig Farrier™
The Mini Pig Farrier™ is the leading sedation free hoof and tusk trimming service and education platform. Johnathon and Katelyn Goltz once traveled the nation providing services. Now, TMPF pushes toward education and awareness of pig hoof health. The information given in this blog is a combination of research and first-hand experiences in the field.
As with any true professional with a passion to work with miniature pigs, the mini pig hoof care industry constantly grows and changes. The Mini Pig Farrier™ aims to continue improving effective and humane sedation free hoof/tusk trimming practices. Thus, research, development, and advances in miniature pig hoof health industry may continue to be passed along to mini pig owners and other professionals around the world.