So-called 'micro pig' breeders telling porkies
There is no such thing as a micro pig - the latest celebrity pet craze - according to an award winning breeder and author of the new Haynes Pig Manual (published 7 April 2011).
The Beckhams, Paris Hilton, and Charlotte Church are just some of the celebrities who've been seduced by the idea of a tiny porcine pet, but Liz Shankland says so-called 'teacup pigs' are nothing more than a marketing gimmick and there are no guarantees they will stay small.
Trading Standards departments in several parts of the UK are dealing with complaints from disgruntled owners whose pets have grown to the size of commercial porkers - more than 100kg in weight - and are demanding their money back.
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Pet lovers have been parting with up to £1,500 for a tiny piglet - only to find that it grows and grows. Many mistakenly think pigs can be kept indoors, along with domestic pets, but find to their cost that floors and furniture quickly get destroyed, as pigs exhibit their natural behaviour of rooting with their powerful snouts.
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Liz Shankland says some unscrupulous breeders have been attempting to achieve smaller than average pigs by breeding runt to runt - mating the smallest from each litter or even brothers and sisters - and by breeding from animals which are under-nourished, not fully-grown, and sometimes closely-related. However, because of their lack of knowledge of genetics, they are experiencing "throwbacks" to the pigs' ancestors.
"There is no such breed as a 'micro pig'," says smallholder and Tamworth pig breeder Liz Shankland.
"These so-called micro or mini pigs are often bred by crossing young pigs from conventional breeds - including Tamworths and Gloucestershire Old Spots. These are BIG breeds. Some of my Tamworths can weigh as much as 400kg. It's the same principle as two short humans having a child which grows up to tower over them - because one of the grandparents was extremely tall.
"Many of the pigs which have been sold as expensive pets are being re-sold or given to animal rescue centres because their owners are horrified at the size they have ended up. But the biggest shock comes to those people who think they can have a house pig. Pigs need to be able to exercise their natural instincts - one of which is to turn over the earth looking for food. If they haven't got access to outdoors, they turn to churning up carpets, wooden floors, and tiles. They also need the company of their own kind. Keeping a lone pig - even if there are other animals around - is just plain cruel.
"Pigs can make wonderful pets, but only in the right environment - outdoors. Contrary to popular opinion, they're clean and extremely intelligent - but you should never forget that they are not like cats or dogs. They can be aggressive - particularly uncastrated boars, but also females when they are in season. They should NEVER be left alone with children."
Keeping pigs as pets is just one of the many subjects set out in the Haynes Pig Manual by award winning breeder and small holder Liz Shankland. This a no nonsense guide to pig-keeping, whether your interest is filling your freezer, starting a new business, managing land the traditional way, or simply taking on some charismatic new pets.
The Pig Manual includes everything necessary to get you started, from rules, regulations and legal requirements to where to buy pigs and what to look for. Step-by-step advice on breeding, choosing stock, nutritional and medicinal care plus how to get the most out of showing pigs is all included.
As well as the practical instructions such as feeding, fencing and housing, the Pig Manual also gives guidance on 'eating your own' complete with psychological preparation, transportation, abattoirs and butchering.
One of the best things about keeping pigs to eat, according to the author, is having complete control over what goes into your pork and producing meat that is healthy and full of flavour.
The economic case for small-scale pig farming is also building. Whilst commercial producers are facing losses, smallholders are charging a premium for high quality, fully traceable meat, sold through famers' markets or direct to the consumer.
Packed with colour photos and clear step-by-step text, the Pig Manual is ideal for beginners who need advice on buying and rearing their first pigs and may want to progress to breeding. It's also a handy resource for the more experienced pig-keeper who occasionally needs to dip into a quick-reference manual for help and reassurance.
About the Author
Liz Shankland has a smallholding 800ft up a mountain in Wales, where she has kept pigs, sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys.
She is a journalist and broadcaster, and is the resident pig expert for Country Smallholding magazine.
A respected breeder of pedigree Tamworth pigs, Liz's herd has won many top prizes, including the Tamworth Champion of Champions.
The information on this page is supplied courtesy of Haynes Publishing, please credit accordingly if you intend to use it. For more information or to request a review copy please contact Spirit PR on 0117 944 1415 or email Haynes PR
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