We live in Western New York, and our winters can be brutal. I hope we have a mild winter this year, but last year, I transitioned my first little piggie outside at the end of February, and we ended up having snow THROUGH APRIL! It was a long winter.
I learned about that tricky time of transitioning my adorable little mini pig, growing quickly, to an outdoor pig ( with inside visitations) as they are challenging.
If you have a mini pig who lives inside with you 24/7, it will be hard to leave them outside during the day in winter. If, of course, you live in a place where you see temps drop below 30 degrees.
The best thing you can do is have your pig go outside for the same time each day. If you want to take your pig from indoors all the time to an outdoor pig, be sure to transition them before actual winter temperatures.
With any animal, it’s hard for them to adjust to such extreme temperatures without their little bodies going into shock.
Have you heard of Dippity? This could happen to your pig if you go from one temperature to the next too quickly.
If you keep your pig outdoors and winter is fast approaching, here are tips to help you and your pig easily transition.
You must have some shelter
We bought the igloo from Tractor Supply, and it worked wonderfully. But, unfortunately, our pig Bently was in a temporary pen for winter ( since we built a new barn shortly after). Our pigs still love their igloos five years later, so they are worth the price.
We used a tarp to give him a second shelter from the wind. It is best to have something else blocking the wind other than the igloo.
I used a bath blanket over his opening when Bently was outside with the igloo and tarp. I also put a blanket over it, and he would push right past it.
It’s all I had extra, and I put the plastic side to the outside. I thought at least some water would drain off it. On the windy days, it worked. He knew to push past it, and out he came.
Plastic bath math is an even better idea to cover a hole for your piggy to go in and out during the winter. Buy one longer than your door, and screw it to your enclosure if possible. If your pig doesn’t push through at first, leave it open to give them an idea.
Clear vinyl from Home Depot is another great idea.
- READ OR PIN: How to Make a Pig Pen Out of Pallets HERE
Here is what our current pen for the pigs looks like now. They will have the option this winter to go inside the barn.
The image below is from March 2018! He has grown so much since then.
Provide Straw & Blankets
I was amazed at how much Bently built up the inside of his igloo. He would continue to bring straw in when he needed it. Keep your straw out of the elements so it stays dry. Pigs are amazing.
Even before I feel the temperatures dropping at night, the pigs will start collecting the straw in their mouth. So cute, by the way; if you haven’t seen this, get your cameras ready.
Please read how to find and bale our hay for our animals here.
Fleece blankets are what I’ve had the most success with, and they are warm. However, if you don’t provide enough straw in the winter, they will try to shred the blanket. This happened a lot more when Bently was in the house.
It could also be because of boredom.
Here is what our current pig’s bed looks like now outside in our new barn!
Shovel A Path
Bently has never been afraid of snow. Even when he was a few months old, he would go outside with snow on the ground and walk around in the winter. Many people who have their pig inside tend to forget these animals were made to live outdoors. Their skin is so thick; they can handle the cold.
When the snow is getting over a foot high in the outdoor pigpen, I go out and shovel out a clearing. If it’s a cold day, but the sun is out, they will want to lay and soak in the rays.
When their hooves are freezing, they will lift them like a dog and burrow into their igloo or whatever area you have provided them with.
No Heaters Needed
I’m frugal, so I tend not to purchase or buy things unless I have to. Are you familiar with the whole chickens need a heat lamp or don’t?
It’s similar to pigs. Last year, we had temps in the teens, and Bently was happy in his igloo. I was shocked at first, too; I thought surely he was freezing. But, nope, he would still come out and greet me.
He may have only been out for a minute and went back in, but he was always warm enough. If you provide enough blankets and straw, they will burrow deep inside and stay warm.
The thing with heaters is that you are creating a warm temperature for them. Their bodies are equipped to embrace winter. Please provide them with straw, and nature kicks in. They know exactly what to do. Our pigs have never had a heating mat. They survived and thrived!
A heat lamp runs the risk of a fire. I’m more concerned about this than my pig, who was made to live outdoors, being a little chilly. 🙂
Have them lay off the ground
If you use an igloo or some other type of shelter, it’s best to have something off the ground. The igloo we have is a few inches off the ground. This is just better insulation for the pigs.
It will keep the blankets and straw dry. Try to create a space that is large enough. Then, when they walk into their enclosure, they can go further away from the snow and wet they brought in.
With an igloo, there is still plenty of room. Not a necessary requirement, but it’s not fun if the blankets come out and get all wet and frozen in their igloo.
They Will Grow Their Own Amazing Winter Coat
Once the temperature changes, your pig will grow in a super thick coat. Again, this happens when your pig is accustomed to living outdoors. The first winter Bently was out. His coat was nice and thick.
When he blew his coat this summer, he went completely bald! So, our rescue pig, Olive, will be experiencing her first winter outdoors, and I am sure her coat will be a natural way to keep her warm this winter.
READ OR PIN FOR LATER: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE FOR A MINI PIG TO BLOW ITS COAT & TIPS HERE
Heated Water Bowl
This will make your life and your pig’s life easier. If you are cheap, you may not want to invest in a heated bowl, but who has time to walk outside, crack off all the ice and then fill it up to freeze again.
It’s a must when you live where temperatures get below freezing. Unfortunately, this past winter was so cold and windy the chicken’s water bowl continued to have ice on edge.
I’ve found the cheapest are the bowls you plug into. Depending on how many pigs you have will decide the size of the bowl you need.
We got ours at Tractor Supply. We use one for each of our animal pens in the winter.
If you keep a pig inside during winter, it can be quite a strain on your relationship. However, they are just as active in winter as spring. I find the same true even with our now full-time outdoor pigs.
The days they tend to hibernate in the barn are very windy. But, even with that, they are tough animals, and they love being outside.
If you need some tips on things that worked to keep my mini pig, who was only indoors, occupied, read the article here.
I hope this helps you understand what you will need this winter for your pig. It comes down to the two most essential items: shelter and straw. Assuming you have everything else already.
Are you a new pig parent? Check out the popular 8 Dos and Don’ts of bringing home a mini pig article here.
You can also check out our Vlog for a video of our mini pigs!