We live in Western New York and our winters can be brutal. I am hoping we have a mild winter this year but last year I transitioned my first little piggie outside the end of February and we ended up having snow THROUGH APRIL! It was a long winter.
The thing I learned about that very hard time of transitioning my adorable little mini pig who was growing rapidly to an outdoor pig ( with inside visitations) was they are tough.
If you have a mini pig who lives inside with you 24/7 it is going to 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 amount of time each day every day. If you want to take your pig from indoor all the time to an outdoor pig, be sure to transition them before real 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 be something that happens to your pig if you go from one temperature to the next too quickly.
If you keep you pig outdoors and winter is fast approaching here are tips to help you and your pig have an easy transition.
You must have some type of shelter
We bought the igloo from Tractor Supply and it worked wonderfully. Our pig Bently was in a temporary pen for winter ( since we built a new barn shortly after).
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.
When Bently was outside with the igloo and tarp I used a bath blanket over his opening. 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 will drain off it. On the windy days, it worked. He knew to just push past it and out he came.
An even better idea to cover a hole for your piggy to go in and out during the winter is plastic bath math. Buy one longer than your door and if possible screw it to your enclosure. 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
This 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 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 their straw in their mouth. So cute by the way if you haven’t caught a glimpse of this, get your cameras ready.
Read how to we find our own hay and bale it for our animals here.
Fleece blankets are what I’ve had the most success with and they are warm. In the winter if you don’t provide enough straw I’ve noticed they will try to shred the blanket. This happened a lot more when Bently was in the house.
It could also be a because of boredom.
This 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 in the winter with snow on the ground and walk around. I know 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.
In the outdoor pig pen when the snow is getting over a foot high 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 up like a dog and they will burrow into their igloo or whatever area you have provided them with.
No Heaters Needed
I’m frugal so I tend to not purchase or buy things unless we 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 out in his igloo- happy. I was shocked at first too, I thought surely he is freezing. 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 themselves deep inside and stay toasty warm.
The thing with heaters if you are creating a warm temperature for them. Their bodies are equipped to embrace winter. 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, then my pig who was made to live outdoors being a little chilly. 🙂
Have them lay off the ground
If you are going to 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 when they walk into their enclosure they can go further back away from the snow and wet they brought in.
With an igloo, there is still plenty of room. Not a major requirement but it’s not fun if the blankets come out and get all wet and then frozen in their igloo.
They Will Grow Their Own Amazing Winter Coat
Once the temperature changes you pig will start to grow in a super thick coat. Again this is something that happens when your pig is accumulated to live outdoors. The first winter Bently was out his coat was nice and thick.
When he blew his coat this summer he went completely bald! 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 is something that will make your life and your pigs 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 in a place where temperatures get below freezing. This past winter was so cold and windy the chicken’s water bowl continued to have ice on the edge.
I’ve found the cheapest are the bowls you plug into. Depending on how many pigs you have will decide the size of bowl you need.
We got ours at Tractor Supply. We use one for each of our animal pens in the winter.
If you are keeping a pig inside during winter it can be quite a strain on your relationship. They are just as active in winter as spring. I find the same to be true even with our now full-time outdoor pigs.
The days they tend to hibernate in the barn are very windy days. 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 get an idea of what you will need this winter for your pig. It comes down to the two most important 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 video of our mini pigs!