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    Diary of Our Mini Pig Addition

    Authored by Amy Mings

    When we first decided to add a miniature pig to our hobby farm, we knew we wanted a pig with a friendly, peaceful temperament since we have young children. We stumbled upon a local listing for a Juliana piglet and immediately fell in love! After researching the miniature Juliana breed, we learned this domesticated pig originated from Europe. We purchased a silver male who was used to being around humans. He loved to cuddle and had a great personality; we named him Orval. While Juliana pigs are very intelligent and can be litterbox trained and kept indoors, we opted to keep our piglet outside with the rest of our hobby farm animals. 

    In preparation for Orval’s arrival, we made a three-sided pig shed with wood and a metal roof from leftover projects. Along with the pig shed, we decided to enclose a separate area for Orval so our other animals could acclimate to him. Using our existing pasture, we enclosed a three-sided pen under a large pine tree which would offer plenty of protection. One side of the pen was our backyard picket fence, and the other was part of our 2x4 welded wire pasture fencing. For the remaining side, we used chicken wire and buried it as we knew miniature pigs were prone to rooting. To make the pen a little more private and create a protective habitat, we added a 4-foot bamboo fence. We later learned privacy would be important with introducing Orval to our other animals. 

    Upon bringing Orval home, we quickly learned he was food motivated. We started by feeding him twice a day and offered special treats to begin training him. Anytime we would walk outside though, he would begin squealing to indicate he was ready to eat! A balanced diet is important for a miniature pig as you don’t want to overfeed them. Orval has always been very intelligent and curious; a few weeks after his arrival, we quickly discovered miniature Juliana pigs love to root. Surprisingly, this helped Orval keep his pen very clean as it allowed our straw bedding to aerate and remain dry. 

    We were amazed at how well our animals adapted to Orval. While separated, they could still smell each other and communicate. Babydoll sheep, alpacas and llamas are all very curious creatures, so it took them a few days to get used to their new surroundings - and Orval. We had heard from our experienced llama breeder that he only knew his llamas to be afraid of one thing – pigs! We hoped the bamboo fence would provide privacy and help our guard llama to slowly adjust and it worked! It wasn’t long and our free-range chickens were flying over the gate to visit Orval up close. He seemed to love the attention and was very gentle with his new friends. 

    Within a few weeks of having Orval, he figured out how to root out of his pen! Initially, this scared us as we weren’t sure how our sheep, alpacas and guard llama would take to a pig roaming around their pasture. Much to our surprise – they accepted Orval. He even slept with them in the main shed. Remember how Orval loved to cuddle? By some miracle, the allegedly pig fearing llama is now bunking down in close quarters with a snorty little Juliana piglet!

    A few months since Orval’s arrival, all the various creatures roaming our little hobby farm (ducks, geese, alpacas, chickens, cats, sheep and of course the llama) have adapted to his presence without a single hiccup. Knock on wood!

    We still feed Orval pig pellets, but he’s been accused of sneaking a few chicken pellets as well. Since he free ranges in our pasture, he also has access to grass, and he loves to root for insects. He gets the occasional treat and leftovers like fruit and vegetables. We try to be intentional in making sure every source of nutrition on the farm goes back into nourishing something- whether fresh garden produce for us, or leftovers for the animals! 

    Most days, Orval spends his time free ranging in our pasture, and he loves visiting our water trough. He still loves to root but tends to stay in one area. We’ve found that our chickens stay near Orval as he roots, and they don’t miss an opportunity to quickly jump in to find worms and insects Orval might have missed. While the rooting is a bit of an eyesore, it does allow the wet soil to drain quickly and once racked, Orval moves to a new area. It’s also great for fighting soil compaction and the help Orval provides to our scavenger fowl as they go about their daily hunt for protein is truly beautiful.

    The rooting can get enthusiastic, but for now we have a secure pasture close to the house with several acres just begging for Orval’s attention, so it hasn’t been a problem. He is a happy pig and always comes running when he hears his name. He can even stand on his hind legs like a puppy would! On warm days, you’ll find Orval resting in the shade snoring. The average lifespan of a Juliana pig is 15-20 years. Orval has quickly become one of our favorites on our hobby farm.

    Amy Mings is half of the Maison de Mings lifestyle brand. You can read more about Orval, their hobby farm and DIY projects at their blog, MaisondeMings.com.