Enrichment can be divided into categories based on ease and simplicity of implementation. Below are some of the enrichment concepts that have worked well for my own pigs. This list is in no way conclusive… new enrichment ideas from readers are welcome! The more reader input, the more it will benefit our pigs… If you have any suggestions, modifications or new enrichment items to add to this list, please contact us!
Enrichment 1 (under 5 minutes)-
Stuff box with shredded or crumpled newspaper and a few treats (Make sure there are no staples or tape
on the box).
Stuff paper towel tubes, wrapping paper tubes or toilet paper tubes with shredded newspaper and a few treats.
Paper grocery bags
Stuff with shredded newspaper or straw; add a few treats. If the bag has handles, it can be hung from a branch.
Stuff a braided rope dog toy with clippings of rose bushes or other favorite edible plants; hang from a branch.
During hot weather, flood parts of your yard several inches with the hose. It will provide your pig with a nice
alternative to his or her kiddy pool!
Using plastic milk crates or other crates with holes already in them, tie two together, to create a closed box
and place a few treats inside. Nice alternative to traditional treat balls.
Enrichment 3 (greater than 15 minutes)-
Barrel rope pull
Using a 3” circular saw bit, drill a hole near the bottom of half of a wine barrel (available at nurseries as
planters). String bits of firm veggies onto a 1’ length of rope. Place veggies inside barrel with rope sticking
out of the hole. Pigs will have to pull rope to get veggies out of the barrel.
Hanging rope pull
Attach 3 strings to the outside rim of a large plastic flowerpot saucer and tie together (to allow saucer to hang
from a branch). Cut a large 5” hole out of the center. Using thin rope with a knot tied at the end, string firm
fruit or veggies onto the rope. Place the treats in the saucer with the ropes dangling down. Hang saucer
from a branch so that your pig cannot reach the saucer, but instead has to pull the ropes with the fruit
attached to get the fruit to drop to the ground. In the beginning, you may need to tie a few treats about
halfway down the ropes so your pig will learn to pull on the ropes. As your pig gets the hang of this, you can
raise the height of the saucer and increase the length of the ropes.
Sisal rope scratching post
Using any already existing in-ground post or old tree stump, wrap securely with thick sisal rope.
Brush scratching board
Buy 5 or 6 stiff bristled scrub brushes, and attach securely to a board.
Hanging coconut puzzle feeder
Saw an empty coconut shell in half. String both pieces onto a 3’ rope (so the shells close normally). Place
treats inside shell, hang from branch.
Hide treats in a large pile of straw or dirt.
Cut a piece of plywood to match the size of a sheet of newspaper. Cut four (1x2”) boards to create a frame on
the plywood. Drill a hole in each piece of the frame, in order to attach the frame to the plywood backing with
large lag bolts. Layer newspaper onto the plywood, with a few pieces of pig food in between the layers.
Attach frame, to hold the newspapers firmly in place against the plywood backing. The pig will have to tear
through newspapers to get to the treats. Make sure plywood is sanded thoroughly to prevent splinters!
Hide bits of food around the yard or under rocks or stones (paving stones and flagstones work well).
Spice pastes (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg mixed with water) can be smeared around the yard.
Fragrant and essential oils (lavender, spearmint, musk, peach rose, patchouli, etc) can be placed around
yard or on toys. Perfume can also be used. Make sure to place these on objects that are too large for the
pig to ingest (large rocks, concrete, fence posts). Also make sure to only use a very SMALL amount so
that your pig doesn’t try to lick or eat the pastes or oils.
Plush toys/squeaky toys
Fill cans or plastic containers with bells, coins or pebbles (make sure lid is very secure so pig cannot open
container and ingest small objects).
Place treats between the pages of old phone books.
Enrichment 2 (5 to 15 minutes)-
Using any large, sturdy jugs (water jugs, old juice containers, etc), cut several holes large enough for treats
to easily fall through. Place treats in container and let pigs roll until treats fall out.
PVC tube roller/ Suspended PVC treat dispenser
Cut a 1 to 2 foot section of PVC pipe (4-inch PVC works well), cap ends. Drill large (3/4- 1” holes throughout
PVC. Fill with small treats; let pigs roll PVC around until treats fall out. Alternatively, the PVC can be
mounted on a board with brackets (see photos). Make sure that the PVC is still able to rotate freely in
brackets. Pigs will have to turn the PVC to allow the treats to fall out.
Using a large bowl, fill halfway with water; add a few pieces of fruit or veggies. To make an ice ring, place
a glass in the center (to create the hole). Place in the freezer overnight. Once frozen, run under warm
water to loosen the ice from the mold. Ice ring can be hung from a branch; ice blocks can be placed on
the ground or in a kiddy pool.
California Potbellied Pig Association, Inc
Using a cotton mop head, string cheerios, or clip small pieces of veggies throughout the mop. Hang the mop
from a branch, 6-10” off the ground.