California Potbellied Pig Association, Inc
Transporting Your Pig
TRANSPORTING YOUR PIG
by Chris Christensen
If you need to transport your pig and your pig is not used to traveling, you may find that a little preparation is necessary before the transporting can begin. If your need is to get your pig to the vet, it may be better to have the vet come to you. In some areas it is easy to find a mobile vet, but in other areas it is impossible. If you are unable to find a mobile vet, often the case in more urban areas, you may be lucky enough to find an experienced vet who will see your pet pig at their office. Getting the pig to the vet’s office, however, may not be so easy. Some pigs will jump right into a vehicle. Others will walk up a ramp. Some will easily get into a crate. Some will wear a harness and leash, and some won’t do any of the above. If you get the animal to the vet's office in your car without having it confined to a crate, can you control it once you get there? We have found that having the pig in a crate is preferable, but others just walk their pig in on a leash. If your pig is not leash trained and you need to use a crate, but your pig is not crate trained, HELP!
Fighting a pig into a crate is usually a disaster. Bribing a pig into a crate only works once, but giving the pig nowhere else to go but into the crate is usually quiet and calm. First, make sure you have a big enough crate. Then make sure you have a vehicle that will hold the crate. The “700” or “Giant” size crate will be too high for many SUV’s and covered pickups. Try it before you get the pig loaded. Then make sure you have enough strong backs to lift it. One of these large crates weighs around 50 lbs, add a full grown potbellied pig at 100 to 150lbs or more and you have a 2 to 3 person project. (At first I made a special roller dolly and an 8’ ramp with a rope and pulley assembly so my wife and I could load our boys. Now we place the crate on a hydraulic table and jack it up to truck bed level.)
How do you make a pig want to enter a crate? We have discovered a few ways. The big secret is to set it up right the first time and don’t fail. Pigs tend to go forward. They can’t see behind them. A little prodding with a pig sorting board (a 2’x3’ piece of plywood or even a garbage can lid) lightly tapped (not taped) on their behinds and used to block their vision if they try to turn will do wonders to guide them. We purchase plastic sorting boards from QC Supply (www.qcsupply.com, #50019 called Sow Mate Sorting Panels). Some of our members can guide a pig with a cane by tapping its shoulders on one side and then the other. The main thing to do is keep the pig and you CALM. No chasing, running or yelling. Get the pig and the crate in a pen or area of the backyard (or house) that is fairly small and uncluttered. In our yard we have a 15’ walkway about two feet wide with a short fence on one side and a shed on the other. We put the crate at one end and guide a pig in the other end with the pig board. Once he starts down the path with the pig board blocking his view behind, there’s no where to go but into the crate. We have also used exercise pens to corral the pig, and then placed the crate at the pen opening and folded up the exercise pen making it smaller and smaller with the crate being the only place left to go. (Video of using an exercise pen... https://youtu.be/1dnoSvWBgjE) I can remember when we first started working with pigs. Chasing them, yelling, wrestling them into crates, and it never worked. It stressed us, and it stressed the pig. Be sure you have enough help, but also make sure that the helpers understand that this is not a roundup in the old west. We’re not trying to scare the pig, just guide it. If you have a major size pig that won’t fit in any crate, my wife’s idea to a member that worked excellently was as follows. The evening before this pig had to go to U.C.Davis Vet Hospital for some serious vet work, she had them fill the back of a covered pickup (a van would also work) with straw or hay. They then got some neighbors and friends to hold boards, and corrals on either side of the pig and move along as the pig was prodded towards a ramp (a sheet of 3/4” plywood with 2’x4’ reinforcing on the back) into the truck. The pig went into the truck spent the night in the warm straw and left the next morning for U.C.Davis without ever even waking up.
"Heaven help us now if hogs had kept all five fingers."