After the adventures of the previous day, I decided not to fence train the pigs until the weekend. They were in a much more crowded stall before we got them, they would be fine for a few days. Instead, we would focus on getting them to like and trust us.
Chelsey, my 7 year old, has been dying for a farm chore all her own. Her older sister, Julia (11) takes care of the chickens, I take care of the goats, so when we got the pigs, she insisted they were hers to take care of. From day 2 on, she has done an amazing job. Each morning, she takes food out to them, lets them out of their shelter, and even carries buckets of water to their water bowl. It takes her 2 trips with a half full bucket, but she does it all herself. From day 4 on, I haven’t even had to come out to supervise in the morning.
Some advice we got online for taming American Guinea Hogs (which may be the same for all, but I was in a AGH specific group):
- Always call them when feeding them, even if they are right in front of you, so they associate that sound with food. (We say “Here pig pig!” or “Here piggy piggy”)
- If giving them something extra yummy, call them in a different, more excited voice. This may help if they ever get loose and you need to catch them.
- Sit with them every day so they get used to your presence
By day 4, the pigs came out immediately when opening their shelter door in the morning. They now allow us to sit or walk in the kennel with them, though they don’t let us pet them yet. Each afternoon, I bring food scraps and sit on a bucket inside their kennel. Most days they’ll come up and sniff me or try to taste test my boots or pants and I gently pull away and say no. The girl is still the more dominant of the two, but the boy seems to be friendlier. He tends to follow whatever she does, and she often moves him out of the way if he has something yummy, but he looks eager to see us and wags his tail. It’s pretty adorable. Both have taken food from our hands.
Julia has named them Burn (the gilt) and Smolder (the barrow) from a book series she loves (Wings of Fire). I keep telling them not to get attached, and they know the pigs will eventually be butchered. We are trying to keep an open dialogue on that so there aren’t any surprises come November.
My best advice, besides food, is patience. We always walk calmly and quietly when with the pigs, we announce our presence, and take some time to sit quietly with them while they eat or walk around so they can get used to us being there and know we aren’t going to hurt them. Though we have put our hands out to them in hopes of being able to pet or scratch them, we never force ourselves on them and take our cues from them. It has only been a week and they are already much friendlier. When we did our research, one of the benefits of raising American Guinea Hogs is that they are more docile in nature. These pigs were pretty wild when we got them, but have calmed down quickly. With frequent visits (and snacks), they should be ready for a good scratch in no time.