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pigs attacking children - normal pig behavior?

 
Jessi Patti
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I am a first time pig raiser, and have 2 hamp/york/old spot crosses, 3 months old. They have been quite amiable for most of the 2 weeks we've had them (even enjoying scratching), but I had a very odd and frightening experience yesterday. I went into their enclosure with my two young sons (2 and 5) and the pigs started chasing and jabbing at them in a way that I did not see as playful but felt very aggresive. Luckily there happened to be 2 empty feed pans which I used to smack the pigs in the nose several times (over and over). They seemed to have a strategy, the female was headed straight for me, the male kept trying to sneak past me to get to my children behind me. I just kept wacking them and yelling at them (it felt like forever, it was at least a couple minutes) until they suddenly stopped and went outside. Factors, I think I was underfeeding them a bit (though they do have constant access to lush pasture. Questions--Do you think the pigs were trying to eat my children? Is this normal pig behavior or should we consider harvesting them early? Obviously the kids are not allowed into the pig enclosure any more (they are behind electronetting.) I am feeding them more now.
 
Cj Sloane
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Jessi Patti wrote:Questions--Do you think the pigs were trying to eat my children? Is this normal pig behavior or should we consider harvesting them early?


Yes, they were trying to eat your children & yes, I think it's kind of normal. I have one pig ATM and she always tries nibbling my leg, especially when my back is turned. This same pig doesn't seems interested in nibbling the chickens who steal her food sometimes. Maybe the chickens don't turn their back on Ms. Piggy.


I had one pig once who would go between my legs if I had a wide stance & I got the distinct impression she was trying to knock me over. This was the same year, 2012, I think, that an older gentleman went to feed his pigs and never came back. All they found were his dentures! He probably died of natural causes first and then they ate him, but who knows!

What should you do? I don't think you have to cull them early. How do the kids feel about it? Maybe it was a good lesson. It's easy to let your guard down around animals but you should always be a little wary, at the very least. The other lesson is that nobody should feel guilty about eating those pigs because they would eat you in a second!
 
Amy Woodhouse
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As CJ said they were attempting to eat your children...now imagine if they where 300 lbs! I think this is great that you posted this as it is a good reality check for others. A lot of people see the videos of people laying down with their pigs, kissing them, rubbing their face on them, etc and get a false sense of security. Our ossabaw has a tendency to nip while the large blacks are good natured and gentle. Its hard to appreciate how strong even a hundred pound pig is. A two hundred pound pig can easily grab a grown man and yank him off his feet. I never turn my back on my pigs...even the ones that have proven to be gentle and always have an instant culling device (ICD) on my hip if needed. I never allow my little ones in the pig pen as if the pigs turned on them for whatever reason there is a good chance I would not be able to react fast enough. Thank you again for posting this as you will help many others that read your post. Good luck!
 
Su Ba
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I haven't raised pigs around children, but I recall my great uncles and aunts telling stories about daring each other to go into the pig pen as children. it was strictly forbidden. They said the pigs would try to grab them. One uncle got badly bitten on his leg and was lucky not to get killed.

I have two feral piglets at the moment. They will bite. I have to watch them carefully as they grow older. I think carrying one of those electric prods might be a good idea as my piglets get bigger.
 
Jessi Patti
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I certainly wish I had been more aware, but got a very real wake up call and feel very grateful that none of us were harmed. It was probably the scariest moment of my life and I have never fought like that before. In the couple books and numerous blogs and websites I've read about raising pigs this was never mentioned. I wish I had old time farming knowledge. I am definitely trying to figure out how I can keep us safe in the future as my husband is at work all day and I am home with the kids and also responsible for nearly all the animal care.

What is the Instant Culling Device and where do I get it? My husband was looking into buying me a tool belt with a hunting knife and pepper spray. Any other suggestions?

If they were to get out of the electronet do any of you think they'd come and pursue my children? Today we are moving them out of the barn and further from the house.
 
Amy Woodhouse
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Glock manufactures ICDs...mine in in .40 caliber. It is very possible they could pursue your kids but most likely they would go looking for easier sources of food. Wild dogs, coyotes, wild pigs, bears, etc is why we have a dog to always be with our kids when not directly in our sight.
 
Amos Burkey
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The ICD that I am familiar with comes in two sizes, long and short.
SHORT >>>>>

LONG >>>>>


I have a few guinea hogs and they sometimes nip at my shoes. That is about as frisky as they get. Although they are pretty tame, I always keep an eye on them and keep my daughter right next to me. I raised feeders during the summer as a child and spent many hours in the pen. I never had a problem with them or felt that I was in danger. The biggest problem encountered was actually my brother's problem. He was wearing boots with shorts and remained too close to the hind end of one of the pigs and it dropped a present down his boot. We still laugh about that.

I imagine that a more mature hog could be more aggressive. I keep my eye on any livestock because I have been kicked enough to have learned that lesson.

Who are they people that lay down and kiss their pigs?! People are strange.
 
Cj Sloane
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Jessi Patti wrote:
If they were to get out of the electronet do any of you think they'd come and pursue my children? Today we are moving them out of the barn and further from the house.


No, but they'd probably cause havoc in other ways. OTOH if the kids were outside unattended and the pigs got out there could be trouble.

I wonder if some of your trouble stems from starting with pigs already 3 months old. I'm on my 4th summer raising pigs and I'd like to breed Ms Piggy but I'm reluctant to buy anything but a weener. The thought of a 500lb pig who I don't know is kind of scary.
 
Jessi Patti
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Ha ha, I get it now....but carrying a gun around my kids every time I go outside?? This is all new to me. Going to look into some family protection dogs though.

CJ I got them at 10 weeks and the man we bought them from went out of his way to show us how tame the moms are. The pigs were never really scared of us, but maybe if they were more used to the kids at a younger age they wouldn't view them as food? Anyone noticed more aggression when their pigs were run kinda hungry? I'm hoping if I feed them close to all they'll eat they'll be more docile.
 
Amy Woodhouse
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I am just telling you what I do. I don't suggest anyone carry a gun that is not trained and comfortable with one. We had a pack of wild dogs come on our property and attack our ducks a couple months ago when my husband was feet away. They had no fear of him until one of them was instantly culled at which time they decided to leave. Its just a way of life for us but I know its not for everyone.

I think aggression is a little bit of nurture and a lot of nature. We have treated all our pigs the same and some are just nicer than others. All things being equal, you will have a nicer pig (or any animal) the more you interact with them. A full belly doesn't hurt either.
 
Tim Wells
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I have 8 pigs. One of our 5 year old sows (huge) gave me a jab in the lower shin when i grabbed an unrelated weaner escapee, she obviously felt protective too. That hurt for weeks.

I would guess they were desperate for the food they associate you with rather than considering you food. The aggression could be translated as frustration or "give me the f...ing food now!"

Lack of food would encourage survival instincts and aggression would be included.

Up the feed. Only enter and handle when they have fed.

Spend more time with them to develop the respect - beat them up a lot more so they see you as top pig. I always give my pigs loving strokes and boot to face/ whack with bucket in equal measure to stop the bully pigs dominating the weaker ones over the feed trough.

I would try and get your children to understand the pigs and have a stick to whack them if they feel threatened and manage a reintroduction.

I dont use electro net but use stock fence with barbed bottom line and that works fine. Maybe electric net has in emotional impact?
 
Tim Wells
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Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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Dont carry a gun around, just would lead to a reaction culling that might be avoided and other accidents.
 
Amy Woodhouse
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Tim, not all of us have the luxury of living in a country that has hunted all its top predators to extinction. Don't let your fear of guns cause you to make such broad sweeping statements.
 
Jessi Patti
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That's an interesting and different perspective. Though I don't think they're scarred at at all from the electric fence. The female is often giving it little tests with the tip of her nose to see if its on (she even tested it right after I turned it off to step over, which was kinda freaky) and they have 2500 square feet to themselves so they can choose to be pretty far from it. Even when I went in yesterday and they had a full dish of grain they were still following me and invading my personal space. I guess looking for a treat. I will be bringing the shovel in next time to swing in their direction to show them some manners. I think my 5 year old could manage to whack them but not my 2 year old. I certainly understand dominance from training dogs, but none of this is written in the pig books I've read. It makes sense though. I am still considering roasting them up early and looking for more suitable pigs. These are not eating our lovely pasture, just digging holes in the mowed part around the inside of the fence. They even turn their nose up at the crunchy but very sweet pears that are falling off the trees into their paddock. And now that I think about it, I agree with CJ that they were not socialized with people very well before we got them and possibly were underfed. I will be a much better buyer next time.
 
Tim Wells
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I hold a gun license and shoot ground game and vermin. However I wouldnt carry a gun into a routine pig feed as it may lead to it being used. This concept could well be generally expanded into other situations.

If I was getting electric shocks I would get pissed off too. We are electrical beings and I believe there is a school of thought that even the "grid" that connects us may have some impact on our own electrical workings. However we may be veering into metaphysics or purple permaculture (sorry paul)

However back on topic food is the issue for me foremost.

Please read my topic overview in another thread about my situation and critique.

thankyou
 
Tim Wells
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If they are not eating the pears or the pasture and not even eating the food then they must be holding out for treats. I stopped feeding my pigs entirely and within a week they were eating the weeds. If I feed them grain one day, the next day they dont forage for the morning to see if they get more easy food. when it doesnt show up they go back to forage.

The best quality nutrition is likely pasture/ forage raised meat. I think genetics will affect foraging and aggression. But also environment of the farrow and mother. Try to buy weaner from a pastured sow?
 
Cj Sloane
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Jessi Patti wrote: They even turn their nose up at the crunchy but very sweet pears that are falling off the trees into their paddock.

Of all the behavior you've told us about, this is the only one that is really abnormal!

Old Spots in particular should be all over those pears and the pasture. Funky genetics?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello All,

I have scanned much of what is written here and the advice is a bit all over the place...which is fine, as we all have different experiences...

First, allow me to share some validation to my experience and thoughts about pigs. I have raised pigs, both residential and commercial. I also have a strong background in animal Ethology and husbandry. I also have guided Wild Boar hunts, so my background working with Swine and their relatives Pecari is a solid one.

I find them to be probably one of; if not the most intelligent domestic animals we have on hooves. This also renders them potentially unpredictable and very dangerous because too many folks underestimate them. I have lost in the last 120 years of family history, two cousins. One was chased down and killed the other fell into a pen with a boar. I do not share that to terrify anyone, but must stress that these are serious animals to work with, and must be respected and well treated from an early age to develop any form of stable relationship.

There is never any reason to beat or be overly aggressive with any animal. With that said, I also do not anthropomorphize how an animal perceive being touched. Some folks (my grandmother) could handle most animals with just her presence...she always carried a staff or cane. This is a habit I also developed, especially when working with Swine and other large hooved animals. Sometime a "tap" on the snout, side or rump, is required to gain their attention. Now that "tap" may not be the tap I give my 16 year old Son, nor the one I gave a Hippo or Rhino when I was a zoo keeper. It might look like a rather strong "tap." You do not want to inflict "aggressive pain" just "shock" for them to focus on your attended agenda. I use to watch as a senior keeper would literally "beat the hell out of the female Rhino" at the Zoo, as she swayed back and forth under the blows...as it felt Soooo Good to be "scratched" that way. He was exhausted by the end of these sessions, and said he had to be very careful that the public did not see it ever happen, or that he stuck here too hard during moving from one pen to another...as she would back up into the blow..."to get another." So often all she got was "poke" instead of a "tap." There again...do not be cruel or abusive...but remember a "tap" on a 500 pound pig is different than a tap on your "dog to stop barking." I would add this when becoming physical with any animal...if you have frustration, or anger anywhere in your being when working with an animal...remove yourself from its presence...calm yourself...and never physically touch the animal when you are in this agitated state...it sends very bad messages to them, as they are much more "aware" than most humans.

As for whether the pigs wanted to "eat your children." That is hard to ascertain without seeing the behavior...they do play very rough sometime with each other and this could have just as been "play behavior," with two new "young two legged piglets," that have come into their personal space. It could have also been "hunting behavior," and yes some pigs will kill and eat a child without second thought about it. No farm animal is a pet, or necessarily "always" safe for children (and some adults) to be around. They are living, thinking, feeling, creatures with their own wants and desires that we must learn to liaise with...not against their natures.

I would close with just a few more points. Feel free to ask more direct questions, and I will do my best to answer them. The practice of "ear and snout" piercing has fallen out of favor in most areas of North America from what I can tell. I would say that I think this is a shame. Snout rings and earrings seemed to be the first thing piglets got from my grandmother besides a "tail bobbing" when first born, or soon after. A rope through any of their piercings meant "pay attention" we are going for a walk...and...they usually go a nice treat at the end, which also lead to rapid compliance of my grandmother's wishes.

Also, if you allow any Swine to hunt and kill anything to eat...chicken, small mammals...anything; this can lead to some behaviors that makes them very dangerous to work with, and not for the novice to handle.

Good luck and I hope all works out for you,

j
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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P.S.

Remember...animal senses (and some humans) are very heightened. I can often sense if a fence is on by just smelling the excited ions when the fog is out to dampen the air...My Grandmother could tell from in the house if one of the closer fences was on or off, but she could "feel shades of color" as she was also legally blind...and most animals have much keener senses than this. They "test it," more out of "trying to understand" the strangeness of it...than being afraid of it. Some will even become tolerant of the shock and walk through to get what they want.

Again, do not mistake a pig...or any animal...for believing you are one of them. This is just not possible with the level of sensory perception they have. I must also stress...again...that striking any animal out of "frustration" of misconception that they learn from it is aberrant training practices in almost all cases of training and working with animals of any species.

Regards,

j
 
Bede Carroll
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Interesting thread.

As a young child I stayed on a very large wheat farm here in Oz back in the 70's where the owner would illegally go roo shooting every evening. It seemed at the time to be an attempt to slow and deter the roos from eating his baby wheat. Now I think it was more that he liked shooting animals. But anyway.........

In the morning he would collect the roo carcasses from the night before and feed them to his pigs. The pigs were savage animals and I've always been wary of them since.



Just to add to the mood, here is a rather apt clip from the movie Snatch where pigs V people is discussed.

Hopefully I'm not breaking any site rules as it is a little macabre


 
Tim Wells
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Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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ha, nice first post!

love that scene and a great film
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