How to Raise a Wild Pig

By Deborah Whistler

Baby pigs, domesticated or wild, are very smart and relatively hardy creatures. An orphaned or abandoned wild baby pig can be raised in essentially the same way as a domesticated piglet. Providing warmth to a very young piglet is critical to its survival. Piglets can't regulate their body temperature so need a warm, draft-free environment. Even newborn piglets don't require bottle-feeding. Pigs can learn to lap milk from a small tin from as young as 12 hours old. They do require many small meals a day, so care for a newborn piglet is time-consuming. Baby wild pigs are relatively easy to care for after the first few weeks.

Use a dog crate or baby playpen to house the piglet. For a newborn piglet, a dog crate lined with old towels will protect the baby from drafts. You can use a child's playpen as a baby pig enclosure. Drape the sides of the playpen with old sheets or blankets to prevent drafts.

Rig a heat lamp over the playpen or place a heating pad under the crate to keep the environment warm. Providing warmth is the most critical factor with newborn wild piglets. Baby pigs can't provide their own body heat until about two weeks of age. The temperature should be controlled to 90 degrees for very young pigs. Lower the temperature by five degrees a week.

Feed wild piglets goat milk replacer. Milk replacer for calves, lambs and goats is available at feed stores. Goat milk is better for piglets than cow's milk. Put milk in a shallow pan and gently stick the piglet's snout into the milk. It may bite at the milk at first but should quickly learn to lap it up. Piglets should be fed every three to four hours for the first week.

Measure a couple tablespoons of milk per feeding. Newborn pigs don't eat a lot at each feeding. Feeding small amounts often is best. About 1/2 ounce per feeding is enough for newborns. Increase the amount of each feeding to one ounce after a week. Feel the baby's belly to monitor food intake. When its belly feels round, stop feeding. Baby pigs will usually stop eating when they've had enough.

Mix baby cereal with goat's milk to feed the piglet after the first week. Add human baby cereal to the milk to add consistency and prepare the pig for more solid foods. At two weeks you can reduce the number of feedings to one every six or seven hours. Add more cereal to milk at each feeding, constantly thickening the feed.

Add cottage cheese or yogurt to the pig's diet. After two weeks, add a tablespoon of cottage cheese or yogurt to the pig's food to prevent the baby from developing diarrhea, which can be deadly to pigs. Gradually increase the amount up to 1/2 cup a day.

Introduce specially formulated pig feed in very small amounts at two weeks of age and continually increase the amount until eight weeks of age when you can wean the baby off milk replacer and cereal. At eight weeks the pig's diet should be mostly pig feed. A general rule of thumb is to feed 1/2 cup of pig feed for every 25 pounds of body weight a day. At this age, pigs should be fed twice a day.

After eight weeks, piglet can also be fed vegetable and table scraps as treats. Pigs will eat anything, but the best diet should mostly consist of specially formulated pig feed. Occasional treats of leftover vegetable cuttings and table scraps are okay, but don't overdo it.

Provide fresh, clean water at all times.

Build an outdoor enclosure for the growing pig. Construct a taut welded-wire 32-inch tall fence. A two-stranded electric fence consisting of a bottom cable six to eight inches above the ground and a second line eight inches above that provides extra protection. Pigs are good at escaping so dig a trench under the fence line and fill with logs or rocks to prevent pigs from digging out.

Provide protection from the elements. A shelter made from old hay bales or a lean-to made of scrap wood and a tarp will do. Overhead cover should be at least four feet off the ground.