I share my house with a few creatures: cats, birds, humans and two pigs.
Not giant Berkshire sows or anything but not exactly the tea cup variety that seems to be popular on social media right now either.
A fully grown pig can weigh between 300 and 700 pounds. A few sources online say that the world record for the heaviest pig was set by Big Bill in 1933. He weighed in at 2,552 pounds. Luckily mine are not that big. Garfunkle is a Vietnamese potbelly and weighs around 200 lbs, and Lilly is some sort of Juliana-mix weighing in around 150.
Despite their size, in comparison to Big Bill, they both weigh more than I do, and my husband will admit he’s a bigger guy but the two of us clipping their hooves alone is nothing short of a rodeo.
We usually get help from a lady that runs a farm animal rescue but she isn’t always available. In that case, I usually cruise the online classifieds like some kind of weirdo, scanning for any ad that mentions “farrier” or “hoof.” Unfortunately, the horse farriers do not seem to want to tango with the pigs and there have been no farm kids willing to make a few hundred bucks for half an hour of work.
The last time I was shorthanded I posted an ad on Kijiji and within an hour there was a knock at my door. On the other side of the door was Ivor and he was ready to hold some pigs down. Ivor gave me hope. He was built like a linebacker and had experience with (as he put it) ‘real pigs.’
Regardless of who is helping it always starts the same.
It starts with me posting to the local community board (we live in town, not on a farm) that we will be trimming hooves today, so please don’t call animal services. Then I close all the windows to try and buff the sound and dig out the hearing protection.
I’m sure that all sounds over-the-top if you have never been around a pig who doesn’t want to do something. Their only response is to be dramatic about it and make a lot of noise.
According to the National Ag Safety Database (NASD), pig squeals can reach 130 decibels. To put that in perspective chainsaws come in at 115 and jet engines at 140 and anything above 130 causes pain.
Next is rounding up the tools for the job. Wire cutters, large nail cutters, and high grit emery boards will all work to maintain the hooves of piglets but for ours, we need to pull out slightly bigger tools. A Dremel is recommended. Goat and horse hoof trimmers and nippers will help. In our kit we also have a metal file and rasp.
Once we are prepped I lure the pigs out with cereal. The first pig is always a bit easier to lure because they haven’t heard the scream of displeasure from the other one yet. Once they are focused on the food it’s a ‘quick’ flip of the pig.
Easier said than done. Garfunkle usually takes two people to flip him and even then it’s a build-up for the flip sort of scenario.
Last time, Ivor didn’t disappoint. He flipped those pigs and put all his weight into holding the pigs down.
Then the screaming starts.
The actual trim doesn’t take very long. Maybe 10 to 15 minutes for each pig but by the time Garfunkle is halfway through he’s out of energy. Lilly fights until the bitter end.
As soon as both of them are flipped back on their sides and able to stand up they seem to have forgotten and are just focused on cleaning up the cereal they missed before their traumatic pedicure (or is it a manicure?)
Domesticated pics can live 20 years so I know it’s going to be something that’s repeated a lot over the next few years.
If all that sounds like a fun time for a Saturday afternoon I’m looking for a fellow pig wrangler again soon. Just shoot me an email.