Pigs That Fly, Drink Beer, and Dig Toys

May 2016:  This recent article emphasizes the focus in Europe for a “pigs at play” philosophy. Since 2003, European regulations have required that pigs need to have access to distraction materials.

October 2014:  I couldn’t resist this headline: Wild Pig Guzzles 18 Beers and Starts Fight with a Cow in Australia. Pigs just have that “ugly but cool” attitude about them.

May 2014:  Flying Pigs

Tourists are flocking to watch pigs fly in China, after a farmer taught his livestock to dive. Chinese pig farmer Huang Demin decided to install a diving board to keep his animals happy in the hope that it would make them taste better. Now the trend has caught on and the attraction is being offered at parks and farms across the country to entertain visitors.

What To Buy the Pig That Has Everything

It’s time to get serious about what type of toys to buy for your pigs. I remember years ago when I grew up on a farm, I’d often stop pitching manure or hauling buckets of corn so I could think of the right gift for the hogs that were rooting in the straw I’d just tossed into their pen. I know I didn’t want our pigs to be in a funk during the giving season.

A German company has concocted a set of plastic balls on springs that simulate rooting, and they say it might cut down on tail biting. So far, the product comes only in yellow, a color they claim “the pigs will easily distinguish, as it is not a color that shows up on a farm regularly. In addition, red is not a color pigs can see well.” No wonder my carefully wrapped Valentine’s gifts never got much response.
A soccer ball is fine until one of them kicks it out of the pen, and with their prominent snouts, headers are tough. Also, according to this report, “if a ball rolls into manure, the pigs will no longer play with it.” Pigs might stand in manure and root their noses in it, but they have their standards.
Being a technical guy (I’m switching from a dumb phone to a smart phone this month), I figure it could be the year for a digital item. Dutch researchers have created a computer game both pigs and humans can play. It’s called Pig Chase, and as this video demonstrates, your pigs can handle it even without opposable thumbs. The inventors “have attempted to find out whether this could meet the animals’ desire to play–and to see if different types of relationships with humans could possibly be established.” That’s good. The only porcine relationship I remember from my youth was when we’d round up a bunch of escaped pigs and force them back into their pens. A relationship that doesn’t involve squealing and swearing might be refreshing.
When it comes to digital, I imagine most hogs would prefer the Candy Crush app—one that pays dividends in real candy. By the way, don’t give pigs bubble gum no matter how much they beg. They get completely out of sorts when the bubbles pop all over their snouts, even if the pink color goes with their basic skin tone.
Several online sites give suggestions regarding toys for pot-bellied pigs. The majority of items seem to contain some type of sweet treat—which I guess explains the pot-bellies. I’ve never been to a hog operation full of pot-bellied pigs, but I suggest slipping them a few low-sugar items. An exercise book might not go far wrong either.
Pig farming is way back in my past, so I don’t have to worry about all this. I do, however, have grandchildren to consider, and now that I think of it, some of the same principles apply. They’re very young, so I’ll skip the bubble gum and Candy Crush apps. And if I buy them a tiny soccer ball, I’ll be sure to keep it away from the diaper bin.
by dan gogerty (flying pig pic from i.dailymail.co.uk, pigs & ball photo from adorablog.org and pot-bellied pig photo from flickriver.com)

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