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Monday, May 21, 2018

Blockages and Constipation

Q: I'm at my wit's end. My Wilbur has been constipated for over 2 weeks. He went several days without having any stool. Now, he strains for hours at a time, and only passes about 1 golf-ball sized stool a day. As soon as I noticed him having problems, I started trying all of the 'tricks': pumpkin, olive oil, mineral oil. Nothing helped. I then tried glycerin suppositories, the first time he held it in, but there were no results. I have tried twice since then, but he just pushes them back out. I tried a mineral oil enema, but that just leaks right back out. Last night I finally resorted to 'the fickle finger of fate.' I was able to remove a moderate-sized stool, and a couple smaller ones. I tried again this morning, but the stool was too far for me to get, and my pig had enough of me. His appetite has decreased, which I completely understand.

Do you have any other secrets/suggestions? What kind of enema works best--I don't want to use saline. He is almost 12 years old, and I worry about all the straining. I'm pretty sure I know the reason for his problem--I toss corn kernels throughout the yard for him to find. I think I just did this for too many days, and he wasn't drinking as much water as he usually does. I appreciate any help you can give. Thanks - Sarah

A: After all you have done the safe way to go is an X-ray at the vets. Its quite possible that Wilbur has a blockage in there and if that's the case it can be dangerous. Constipated pigs will strain for a time when it's time for them to go, but sounds like Wilbur is straining all the time and for long periods...that sounds more like a blockage or partial blockage to me rather than constipation.

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Q: I fixed my poor little piggy's constipation problem--I went to the pharmacy and bought a rubber catheter which I attached to the enema bottle. The poor thing has been passing stool the size of tennis balls. And he is looking and acting much better. The 2 vets I talked to are useless. The first one I talked to about Wilbur's constipation told me to try increasing fiber, and gave me some Valium to give so it would be easier to transport him. The 2nd vet came out after 3 days, and I think he is afraid of Wilbur. Plus, he still uses Ketamine. He recommended Metamucil for the constipation. This was after Wilbur had already started passing stool. So, I asked the vet if he would cut Wilbur's nails, and he told me that he wanted to wait until Wilbur was better. He gave me the impression that he really did not want to get near Wilbur. (Wilbur's old vet moved, and Wilbur's 'dad' was the only person who could really handle him. He is now disabled, and moved out of state.)

Unfortunately, I think Wilbur has a UTI. He is dribbling urine all over the place. I'm thinking about getting some antibiotics from Farm & Fleet--any suggestions? I trust you more than these vets! Taking Wilbur's temp is out of the question--his poor little heinie has been violated too many times for his liking. Thanks for everything! Sarah

A: Yes I would definitely get Wilbur on some antibiotics. Either oral or the injectable. If you can get the vet to give you Ampicillin 500 mg or Amoxicillin 500 mg either will work well and put him on a couple morning and night for a week.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Size and Weight

Q: Good Day, I have owned my PBP since birth. She is mostly very sweet. We love her very much. She never has nor will she ever, go to a show. She is just for us. My question is simple. I see other pigs on the web that are very huge. My pig is just 130lbs. She has been certified healthy by our vet. Is there a reason she is so much thinner? She is 7 years old. Thanks Randy

A: Randy, there is no way to tell if 130lbs is right for your particular pig. All pigs are different and some are larger than others. The average weight of these pigs coast to coast appears to be 80 to 150 lbs but there are many over that. We never go by weight alone as it can be misleading. What you want is a well rounded pig...there should be no shoulder bones or hip bones showing. Of the pigs here they are all different and all require different amounts of feed. We do tend to like well rounded pigs here...you won't see a thin one here.

The fact that your pig weighs 130lbs wouldn't matter if she was a very small pig because...that amount of weight she could be fat if she is a small pig. Same holds true if she was a large pig...that amount of weight might be a skinny pig. The best judge of your pigs weight and what is healthy for them is you. You know your pig better than anyone. You just don't want to see any bones on her at all.

Remember that the immune system is directly linked to food intake. A healthy well rounded pig can fight off a lot more problems than one that is underweight. Also since you have had her since birth I'm going to assume that she was fed well as a baby. I don't believe ever in putting babies on a restricted diet when young. We certainly wouldn't do it to a puppy or kitten or foal or even a calf so why would we do it to a pig who grows even faster.

Babies need the extra feed to make the bone that will hold them through old age. Pigs that have been raised without this tend to have arthritis at a much younger age. As for your vet....they are hard to interpret as most of them tend to want these pigs a lot thinner than I usually think is healthy. But yes to your original question....I have seen these pigs go as high as 300lbs and still not be fat....just VERY large. Hope this answers your question.



Q: Hi! I was on your web site and was reading all the questions and answers. I do have one concern with my pig Annabell. She is 3 months old and I am very careful with her weight because I just had to put my other pig down, Potbelly also she could no longer get up and walk always had a weight problem with her. She was never fed any snacks and always on a strict diet. Her jowl's got so big she could no longer see. She was 10. I don't want to be to much in fear of getting Annabell too fat that I under feed her. She eats about 1/2 cup pig chow morning and night and lettuce salad in the afternoon for a snack with her vitamins and a top dressing for her coat which I have bought from the web site. She is in the barn but comes out nightly on her halter and long rope to learn a trick or two and I use raisins for a reward. Tops maybe 10. Then she gets to run in the yard and play and get her exercise. She weighs about 24 lb now. Her mother was 50lbs and her father was 35lbs so I'm told. She will be in the barn during the winter, we live in NY quite cold, but she had a house off her stall in a barn that had been well insulated and what a condo this is. Lives high on the hog. She is very much loved and we have bonded very well. She can sit , she comes when called and she kisses. She also loves when I pick her up and love her, go figure! She is very bonded to me. I just want to make sure I don't under feed her in the winter as the exercise will be less. I can let her run inside the barn but don't know if she will want that.

The only gauge I can give you on weight is at 7 weeks she was 10.5lbs and at 12 weeks she was 24lbs that's 14lbs in 5 weeks is that a lot? Thanks for all your time. I'm not ashamed to say I love my Annabell very much any input would be great.

A: Sounds like your baby is very much loved. I don't usually worry about weight until they are done with their growth spurts as no baby animal should be underfed, but sounds like your girl is doing about right. You are the best judge of her weight as all pigs have different metabolisms and different bone structures. Just watch her and keep an eye on it. Young pigs will run a lot off with activity and older pigs don't move around enough to use all the food. Her picture looks really good to me so you must be doing a good job with her.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Behavior Problems

Q: Temper Tantrums??

I could use some help. The family went to a barbecue yesterday...gone all day. This is not normal for our family. Someone is ALWAYS home. Well, Frenzy was left home by herself...first time ever!! When we got home...we found kitchen chairs tipped over...a pair of curtains which were folded neatly, were wadded up on the floor...the baby gate to the upstairs was wide open...and Frenzy was upstairs in my granddaughters room.

Since then, her attitude has been terrible. She nips every time someone walks past her and when I try to pet her and talk with her, she walks the other way!! It's obvious that she's mad at me... so what do I do to get her back on my "good side"! I don't want to reward her for her temper tantrum, but I don't want her to be upset with me either. Any ideas??

A: You are in the proverbial "poop house" with Frenzy. When they get mad they are mad...they have a memory like an elephant and can seem to be very unforgiving.

What I do is talk nice, but ignore them completely. I don't ask for a kiss nor do I pet them. Usually they will decide that they don't like being on the outs with mom and will go back to their nice selves again. You have the same problem that I have...home all the time...so it's a big deal when there is no one around all of a sudden.

When I leave I explain that I am going and give them something that is above what they always get when I'm home, whether it's a treat that's special or a plaything that is new. The Busy Balls we sell are great for those special times (although they can wreck a house trying to get the ball when it gets stuck under the furniture) and I confine them to one room if possible.

They know when they go to that room that mom is going to leave and they have their bed and play things and an extra good treat. When you come home...if all is well than you give another extra good treat and tell them how much you missed them.



Q: OK everyone, here is a question. Harley sleeps under our bed, well not for much longer as she gets bigger. Plus she has a bundle of blankets on the floor at the end of our bed. BUT I am going on a girls 4 day trip to Vegas and to see CHER so she is going to stay home with my husband.

If Harley gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I hear her and take her right out but I know my husband will not hear her nor feel her getting out from under the bed.

So my thought was maybe I should get her a nice size crate for her to sleep in that way when my husband gets up to get ready for work he can just let her out and take her outside. She will spend the day outside with the dogs while he is at work then when our son gets home from work he will let her back in the house. Where do your indoor pigs sleep? Erika

A: Erika, what kind of dogs do you have. The reason someone ask about the dogs is that at least four times every year we get the terrible stories of dogs tearing up a pig and the end result is pretty bloody. The famous last words of most of these heartsick people is "they were raised together and never saw a problem". Small dogs are better than medium or large dogs, but even small dogs if they work together can do a pig a job.

It is usually the pigs fault that it gets started and granted it usually happens after the pig is grown, but even a young pig, if something scares it and makes it scream...that's the turn on for the dogs. Most of us have dogs too, but we don't leave them alone unsupervised with the pigs because nature is funny in it usually shows itself.

Dogs are predators and pigs are prey and a pig doesn't really have a chance with them if there should be something that upsets them. The last story was a good friend of some of us on the list that left her two Jack Russel's with the pigs...they killed two of her oldest pigs. It does happen and it happens often because the pigs wont back off when they should. (Kind of pig headed) and they are the losers in the end.


Q: Why has my potbelly pig started eating her feces? Is it a vitamin or mineral deficiency? Any suggestions? She is kept outdoors in a pen and has shelter. Thanks, Sheryl

A: First off I would like to know how old this pig is, what part of the country does she live in and what diet is she eating right now. Being outside in a pen....is there any grass available or is it a small pen that has nothing for her to do in it? They usually only do this if there is a problem with AMOUNT or QUALITY of the food they are getting.

Pigs that are bored have been known to do this also. My first thought would be that she isn't getting adequate nutrition from whatever she is eating that's why I would like to know what she is being fed. I also would put her on vitamins. Children's chew-able ones no matter what she is getting in the way of foods. A pig on a well balanced pig chow should not have this problem. There are cases of pigs that have internal problems doing this, but I need more info before I can help much.

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Q: Just thought I would get back to you about Miss Piggy. I started her on vitamins today. To answer your question she wasn't eating the Mazuri food, but when I saw her eating her feces I thought maybe the pig chow wasn't giving her something she needed. I also stopped feeding her shelled corn.

She is still eating good except she didn't like the Brussel sprout leaves yesterday. She had Chinese cabbage today. We live in southern middle Tennessee. I would like to have her spayed, but don't know if any of the vets around here have ever spayed a pot and am afraid it might be too expensive. It might be too traumatic to load her up and take her to the vet. I did go to your website and saw the pictures last nite. I'll stay in touch.

A: I wouldn't think that Miss Piggy would like Brussel sprout leaves! My spoiled group won't eat anything like that. I'm talking about ten pigs, the outdoor pigs will eat anything I think. Let's see if the vitamins work or the putting her on Mazuri feed. Sometimes this can be a habit too. Not a very nice one that's for sure.

It sounds like you spend a lot of time with her so it shouldn't be that she is bored and does this just for something to do (that's why I ask about the size of her pen and stuff). A bored pig will do that too. Let's give the vitamins time to get in her system and see if it doesn't help her a little.

I agree with you on the spaying. If you don't have a male there then it isn't as necessary. The trauma is pretty bad and if it's a vet that doesn't know pots they give them injections to knock them out instead of the ISO Florine gas and the injectables are BAD news for pots. So until you find a vet that knows about pots than I would hold off.

We try to spay all females that come in because of the down the road problem that seems to come with some un-spayed females. Lots of tumors and cancers and Pyometrias (infection in the uterus) but this is by no means all un-spayed pigs...maybe one in a hundred.

As long as you keep an eye on her then not spaying her is an option for you. I would rather go that route. Now is the time to find a vet that you are comfortable with that does potbellied pigs. I will check our database and see if there are any vets listed for the TN area ...these are vets that do work on pots. I will send you the names and numbers if I can find any for you. Thanks for the update on miss Piggy and give her a belly rub for me.

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Q: I will try to answer your questions about what Miss Piggy is eating. We had been feeding her swine food. It was a maintenance food for pigs and then we finally located a place locally to get pot belly pig food. What they had was Mazuri Mini-Pig food, Youth. We got Miss Piggy from a woman who had bought her at a yard sale for her mother and she didn't want her and the daughter had already been abusive to her that afternoon. Miss Piggy was scared and it took a while to get her tamed.

We got her in July and we guess that she may have been 2 or 3 months old. I feed her a cup of food in the morning and another cup in the afternoon. We also have a garden and we raised broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and Brussel sprouts this fall. I go out every day at lunch and pick the leaves and broccoli florets , usually a gallon bucket full and feed them to her. We had an Amish friend make her a hot pink harness and leash and I have got her used to it in her pen but she is still too wild to take out in the yard yet and now the weather is not cooperative.

She has also been eating persimmons because her pen is under 3 persimmon trees but they are about gone now. I would mix a handful of shelled corn in with her feed in the afternoon but Kathleen Myers said this might be part of the problem. She had mange mites a couple of months ago but we got medicine from a vet and it cleared up. Thanks for any help you can give. Sheryl

A: Sheryl, nothing wrong with feeding pig chow...we have 73 here that have had nothing but for the last 16 years since we started the sanctuary. I ask about what you were feeding cause there are some potbelly pig foods out there being sold that are not adequate in nutrition. These are companies owned by single individuals not the big ones like Purina.

I ask because I wanted to make sure she wasn't being fed one of those that might not have been giving her enough of what she needs but any commercial hog chow is complete in giving what a pot needs as well as the farm pigs. The Mazuri is good, but I can't say it's any better than the regular pig chow.

In any case diet does not seem to be the problem since it sounds like she gets a pretty well rounded diet. Most pigs that eat their own stool are pigs that have not had a good start in life. Sounds like she didn't have it too good till you got her. Some of these pigs do it because they are bored. Can't imagine that being under three persimmon trees!! Which leads me to another question:

What does she do with the seeds?? I ask because there have been several cases of pigs getting blocked intestines from the seeds in persimmons and peaches. Some pigs spit them out, some swallow them.

Have you noticed any change in her behavior or her digging a lot? Some pigs will eat their own stool (and dirt) when they are in pain. If this pig is acting normal in all ways and anxious to eat like a healthy pig than you can rule pain out as a reason. If you can do that then you might want to start her on a one a day children's vitamin. We use the generic Flintstones ones that come in flavors and they will eat them from your hand.

Also would ask if she started this AFTER you switched her feed or was she doing it before? And what area of the country are you located. If she didn't do this on the pig chow and is doing it on the Mazuri than the answer would be that Mazuri doesn't have the selenium added and your farm pig chow does. If you are in a selenium deficient area that might be your reason. If it started before than that is not the case.

I would rule out habit since this has not always been a problem for her and I can see no reason why she would be hungry enough to do this with what you are giving her so if we rule out pain (which you would know by watching her and how willing she is to eat). That means it has to be a deficiency in something she needs. I would try the vitamins for a time and see if this helps but get back to me on the questions I ask OK?



Q: Hello, I have a 5 month old potbelly pig and I have had her since she was 3 days old. She was the runt and was not feeding on her mom. The people that had her gave her to me and she almost died. I had to inject fluids under her skin and she pulled threw. I had her spayed about 3 weeks ago.

Charlotte is attacking my Dobermans and they try to run from her but she chases them and they will bite her back. She used to play with them and since she's been spayed, she is twice as bad about attacking them. It's not play anymore! It's a good thing that my dogs are not nasty temper or they would of killed her by now.

She lives in the house and is house broke and sleeps in a crate at nite. She goes to work everyday since she was 3 days old. I wonder if she's spoiled! I called my vet and they said that it will take 2 to 3 months for her hormones to die. I hope she gets sweet with the dogs again.

When will I know how big she will get? She is 5 months old and is around 23 pounds. Other then my problem with the dogs, she is a great buddy and I love her so much. She sets on my lap and rolls over for me to rub her belly. She sits on command and has not pottied in the house or shop since she was about 2 to 3 months old. She goes out the door on her own and comes up the stairs by her self. Please help me about the dogs. Cindy

A: Cindy, your dogs and pig are an accident waiting to happen! I can't stress enough the importance of keeping them separate. Dogs are predators by nature...pigs are prey. Large dogs and pigs don't mix. The pig will instigate the problem because they don't back off like another dog would do and it's just a matter of time till your dogs turn on her, not because the are mean, but out of self defense. Wish I had a dime for every email received about pigs raised with a dog for months who got along well together and one day the dog killed the pig! We also have large dogs here but NEVER are they left alone with our pigs.

Please make some kind of adjustment where you can make sure that you don't come home some day from shopping to a terrible scene. Pigs reach an age where they are territorial and your girl will probably never be friendly with the dogs again....they also should never be fed in the same room with dogs. With certain precautions you can avoid trouble but you need to start now. It's just a matter of being careful and never feeding dogs in front of the pig or vice versa and making sure that they can't get to each other if you are not there to keep an eye on them.

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Q: Thank you for the info. I don't ever leave her alone in the room with the dogs. My dogs would never hurt her if she wasn't going after them. I started letting her out by herself in the house when they are outside and at work they take turns running the shop. How big do you think she mite get? She is 5 months old and is 23 pounds. I still hold her in my lap every night. She's a great little piglet and we all love her. Thanks. Cindy

A: It's hard to answer that one since they can grow till they are three years. Just don't underfeed her to try and keep her small cause that ends up with lots of health problems down the road. She is no different than any other baby animal and needs good feed to grow bone and a good immune system. She will grow to her genetic size no matter what, but she can do it healthy or not healthy depending on you. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that she probably won't be one of the larger pigs....do you know who mom and dad are and did you see them as grown pig? Chances are if she is 25 lbs at 5 months she is not going to go over the 80 lb range when grown...but that's not written in stone. It all depends on her genetics.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Pet Pig Feed and Diet Questions

Q: My husband and I just got a 5 week old pot belly. What should we feed her?

A: Hi Sherril. Welcome to the world of pigdom!! Your new baby should have what they call "starter chow" food for babies. If you plan on feeding regular food than you ask your feed store for the very FIRST food for baby pigs.

If you plan on feeding potbelly food then you can find starter chow at HealthyPigs and she needs that till she is several months old. I'm assuming of course that this baby was weaned and not taken away from her mom without knowing how to eat the pelleted feed. If I'm wrong than e-mail me back OK?



Q: I got some new pig food today. I was getting 14% hog finisher, but today I got 36%. It is for weaned pigs which Mollie seems to like (we finally named her) but it's kind of like a powder. Is it OK for my big pigs? 36% protein is the highest they have here. Any ideas?

A: Kelly, what you got today is regular hog feed which is ground corn with supplements. Not what you want for a new baby and pigs used to pellets don't like the powder. She should be on a pelleted feed. If indeed this is really 36% protein that's really way too high. Most starter feeds for baby pigs is 18% to 20% and that is made for babies.

Did you ask for the first pelleted feed for baby pigs? Its called starter chow and is a slight bit higher in protein but not anywhere near 36%. Even for grown pigs that's too high. The ideal is something between 12% and 16% for grown pigs and 16% to 18% on babies. Are you sure that the stuff is 36% protein?



Q: Thanks Maryann. Does the feed not have salt in it? I feed the Mazuri elder PBP food. I'm glad you told me about the salt I had no idea. Shanna

Shanna, be careful with the discards. I don't even give my kids the skin from peeled vegetables because of the wax coating and stuff. Basically if it can cause cancer in people it can harm pigs too. My pigs like apples, watermelon or any melon, carrots, baked sweet potatoes. Sometimes I just put an extra potato on with our supper and give it to one of them with breakfast.

We try not to give animal protein to the house pigs. That can cause gas and it's just not right to eat cousin. Some people use unsalted treats like rice cakes. Try not to give salted treats because it can make them die. I think pigs can't sweat or get rid of excess salt so it just builds up and damages them. I just shared cantaloupe with Agnes AND the two little dogs. They all love it. Maryann

A: Mary Ann your right, pigs can get salt poisoning from becoming too thirsty and over drinking. But as far as snacks...moderation is the key. One pretzel will not hurt your pig. One potato chip will not hurt your pig. If your pig gets into turkey or chicken food...THAT WILL hurt your pig as the salt content is so high compared to other feeds.

As for chocolate...not a good idea but my house pigs have all tasted it at one time or another. It is like anything else...some dogs and pigs have an allergic reaction to it some don't. There's the time that Ann Daniel's pig Oink ate the whole bag of Hershey kisses...foil and all. He was fine and vet was more concerned about how he would handle the foil in his system. As I speak, Maggie is gobbling down one of the cookies that Ann brought. I'm sure its not to our liking, but these pigs even eat grub worms from under the rocks and stuff.

They can handle a lot of things, but it HAS to be in moderation. The outside pigs here only get goodies once in a while as I'm a firm believer that pig chow has what they need, was made for pigs and should be their basic diet, but heck everyone enjoys a break from routine sometimes.


No matter what we would like to think these guys are pigs and if different stuff was going to kill them than the old farmers sloping the hogs with dishwater wouldn't have had much to eat. Our pots in their own country ate much the same way. It's good to be careful, but not paranoid.

Maggie says Yep! She chokes on even wet food spread out over the floor so guess what...heaven forbid she is on dog food!! The old frozen pig that took two years to get on her feet again lived those two years on wet dog food, canned dog food, and Pig treats or anything else I could get her to eat. She is still alive and is now cruising the back yard looking for a man!!



Q: Hello, I loved your web site, but couldn't find anything on the net regarding my question about my pig and was wondering if maybe you could help. My pig is about 4 years old, in great health and not overweight. But sometimes when she is sleeping she will cough and up will come some water. There is not a lot and it doesn't seem like vomiting, it is just a few ounces of liquid.

She doesn't seem in pain or in any discomfort but it soils her bed and wakes her up. I was just wondering if there was anything I could do to help prevent this or if I should be concerned.

Any information you could supply would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, Stacey

A: Stacy, some pigs do this more often than others. My first question would be are you putting water on her food? This tends to cause spitting up after they eat. What kind of food is she on and how long has she been doing this. How often does this happen?

Pigs are prone to ulcers that's why I ask all the above questions. I don't think she has them but would like to know what her daily diet consists of. Let me hear back from you OK?



Q: My pig's diet is oats, farina, grits or (once in a while) dog food for her dinner and snacks of vegetables, some fruit, nuts, but never sweets, salty foods or processed foods.

She doesn't do this coughing water after eating. It happens in the middle of the night, when her dinner is around sunset. It never happens when she is awake and standing, only when she is sound asleep. Like I said before, she shows no signs of pain or discomfort and seems surprised by this when it happens. She will be sleeping and then cough up the water. It's not like a dog or cat getting sick (and I know this is gross) because there isn't any motion prior to the cough.

It has only happened a few times and I was curious as to the cause. I searched and searched online but could not find any other similar questions or health concerns. I have since been putting less water in her food, thinking that her gobbling the water with the food might be the cause.

Have you heard of this before?

A: Hi Stacy, yes it's not uncommon for pigs that have water put on their food to do this. It is kind of like putting your whole supper in the bottom of a big glass of water that you have to drink to get to the food even if your not thirsty. If you are going to wet the food than just dampen it with enough water to moisten it and try that for a while.

I have to admit I have never heard of a pig eating the diet that you sent me, but then again if she is healthy guess it works for her. Though I would have to think that a good pelleted pig chow would be better for her since it is made with all that a pig needs in it. Pigs are omnivores which means they eat meat as well as grain and they can't make their own protein so it has to be fed to them.

That is why even the commercial pig chows have some animal protein added. Anyway give it a try without water on her food or very little water and let me hear from you.



Q: Could you tell me how much to feed Yorkshire pigs in order to keep them in good shape and not overweight? How much can I expect them to weigh? I am getting a couple Yorkshire piglets and want them as pets on the farm. I am not going to sell them for slaughter and want to keep them on a good diet. Any suggestions? Thanks Kurt

A: Hi Kurt, what you feed will increase as the pigs increase in size. I feed mine twice daily with a three coffee cans. They grow so fast that they need extra just to keep up with the growth rate. As they grow you will be able to tell if they are getting enough just by looking at them and feed them accordingly like you would your dog. I would never feed less than a three coffee cans twice daily but there are time I feed more.

The modern day Yorkshire pig is a lean animal usually until about their third year. Its the breeding that determines this and the fact that they were not bred to have to worry after the first couple of years cause by then they have gone to market...boo ..hiss..). The Yorkshire at three years is usually about 800 lbs and our Baby Henry was a thousand lbs when he was ten years old.



Q: I will try to answer your questions about what Miss Piggy is eating. We had been feeding her swine food. It was a maintenance food for pigs and then we finally located a place locally to get pot belly pig food. What they had was Mazuri Mini-Pig food, Youth. We got Miss Piggy from a woman who had bought her at a yard sale for her mother and she didn't want her and the daughter had already been abusive to her that afternoon. Miss Piggy was scared and it took a while to get her tamed.

We got her in July and we guess that she may have been 2 or 3 months old. I feed her a cup of food in the morning and another cup in the afternoon. We also have a garden and we raised broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and Brussel sprouts this fall. I go out every day at lunch and pick the leaves and broccoli florets , usually a gallon bucket full and feed them to her. We had an Amish friend make her a hot pink harness and leash and I have got her used to it in her pen but she is still too wild to take out in the yard yet and now the weather is not cooperative.

She has also been eating persimmons because her pen is under 3 persimmon trees but they are about gone now. I would mix a handful of shelled corn in with her feed in the afternoon but Kathleen Myers said this might be part of the problem. She had mange mites a couple of months ago but we got medicine from a vet and it cleared up. Thanks for any help you can give. Sheryl

A: Sheryl, nothing wrong with feeding pig chow...we have 73 here that have had nothing but for the last 16 years since we started the sanctuary. I ask about what you were feeding cause there are some potbelly pig foods out there being sold that are not adequate in nutrition. These are companies owned by single individuals not the big ones like Purina.

I ask because I wanted to make sure she wasn't being fed one of those that might not have been giving her enough of what she needs but any commercial hog chow is complete in giving what a pot needs as well as the farm pigs. The Mazuri is good, but I can't say it's any better than the regular pig chow.

In any case diet does not seem to be the problem since it sounds like she gets a pretty well rounded diet. Most pigs that eat their own stool are pigs that have not had a good start in life. Sounds like she didn't have it too good till you got her. Some of these pigs do it because they are bored. Can't imagine that being under three persimmon trees!! Which leads me to another question:

What does she do with the seeds?? I ask because there have been several cases of pigs getting blocked intestines from the seeds in persimmons and peaches. Some pigs spit them out, some swallow them.

Have you noticed any change in her behavior or her digging a lot? Some pigs will eat their own stool (and dirt) when they are in pain. If this pig is acting normal in all ways and anxious to eat like a healthy pig than you can rule pain out as a reason. If you can do that then you might want to start her on a one a day children's vitamin. We use the generic Flintstones ones that come in flavors and they will eat them from your hand.

Also would ask if she started this AFTER you switched her feed or was she doing it before? And what area of the country are you located. If she didn't do this on the pig chow and is doing it on the Mazuri than the answer would be that Mazuri doesn't have the selenium added and your farm pig chow does. If you are in a selenium deficient area that might be your reason. If it started before than that is not the case.

I would rule out habit since this has not always been a problem for her and I can see no reason why she would be hungry enough to do this with what you are giving her so if we rule out pain (which you would know by watching her and how willing she is to eat). That means it has to be a deficiency in something she needs. I would try the vitamins for a time and see if this helps but get back to me on the questions I ask OK?


Q: I have a potbellied pig who lives with two miniature goats, I currently feed her dog "dinner" as it is the only thing the goats don't pinch off her, now I read that this is bad for her. What should I feed? And what is the ideal diet for a pig? I live in Belgium and there are currently no books available on potbellies. HELP!!!

A: I don't know if Belgium has commercial pigs that people eat or not but, some pigs are on farm pig chow...the maintenance formula not the grower stuff which can be found at most feed stores. This seems to be the choice for people that do not have access to Potbelly pig chow.

As for the dog food...that will not hurt her. Some pigs spend their whole lives on it and do quite well if not overfed. I would suggest putting a children's vitamin (we use a generic brand of Flinstone's chewable ) on top of her food and they think its a treat. Pigs are omnivores and they can't make their own protein so it has to be fed to them. The dog food has a high protein content so it covers that part.

If you give veggie treats like carrots and lettuce and any fruits then you are supplying what the pig needs. The vitamin will also help there. On another note...How do the goats do with the pig. We have had several e-mail's from people where the goat has butted the pig causing spinal injury to them. Seems to be only the pygmy goats that do this. Hope this helps you some and stay in contact OK?

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Q: Thank you for your reply, I was relieved to here that the dog food won't hurt my pig! She lives outside sharing a large stable and paddock with two pygmy goats, a castrated billy and his wife, plus lots of chickens and Guinea pigs, and until now they are one big happy family!

Only on occasion have the goats butted the pig usually if I scatter food around for the last few scraps, and sometimes in play and the pig is no innocent by-stander!!! She will herself start pushing into the goats and gives as good as she gets! If let into the garden she will happily run around (as fast as a pig CAN run!) with our four dogs playing, although the dogs get quite worried and are not quite sure what to make of her! Especially the Chihuahua!

I once read an article from an English newspaper, that said pigs needed company and it was cruel to keep just one pig. Do you think this is true? And is the companionship of the goats enough? (I'm not quite sure my husband would cope if I announced I wanted another pig! It took two days of me not speaking to him before he relented and bought me this one!!!) Many thanks for taking time to reply to my last e-mail. Hope to hear from you soon. Rachel.

A: Hi Rachel, I disagree big time with people that say these pigs need company. They are perfectly happy being an only child or having the goats and dogs for company. They fight each other terribly when you put two of them together. Whoever it is that keeps preaching that they need another pig has evidently not had to run one to the vet for stitches.

We have 74 of them here with a few being house pigs. It took two years before George would allow Arnold to sleep in the same area that he is in or even the same room. They are very territorial and unless you get two when you get the first one, I tell people to forget it. It isn't worth the battles that they go through.

Your girl is happy just the way things are and believe me if she could talk she would tell you...No more pigs. These pigs don't know the name of sharing and they really resent new ones brought in.



Q: Hi, It's me again. The move went fine and Max loves it here. He adjusted to the new house better than anyone - my husband, me and our cats. Max also has a real bedroom now that he thinks is pretty cool.

I have a concern though. We have a huge oak tree in our yard and I am worried that the acorns might be poisonous to Max. The tree is now getting new acorns and Max seems to like them. Are acorns harmful to pigs? Thanks, Tammy

A: Normal acorns don't seem to cause a problem other than the stomach ache that goes with eating too many of them, but the green ones tend to make them sick. A lot will depend on Max and his individual make up.

I have a friend in Texas that has a lot of ground with hundreds of oaks with millions of acorns and her pigs don't have a problem with it, but for a first timer you might want to rake them up like some people do so there aren't as many for him to eat. You can't possibly get them all but it just cut's the number down. They can be fattening so that's a concern too. Or you could find a part of the yard without the oak for Max to go in if that's possible during the time the acorns are falling.


Q: Toby will be 3 years old in Jan. He gets regular pot belly pig food 1 cup twice a day. He is an inside pet at our business. Toby is such a sweet guy and we care for him very much. Thanks for your help. Shirley

A: Ok, here is what I would do. A three year old pig doesn't need two cups of chow a day if he isn't out in the cold or doing a lot of walking around. His growth spurts are done so he needs a maintenance diet at this time of his life. Our house pigs (ten of them) get only one cup a day divided into two feedings...some get even less depending on their daily exercise.

You won't be able to do this all at once but a slow decrease over a week or so will do it. We also use oats to fill in if the pig is used to big meals. Not horse oats but the oats like Quaker oats that you eat for breakfast. They are non fattening and have no nutritional value either so we never go below one half a cup of the good ole pig chow at any meal.

You feed the oats dry and most pigs love it. If Toby was here he would be getting one half a cup of pig chow in the morning and when he was finished with that I would sprinkle a handful of the oats out on the floor and he would have to work to eat it. (you might want to let him get a taste of them in with his food first to make sure he finds that oats taste good.) He would get the same at night feeding. He could have a few pieces of lettuce if he likes that during the day or a few plain puffed wheat pellets for treats if he is used to getting treats.

I'm assuming that Toby does go outside for potty time? He needs a little exercise to make sure the muscle tone stays when he loses the weight. (helps keep the skin from sagging) So after you find out if he really likes the oats you might want to (weather permitting) take those outside when he goes and throw them scattering them in the yard so he has to hunt for them. With the onset of winter you will have to play hunt and peck indoors. With this you should see a pretty big change by Spring time. You can if you want, give him a one a day children's chewable vitamin once a day while he is on the diet. (we buy the generic brand of Flintstones at Walmart)

When Toby gets to the weight where he looks good and yet healthy too... we can re-evaluate how things are going and if any changes need to be made. Keep in touch ok...and give the big guy a tummy rub for me.


Q: My pig is now 4 weeks old and is used to the environment he also has already learned to eat out of a bowl. What I need to know is now what can I feed him. I mean what do miniature pot belly pigs eat. What type of solid foods also do I start him off on?

A: At four weeks your baby is still just that a baby. You can start now with putting some starter baby pig chow pellets in a bowl in with him....they usually will play with it but won't eat it just like that. They learn to eat pellets from mom and he hasn't had that time with her to learn so it will be slow going. There are brands of potbelly pig foods out there...Purina has one called Mazuri that a lot of people use. It is easy to get or order from your feed store...there is one called Manna Pro and others that say potbelly pig chow. At four weeks I would continue with his regular feedings and in two weeks or so if he isn't at least tasting the pig chow you might have to mix it with what you are giving him for a while and slowly go to the chow. It sometimes encourages them to eat it if you sprinkle a little powdered milk on the pellets...you don't have to wet them at that point...try it dry first.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Anesthetics / Sedation

Q: Hi, My husband and I are proud parents of a mini pot bellied pig named Ariel. She is 28 months old and we have a big problem. She won't let us trim her nails and they are getting quite long. She is scared of the trimmer we use now and won't let my husband get near her. We had the vet out here to give her an anesthetic shot and it made her very sick. So now we don't know what to do. Maybe you could give me some other alternatives. Thank you. Beth

A: Hi Beth, was reading your post and thinking. At 28 months her feet shouldn't be all that bad. The fact that the vet knocked her out with injectables and she lived through it tells me she is in pretty good shape.

Injectables with pots just doesn't work very well and sometimes they don't come out of it at all. There is a place for injectables when it's that or nothing...like on some of the sanctuary pigs that come in that we can't touch or hold for the ISO Fluorene gas mask or those that need surgery that we can't touch.

Your question about trimming is one problem that I wish we could find a way to fix forever, but that doesn't seem to be the case. If your going to have the vet do the trimming then make sure the vet has ISO Fluorene gas and that he uses NOTHING else with it. NO injectable to take the edge off ...in other words nothing, but the ISO. Should this vet ever need to know or use an injectable you might take the formula off the web site and give it to him.

It is there for pigs that can't be handled the regular way, but is not the method of choice. The ISO Fluorene is the best route to go if the pig has to be knocked out. They come out real quick and even with surgery patients they are up and walking within a few minutes of taking the mask off.

Now for how it can be done without anesthetics. We do the pigs here once a year and no injectables are used. We rub tummies till they go down and quickly with one on the front and one on the back roll the pig to its back. They can't do anything but scream a lot in that position, and then we trim hooves. I don't know how big this pig is, but we have done 300 pounders that way with no problem.

If it's a small pig then maybe your husband flip her....you straddle the pig and pick up behind the front legs and flip the pig onto its butt with its back up against your chest...then you can trim the front feet and nip a little off the back too if needed.

Now with all that said you might want to try putting some goodies on the floor and while she is grabbing you can nip a little off especially the front ones and dew claws. This is the hard way, but works for some people. You just have to follow her around as she keeps moving to keep you away from the feet. Hope some of this helps.

Baby Pigs / Piglets

Q: I received a baby pig last night, she is 1 week old. I have never adopted baby pigs before. Only cows, horses, dogs, cats, and a sea bird with an identity crisis. I really want her to survive, are there any signs or symptoms I should worry about? She tries to drink from the bottle, I didn't realize they could pan drink that young, but she got maybe a half ounce. How much does she need? Thank you for your site. She now has my heating pad as I didn't realize they didn't keep warm on their own. Any info you can give would be oh so greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Rochelle

A: She won't take much at one time so she needs to be fed about every two hours for a week if she will take it. Better the pan feeding than the bottle if she will do it. Main thing at this age is to keep her from getting diarrhea as that is the main killer of babies. The Gerber's Rice cereal will help control that if you can start on some of that with her milk. Call or e-mail me if you need help.

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Q: Thank you for returning my e-mail so quickly. I was at a loss as to what to feed her, a friend recommended a recipe for me the night she was dropped off. She is eating well but is starting to get diarrhea. I am not sure if this recipe is too rich for her and not sure if or how to switch her over to the Sow milk replacer I have, the recipe is 1 can evaporated milk (12oz) 1-cup milk, 4 egg yolks, 1TSP of Kayro syrup. She has a lot of energy, and a healthy appetite. I have started the rice cereal like you recommended, what can I do to clear up the diarrhea? I really appreciate your help and now have your web site in my favorites for referral. Thanks again for all the help. Sincerely, Rochelle

A: The rice cereal will help with the poos, but you might get them as a result of changing formula too quickly so try to add some of each and do it slowly. Each day giving less of your formula and more of the milk replacer. Remember that the milk replacer is for large sows. If you have the sow milk replacer so only make up as much as you will use in a day. It can go bad quickly so throw out any left at night and make a new batch. Add enough rice cereal to make it a little thicker and that should help the diarrhea. Feed only what she will take at one time. She should be eating about every four hours and don't overfeed her. Rather a little thin than to have diarrhea. The Gerber's Rice cereal is a wonderful thing! Let me know how she is doing.



Q: I am in Ontario Canada and have one day old pigs. Four have died so we really hope we can help the other survive. We are feeding them baby formula in a dropper. We will go to goats milk in a dish as you suggested. How often do we feed four day olds? Thanks, Beth

A: Feed them every three to four hours if they will take it. It takes very little to fill them up and they will only take what they want at any given time. Hope they make it and remember to keep them very warm. Newborns like it at about ninety degrees, so we use a heating pad for them.


Q: Hi, I’m writing to update you on the piglets. His nose is starting to run a little, and his feces look dry (it’s like a bunch of little pellets). He’s still eating great. I added in a little bit of molasses (hoping they’ll help things go through better) and half a drop of some children’s vitamin/iron drops. I think I”ll go in the AM and get some antibiotics. How often do I give them?

Also, they’re both boys, and they like to “root” each other around, one will be asleep and the other will start pushing him, then later, they’ll switch, is this normal? Thanks!!! Lauren

A: That behavior is normal for them and sounds like you have it pretty much under control. If you get Amoxicillin from the vet its usually in liquid form and you can give half a dropper full twice a day.


Q: I have two 10 week old piglets. These piglets came to our house with a mite problem that we cannot seem to get rid of. We have tried everything that anyone tells us. They still have mites. The second problem is that in the last two days, their bellies look very swollen. We have them on a very strict feeding program and have given Ivomec for mites and worms. What else would cause them to be so big. Their bellies look like they are ready to explode. They are pottying well, and not over-eating. Help Please. Jenifer

A: You might be underfeeding! These are babies and we don't underfeed any other animal baby so it shouldn't be done for a pig either. Babies that aren't getting enough to support their growth and their bone and immune systems get sick. There is plenty of time to control their weight and food intake when they have finished with all the growth spurts. You have seen the bellies of children that aren't getting enough food....? They are also old enough to have a one a day children's vitamin....we get the generic brand of Flintstones.


Q: We just recently adopted a 3 week old piglet (Scarlett). She was an orphan and bottle fed and now she drinks her formula from a bowl. My question is this, we have had her 3 days and fell in love immediately. She is wonderful, smart and amazing. She will run into our laps when we sit on the floor, she crawls up into the fold of our arms and not really biting, but nibbling. I am wondering if it's time to start adding the baby rice cereal to her formula. I don't want her to start biting, but I don't think that is what she is doing?

She eats well and loves her formula and lets you know when the bowl is empty!! Please let me know what you think. Thank you Robie

A: Yes, she is plenty old enough to start on the Gerbers Rice Baby cereal. Start with a little and keep adding as you go along. I don't think she is biting either just more of a taste and feel type thing like any baby does.


Q: My piglet seems to be having trouble breathing, his squeal isn't normal and he almost seems to be panting..if that makes sense. He eats out of a bowl and is not bottle fed. He will be 2 weeks old on the 23rd..I don't know what to do. Thanks Michelle

A: Michelle, your baby might have pneumonia. Take a temp which should be between 98 and 101 and see if he is running a fever. If he were here I would take him into the vet for a check up and get some antibiotics started with him. They can give you liquid Amoxicillin that you give with an eyedropper but don't wait a long time to get him there ok?

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Q: I gave him a shot of penicillin last night and he is quite a bit better this morning..is penicillin ok for him? I only gave a very small amount...but it seems to be enough to help. Thanks for getting back to me! Michelle

A: The Penicillin is fine but I like the liquid better on these poor little babies. At two weeks he could have a fourth a cc of the Penicillin if you have to do it that way. Try just calling a friendly vet and see if he wont give you some of the liquid stuff. (or do you have any friends with kids that might have some on hand. With the liquid you would give it twice a day .... a dropper full for a few days.

Potty Training

Q : I have finally gotten Mollie to hold it during the day while we're at work, but now she has accidents at night. She never had one before I started the "no potty inside" thing. Tonight I am trying something new. I took her water bowl up after dinner (10:00 pm, I was out). I let her out to potty after dinner. I hope this will help. I needed to have fed her sooner so that dinner would have had time to cycle through, but I'm going to bed now. Guess I'll clean it up in the morning if she has another accident. Any idea why she suddenly started doing this? Does she just like seeing me mop the floor? Kellie

A: Kelly, usually when they potty at night it's because they have too much room to roam in. She may need to be semi confined for the night time for a while. My Roxie has a large Great Dane kennel that she took for her own and when it's time for bed she goes into it herself....so I close the door at night time, but the rest of the time the door is open for her to come and go as she pleases.


Q: Can a potbellied pig be trained like a dog?  Meaning take him outside like a puppy every 2- hours? I LOVE pigs & I really want one...I've wanted a potbellied pig for about 8 years now, but I don't have a house yet & I know my new husband & I are not in a lifestyle right now to be moving around with a pig, but I WILL have one someday & I'm just getting some knowledge first....what do they eat? My name is Amber & my step daughter sent me this website knowing that I LOVE pigs...I have my whole bathroom in pigs....Anyway Thanks for your time & answering my questions. Sincerely, Amber

A: Hi Amber, yes they can be house broken just like a dog only better and easier. I have 6 in the house and they go out on a schedule that never changes. Once you take a baby outside to go that is where it prefers to do its business. The number one they will do in a litter box if one is provided for them as a baby, but once they do a number two outside they will hold it till they get out to go.

They are not a pet for everyone and most breeders don't tell the down side of owning one. They are amazing creatures, very intelligent and they have reasoning power. They eat a mini pig chow for the most part and are extremely healthy most of the time. The size is what gets most people and is probably the number one reason that they end up unwanted at the sanctuaries. There are NO HEALTHY pet pigs that weigh only 30 or 40 lbs. Average weight for the pots cross country is 80 to 150 lbs with most going over that.

When grown they have trouble doing steps and that's part of the problem. They can't be put into a small carrier and taken to the vet because of their size. Everyone loves a baby pig but that babyhood is short lived and they are not full grown until three years. Most areas in towns or cities are not zoned for them and that is the second most often reason they end up in a sanctuary. They are not legal to keep in most towns or cities and they lose their good home when animal control finds out they are there.

They are a unique and wonderful animal for those willing to make the commitment to them for the life of the pig (which is about 15 years). If you like to vacation or go away from home a lot they are not an animal for you. It's hard to find someone to take care of them and boarding kennels are seldom an option. They are creatures of habit and dislike change of any kind. Hope some of this helps.


Q: I have a question, I was given a pot belly pig. Truly cute. But the problem is, she sleeps were she messes. The person I got her from kept her in a small area (too small). So she slept, ate and messed in the same area. I know pigs are clean animals and that they learn quick. Trying to correct this problem. I have her in a larger area with her food and bedding in one area and her messing in another area. Yet she still sleeps where she messes. Like to house break her, but I know I need to fix this problem first. Any suggestions? Alex

A: I only had one with this problem and he was so glad to get out of the mess that he learned in two days that he didn't have to live that way anymore. We put him on the back porch (air conditioned and all) and let him outside three or four times a day on a regular schedule....that took care of the problem. If your keeping her outside or in a stall area..let her out several times a day on a schedule. I think within three days your problems will be over. Also give her a bed of blankets.


Q: My baby pigs came from a pregnant pig that was running in the wild behind my house. My question is what goes in the litter box? They are smart and they use the box (I have dirt in it right now) Can I use litter?

A: Only if your there to watch and make sure they don't eat any. The clay litter packs in the tummy so if you use anything try not to use that....I prefer the pine shavings, shredded paper or plain dirt...the dirt also makes it easy to get them to go outside when the time comes.


Q: We have a 4 year old pot belly that was potty trained to a litter box. She was great and never had an accident. The litter box got to small for her so I threw it away and replaced it with a much larger one. Now she will not even go near it and she goes on the floor. How do we retrain her to go in the litter box. NEED HELP!!!!!! Thank You

A: Pigs are creatures of habit....you threw away the "habit" LOL. Usually at this age they cease to use a box anyway and prefer to go outside to go potty. We have four house pigs in here and no litter boxes at all. They are all on a schedule of going out to do their business. If there is a reason she can't be let out to do her business than there are a few things that you can try that MIGHT encourage her to start going in a litter pan again.

Make sure that new pan is easy to get into and out of....height etc and make sure it isn't slick so she won't slide when getting in. Confine litter pan, sleeping blankets, feed and water bowls to a smaller area until using pan becomes a habit. Pigs don't like to go where they have to eat and sleep. Any mess she makes on the floor...use a paper towel and clean up and put in the box. Use paper towels to blot up urine and put in the box too for a couple of days. These pigs are so habit forming that it is sometimes a problem.

We can't get pigs to go into new housing without locking them in for at least overnight. They would rather lay out in the cold than to give in to walking into a different shelter. Let me hear how it goes.


Q: My pig is now 9 weeks old. She eats about 3-4 small meals a day and I usually give her water at those times too, but she walks around and pees every 15 minutes, wherever she chooses. I take her outside and she goes. I am at my wits end with cleaning up the messes, my carpets smell horrible. Why can't she hold it long like a puppy?

The breeder has neutered male babies in her house and she says she has never heard of a pig peeing so much. Please help me with this. I don't want to have to put her outside.

A: First I would have her urine checked...if she is going that much you shouldn't have a problem catching some in a container to take in. Just ask them to check it for infection...and it wouldn't hurt to ask for a sugar count ...its a fairly cheap and easy test and any vet should be able to do it for you. If that comes back with just the ordinary bacteria and no major problems then I would have to assume it might be you.

Put this girl on a schedule and don't vary from it. Out first thing every morning again three or four hours later and so on throughout the day. She needs to know that at these certain hours she will be outside to go. They are creatures of habit. If she has no schedule than she never knows when the next time out might be and she goes when the mood hits.

She is still very young to expect her to be trained ..this is when your first just trying to train her. Usually once they poo outside they will try to hold that part till they are out again, but its hard for a baby to hold their urine for long periods.

Also I would leave water down all the time! All animals need unlimited access to water all the time. She may be over drinking at feed times to make up for not having water later on. But the scheduling is the most important part of the training ...later on as she gets older you slowly eliminate a couple of the in-between times so that she is going out morning, noon and late day. You didn't say if this girl has access to the yard on her own or not..that can make a difference too. Some pigs don't like to go when they are on a harness unless trained that way. Until she is predictable she needs to have her house space limited. Give her a small area and only allow her out after she has been outside and when you're watching her like a hawk and just for a short period of time to play etc. Put her bed and stuff in that limited space. If she makes a mistake put her back out again.  We never give babies full run until later on when they can be trusted. 

Blockages and Constipation

Q: I'm at my wit's end. My Wilbur has been constipated for over 2 weeks. He went several days without having any stool. Now, he stra...