To a person or animal that has or does not spend a lot of time around pigs, getting acquainted with them can be a daunting task. When you consider the vast array of sounds pigs can make and behaviors they might exhibit, it can be tough to decipher what the intentions of a pig might be when meeting for the first time. This is something that is easily understood and overcome by the experienced pig farmer, but what if you have other animals on your property that might have to at times interact, or at least coexist, with your pigs?
Horses, for example, seem to have an issue with pigs. In my experience, there is something about a pig that inexplicably terrifies a horse, or my horses anyway. For quite some time, we had a pig penned up bedside the horse pasture. This particular pig was as good-natured and friendly as they come, never bothered by anything and always glad to greet you for some scratches and attention. The shared fence line between the horses and pig was near the water trough, and regardless of the passage of time, the horses never seemed to get used to the pig. They continued for years to approach the watering trough with one eye on the pig pen, just knowing that pig was up to no good.
As time passed and the pig continued to have nothing but good intentions, I'd like to say the horses let their guard down, but they really didn't. Then one day, much to their surprise, a new pig was in the pen. This pig was colored differently and did not have the same calm demeanor as the other pig. The new pig was a loud, nervous, fast-moving creature that was even more terrifying. It is a wonder the horses did not stop drinking entirely, as scared as they were of the new pig.
A classic example of what will never happen around our farm!
A few years down the road, we moved and our setup did not allow for pigs for a while. The horses were then boarded at a stable next to a pig farm. While this seems like a tolerable arrangement, it was not. This neighboring pig farm had its own set of challenges, mainly in the form of escaped weaners. Usually about once a week, there was an escape, and it always seemed to happen while I was riding, quickly sending me from a position of riding the horse to riding the dirt with no horse in sight.
Never have I been able to get my horses to accept pigs. They tolerate them, but always keep one eye on them, regarding them suspiciously at all times. We keep our fences hog tight, but the horses are still not convinced that the beast on the other side will not someday break on through to their side. If the pigs get riled up and become noisy, the situation rapidly devolves and the horses become extremely flighty and nervous.
She knows there's a pig over yonder and is not happy.
Introducing a scared person to a pig and having them relax and become accepting is one thing, but reasoning with a scared animal is something else entirely. Living in peace and harmony is a nice idea, but the horses are not giving in to that idea as long as there are pigs. All we can do is keep our fences strong and animals separate while ignoring the dirty looks shared between them. What do you do to ensure the peaceful coexistence of other animals with your pigs? Feel free to tell us about your trials and solutions in the comments!