The scourge of pig owners everywhere! Why do they do it!? What is their obsession with what’s going on under the ground? Is owning a potbellied pig as a pet and having a nice lawn mutually exclusive? We will look into those questions and dig up… oh yes, we went there… some information about pig’s rooting behavior that will hopefully help out pig owners with this issue.
It seems as though Spring is when the pigs go the most crazy with rooting and tearing up the lawn. There is a reason for that. Long before we actually see new Spring grass starting to grow and fill in our lawns from the almost-bare grassy areas that we had during the colder Winter months, there is activity brewing below the surface. As the ground thaws out, tasty roots and shoots start to grow underground before the grass breaks the surface of the dirt and gives us the lush lawns that we all love so much. The pigs, either by their amazing sense of smell or some sort of instinct, know that while there is not much to graze on at the surface level, they can find some good stuff down below the lawn.
Many people who have come to Ross Mill Farm comment about how beautiful the grounds are. They are amazed that we’re able to keep our lawns so nice with all of the pigs we have who graze in the main yard every day. If you were to come to the farm in April, while all that “under the surface” activity is taking place, you would see that we have large areas of our lawns fenced off to prevent the pigs from grazing. Our grounds crew has seeded and then sectioned off those spaces to give the grass a fighting chance. Once those seedlings are well-rooted and growing, we can remove the barriers and let the pigs have at it. By this point, the lawns are lush and well-established. The pigs are perfectly content with grazing on the new grass growth. The lure of the underground doesn’t really hold a candle to delicious grassy lawn.
Of course, there are some pigs who will continue to root up a lawn throughout the whole summer. Why do they do it? A variety of reasons… maybe they are bored, maybe there are bugs below the surface that intrigue the pigs. Some pigs enjoy tearing up a lawn so they can lay in a cool mud hole. Once a pig has their mind set to doing something, as I’m sure you know… it can be challenging (or downright impossible!) to change it. If you have a pig-headed pig… and let’s be honest, don’t we all?… whose focus is on destroying your lawn, the best thing you can do is try distracting your pig during their outside time. Give them something that is more appealing than rototilling the grass. Perhaps throwing a small handful of Cheerios in the lawn might keep them more interested. If your pig roots so they can lay in the mud, give them a piggy pool to cool themselves off in. A “busy ball” that dispenses treats might be a good outdoor toy for your piggy (just be sure to empty it and clean it thoroughly after each use. Mold can quickly grow on any food left in there and that will make your piggy sick).
If you have the space for it, divide your backyard lawn into 2 spaces… one that is pig accessible, and one that is fenced off so the grass has a chance to grow. And then switch. This will give your pig fresh grazing space and will give you some nice lawn to enjoy. That’s a win-win situation! Just don’t use any chemicals anywhere in your yard. They can be deadly for your pigs, and also deadly for the environment.
A final option may be to try to keep your pig off the lawn in the early Spring months so the grass has a chance to get rooted and grow. Then if you need to, limit your pigs yard time so they still have the benefit of outdoor time, but they don’t get bored out there and start to get into mischief. Just remember, pigs are pigs and they will do pig-like behavior. It’s one of the reasons why we love them!