Summer Time & the Livin' is Easy...

If you're a pig at Rooterville Animal Sanctuary that is! Summertime is hard on pigs due to the heat, they cannot sweat to cool down and so it is extremely important to make sure they have ways to keep cool during the dog days of summer. That's one of the reasons we close to visitors during the hottest months (July-August) so that we can devote more time to this important job.

We provide many ways to keep our Roo-residents comfy and you can try most of these at home for your animals too. Here is our list, if you have any suggestions or ideas, please be sure to share them! We're always learning, that's the way we all need to be.

  1. Cool, fresh water-for drinking and wallowing

  2. Shade-natural and from shade cloth/sails

  3. Fans

  4. Misting systems

  5. Grass

This is Benny, enjoying time in one of our wallows under a big oak tree at Rooterville Animal Sanctuary.

Let's talk about these options for your pet piggies.

Water-this can be challenging for folks who work and can't be home to constantly refill tipped over bowls or dirty waters. If you have a nice yard, you may not want to make a wallow so a pool is an option. You'll have to pick the system that works best in your situation.

We use many auto-waterers that can be found at any local farm supply store or you can or get in touch with us and we'll order some for you. The steel ones are the best, they last forever and they don't rust out. The plastic are similar but they can damage more easily if you have a larger piggy who gets impatient with the water flow. This stainless steel type is our favorite.

If you can teach your piggy to drink from a nipple type of waterer, that would be the best. We've found that most pigs won't use them though, especially if they have to look up to drink, that's the biggest challenge with those that we've encountered but if you put it low to the ground aiming up, it might work.

Sorry my pics aren't aligned just right, I'm an animal person not a computer person! These are the types of waterers that I just mentioned. For some of our animals, we've found that leaving a hose barely running clamped onto the side of a plastic pool is the best solution. That way the water is staying cool because it is running and if the piggy tips it or overflows it, it will fill back up.

Remember to keep bowls and hoses in the shade as they will soak up the heat from the sun. Especially if they are black! The sun moves throughout the day making this easier said than done but it is important to find a spot that is shady all day to locate your water sources. If it has to be in the sun part of they day, morning sun will be less brutal than afternoon sun.

For a homemade wallow, you'll want it to be shallow, not more than 4-10" deep. If your soil won't hold the water, find some clay and line the bottom with it. Not only will it hold the water, it will stick to your piggy and provide good sunscreen. If you don't want your piggy to improvise his/her own shape and size, you can line the bottom with chicken wire held in place with landscape staples before adding your clay. Your piggies will stop rooting when they hit the wire.

You can add a misting system above your wallow to give your piggy the ultimate wallow experience! A mister can reduce the ambient temperature by more than 10 degrees! You can even purchase kits now so they are super easy to install. HINT: add an inline water filter and screen gasket to keep your misters from clogging.

They also make misting kits for fans now to provide the ultimate summer cooling experience for your babies.

Shade is probably the most important aspect of keeping your pet safe from summer heat. Maybe you're fortunate enough to have plenty of trees and natural shade but if not, no worries! Shade sails and shade cloth are easy ways to create a shady spot for your babies to keep cool and avoid the sun. Warning though, it will cause most lawn grasses to die off so be careful where you put it if you like your grass! There are some types of grasses that tolerate shade, make sure to do your research when deciding where to put up your shade sail/cloth.

Shade sails are a challenge because they need super sturdy posts and hardware to stay taught. Buying cheap sails and posts is going to result in do-overs and more expense. Our experience has taught us to get the best and only do one installation! Shade cloths are great to put up to provide shade for barn windows/doors/walls or to put up on a fence. Make sure you don't violate any HOA rules with your installation.

Fans are great but with anything electric, you need to make sure to take proper precautions to prevent a tragedy or damage to your fan. We buy wet-rated barn fans to make sure that they can hold up to the FL humidity. Make sure your cord is up where your pet cannot get to it, tie the plug to make sure it doesn't come unplugged accidentally and point it down on your animal for best results. They make the misting kits and they work great on the fans to really give your animals the best cooling experience. Make sure to never use an indoor fan outside, there is too much risk of fire and damage, we never recommend them for an outdoor location. Well inside of a barn or building may be ok for them but never where they could be exposed to moisture.

Grass, this one is a huge challenge for our piggy lovin' folks! But it is very important that you have a good grass ground cover because open patches of sand or dirt get extremely hot in the sun while grass will remain cool and soft and provide a tasty treat for your herbivorous babies. Pigs are grazers, they enjoy grazing on grass during the day so good grass is important for the health and wellbeing of pet piggies.

But "how?" you ask. Good question. Best if you can keep your animals off of it while you grow your new grass. If you've got it already, yay! Let's protect it. What we've found that works great is buying metal fencing or poultry wire and putting it tightly on top of the grass or the ground where you're going to seed. Use landscape staples to hold it tight and in place. As the grass grows through it, it will disappear leaving you a beautiful, root-proof lawn! The downside is that you have to cut it if you decide to plant anything down the road. But it's well worth it! And it keeps dogs from digging out and critters from digging in as well. You may have to do a patch at a time if you have dirt now but you'll get there! Fence off a piece of the yard at a time until the seedlings take hold or buy plastic trays and grow your own grass plugs, that way the seedlings are protected until they are grown enough to tolerate some traffic. But we've found that the pigs don't like walking on the wire so your grass may be safe until it is thick enough to cover the wire and make it invisible.

Chicken wire is great to stop rooting and if applied to a lawn, the grass will grow up through it allowing grazing but not rooting. Its a great tool to keep animals from digging out of or into a fenced area and a way to have a beautiful lawn AND piggies! They won't root through the wire and the wire will be hidden in the grass as it grows up through it. Dogs won't dig in to try and get your piggies too. Perfect!

One other thing that may help with rooting piggies is Selenium supplementation. Southern soils are deficient in this important mineral and I found that when my pigs were supplemented with it 2-3 times a week, they did not root. Maybe I got lucky but it's worth a try. Just use caution as it can be toxic if overfed.

There you have it! Our ideas for keeping animals cool and comfy in the summer heat. If you cannot find anything you need, or you need to run an idea by us, please get in touch. We are able to order anything you need from our suppliers. We're always happy to help if needed and 100% of the proceeds help rescued animals.

OF course we'd love to hear how you keep your animals cool and comfy and we'd love to see pictures too!

Hope your summer is made in the shade!

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