Do Horses Get Along with Pigs?
Whether you’re trying to nurture an unlikely friendship between horses or pigs, or you want to get the most out of your pasture, there are several concerns with keeping horses and pigs together.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, this pairing of horses and pigs is unlikely, and it’s for a reason – simply put, horses and pigs don’t get along and you should avoid keeping them as pasture mates.
Problems with Keeping Pigs and Horses Together
The reasons for this are multiple. From size difference to nutrition, I’m going to cover the most important reasons why pigs and horses generally don’t get along with each other.
– Risk of Injury
Horses tend to be jumpy animals that get frightened easily, especially those that haven’t undergone desensitization training.
Because of their flighty nature, they often bolt at the first sight of something unusual, or if they hear noises they’re not familiar with.
Pigs would certainly tick off all these boxes if they were to be introduced to the same pen or pasture as your horses.
Because a horse’s flight response is strong, there’s a high risk of injury should your horse try to jump over a fence or try to escape its pen in case it gets frightened by a horse.
Then there’s also the problem of size.
There’s no question that both animals are sizable. Even though pigs are on the smaller side in terms of height, they can still cause serious injury and damage should they charge at your horse and bite it.
Plus, pigs tend to be aggressive when feeding, which once again seems like a situation that can easily breed mayhem and trouble should your horse get caught in the middle of an aggressive situation.
That said, I have heard of situations where horses were unfazed by the presence of pigs and both animals kept their distance from each other, co-existing gracefully.
But these situations are not the norm.
– Nutritional Differences
Horses are exclusively herbivores preferring to graze on pasture grass as their predominant source of nutrition.
Pigs on the other hand, will eat just about anything they’re offered. They’re one of the most voracious omnivores out there.
When kept on a pasture, they’ll not stop at just grazing along gracefully on delicate pasture grass. No, they’ll root through the dirt turning up roots, bulbs and whatever else they can put their snouts on.
Because of their propensity to root up the ground, pigs can leave holes in the ground, which could cause your horse to trip and injure themselves.
Then there’s also the problem of pasture management – with the ground turned over like that, the fragile forage your horse needs will have trouble growing properly.
Therefore, keeping horses and pigs together on the same pasture will not only present a risk of injury but also a risk of damaging the pasture.
With pasture grass no longer growing as abundantly, your horse may present with nutritional deficiencies.
Therefore, if you absolutely must keep horses and pigs on the same pasture, make sure to divide up the pasture so that horses and pigs are kept separate without interaction.
– Risk of Disease
Pigs can spread a host of diseases via their fecal matter. These can be passed on via the fecal-oral route not only to humans but other animals too.
From various bacterial infections such as Yersiniosis, Salmonellosis, and Cryptosporidiosis to Ringworms, Influenza and even Rabies, it’s best to keep your horse from getting into contact with pig feces.
Besides your usual viral or bacterial infection, there’s also a risk of toxicity to horses caused by the presence of Monensin in the feed of pigs.
Monensin is an ionophore antibiotic feed additive that’s commonly used in the feed of cattle. It’s also sometimes added to the feed of swine and poultry.
While it protects cattle herds from coccidiosis – a devastating disease affecting cattle – and improves feed efficiency and milk production, unfortunately, it’s toxic for horses.
If you’re feeding pigs in the same enclosure or pen where you keep your horses, nosy pigs can find their way to pellets containing monensin and ingesting them.
The symptoms of monensin toxicity in horses range from colic and diarrhea to heart failure, so it’s important to prevent toxicity in the first place as it has no cure or remedy.
– Aversion to Strong Smells
Another reason why horses and pigs can’t get along is related to the aversion of horses to strong smells.
It’s no secret that pigs are smelly, especially when left to their own devices to roll around in the mud.
Horses can get frightened by pungent smells and even have an aversion to certain strong smells. If a horse with such an aversion is kept around the source of the smell, they can become stressed, jumpy, and aggressive.
Therefore, if you know your horse to fit this description, I strongly advise against keeping these two animals in the vicinity of each other, let alone on the same pasture or in the same enclosure.
Compatible Animals with Horses
So, hopefully by now, I’ve managed to give you a better understanding of the reasons why pigs don’t make a good companion for horses.
Here are some animals that are compatible with horses:
- Other horses (horses prefer living in herds so more of their kind make perfect companions for them).
As for animals that might get along with pigs, unfortunately, I can’t recommend any other animals than other pigs.
Pigs enjoy the company of other pigs and while some individual pigs may get along with other animals, generally pigs pose a threat (e.g., charging, biting, etc.) to other farm animals.
Horses may seem strong and tough, but they’re delicate herbivores who will choose flight over fighting and become easily stressed out by the presence of unusual things.
While intelligent and highly trainable, pigs can be problematic and aggressive with other animals. Of course, it depends on the individual pigs and how they were raised.
There are always exceptions, with unlikely pairings of animals forming unlikely bonds, but generally, pigs and horses simply aren’t on the best of terms and should not be coerced into a situation where they should share the same enclosure.