Exotic pets, rodents and birds

Should I breed my piggy?

by Kirstin Key of Companion Animal Care Services, Copyright 2001

This question really cannot be answered by me, or anybody else. You are the sole person who can answer that question for yourself, and for your piggy.

The main question to be asked is why do you want to breed your cavy? Do you think she is lonely? Some pigs prefer our company to that of other pigs - they are far too dominant to get along with others in a caged situation.

Do you think that she needs to have a litter? If so, why? Do you think that she's happier if she has babies? Some folks think that of people too, and frankly, I don't want kids and don't understand why others would, so it's a silly idea to me for you to interpret your feelings and assume your cavy also has those same mothering instincts. I personally have no maternal instincts, unless you've got fins, feathers, or fur, that is! Some people think that it's important a cavy has a litter before she's a year old, to prevent her from having difficulty down the line. This is hogwash! If a sow litters at 4 months, and then isn't bred until she's 3 again, she's going to have just as many potential problems as if she hadn't had that first litter!

Do you want your children to experience the miracle of life? Are you also willing to teach them about death? There is a very good chance your sow might not make it through this pregnancy. Sows risk about a 25% chance of mortality during pregnancy. Also, many sows require veterinary interception during their pregnancy and afterwards, are you willing to spend up to $300 for an emergency caesarean? Also, many litters often have a stillborn baby or two, is this something you are willing to allow your children to experience? Or frankly, something you want a treasured pet to go through? What will happen to the babies?

Are you breeding for show or to make money from selling the babies? I often hear this from inexperienced and na´ve people. You lose money by raising babies, not make it in handfuls. At best, pet stores will offer about $5-6 a baby pig, and you have no say in what they do with them after the bill of sale is closed. It costs on average about $10-12 per baby to raise it for 4 weeks, as well as vet costs and your time. Now if you are breeding show stock, it won't do you much good unless you are breeding from top quality, pedigreed parents. You must have a standard of perfection, and have a good idea of what you are getting into and the breed you wish to work with and further. If so, I would recommend strongly that you go to a couple of shows in your area and see where the current trend is in the breed you wish to further. Talk to other top breeders of that breed and variety, and obtain the very best stock you can.

The main question is, are you willing to sacrifice a treasured pet to the perils of pregnancy? It can be difficult for them, and it often lessens their lifespan. A cavy can typically live for about 8 years, yet breeder pigs typically live about 3 years.

Please let me know if I can answer any of your questions by emailing me .

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