It’s a well-worn observation that pigs seem to love rolling around and lounging in the mud. But all that muddy mucking about isn’t just a dirty diversion for pigs; living in the mud, also known as wallowing, is a critical component in a pig’s daily life and wellbeing.
The Dirty Data
According to Live Science, pigs wallow in mud for a variety of reasons: because pigs have fewer sweat glands, high body fat, and the general shape of their body, pigs tend to store a lot more body heat than they’re comfortable with. Wallowing in the mud can lower their body temperature by up to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and the caked-on mud takes more time to evaporate than a dip in water, providing them with longer heat relief and preventing sunburns. The protective mud also keeps insects away.1
In colder times, you might notice that pigs are still quite interested in the mud. This may be due to the antimicrobial and antiparasitic effects of scraping around in the dirt.
Most importantly, it’s been observed that a wallowing pig is a contented pig! Wallowing is a natural instinct. Wild pigs and our domestic friends’ ancestors preferred to use cool streams and rivers to cool off safely. The easiest analog for a pig’s living space today is a nice, cool mud pit. Preventing pigs from access to mud can lead to discomfort and distress. So don’t be afraid to let the pigs get a little messy!
Providing Healthy Mud
Make sure to prioritize the maintenance of a muddy area for pigs along with access to clean water and shade. Plan on routinely adding fresh water and agitation of the soil in the muddy area; pigs, though quite the hygienic species, have been known to use their mud as a restroom. Help keep it clean for our muddy friends!