Intelligent, social, and lots of fun, pigs are some of the friendliest farm animals, and have lots of funny little quirks which make them highly popular with their human companions. Read on to learn more about wild and domestic pigs, as well as some of the colourful characters we have here at Goodheart Farm Animal Sanctuary.

VIDEO: How we care for our pigs

Join our Animal Care Assistants over in our Pig Woodland to learn all about the daily checks our team carry out in order to keep our rescued pigs happy and healthy.

VIDEO: Mud wallowing fun!

During the hotter months, our pigs like to indulge in a spot of mud wallowing.  They’re well practised, but a little helping hand from the hose pipe is always appreciated!

Fascinating pig behaviours


Rooting is a natural behaviour where a pig uses their snout to nudge or push into something repeatedly. Pigs root in different ways for a variety of reasons such as to search for food, communicate, cool off and sometimes simply for comfort.

Mud wallowing

With few functioning sweat glands, pigs have to look for other ways to regulate their body temperature. In summer, a hot pig may dig a wallow where they will coat their skin with mud to cool down. The mud also acts as a natural sun cream to protect their skin from burning!

Nest building

This instinctive behaviour is not just reserved for birds – pigs build nests too! Both young and fully grown pigs will gather straw and other materials such as leaves and take them to a safe space to build a warm and cosy nest to sleep in. 


Recent studies have shown that pigs can produce around 25 distinct vocalisations, from grunts and squeals right through to barks! The noises may vary depending on a pig’s personality and the environment they are kept in, with a more enriching environment likely to lead to more vocal communications.

Farmed vs Free

The average lifespan of a pig is around 15 years, however, if well cared for, pigs can live up to 20 years! The Guinness World Record for “oldest pig” belongs to a fellow named Oscar, who was 21 years and 13 days old when he died in 2010.

Sadly, within the industry, mothering sows rarely live beyond 3 years’ of age. Pigs reared for meat are usually slaughtered at just 6 months.

Natural life expectancy
20 years
Pigs reared for meat
6 months

Life in an intensive farming system

  • Prior to giving birth, pregnant sows are kept in farrowing crates which are restrictive pens little bigger than the pig itself
  • Piglets are taken from their mothers and, after 21-28 days, moved into a separate unit, often a barren, overcrowded pen with slatted or concrete floors
  • Due to their natural intelligence, many pigs exhibit boredom, stress, and aggression in these environments

Life at our sanctuary

  • Ample space and a stimulating environment in which to explore, wallow, root, and build nests
  • Twice daily health checks to spot and treat any problems that may arise as quickly as possible
  • We have developed a rota of different enrichment activities to keep our pigs’ brains busy. We encourage our pigs to explore different scents, solve puzzles, and play with fun toys to help keep these intelligent and social animals happy

Support our pigs with a donation

Your donations go a long way in helping us to give our rescued pigs the best life possible, from providing them with high-quality food, routine care, and veterinary attention right through to supporting their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Our habitat development projects

Pig Woodland

Our Pig Woodland was completed in 2018 and was the first large-scale project we undertook here at the sanctuary. It comprises a large area of woodland near our paddocks which is divided into 7 individual areas by secure fencing, but with ample space for our residents to enjoy.

Pig Barn

The Pig Barn is located next to our Pig Woodland, in a tranquil part of our sanctuary, a short walk from our main yard. Filled with cosy straw, the barn is a place for our rescued pigs to relax with their friends and practise natural behaviours such as rooting and nest-building.

Meet some of our friendly pigs

Our pigs have come from a variety of backgrounds, from RSPCA neglect cases to former pets whose owners could no longer take care of them. Meet some of our quirky characters below.

Betty the pig rescue story animal sanctuary


Betty the piglet has a truly incredible rescue story. She narrowly escaped death after a group of hunters shot her mother and siblings, believing them to be wild boar.

Thankfully, Betty was coaxed to safety by a kind member of the public who set about finding the piglet a safe home. She arrived at our sanctuary in January and settled well into the Goodheart family! Read the full story here.

Adopt a rescued pig today


Ellie came to Goodheart in 2019 when she grew much bigger than her humans expected. They thought she was would stay “micro” forever, but that’s something of a myth in the animal world! We think she’s still just as cute, however, and now she gets to spend her days living in the beautiful Pig Woodland here at the sanctuary with best pals Jasper and Kermit.

Sponsor a rescued pig


Kermit is instantly recognisable by his fluffy ears and the fact that his tongue is permanently sticking out!

When not grunting a friendly hello to visitors, Kermit can be found  hanging out with his paddock-mates Ellie and Jasper or fast asleep – and snoring loudly – in his cosy pig arc.

Find out more about how pigs live in the wild

Learn about life for a factory farm pig

Read about the issues surrounding pet pigs