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Beryl Ann

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Can anyone advise please? I have a hutch with 4 adult sized but young piggies in (capacity) and recently bought another two baby piggies which are housed separately at night in another hutch. During the day they have 2 large outdoor runs positioned side by side. This has been so for a couple of months now. I would really like to combine the runs so they can all play together when the littlies are a bit bigger but will need to continue to separate them for the night due to hutch capacity. Can you see any problems for them doing that?
 

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I’m afraid there will be problems in doing that.
To piggies a meeting is a bonding session which causes them to reestablish the hierarchy and try to form a relationship, they do not do play times. For them to be repeatedly put together and separated is a bonding session that they never get to see through to conclusion, which will cause a lot of stress and strains on all piggies and their relationships. If they cannot permanently be bonded and live together as a herd of six in a suitably sized hutch (and for six piggies that would be a 9ft hutch) or a shed then I’m afraid they cannot share a run.
 
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Wiebke

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Hi and welcome

Guinea pigs don't play time; any meeting is a full-on bonding session (in your cage between two established groups) that is then frustratingly interrupted by you.

What gender are your piggies?
 

Beryl Ann

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I can continue keeping them separate but they will be able to see and smell each other still as the garden is not that big. The 4 are in a 5ft double tiered hutch just for the night and the 2 are in a 4ft double tiered at night.
 

Beryl Ann

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Sorry I pressed reply too quickly; My point on the last comment was that the hutches are probably not big enough for 6 together albeit the teirs are connected by ladders. Thank you
 

Piggies&buns

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Being able to see each other is absolutely fine , they just cannot have physical contact outside of their bonded groups.

Unfortunately a 5ft hutch is below the minimum size for four piggies (any area they get locked into (even overnight) needs to meet size requirements) as 5ft is only the minimum for three piggies. Four piggies need a 6ft as a minimum but a 7ft (which doesnt exist commercially) is recommended. Even though it is just for the night, it still needs to meet minimum size requirements. In addition, it wont be long before they cannot go into runs due to the weather changing so they will be spending a lot more time in the hutch making it more important thy have plenty of space.
(the way to work it out is that a 4ft hutch is the welfare minimum for two sows. You then add an additional two square feet for each additional piggy - meaning for three sows a 5ft hutch is needed as a minimum; and for four sows a 6ft hutch is needed as a minimum).

Being double storey hutches unfortunately doesnt count as upper levels cannot be added to the cage size. Therefore all hutches and cages need to meet minimum size requirements on the bottom level only. Upper levels are considered as bonus spaces.
The 4ft hutch is the minimum for the two sows, so is ok for them.

No, the hutches are definitely not big enough for all six together - it would need a 8 foot hutch on a single level to be big enough. They dont exist commercially so would need to be specifically made.
 
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Wiebke

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I can continue keeping them separate but they will be able to see and smell each other still as the garden is not that big. The 4 are in a 5ft double tiered hutch just for the night and the 2 are in a 4ft double tiered at night.
Same sex piggies living next to each other is not a problem; just the off and on mixing. ;)

Piggies are wired to live in smaller groups in a cluster that then make the way to their feeding grounds twice daily at and dawn and dusk as a herd along estalished tunnels in the undergrowth. The groups are territorial over the best denning plots in the thick undergrowth but they tolerate each other in a herd. This kind of 'dual nationality' can be very confusing for owners. However, as soon as they are together in a run or any other area, there will be a full blown hierarchy sort-out and the question of a merger or not. They can however share a divided run.
 

Beryl Ann

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Thank you for your gp wisdom; until something changes I will continue to keep them seperate. Who knows; if this piggy bug grows I might yet invest in a shed.
Which leads me to a somewhat frivalous question; re the the multi pig videos on FB of 50 plus piggies. How on earth do they keep the environment so clean? Not a poop in sight! I only have 6 pigs but they poop for England!
 

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I can definitely recommend a shed for outdoor piggy keeping. It makes keeping the warm in winter and providing them with a lot of space all year so much easier. My two boys have a 8ft x 6ft shed and have free roam. It also makes cleaning out in winter a lot easier as I'm able to remain dry!
The problem with sheds is summer time- it gets too hot too quickly and becomes very dangerous (even a sunny but not particularly hot day can increase the temperature in my shed well above the outside temperature) so I'm always watching and ready to move my boys into the house as soon as necessary.

Ah well, being on YouTube and FB etc, its all for show - not the realities of keeping the adorable little poop machines at all!
 

Beryl Ann

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I can definitely recommend a shed for outdoor piggy keeping. It makes keeping the warm in winter and providing them with a lot of space all year so much easier. My two boys have a 8ft x 6ft shed and have free roam. It also makes cleaning out in winter a lot easier as I'm able to remain dry!
The problem with sheds is summer time- it gets too hot too quickly and becomes very dangerous (even a sunny but not particularly hot day can increase the temperature in my shed well above the outside temperature) so I'm always watching and ready to move my boys into the house as soon as necessary.

Ah well, being on YouTube and FB etc, its all for show - not the realities of keeping the adorable little poop machines at all!
I get the challenges of keeping them cool in Summer. The 30° plus temps recently (as hot inside at times) resulted in them having fans on them; wrapped ice bottles, spraying the grass to keep it cool and fridge cold veggies. The Rex Piggies seemed to struggle the most in the heat. The white crested managed better.
 

Beryl Ann

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I get the challenges of keeping them cool in Summer. The 30° plus temps recently (as hot inside at times) resulted in them having fans on them; wrapped ice bottles, spraying the grass to keep it cool and fridge cold veggies. The Rex Piggies seemed to struggle the most in the heat. The white crested managed better.
I have a large old parasol that shades the hutches as the sun rises. By about 10am the hutches are then shaded by the property. It is certainly a full time job keeping them safe and healthy 😊
 

Beryl Ann

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Being able to see each other is absolutely fine , they just cannot have physical contact outside of their bonded groups.

Unfortunately a 5ft hutch is below the minimum size for four piggies (any area they get locked into (even overnight) needs to meet size requirements) as 5ft is only the minimum for three piggies. Four piggies need a 6ft as a minimum but a 7ft (which doesnt exist commercially) is recommended. Even though it is just for the night, it still needs to meet minimum size requirements. In addition, it wont be long before they cannot go into runs due to the weather changing so they will be spending a lot more time in the hutch making it more important thy have plenty of space.
(the way to work it out is that a 4ft hutch is the welfare minimum for two sows. You then add an additional two square feet for each additional piggy - meaning for three sows a 5ft hutch is needed as a minimum; and for four sows a 6ft hutch is needed as a minimum).

Being double storey hutches unfortunately doesnt count as upper levels cannot be added to the cage size. Therefore all hutches and cages need to meet minimum size requirements on the bottom level only. Upper levels are considered as bonus spaces.
The 4ft hutch is the minimum for the two sows, so is ok for them.

No, the hutches are definitely not big enough for all six together - it would need a 8 foot hutch on a single level to be big enough. They dont exist commercially so would need to be specifically made.
My husband has thought of a way of joining the two hutches together via a short square tunnel which would make floor space on the bottom tier 9 x 2 ft foot in total.
Being able to see each other is absolutely fine , they just cannot have physical contact outside of their bonded groups.

Unfortunately a 5ft hutch is below the minimum size for four piggies (any area they get locked into (even overnight) needs to meet size requirements) as 5ft is only the minimum for three piggies. Four piggies need a 6ft as a minimum but a 7ft (which doesnt exist commercially) is recommended. Even though it is just for the night, it still needs to meet minimum size requirements. In addition, it wont be long before they cannot go into runs due to the weather changing so they will be spending a lot more time in the hutch making it more important thy have plenty of space.
(the way to work it out is that a 4ft hutch is the welfare minimum for two sows. You then add an additional two square feet for each additional piggy - meaning for three sows a 5ft hutch is needed as a minimum; and for four sows a 6ft hutch is needed as a minimum).

Being double storey hutches unfortunately doesnt count as upper levels cannot be added to the cage size. Therefore all hutches and cages need to meet minimum size requirements on the bottom level only. Upper levels are considered as bonus spaces.
The 4ft hutch is the minimum for the two sows, so is ok for them.

No, the hutches are definitely not big enough for all six together - it would need a 8 foot hutch on a single level to be big enough. They dont exist commercially so would need to be specifically made.
My husband has planned a way of joining the two hutches together via a short square tunnel on the bottom level which would then make a combined floor space of nine foot by 2ft in total. Both sides would also then have access to a separate upstairs teir. Would that work ?
 

Piggies&buns

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Is your plan then to unite all of the piggies as one herd? That would likely work in terms of giving a single level space.

The only issue i can see is you would need to have combined the two hutches before you can bond them. You wouldnt want to bond them, then have to separate them again to give you time to make the hutch big enough and then put them back together.
The issue with having done the work on the hutch first, is if the bonding fails you’ll have to separate the hutches again straight away
 

Beryl Ann

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Is your plan then to unite all of the piggies as one herd? That would likely work in terms of giving a single level space.

The only issue i can see is you would need to have combined the two hutches before you can bond them. You wouldnt want to bond them, then have to separate them again to give you time to make the hutch big enough and then put them back toget
The issue with having done the work on the hutch first, is if the bonding fails you’ll have to separate the hutches again straight away
Ahhh yes I had thought of that one and still have that to work out. I thought of joining the runs for half a day first and observe them. If no signs of aggression and only pecking order behaviour then fingers crossed they would continue to bond well during the rest of the day. Peter can make the box tunnel in advance and then it will be a question of then making the holes only. The piggies have been in ajoining runs for several weeks now so are familiar with scent and sight and apart from mirroring each others zoomies sometimes they pretty much ignore each other now.
 

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They need several hours in a neutral territory bonding pen before moving to the cage so you should have a reasonable idea of how things will be. However, it does take two weeks to fully form a hierarchy with a risk that they can figure things out and it still fails during that two weeks. So youd just want that back up to be able to immediately separate them again.
Being in the divided run unfortunately is no indication of what will happen during actual bonding.

Keep us posted if you do go ahead with it
 

Beryl Ann

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They need several hours in a neutral territory bonding pen before moving to the cage so you should have a reasonable idea of how things will be. However, it does take two weeks to fully form a hierarchy with a risk that they can figure things out and it still fails during that two weeks. So youd just want that back up to be able to immediately separate them again.
Being in the divided run unfortunately is no indication of what will happen during actual bonding.

Keep us posted if you do go ahead with it
I suppose the back up plan if it all goes pear shaped in the following two weeks would be to bung the tunnel holes up again. I am hoping the fact they are all females they will bond but not guaranteed I know. I would then have to think of a plan B for the four together.
 

Beryl Ann

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No, you’re right it’s not a guarantee. It all comes down to character compatibility. Sow bonds can and do still fail.
As long as you’ve got enough space and back up plans for if things don’t work out.
Adding More Guinea Pigs Or Merging Pairs – What Works And What Not?
I suppose another back up plan would be to leave the 4 to the adapted luxury home and to use one of our 4ft indoor cages for the newest two and have them as indoor piggies with a run outside for the day time. Thank you for your advice. Much appreciated.
 

Beryl Ann

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Being able to see each other is absolutely fine , they just cannot have physical contact outside of their bonded groups.

Unfortunately a 5ft hutch is below the minimum size for four piggies (any area they get locked into (even overnight) needs to meet size requirements) as 5ft is only the minimum for three piggies. Four piggies need a 6ft as a minimum but a 7ft (which doesnt exist commercially) is recommended. Even though it is just for the night, it still needs to meet minimum size requirements. In addition, it wont be long before they cannot go into runs due to the weather changing so they will be spending a lot more time in the hutch making it more important thy have plenty of space.
(the way to work it out is that a 4ft hutch is the welfare minimum for two sows. You then add an additional two square feet for each additional piggy - meaning for three sows a 5ft hutch is needed as a minimum; and for four sows a 6ft hutch is needed as a minimum).

Being double storey hutches unfortunately doesnt count as upper levels cannot be added to the cage size. Therefore all hutches and cages need to meet minimum size requirements on the bottom level only. Upper levels are considered as bonus spaces.
The 4ft hutch is the minimum for the two sows, so is ok for them.

No, the hutches are definitely not big enough for all six together - it would need a 8 foot hutch on a single level to be big enough. They dont exist commercially so would need to be specifically made.
Hi again. We are going to try the pigs together on neutral territory and if all goes well connect the two hutches via tunnel. However another issue has been highlighted which is holidays. We have been taking 3 x 4ft cages to my daughters for them to look after the pigs for a week but of course they then have to be separated into twos. This has not seemed to have been a problem for the 4 established bonded sows so far but introducing the other two as well has got me thinking. However since then we have aldo made a 4ft square play maze out of wood, foot high walls. Is 4x4 foot square on a par with your 8ft by 2 foot recommendatios for hutch size? If it is they could all go in that for the week but it doesn't feel the same somehow albeit both are 16 square feet.
 
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