A Heartwarming Journey to Oinking Acres: A Pig Sanctuary Like No Other

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A Heartwarming Journey to Oinking Acres: A Pig Sanctuary Like No Other

I recently traveled to Hendricks County, Indiana, and the small town of Brownsburg, where the delightful and compelling Oinking Acres Farm Rescue and Pig Sanctuary is tucked away in a quiet corner. 

Oinking Acres Pig Sanctuary is located within reasonable driving distance from several major cities in the region, just 132 miles from Cincinnati, Oio, 172 miles from Chicago, IL, and right around the corner from Indianapolis, just 24 miles from downtown.  The animal sanctuary is easily accessible for both local and out-of-town visitors.

No matter where you come from, you will fall a little in love with Oinking Acres and its many residents.  I have a special place in my heart for the pigs, after adoring them and collecting pig knick knacks throughout my life.  There was even a time in my young adulthood when I dreamed of having my very own pot belly pig.  In fact, on the day of my visit, my husband lovingly texted me, “Have fun today – and remember – we don’t have any vacancies at home for a pig.”

The Emergence of Oinking Acres Pig Sanctuary

A Hero for the Pigs

Olivia Head is my newest hero.  At age 14, she adopted her first potbellied pig.  Soon after, she began fostering pigs that needed a new home or veterinary care.  Within a few years, she recognized a bigger problem than she could handle by bringing in a pig or two that needed care.  So, like any great entrepreneur, she decided to be a part of the solution to this problem, quickly making her a hero for this Hip Grandma and many abandoned and unwanted pigs across the country.

See, in the mid-80s, there was a rush of interest in Potbelly Pigs and Miniature Pigs.  Unethical breeders were representing Potbellied pigs as “mini pigs” or “teacup pigs” that would make great pets.  In theory, this is brilliant.  Who wouldn’t want an adorable, soft, pink piggie to move in and make themselves at home?  I mean, pigs are known to be the third most intelligent animal, following behind the Orangutan and the dolphin.  They can be trained, will bond with people, and are just stinking cute.  Don’t even get me started on those adorable, wiggly pig snouts.

A pig snout peeks out from between two steel bars
A dark gray pig with a little pink spot on his snout.

The Truth About Mini Pigs

But the problem is simple.  Teacup Pigs don’t exist.  Let me say that louder for those in the back.  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TEACUP PIG.  Nope.  Completely fabricated.  Think of a mythical Pokemon creature.  There’s no such thing as a real, live Pikachu, and there’s certainly no such thing as a full-grown pig that looks like a baby piglet.

A Mini Pig does exist, but it is only mini because it is approximately ¼-1/3 the size of a full-size pig.  A full-size pig can weigh up to 1,000 lbs.  If you do the math, you’ll quickly realize that an average mini pig can weigh up to 200 pounds or more.

Two giant pink hogs and one gray "mini pig" in the foreground.
The two giant hogs in the background are around 1,000 pounds each. Because of camera perspective it’s hard to tell, but they are about 4x the size of the little grey guy in front.
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Unfortunately, the wave of desire for these phantom cute little pink piggies created a problem when eager buyers would collect an adorable 10-pound pink piglet expecting it to turn into a 30–50-pound adorable pink pig and then realizing something was very wrong when it didn’t stop at 30 pounds or even 50 pounds.  And it didn’t retain its adorable baby pig look.  Instead, it turned into a bristly-haired, mischievous, and hungry pet that was not nearly as manageable in the home as was initially intended.

So suddenly, there’s a pig problem.  Around the country, we have an influx of large “mini” pigs who were not fulfilling their part of the bargain and were no longer welcome inside the homes of uninformed buyers.  And this is where Olivia and Oinking Acres come in.  They seek to reduce this population explosion by taking in owner-surrendered pigs, providing vet care, and determining if they can be rehomed.

The Consequences of Hoarding Pigs

As if that’s not enough, owner surrenders aren’t the only situation where pigs need rescuing.  Olivia also encounters the problem of hoarding, where a human home has become the breeding ground for a few pigs that suddenly multiply into a whole houseful.  And, of course, we know that just like dogs or cats that are un-spayed or unneutered, less-than-desirable behaviors follow.  Imagine a house with 30 150-pound pigs running amok.  The situation is unsanitary, unsafe, and certainly undesirable, and none of it is the fault of these lovely creatures.

I asked Olivia when I visited how hoarding situations happen.  We are all aware (or should be) of the problems when owners don’t spay or neuter their dogs or cats.  But how does one go from a couple of cute little pigs to a whole houseful needing rescuing?  Sadly, all it takes is one pair of unaltered pigs to mate, and within just under four months, a litter of 4-10 more pigs enter the scene.

Now imagine that some of those sweet babies get it on as soon as possible.  Suddenly, you have a herd of pigs, all needing proper medical care, and spaying and neutering don’t come cheap.  An unprepared pig owner can quickly find themselves in a world of hurt with a load of hungry pigs that are not easy to rehome. 

The Hip Grandma poses with a very overweight pig named Zoe.
Say hello to Zoe. She is a bit overweight due to poor living conditions before coming to Oinking Acres. She looks a little grumpy. She’s on a diet. I feel for ya, Zoe.

Here are a few facts about Potbellied Pig Breeding and Lifespan:

  • Female potbellied pigs can reproduce as early as 12 weeks.
  • A mama pig carries piglets for just under four months.
  • A litter of pigs averages from 4-10 piglets.
  • Pigs reach full size around 3-5 years of age.
  • Potbellied Pigs typically live an average of 15-18 years.

Taking in Owner-Surrendered Pigs

When a Potbellied Pig needs a rescue, Oinking Acres does everything possible to step in and help.  They are a 501c3 nonprofit organization.  Their mission is to help as many animals as possible, educate people about farm animal rescue, find loving homes for adoptable animals, and provide sanctuary to the un-adoptable animals.  And they do their job well.

Since 2017, Oinking Acres has rescued over 500 abandoned, neglected, and unwanted potbellied pigs.  And that number doesn’t include the other farm animals they are willing to take in.  But they are only one Pig Rescue and Sanctuary caring for those who have been abandoned.  With almost 9 out of every 10 Potbellied Pigs purchased being surrendered, Oinking Acres is at capacity non-stop.  Each week, the team has to make the heartbreaking decision to turn down rehoming requests for no longer welcome pigs.

Author poses on a fall decorated porch at Oinking Acres.  The porch has pumpkins and sunflowers and a green door.
I loved the little shop on-site that sells pig-related goods, including clothing, accessories, and even some homemade jewelry donated by a local young artist.

The Solution to the Potbellied Pig Problem

The solution to the over-abundance of Potbellied Pigs is simple.  Olivia Head says, “Rescue.  Educate.  Advocate.  Save the pigs.  It will take all of us who love pigs to solve this epidemic.”  You can do your part by adding to the public awareness and sharing the story of Oinking Acres.

Michigan Road Trips banner image with pink background and navy and white words, including an image of Michigan

The Screening and Adoption Process

But do all the rescue pigs that come to Oinking Acres Stay?  Nope.  Some do.  Here is where we talk about the exciting, good news!  Those deemed healthy after proper veterinary care are placed for adoption.  Families who wish to adopt must pass a rigorous screening process, including home visits and a thorough evaluation to ensure that all the pigs in the Oinking Acres family find their way to a loving home to be pampered and loved on.

The process doesn’t happen in a matter of minutes.  On the contrary – potential adoptive families must submit answers to a detailed application and then come to meet and mingle with the available pets.  Finally, after the in-person visitation, Olivia or her team members may make a home visit to ensure you are ready to bring your new animal friend home.

Applicants must also sign an adoption contract before taking custody of their new companion pig.  Everyone wants peace of mind once a pig finds a new home, knowing it will remain there for the rest of its healthy life.

Not all of the pigs leave Oinking Acres.  Many have become well-loved farm residents, as you will see when you visit.  When we visited, two mama pigs-in-waiting were due to give birth any day.  They were nervous about the people, coming from an isolated situation with only pig friends in a hoarding home.  Much to my delight, one mama pig came out of her pig hutch to give my hand a little nudge.

Given time, these shy pig mamas may become an adopted person’s new best friend.  But not until after their piglets are born, and they are the stars of their very own piglet baby shower, in which visitors can bring gifts for mama, babies, and the rest of the pig family at the farm.

Hip Grandma poses with a friend behind a board.  Their faces stick through the board, on which is painted a pig and a cow.  The Hip Grandma is the Pig and The Traveling Cheesehead is the cow.
My friend, The Traveling Cheesehead, and I found a perfect photo moment! There are many around the farm.

A Celebrity Adoption Story

We had a tiny brush with fame while visiting the farm.  Olivia and Dennelle shared that actress Torey DeVito, of Chicago Fire fame, had recently adopted two goats from Oinking Acres.  And yes, even the famous actress went through the same evaluation process as anyone else who comes to the farm hoping to bring one of their residents home.  Fame and fortune are no easy shoo-in regarding the privilege of adopting. 

multi-colored background with the words "let's be friends" printed on top with "click here to join the facebook group"

The Variety of Animals at Oinking Acres

A visit to Oinking Acres shows that Olivia and her team love not just the pigs but are willing to help plenty of other farm animals in need of sanctuary.  Let’s talk about those other animals that call Oinking Acres home.  I saw goats, sheep, donkeys, geese, ducks, peahens, peacocks, turkeys, and several other animals during my visit.

Several cats happily made their way around the farm with us, enjoying their interactions with the many farm animals.  Every one of these creatures is lovingly cared for and called by name at the farm and, when possible, sent off to a new loving family as soon as it’s viable.

A donkey poses for the camera.  The background is green grass and the donkey stands on a pebbled driveway.
All the animals were so friendly. And the donkeys were surprisingly soft and fluffy. If only I had the space for one at home….

Potbellied Pig Characteristics:

  • 90% of potbellied pigs are rehomed before their second birthday.
  • There is no such thing as a “Teacup Pig.”
  • Science shows that Pigs have the average intelligence of a 5-year-old child.
  • The average full-grown pet pig will weigh between 75-300 pounds.
  • Pigs have poor eyesight and can easily mistake a finger for a treat.
  • Pigs instinctively need to “root” and will use their snouts for play, discovery, nesting, and nudging.

Visiting Oinking Acres

A Friendly Invitation to Visit Oinking Acres

When I visited, Olivia and one of her team members, Dennelle, introduced us to several members of their swine family who had come from a hoarding situation.  This pack of beauties was affectionate, curious, and delightful, even if they were slightly less than the pink and fuzzy cartoon pigs that make us all swoon.

Like dogs, the many pigs (Oinking Acres homes over 200) ran to greet us, some snorting and grunting the whole way.  There’s nothing quite like being greeted by an exuberant herd of pigs running your way for their daily scratch.  I could’ve laid down in the grass and sucked up all the pig-loving and belly rubs, but since traveling with other explorers, I felt it best to maintain my dignity and upright position.

Need a Place to Stay Near Oinking Acres Pig Sanctuary?

Funding Oinking Acres

One crucial fact must not be overlooked while we swoon over the darling piggies who love visitors.  While incoming pigs are being vetted, loved on, socialized, and waiting for their future, they must be fed.

Oinking Acres is happy to receive as much funding as possible to help offset the animal care costs.  The team runs fundraisers throughout the year, such as a mum sale in the fall, assorted activities, including pig and goat yoga, and even sells some great pig merchandise in their darling gift shop.  The farm hosts visit days open to the general public on Saturdays and Sundays for a $10 per person donation.  And you can even host a gathering such as a birthday party at the farm

Oh!  And they take monetary donations, too!  Check out how to partner with Oinking Acres by clicking on their website HERE.  A monthly donation is the fastest way to support the many animals at Oinking Acres while they wait to find a permanent home.  You can even sponsor one of the residents.  Your monetary donation is tax-deductible and is always gratefully received.

The Daily Needs of the Pigs

If you’re not sure why outside funding is so important, consider this – each properly-sized pig eats two cups of pig chow per day as a proper diet.  With over 200 pigs in residence, that’s 400 cups of pig chow every.  Single.  Day.  That’s a lot of pig chow!  And it comes at a cost.  Keep in mind that that’s just the cost of feeding the pigs and doesn’t include maintenance on the grounds, veterinary care, or general pig supplies, such as housing, bedding, pig toys (yep – just like dogs and cats, pigs need enrichment, too), and grooming supplies to have them looking and feeling their best.

A pink pig snout peeks out from a pile of blankets.
All of the animals are doted on – as you can see by the fluffy pile of blankets this lovebug was snuggled up in.

The Love and Care at Oinking Acres

You will immediately notice the love poured into the entire organization when you visit.  The animals are clearly loved, the grounds are immaculately kept, and the staff are friendly and happy to answer questions.

Challenges of Owning Potbellied Pigs:

  • Pigs are pack animals and do best when paired with a friend.
  • Pigs are very sensitive to the sun and love to wallow in mud, which makes a wonderful skin protectant.
  • Pigs require regular hoof care and trims.
  • Potbellied pigs need vaccines just like any other household animal.
  • Potbelly pigs are not usually allowed in city limits, housing additions, or apartments.

Wrapping it all up

If you find yourself in the Brownsburg area, you MUST stop in for a visit at Oinking Acres.  Even if you cannot adopt one of their amazing animals, your time and attention to the animals is certainly welcome, and whatever donation you feel inclined to offer will be graciously and gratefully received.

Oh!  And tell them the Hip Grandma sent you!

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PIN image for Oinking Acres Pig Sanctuary article with pink background and the Hip Grandma posing with Zoe the pig