Pet pigs 'not just for Christmas'
A pig is not just for Christmas, the Government has warned as it issued advice to people who might be considering buying a "micro-pig" as a festive gift.
Micro-pigs, bred to be much smaller than conventional pigs, have become popular pets, but ministers are warning they are still farm animals - and can grow much bigger than expected.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is issuing advice to prospective pig and micro-pig owners explaining the requirements of owning pigs, which are subject to the same disease control measures and regulations as commercial livestock.
Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: "This season, remember that a pig is a farm animal, and not a pet for Christmas. A micro-pig may sound like a popular gift idea - but beware the pig that grows too big.
"This year already I've heard some interesting stories about micro-pigs becoming bigger and outgrowing their homes. So if you'd like to see pigs this festive season, pop along to your local petting farm."
Defra said that pigs kept as pets were still considered farm animals in the eyes of the law, because of their welfare needs and the risk of spreading disease.
As a result, the Environment Department has issued an advice leaflet for people thinking of buying a pig, including top 10 dos and don'ts, to help keep pigs fit and healthy and protect owners from being prosecuted.