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Why Do Pigs Run in Circles? Circling Disease

Why Do Pigs Run in Circles_ Circling Disease

Why Do Pigs Run in Circles

Why Do Pigs Run in Circles – Pigs express Running in Circles for several Reasons, Medical and Behavioral

  • Stressed
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Zoomies – Spinning Playfully
  • Circling Disease
  • Ear Infection
  • Listeriosis
  • Scared
  • Meningitis

Pigs are not considered as domestic animals. They have natural wild instincts. Unlike dogs and cats, they don’t easily get engaged with humans and take them as their predators. There are many psychological and physical behaviors that pigs show. Running in circles is one of the behaviors that pigs show.

Listeriosis in Animals and Humans

Here we will discuss some important reasons due to which pigs run in circles under the light of scientific literature.

Understanding Meningitis

Signs of Stress in Pigs

These are important signs which are very much helpful in assessing that if the pig is stressed or not.

  • Shunts eyes
  • Moving in circles/circling
  • Rubs owner’s leg like cats
  • Tail wagging to show the stress
  • Flops on side
  • Floor sniffing and teeth grinding
Pig Handling to Minimize Stress

Aggressive / Defensive?

According to some literature evidence, pigs circle the owner/handler when they are highly aggressive or stressed. As you know that pigs run in the bunch and any disturbance and pressure enforces them to circle their handler.

Aggressive Pigs / Tusks


this also has been documented that when pigs are excited/playful they spin around in circles and make quick turns. This behavior is called zoomies.

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Circling is a valuable tool when used intentionally in conjunction with the handler’s bubble to sort pigs, start a movement, speed up movement, shift pigs’ attention from the handler to herd flow, move pigs past barriers, and funnel movement to prevent stopping and bunching at gates

Oliver Has the Zoomies

Ear Infection in Pigs

Swine experts also related spinning/circling with middle ear infections in the pigs. A pig having middle ear infection will tend to move in the circle and loses his body balance

Circling Disease / Listeriosis in Pigs

This is noteworthy that, pigs show circling behavior due to a number of reasons. But this can’t be ignored that circling may be due to some disease. Actinobacillosis is an infectious condition that occurs in pigs due to a bacterium called Actinobacillus suis. This bacterium affects almost pigs of all ages and causes circling in pigs along with other respiratory, cardiovascular signs.
Another condition is Listeriosis which is called circling disease. This infectious disease mostly infects the sows.

Circling Disease in Goats

NOTE: There is central nervous system involvement in both of the above given infectious diseases. That is why pigs run in circles.

This is necessary to diagnosis these infectious conditions as early as possible and gets a suitable treatment plan from a registered veterinary practitioner.

Circling Disease

Reasons for Circling Behavior in Pigs

Pig might be scared
He might be excited
He might be sick
He might be depressed/ pressurized

What Should You Do If Your Pig Is Circling

If the pig is constantly experiencing circling, then keep eye on it. Go for a thorough examination. Seek veterinary consultancy. The only vet can help you reach the actual cause/reason. Try to get treatment as early as possible.

NOTE: This becomes confusion to clearly differentiate between the circling behavior and circling due to any disease condition. So, try to find the actual cause wisely.

Power Point on Listeriosis


Gonyou, H.W. (2000). Behavioral principles of animal handling and transport. in T. Grandin (Ed.), Livestock Handling and Transport. p. 11-18.

Correa, J.A., et al. (2010) Effects of different moving devices at loading on stress responses and meat quality in pigs. J. Anim. Sci. 88:4086-4093.

Ritter, M. (2008). Practical Pig Handling Tips to Minimize Stress During Loading at the Farm. In: Hog Handling Update: Tips for Better Pig Handling: Issue 6.

Mateo, J.M., (1991). Effects of differential handling on the behavior of domestic ewes. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 32:45. 7. Brown, J.A. et al. (2006). The effects of different frequencies of weekly human interaction on handling responses in market hogs. J. Anim. Sci. 84, Suppl. 1: 301.

Farm / Miniture Pig Table 13 Breeds

Breed of PigMature Weight LifespanFeed Per DayCost
Yorkshire450 - 650 lbs15 - 20 years6-8 lbs$ 60 - $ 100
Red Tamworth (Bacon Pigs)500 - 600 lbs15 - 20 years6-8 lbs$ 60 - $ 100
Duroc500 - 600 lbs15 - 20 years6-8 lbs$ 60 - $ 100
Berkshire600 lbs15 - 20 years6-8 lbs$ 60 - $ 100
Hampshire500 lbs15 - 20 years6-8 lbs$ 60 - $ 100
Saddleback600 lbs15 - 20 years6-8 lbs$ 60 - $ 100
Potbelly pigs150 lbs15 - 20 years3-4 lbs$ 300 - $ 1000
American Mini70 - 150 lb15 - 20 years3-4 lbs$ 300 - $ 1000
Mulefoot - Mini60 - 110 lbs15 - 20 years3-4 lbs$ 300 - $ 1000
Ossabaw Island Hog100 - 150 lbs15 - 20 years3-4 lbs$ 300 - $ 1000
American Guinea Hog150 - 300 lbs15 - 20 years3-4 lbs$ 300 - $ 1000
KuneKune Breed140 - 220 lbs15 - 20 years3-4 lbs$ 300 - $ 1000
Meishan Breed150 lbs15 - 20 years3-4 lbs$ 300 - $ 1000

World Pig Breeder Associations

Pig AssociationLocationLink
National Swine RegistryUnited StatesNSR
American BerkshireIllinoisAB
Livestock ConservancyNorth CarolinaLC
American Mini Pig AssociationUnited StatesAMPA
Southern California Association of Pot Bellied PigsCaliforniaSCAPBP
British Pig AssociationUKBPA
National Pig AssociationUKNPA
Canadian Swine Breeders AssociationsCanadaCSBA
Australian Pig Breeders AssociationsAustraliaAPBA


  • Gregory Gaines

    Darlene and I have Lived on a 500 Acre farm, we lived there raising our 3 children and 6 Foster Children. On That farm we and our Children Raised Rabbits Chickens Hogs Cattle Goats Gaines Gregory