Food is a vital part of every animal’s health and wellbeing, and pigs are no exception. Once they stop drinking their mother’s milk, pigs need the right blend of carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins and minerals to thrive. Anyone raising pigs should understand their nutritional requirements.
So what do pigs eat? Are any foods off-limits? Keep reading to find out!
Table of Contents
What Do Pigs Eat on a Farm?
Farm pigs almost exclusively eat pig feed.
Pig feed is a mix of three elements: corn, grains, and soybean. The exact diet varies depending on the reason you’re raising pigs and their lifestyle. The nutritional requirements of a pet pig look different than those of a farm or meat pig.
It’s also important to keep in mind that a pig’s nutritional needs change as they enter different life stages. Piglets, in particular, require a more specific diet than older hogs. Like most mammals, piglets drink their mother’s milk when they’re born. Yet after just a week, they stop drinking maternal milk.
Though piglets can begin to eat solid food when they’re weaned, their digestive system lacks the enzymes needed to digest certain ingredients. For this reason, piglets require a special type of feed with probiotics and enzyme supplements. This special feed helps them develop a strong digestive system.
Regardless of pig age, pig feed is the most effective way for a farm to get their swine to butcher weight.
What Do Wild Pigs Eat?
Like humans, pigs are omnivorous, so they are able to eat and digest all kinds of plant and animal foods. Unlike their farm counterparts, wild pigs do not eat slop or feed. They take advantage of their environment, which gives them access to more varied food sources.
Wild hogs are excellent foragers, and their snout is incredibly effective at sniffing out nutritious things. As such, their diet can consist of many different things. Wild pigs will munch on grass, mushrooms, insects, eggs, and roots. Sometimes they’ll even eat small mammals.
In the wild, it’s hard for hogs to overeat, though this doesn’t mean they can’t store fat.
Pig Food FAQs
Most people assume that pigs can eat anything, including most of the same foods that humans eat. But how true is that? In the following section, we’ll take a closer look at whether many common foods are suitable for pigs.
Can Pigs Eat Chocolate?
You may be surprised to learn that pigs can eat chocolate, but it’s true. Waste chocolate or chocolate byproducts may not immediately come to mind as a potential feed ingredient, but pigs can indeed eat them.
Chocolate offers a valuable source of energy, especially when it comes to weaning pigs who need lactose. It’s not a complete food source, but you can certainly add it to pig diets.
Can Pigs Eat Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are fine for pigs to eat, which is a good thing because they go crazy for tomatoes! Tomatoes also have plenty of health benefits: they’re antioxidant-rich, high in fiber, and have lots of water. But while pigs will eat them enthusiastically, you should only give them to your swine occasionally as part of a balanced diet.
Can Pigs Eat Grapes?
As many people do, pigs can also love eating grapes. If you feel like it, there’s nothing wrong with giving them a few grapes here and there. It’s worth noting that most pigs prefer salty foods, but plenty enjoys the sugar rush they get from a handful of grapes.
While grapes shouldn’t comprise the bulk of a pig’s diet, adding them every now and then is good for variety. Pigs can eat grape seeds with no problem, and they will also eat grape leaves.
Can Pigs Eat Oranges?
Pigs can indeed eat oranges, though there are some things to keep in mind.
Pigs can and do eat oranges with peels. However, in some cases, the peel might make them less enthusiastic about eating this fruit. If you’re set on giving your pig oranges, you’ll probably have to peel it, which some people prefer not to do.
And while oranges are fine, it’s best to avoid giving your pig orange juice, which has too much sugar for swine.
Can Pigs Eat Apples?
Pigs adore apples, and they’re fantastic for a pig diet. You’ve likely seen pigs munching on apples at one time or another because they’re an ideal source of carbohydrates. Farmers also like apples because they’re excellent for fattening pigs.
Despite pigs’ love of apples, moderation is critical. You should also be aware that apple seeds are not good for pig health. If your pig swallows a few, it’s generally not a problem, but eating large amounts of apple seeds can become an emergency. And though it can be tempting, avoid feeding pigs rotten apples; fresh is best.
Can Pigs Eat Onions?
Pigs technically can eat onions, but there’s no real reason for them to do so. Onions offer little in the way of nutritional value, and if you give it to a meat pig, it can taint their meat. Though onions are not toxic like some other foods are, they just won’t do your pig much good.
Can Pigs Eat Potatoes?
Yes, they can eat potatoes–with one critical caveat. Potatoes are safe if cooked or dried, but pigs should avoid eating raw potatoes. Raw potatoes have a high starch content–70 percent–which a pig belly is unable to process in one sitting and can cause digestive issues.
Similarly, green potatoes are dangerous for swine, as are potato vines, patches, and plants.
Otherwise, pigs can safely enjoy potatoes, which provide an excellent source of carbohydrates in their diet.
Can Pigs Eat Meat?
As mentioned above, pigs are omnivores, so they can and do eat meat. In most cases, meat is safe to give your pig, but there are some vital things to keep in mind before doing so:
- Pigs love meat. If you give them too much, they may start to reject other foods.
- Raw flesh with blood should be avoided, as it will make pigs think of every animal (this means you, too!) as food. They’ll begin to hunt birds or small mammals to get their fill.
- Pig stomachs are unable to handle raw meat, which should also be avoided. Raw meat may also cause pigs to contract a disease.
- In some places, like the United Kingdom and Australia, it’s illegal for pigs to eat meat. Please research the guidelines in your area before feeding your pig meat.
- Fish, earthworms, and bird intestines are all acceptable types of meat for pigs.
Can Pigs Eat Celery?
Vegetables are a vital pillar of the hog diet, and celery should absolutely be included. You can mix it into their feed so they can take advantage of the many beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Another reason to give pigs celery is that it has lots of fiber to keep their digestive system on track.
Pigs can also have celery juice, though not all will drink it. If you see that your pig likes it, go ahead and give it to him.
Can Pigs Eat Strawberries?
Strawberries offer excellent nutritional value in the swine diet, thanks to a high content of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. Keep in mind that it should be offered as a snack, as it lacks all the ingredients pigs need for overall health. You can feed them the whole strawberry (tops included).
Can Pigs Eat Dog Food?
Technically, pigs can eat dog food, but that doesn’t mean they should. Both dog and cat foods have high protein levels that aren’t appropriate for a pig, which need far less protein than these animals. As an exceptional thing, it’s okay, but avoid making a habit out of giving your pig dog food.
Can Pigs Eat Cabbage?
Cabbage is another vegetable that pigs love.
Like celery, it offers many vitamins and nutrients, as well as fiber for the digestive system. You can feed it to them cooked or raw, and pigs can also eat cabbage leaves. What makes it such a desirable snack is that you don’t have to worry about chopping the cabbage. Pigs handle this task just fine on their own.
Can Pigs Eat Carrots?
Yes, they can, and they can eat them either raw or cooked. If you feed raw carrots to your pig, you can give them the whole carrot, top included. Just remember that if you’re trying to fatten a pig, you won’t be able to do so with carrots alone.
Can Pigs Eat Eggs?
Yes, pigs can eat eggs in moderation. Eggs and eggshells are safe for pigs to eat, and they have plenty of nutrients that are beneficial to a pig’s health. However, avoid giving pigs raw eggs. Instead, try boiled eggs. You can serve them any way you like: whole, without the shell, or mashed. Scrambled eggs are fine, too, as long as they are fully cooked.
Can Pigs Eat Asparagus?
Yes, they can, although many pigs don’t fancy it. You can try giving your pig asparagus, but there’s no guarantee he’ll eat it.
Can Pigs Eat Broccoli?
Pigs can also eat broccoli, which forms a safe and nutritious part of a swine diet. It has vitamins A, C, and K, plus antioxidants. You can either cook it or serve it raw and then mix it in with their feed. Like asparagus, many pigs aren’t fond of broccoli, so yours may not want to try it.
Can Pigs Eat Blueberries?
Yes, pigs can eat blueberries, which are an excellent source of antioxidants.
Can Pigs Eat Bread and Cheese?
While bread shouldn’t be the cornerstone of a swine diet, it’s fine in moderation. Cheese also constitutes a healthy snack in moderation, as it contains good amounts of protein. The best practice with cheese and bread is to limit these snacks to once a week.
What Can Pigs Not Eat?
Probably the most common misconception about pigs is that they can eat anything, and there is a bit of truth in this statement. Pigs are monogastric, which means they process food much the way humans do.
However, although pigs can eat many of the same foods as people, it’s critical to be aware you can’t feed them just anything. Some food items are toxic or will upset a pig’s stomach, so pay close attention not to feed your pig any of the following.
- Raw potatoes: The green parts of a potato contain glycoalkaloids, which are natural toxins that are deadly in large quantities.
- Parsnip: A toxin called furocoumarin, which causes illness in pigs, is present in parsnips. Furocoumarin is also found in celery, parsley, and celery roots.
- Fruit seeds: Avoid giving pigs apple or pear seeds, as these seeds contain a substance that releases hydrogen cyanide in the gut. Pigs can experience discomfort or even die from ingesting them.
- Certain nuts: Raw nuts may contain things like cyanide, allergenic phenolic resin, and anacardic acid. These substances can adversely affect the livestock.
How Much Feed and Water Does a Pig Need?
The amount of feed and water a pig need varies based on its age and breed–and also whether you’re raising a farm pig or a meat pig.
In general, adult farm pigs need anywhere from six to eight pounds of feed daily. And when it comes to liquids, providing them with fresh water is critical to their health, as more than
50 percent of a pig’s body weight is water. An average pig drinks two or three kilos of water to each kilo of dry feed.
Sows that are gestating or lactating have increased nutritional requirements. They need more water and nutrients, and you should also give them a lysine supplement.
Just like humans, pigs need a lot of variety in their diet for overall health. Luckily, there are plenty of possibilities to include in your pig’s diet. But despite the misconceptions that pigs can eat anything, some foods should be avoided.
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