FEEDING

 

Whilst pigs are omnivorous (this means they can eat almost anything), they do best if kept on a corn-based ration to which you can add fruits, vegetables, fish or milk.  Remember not to feed waste meat food because many serious diseases can be spread to pigs by this means – Foot and Mouth, Swine Fevers and Salmonella for example.  Your own kitchen scraps could be classed as waste food.

 

As a general rule never feed more than 1% of the adult pig’s body weight in one day. Younger pigs may require a special diet to ensure they grow properly.  Do not be tempted to overfeed or give too much protein in the diet, as females in particular will put on too much weight and this may produce problems later on.  Ideally pigs should be fed outside.  The food is spread over a small piece of ground so the pig is encouraged to root.  In the summer time, if the pig is allowed to graze, it will be able to obtain sufficient food for its health.  Additional food, should only be to help maintain the human pig bond, not to provide actual food.   In the winter time, additional feeding will be required depending on the temperature and weather conditions. Always remember that your pig must have fresh water available at all times.  If the pig is fed indoors feed once or twice a day.  Note however, that bedding materials such a straw or hay should be always available to help keep the pig’s stomach healthy.

 

Adult pigs – sows and boars

Pigs are omnivores and will eat virtually anything.  Ideally adult pigs should not be fed out of a bowl, spread the feed over the ground.  This will make the pig search for its food and root around.  This increasing the pig’s exercise.  In the summer time, if the pig is given a paddock and the pig is in normal body condition score, most of its food should be obtained from its environment, only feed it to help the human/pig bond.  As a general rule, the adult pig requires 1% of its body weight dry feed per day.   At all times pigs should be given access to water.

 

Foods that should be added to the pig’s diet when possible: fresh fruits especially apples, vegetables including cooked potatoes and rice.   In the autumn pigs love to search among trees looking for fallen seeds – acorns for beech mast for example.  The classic orchard pig – The Gloucester Old Spot survived over winter living among orchards living on fallen fruit.

 

 

Lactating sows

The sow needs to eat her normal amount of food plus some more for milk production.  This extra amount needs to be equal to about half the weight of the litter in kg of food (if the total weight of the litter is 5 kg, then the sow should receive her normal maintenance ration plus 2.5kg more to provide milk for the piglets).  This extra amount needs to be given gradually over 7-10 days as the sow’s appetite increases.  This increased amount of food must be continued until weaning when it can be reduced quite quickly back to the maintenance level.  Don’t forget that a lactating sow always needs fresh drinking water to be available.  Providing the sow with cow’s milk can be an excellent source of food.

 

The lactating sow has one major requirement – water.  One of the best feeds for the lactating sow is to add milk to her diet.  This will provide liquid, protein and calcium to help her provide the necessary nutrient for milk.  Pig’s milk is richer than cow’s milk and on a weight basis they produce more.

 

Weaners

A high protein diet will only be needed if the piglets are weaned at three weeks of age, but if they are left on the sow for a longer period then normal food will be adequate.  The high protein weaner diet can be purchased from the corn merchant or your local pig farmer.

 

Growing pigs

Once the pigs get to 16 weeks of age, providing normal adult food at about 4% of bodyweight will allow for normal growth.  Ideally combine with plenty of exercise outside and allow the pigs to root up food from their environment

 

Piglets

If piglets are abandoned or the mother dies, the piglets present a special problem.  Ideally the piglet would be fed each hour.

 

Getting pigs to eat

On some occasions pigs do not want to eat.  If the pig fails to eat for more than 24 hours, it stands the risk of getting a stomach ulcer.  These can be extremely dangerous.

One suggestion is to feed the pig small quantities of a mixture of boiled rice, milk and beer.  Pigs like alcohol and the yeasty taste of beers and ales are generally very appealing even to the weak pig.

 

Summer time

 

Pigs do not sweat, and have problem losing heat.  The provision of a wallow is essential to all pigs in the summer.  In addition, the provision of cooled water possibly with ice can help the pig lose heat.  In addition hot pigs (and some cool pigs) have an affinity for ice cream.

 

 
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