Slop is a pig’s favorite food, right? May be Not. Lets Learn What Do Pigs Eat and what are their favorite foods.
For centuries, farmers have kept a few pigs around to slurp up potato peels and chicken feet. In the twenty-first century, where you can keep pigs in all sorts of environments, what can you find in your chunky friend’s feeding trough?
Whether you give your pet pigs commercial pig feed or a daily salad, our adorable oinkers have specific nutritional needs that you must meet. They need protein, vitamins, and minerals to lead healthy, happy lives. Both limiting their diets and throwing them scraps might accidentally deprive them of what they need to thrive.
Do you have questions about what to feed your perky-eared pig to ensure a long life of oinks and squeals? We’ve put together this guide to help you understand what’s involved in keeping this notoriously hungry animal fed and watered. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of swine nutrition.
Can Pigs Eat Anything?
Theoretically, pigs can eat about anything. For conscientious pig owners, the question isn’t if they can, but if they should.
Pigs are omnivores. This means their stomachs and anatomy are capable of processing both plant and animal-based foods. This is because, in the wild, pigs are foragers, and their survival is dependent on what they can find and devour on forest floors.
The ideal find for a hungry wild pig on the prowl is a piece of fallen fruit, but they are just as likely to chow down on roots, shoots, acorns, nuts, and certain mushrooms. Because they are omnivores, however, a more challenging day of foraging might mean eating worms, insects, bird eggs, or even small animals like mice or lizards.
A pet pig raised in a home is less likely to track down a lizard and more likely to sniff out the trash can! No matter where they’re raised, those foraging instincts are constantly at play. This is why you’ll want to keep your pet pig from accessing your farm or garden — they will go “hog wild” on anything edible that they can find.
What Foods Should Pig Owners Avoid?
Your pig is a friend, not a garbage disposal. You shouldn’t put garbage in front of them just to see if they will eat it. Many foods are unhealthy for pigs or provide less nutritional value than they need.
Avoid exclusively feeding your pig any commercial pet formulas designed for other animals, even if they seem to like it or it’s safe for them. Manufacturers formulate cat food, for example, with obligate carnivores in mind. If you feed your pig that diet, they will be missing too many essential nutrients.
Ideally, you should avoid processed foods altogether, particularly those intended for human consumption. The one thing that pigs definitely don’t forage for in the wild is pop tarts, granola bars, and potato chips!
Even when feeding your pig organic table scraps, make sure they are fresh. Spoiled food can make pigs sick.
Furthermore, feeding pigs pork products is ethically questionable, and raw pork can lead to the spread of disease. It’s suggested that you avoid feeding your pigs meat altogether. They have other ways to get the protein they need!
You should also avoid feeding your pig a diet of predominantly fruit. Fruit contains a lot of sugar. It would be like feeding a toddler a diet of ice cream.
Finally, do your best to prevent your pet pig from eating wild mushrooms and fungi. Mundane and poison varieties can look very similar. One nibble of the wrong mushroom can land your pig in serious medical distress.
Commercial Pig Feed: Good or Bad?
When you have a pet dog or cat, it’s natural to go to the store and pick up a bag of formulated pet food that contains all of the nutrition they need. Likewise, you might assume the best thing to do is go to the feed store and see what they have available for pigs. Commercial pig feed is one way to help a pig maintain its delightful bulk but might not be ideal for your pet.
The two main ingredients in your average commercial pig feed are corn and soybeans. While these can provide a lot of a pig’s nutrition, it’s not nutritionally balanced. Pigs need a varied diet of plant and animal products to develop healthily and have very different needs as they grow and age.
Pig feed is only an ideal food for your pig if your goal is to fatten them up fast. It’s predominantly used by farmers with the intention of slaughtering their livestock for pork. If you plan to keep your pet around for its natural life, you will either want to avoid commercial pig feed or supplement it with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Perfect Pig Meal
The average adult pig eats about ten pounds of food each day. If you were to feed your pig their ideal diet, that would involve chopping up a lot of fruits and vegetables and be quite time-consuming! Wild pigs eat predominantly plant-based foods, including grass, so the perfect meal for a pig might be as much as 90% roughage.
In essence, the ideal meal for a pet pig is the largest and most diverse salad you can whip up. Pigs do best when they can regularly “eat the rainbow.” The more colorful the spread, the healthier your friend will be!
Pigs, like picky toddlers, can get bored if fed the same thing every single day. You will want to vary up the vegetables you give to your pig. Try different combinations, and cycle in fresh, in-season produce for the healthiest spread.
Some of a pet pig’s favorite diet staples might include:
- Lettuce and other leafy greens
- Root vegetables (carrots, rutabagas, turnips)
- Tubers (potatoes and sweet potatoes)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy)
- All sorts of beans and legumes
While many of these vegetables contain more protein than you might expect, pigs sometimes need a little more than they can find at the salad bar. You can supplement their diet with a few nuts as a treat. A few times each week, you might also want to give your pig some eggs to boost their protein intake.
If your pig lives outside, they also tend to take protein acquisition into their own hands (or hooves). A forager will forage, even if they have a garden salad served to them on a platter each day! Even domesticated pigs tend to dig up insects and worms when they’re out and about, and a good, mealy grub is a wonderful source of protein.
If you ask your pig, the perfect day’s meal will also contain some fruit. Fruit, with its high sugar content, is like dessert for a hungry pig. You’ll want to give it sparingly and avoid it before adulthood — piglets don’t always process seeds well.
Special fruity treats for pigs might include:
- Pitted apricots
- Citrus fruits
- All kinds of melon
- Pitted cherries
- Pitted peaches
Remember that pigs as a species have a reputation for eating everything, but each pig is an individual. Your pig will make their tastes and preferences clear. You can understand your pig’s palate by watching what they chow down on first, what they leave over, and what makes them salivate on sight!
Now that you learned What Do Pigs Eat and what are their favorite foods, Lets Learn when pigs eat their favorite food.
The Poop Scoop: Where Does It All Go?
If a pig eats ten pounds of food each day, where does it all go?
A pig’s digestive system isn’t unlike a human’s. Like us, they only possess one stomach. Pigs chomp away at their food using their forty-four teeth, including both small teeth and strong molars, then swallow once it’s small enough.
From there, pigs digest their food just like a human does. Digestive enzymes will begin acting on the food in the stomach, small intestine, and colon, breaking it down to fuel the pig’s body.
Whatever is leftover becomes waste or, in other words, pig poop! Be aware that a hungry pig might try to chow down on their own waste or even the waste of other animals.
While this is gross to us, there’s a reason. Remember that corn makes up a significant portion of an average pig’s diet. Eating waste gives the pigs a second chance to digest it and pick up the nutrients they missed the first time.
It can also be a sign that your pig is hungry. If they pick up on this habit, it might mean that you have not fed them enough or that they are missing some important nutrients. While it’s technically safe and natural, pigs do better when they have a belly full of fresh, delicious produce.
What Is Your Pig’s Favorite Food?
Save the slop for the garbage disposal! You are what you eat, and your pet pig deserves a chance to develop its palate and find a new favorite food. A rich and varied diet will keep your plump companion in tip-top shape as it grows into a large and mighty creature.
Chances are, if you have a pet pig, you’re probably an animal lover. Are you looking for more posts to help you keep your whole menagerie healthy and happy? Now that you have read “What Do Pigs Eat”, Check out the rest of the blog for more pet care posts, including this one about keeping your pig quiet!