What do pigs eat? Like people, pigs are omnivores. While they primarily subsist on plant matter, a small portion of their diet consists of meat and insects. Today we’re going to share what to feed a pig, how often to feed it and appropriate portion sizes. We’ll find out what domestic pigs eat versus what wild pigs eat, the dietary needs of piglets, and what not to feed your pet pig.
- What do pigs eat?
- Wild pig diet
- Domestic pig diet
- Safe foods for pigs
- Pig food quantities
- What do piglets eat?
There is a common misconception that pigs will eat and thrive on just about any available food. In reality, domesticated pigs require a healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of vitamins and minerals to meet their needs for maintenance, growth, and longevity.
What Do Pigs Eat?
Pigs are highly intelligent, social animals that are normally gentle and appeal to many people as pets.
Despite a reputation for eating almost anything, some pigs can be quite fussy about what they ingest, and both domestic and wild pigs will often seek out foods they like and disregard those they don’t find appetizing.
Like people, pigs have one stomach compartment. They digest food very similarly to the way we do and are well-adapted to eat many different kinds of foods. Pigs need a diet that contains ample protein and is low in fiber as their single stomach has a limited ability to digest high fibrous foods.
What Do Pigs Eat In The Wild?
Pigs in the wild have access to a diverse diet to get the nutritional requirements they require. As opportunistic omnivores, they’ll eat just about anything, using their snouts to root around and find food.
Pigs rely on their superior senses of smell when foraging for food in the wild. The bulk of their diet consists of plants such as roots, grasses, leaves, and grains. They’ll also devour nuts, seeds, fruits, and mushrooms. Wild pigs also eat worms, insects, eggs, and small mammals, which provide suitable amounts of protein.
What Do Pigs Eat As Pets?
Unlike wild pigs, domestic pigs do not need to forage for food. Pet and pasture-raised pigs will have a different diet from pigs raised on commercial farms that eat a specially formulated diet containing grains and cereals. Most pet pigs are potbellied or miniature pigs, although sometimes a regular pig gets adopted into a family.
Grass or grass hay such as Timothy hay should be available to pet pigs at all times to promote healthy digestion and prevent gastric ulcers. A commercial, pelleted food designed to meet their nutritional needs based on their life stage can be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Safe Foods For Pigs
Safe foods for a pet pig include leafy greens, root vegetables such as turnips and radishes, fruits like berries, melons, and bananas, and cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and broccoli. Pigs should be fed in limited amounts, with treats given sparingly, as too many calories can lead to obesity and many associated health issues.
All pigs need access to fresh, clean water at all times. Water plays an important role in their body processes, such as regulating body temperature, aiding digestion, removing toxins, and transporting nutrients around the body.
How Much Should I Feed a Pig?
A miniature pig’s diet should consist of nutritionally-balanced pelleted food specially formulated for them, with small amounts of vegetables and fruit. The exact portion size of pelleted food depends on the brand. Commercial foods should include feeding recommendations based on calorie content on the packaging.
Generally speaking, an adult pig’s total daily food intake should be equivalent to approximately 2% of their body weight. Divide their food into a minimum of two to three meals. Although pigs will eat more if you give it to them, this can lead to obesity and other health problems. If your pet pig has food leftover, you’re probably overfeeding them, but they may be sick and need to see a vet.
What Do Baby Pigs Eat?
Pigs weigh between two to three pounds at birth and rely upon their mother for food for the first six to eight weeks.
Newborn piglets are born with low body energy stores and without immunological protection. Without their mother’s colostrum, they have little chance of survival. If you’re raising a baby pig without access to a sow’s milk, goat’s milk is a good alternative. A vet should be able to direct you to local sources.
Solid food can be added to their diet when they’re between one to two weeks old. Begin by mixing pellet food into the milk to soften it. Piglets can also start eating soft vegetables before weaning. After approximately ten weeks, they can transition to a solid diet.
What Should Pigs Not Eat?
There are certain foods that you should never feed a pig. Some can be toxic, while others are simply not good for their health. Pigs should never be fed table scraps as some contents may not be appropriate, especially meat and fish. Feeding a pig processed human foods should also be avoided.
Breakfast cereals that contain wheat bran can upset the pig’s calcium and phosphorus balance. Salty foods such as chips and pretzels can cause salt poisoning in pigs.
Empty-calorie foods that are high in sugar and carbs should never be given to a pig as they have zero nutritional value and lead to weight gain. Fruits like peaches that contain pits can result in intestinal obstructions, and even unshelled nuts can be a hazard if they pierce the lining of their mouth or esophagus. Fruits generally have high sugar content, and too much fruit can harm a pig. The seeds in apples and pears contain cyanide and can cause blockages, particularly in piglets.
Commercial dog and cat foods are specifically designed for the nutritional needs of these animals and are not suitable for pigs.
What Do Pigs Eat?
Pigs are omnivores that can eat a variety of plant and animal foods. However, pet pigs do well with a diet that consists of pig pellets and fresh produce.
Find Out More About Pet Pigs!
- “About Pigs,” The Humane Society of the United States
- “Nutritional Requirements of Pigs,” Merck Manual Veterinary Manual
- “Pig Nutrition Guide,” Feed to Succeed
- Lindberg, JE. “Fiber effects in nutrition and gut health in pigs,” Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology, March 2014
- Oostindjer et al., “Perinatal Flavour Learning and Adaptation to Being Weaned: All the Pig Needs Is Smell,” PlosOne, October, 2011
- “Feeding Recommendations for Potbellied Pigs and Other Miniature Pigs,” Urban Livestock & Equine Veterinary Services
- Gottardo et al. “Prevalence and risk factors for gastric ulceration in pigs slaughtered at 170 kg,” Animal, 2017
- Hess, L. “Feeding Your Mini-Pig,” VCA Animal Hospitals
- “Water: the forgotten nutrient for pigs,” Government of Western Australia, Agriculture and Food, January 2021
- Newton et al. “EFFECT OF WHEAT BRAN IN PRACTICAL DIETS ON MINERAL Department of Animal Science, University of Georgia College of Agriculture, December, 1982
- Bohstedt et al. “Salt Poisoning of Pigs,” Journal of Animal Science, November 1954
- Le Dividich. “Nutritional and immunological importance of colostrum for the new-born pig,” Journal of Agricultural Science, October 2005