People usually think pigs can eat everything – which might be true, but only partially.
To put it another way, they do eat everything, but only because most of the domestic animals adapt their eating habits to the foods their owners provide them with.
But can a pig eat anything?
A pig surely can and will eat anything you give them, but that does NOT mean they should. It’s very important to distinguish foods that are good for your pig from those that can cause particular issues or diseases.
Don’t worry, that’s exactly why we’re here – to give you answers to help you deal with improving your pig’s diet and enhancing its overall health.
Wait, What DO Pigs Eat?
Pigs are known as omnivores, which implies they eat both animals and plants. Other than that, they are foragers that eat roots, grass, nuts, fruits, leaves, flowers, tubers, and particular kinds of large and small insects.
Pigs often root in the ground while sniffing and looking for potential food.
Still, farms and yards are not the same as wild nature where they can be led by their instincts.
Being domesticated limits their possibilities and causes them to consume pretty much anything their owners serve them.
That’s exactly the part where you can make the difference – since it will eat literally anything, you need to make sure your swine only has access to adequate foods that won’t affect its health in a negative way.
Pigs are single-stomach animals which is why their diet turns out to be a bit simpler alternative to what we as humans have.
What Foods Pigs Should NOT Eat
It may seem harmless at first, but meat consumption can cause serious issues with pigs, such as mouth and foot diseases.
In some countries, such as Australia, giving pigs meat or products that contain meat is illegal because it can also cause African Swine Fever (ASF). This virus doesn’t affect people but is a very contagious viral disease that leads to high mortality of domestic pigs.
Keep in mind you never know which kinds of diseases swine could pick up from consuming the meat of other animals, so it’s better not to take a risk.
It is also not recommended to feed your pigs raw eggs since they can cause serious issues with biotin absorption.
To avoid that problem, you can instead give them cooked eggs.
Foods that are high in salt or in (artificial) sugar
Unlike some other domestic animals such as dogs and cats, pigs have quite low sodium needs.
Researches have shown that the digestive system of growing pigs can actually tolerate around 8 percent salt in their food – which is around 40 times higher than the required and recommended level.
Together with that, you should also avoid giving them foods high in sugars, especially artificial ones.
Even though vegetables, in general, are more than welcome in a pig’s diet, there are particular items from your garden that are not recommended.
These include raw sweet potatoes, unripe tomatoes, rhubarb, celery root, parsley, and onions.
Leftovers, Food Scraps, And Wastes You Have
Have you ever heard of mycotoxins? That’s a toxin produced by molds, and it can be quite harmful when ingested by many different animals, including pigs.
It can affect them through stale and moldy food as well as cause poisoning which can be identified through symptoms such as:
- Weight and appetite loss
- Poor growth rate
- A bad immune system that causes an increase rate of infectious diseases
- Respiratory issues
Coupled with the fact leftovers can quickly spoil and get moldy, you should also be careful about all the foods they contain.
We know that most people picture having pigs as if you never have to throw away any leftovers. Instead.
As we have mentioned, a pig’s diet certainly has particular similarities with things we eat, but be careful to avoid feeding them with leftovers that might negatively affect their health.
Besides those we’ve mentioned, you should also avoid used cooking oil, processed leftovers from food retailers (fast food outlets, restaurants, bakeries, etc.), and meat, blood, carcasses, and bones from mammals.
What Should You Give To Your Pigs Then?
Ditching foods that can badly affect a pig’s health still leaves you a wide variety of ingredients you can combine to provide your pigs with a balanced diet.
It’s not just about the basic feed that will meet their nutritional needs – there are more options to help enhance the health of your pigs.
Pastured pork is high in minerals and vitamin D, so it’s extremely beneficial to practice free-range pig farming where swine can consume roots, grass, and other things that it naturally recognizes as food.
Besides that part, adding various vegetables to a pig’s diet is also an excellent solution since pigs can truly eat most of the things from your garden.
Here’s another tip you might find useful – offer expired milk and cheese since dairy products improve pig’s digestion, together with adding some caloric value to their diet.
Some Final Thoughts
An important note – foods that are not recommended for pigs don’t necessarily imply they are fatal to them. Sometimes there won’t be any consequences, or least not ones you will be able to see.
However, an inadequate diet can cause mild irritations, increase the risk of particular diseases, and, same as with humans and our diet, lead to some long-term issues that might occur later.