Everyone who raises animals looks for ways to reduce the cost of feed. If you are raising pigs, you will surely agree that pig feed is quite expensive. If you are raising both poultry and pigs, you may have been tempted to feed both animals with the same feed.
Can pigs eat chicken feed?
Pigs can safely eat chicken feed, which has similar nutrition when compared with pig feed. However, you should not overfeed your pigs with chicken feed or replace standard pig feed completely because chicken feed is formulated specifically for chickens.
What should you watch out for when feeding pigs with chicken feed? Can pigs eat chickens or poultry by-products? Let’s take a closer look at how you can choose the right feed for your pigs.
What Do Pigs Eat?
Pigs and chickens are both omnivorous in nature and are non-ruminant animals. As non-ruminants, pigs and chickens cannot digest cellulose, or dietary fiber, the way that cows and goats can.
This also means that pigs and chickens do not have a rumen full of microbes to breakdown their feed.
As omnivores, pigs and chickens eat both plants and animals. Pigs and chickens will eat similar feed.
Some overlapping feed sources for chickens and pigs include:
- Processed feed
Comparing Pig Nutritional Requirements with Chicken Feed Nutrition
When it comes to processed feed, the needs for pigs and chickens can vary. Let’s take a closer look at the nutrition of processed chicken feed to learn whether it is enough for pigs.
The following table shows the nutritional requirements of pigs in different life stages (piglet, grower, breeder, and lactating/nursing):
|Nutrients||Piglet||Grow Pig||Breeder Pig||Lactating or Nursing Sow|
|Energy||2400-2600 Kcal||2400-2500 Kcal||2400-2500 Kcal||2400-2600 Kcal|
With this in mind, we can look at the nutrient composition of different chicken feeds (starter, grower, and finisher):
|Energy||3010 Kcal||3175 Kcal||3225 Kcal|
Considering this data, chicken feed exceeds the amount of nutrients that pigs need in their daily diet. Your pigs will not experience a nutrient deficiency if they eat chicken feed.
Should Pigs Be Given Only Chicken Feed?
Now that you know that pigs can eat chicken feed without suffering a nutrient deficiency or stunted growth, can you feed your pigs only chicken feed?
Most chicken feed is specially made for chickens. Even if the nutrients in the feeds are sufficient for the growth of pigs, there are some premixes (a combination of vitamins, minerals, and some medications) in the feed that may not be suitable for pigs.
If you give your pigs only chicken feed, they may get sick because they are eating feed made with premixes suitable for chickens and not for pigs.
This means that your pigs can eat chicken feed in smaller amounts but should not be given chicken feed as their sole diet.
Dangers of Giving Layer Feed to Pigs
Layers are chicken breeds that are raised to lay a lot of eggs. Some examples of laying chicken breeds are:
- Golden Comet
- White Leghorn
- Plymouth Rock
- Rhode Island Red
- Light Sussex
- Lohmann Brown Classic
The table below shows the nutrient composition of layer feeds.
|Nutrients||Week 16-32||Week 32-44||Week 44-55||Week 55+|
|Energy||2770-2860 Kcal||2725-2860 Kcal||2675-2860 Kcal||2550-2825|
If you carefully examine the table, you will note that laying chickens consume a lot of calcium. Laying birds need 4.25-4.75% of calcium in their feed. On the other hand, pigs need only 0.4-0.6% of calcium.
Do not feed pigs with the poultry feed made for layers because the amount of calcium in the feed is too much for pigs.
Can Pigs Eat Chickens or Poultry By-Products?
Pigs will eat chickens. One of the challenges of raising chickens with pigs is that when pigs get the taste of chickens, they will never stop eating chickens.
If you raise pigs and chickens together, you need to take some some essential steps to keep all of the animals safe and healthy.
Poultry by-products are the carcasses of dead chickens. Due to stress, disease, heat, or other factors, your chickens can die. Some feed mills make use of poultry by-products to make feed for other omnivores.
Poultry by-products are safe for pigs to eat depending on what killed the chicken. If the chicken died due to an infection from bacteria, virus, or fungus, you should not make pig feed with it.
However, since pigs will eat chickens, they will also eat the poultry by-products you give them.
Will Pigs Attack and Eat Chickens
Another concern you may have as a pig owner is not whether or not your pig CAN eat chicken but will a pig eat YOUR chickens.
Some pigs, however, may develop a taste or curiosity for killing chickens. While not common, if your pig develops this habit, it is not easy to break and that pig will have to be housed separately from the chickens.
Accepted and Prohibited Pig Feed Sources
The list below shows some accepted feeds for pigs:
- Formulated commercial pig feed
Below is a list of feeds safe to give your pigs:
- Rubbish dumps
- Mammalian blood, bone, and carcasses
- Food waste from hotels, restaurants, bars, or other garbage sources
Make sure you do not give your pigs any feed containing products of other mammals.
Pigs can eat chicken feed because it contains sufficient nutrients for pigs. However, pigs should not eat only chicken feed because it does not contain the needed premix for pigs. Pigs should not eat feed made for layers because of the high amount of calcium.