Pigs are omnivorous animals, eating both plant and animal matter. They are not generally picky eaters, but some of the things that they snack on might surprise you.
Do pigs eat grass?
Pigs will eat grass since they will eat most plants and are scavengers that eat virtually anything. Their digestive system is suited for breaking down plants like grass. Compared to humans, they can digest cellulose, a complex carbohydrate found in grasses. However, they cannot get all the nutrients they need from grasses.
Do Pigs Eat Grass?
Pigs love staying outdoors, spending their time grazing in grass fields and eating any other edible item they come across.
Although pigs will readily start grazing when on a grass field, not all pigs graze on actual grass. Those that do not feed on grass may just not be fond of it or may prefer other available feed options.
The types of grasses pigs love to eat can vary across breeds. For example, Red Wattle pigs are known to prefer young grasses. You may find them eating cultivated grasses such as oat, rye, and barley. Red Wattles also like broadleaf plants such as dandelions, clovers, and common ragweed.
Can You Raise Pigs Solely on Grass?
While pigs can eat grass, they should not be raised solely to eat grass. Pigs might be able to survive eating only grass, especially if they do not have to reproduce. But since grasses cannot provide all the nutrients they need, pigs can become unhealthy on a diet consisting of just grass.
Grasses will provide pigs with nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, phosphorus, iron, and fiber. But the protein and caloric content of grasses might not meet a pig’s needs. Also, grasses will not provide other vitamins and minerals that are still essential to a pig’s survival.
Pigs require a balanced diet, and grasses cannot provide the right blend of nutrients. If left to survive on grasses only, pigs will not grow properly. In severe cases, older pigs may start eating the younger pigs to survive.
If you intend to raise pigs on pasture, you will want to supplement the greens with a balanced feed mix. A good feed mix should contain animal matter such as meat, fish meal, or blood meal. If these are not available, you can get a feed mix with synthetic lysine.
Besides giving them a balanced feed mix, you can also give your pigs fresh fruits, grains, and vegetables to supplement their meals.
There is one breed that is more likely to survive by eating only. Kunekune pigs are the only true grazers, and they do well on grass alone. This is especially true during summer and spring when the grasses are very nutritious.
Do Pigs Eat Weeds?
Pigs will eat virtually anything they come across, and weeds are no exception. They eat broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, and they will also eat grassy weeds.
Can Pigs Eat Grass Clippings?
Pigs can eat grass clippings, but you should only give your pigs fresh lawn clippings. Grass clippings that are older than 1-2 days (or longer) might be toxic to the pigs.
Within a few hours after cutting grass, the clippings start fermenting. When an animal consumes the fermenting clippings, the fermentation process continues inside the animal’s stomach.
Some of the substances produced as the clippings ferment can upset the normal state of the animal’s digestive system. Consequently, they could end up with digestive issues. You will want to keep the lawn clippings fresh and give them to your pigs in controlled portions.
Do Pigs Eat Hay?
Pigs eat hay, but you may find that in certain conditions, some pigs should not eat some types of hay. For instance, if a pig is overweight, it should not eat Alfalfa hay because of the high-calorie content. Even in pet pigs, you may want to restrict the quantity of Alfalfa hay they eat because of the excessive calories.
Hay can be beneficial addition to a pig’s diet. It promotes digestion by providing fiber and may even be useful in preventing gastric ulcers. Timothy hay and Bermuda hay are two options you should consider when choosing hay for your pigs.
Some pigs may turn their snouts away from hay when you initially offer it to them. But you can encourage them by introducing hay to them mixed with fruit juice or molasses.
You should avoid giving hay to the weaner piglets. Hay requires strong jaws for chewing, and piglets do not always have the right strength to break down the hay. When the weaners become growers, you can start giving them hay.
Basic Nutrition Requirements for Pigs
What nutrients should pigs have in their food? Protein and energy are two of the most important nutrients to pigs.
It is estimated that pigs need an average of 106 kcal of metabolizable energy per bodyweight. They can get their calories from grains such as wheat, sorghum, peas, and soybeans. Besides grains, you may also give them milk waste, starchy vegetables, and supplemental fat.
Pigs need protein for growth, reproduction, and milk production. Of the 22 amino acids, pigs can produce 12 themselves, meaning the remaining 10 are essential to them, and you have to provide these nutrients in the their diet.
Of the 10 essential amino acids, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, and methionine are the most important. Food substances like milk, meat meal, meat & bone meal, canola meal, peanut meal, fish meal, peas, and lupins can provide the pigs with amino acids.
Besides protein and calories for energy, pigs need the following nutrients:
- Calcium (for metabolism, lactation, gestation, bone mineralization, and growth)
- Phosphorus (for similar reasons to calcium)
- Iron (for enzyme systems and to prevent anemia)
- Copper (for enzyme systems)
- Vitamin A
- B-complex Vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Pigs are omnivorous scavengers. They can digest cellulose and can eat grass. Although pigs can eat grass, they won’t thrive on it alone for too long since it cannot give them all the nutrients they need.