Our domestic pigs (or hogs) have come from the common wild pig (known as Eurasian wild boar). These hogs are some of the world’s most heavily settled large mammals. Pigs came to the Americas during the second voyage of Columbus. But before we deep dive into what do pigs eat naturally, let’s explore a little bit about this animal.
A pig’s snout is incredibly powerful and also sensitive to smell and touch. It has this remarkable ability to get a whiff of things under the dirt without getting clogged up. They are highly adaptable, social mammals. In fact, pigs are even smarter than dogs. They can take care of themselves in almost any environment and also pretty strong in fending predators off.
Biologically speaking, they are very close to humans but they have had a checkered history with us too. Sad to say, most hogs in industrial pig farms today never get to see the light of day during their entire life. The adult female pigs (called sows) spend their life in low metal sheds (called crates) measuring only 2 feet by 7 feet.
“It’s like spending your entire life in an airplane seat” – Temple Grandin, animal scientist
What Do Pigs Eat On A Farm?
Pigs are opportunistic foragers and so, they will happily consume just about anything. Since they are omnivores, they can graze like a cow on any rich meadow pasture. Once they spot something that they think fit to eat, they are not going to shy away from it. That’s why you often see pigs rooting around in food trash. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean you should feed them unsavory foods such as carcasses, decomposed leftovers, and human (or even hogs’ own) feces.
A domestic pig eats nearly 4 percent of its body weight each day. That’s why they need proper and balanced diet (for successful piggery) such as carbohydrates, vitamins, fats and proteins.
Since farm grains are rich in digestible carbohydrates and low in fiber, they make up the best food source. However, it is always necessary to supplement corn-based diet with some proteins, vitamins and antibacterial compounds. This is important to slack off the growth of harmful natural bacteria. Some of the very good ingredients that can be mixed with other feeds are soya-beans, rice bran, cassava, maize, wheat bran, root crops, and leftovers of vegetables and distillers.
You can mix around 30-45 percent of rice bran with other pig feeds because this ingredient contains 11 percent protein.
Besides, you can also mix 15-20 percent of broken rice with other feeds because it has 8 percent protein.
Likewise, maize is also quite suitable for hogs and you can mix up to 40 percent of this ingredient. Maize contains about 65 percent carbohydrates and 9 percent protein.
Feral pigs eat a wide variety of things but some of the healthy foodstuff includes vegetables, bread scraps, fruits, acorns and commercial pig food.
You can give the following fresh fruits and veggies to your swine friend: cooked potatoes, pumpkins, pitted cherries, peaches & apricots, snow peas, dark green lettuce, beets, cucumbers, spinach, squashes, kale, grapes, yams, chard, apples and oranges, melons, zucchini, pears, grapefruit and carrots.
Needless to say, pigs also need a constant supply of fresh water or else they will stop eating.
Toxic Food For Pigs
If your pig happens to hoover up a lot of indigestible foods, it may result in storing high level of toxins inside its body fat. The reason being, a hog’s body cannot filter out such harmful substances on its own from the decaying meal.
A prohibited pig food is any food leftovers that contains meat or have had contact with any kind of meat. Actually, these meat-related products can become a source of severe diseases among domestic pigs due to the viruses inside them.
For that reason, it’s better to avoid giving them kitchen scraps, foods high in sugar, wastes from supermarkets, hotels, or bakeries, pits and seeds of peaches, apricots and apples, rubbish dumps and used cooking oil.
Sources & Further Reading:
Worrall, Simon. “Why We Love — And Loathe — The Humble Pig“. National Geographic. Accessed 20 March, 2021
Venzel, Stacey. “Pigs Eat (Almost) Everything. Here’s What They Can’t Eat“. Wide Open Pets. Accessed 20 March, 2021
“Pig feed: what you can and can’t feed pigs (swill)“. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. Accessed 20 March, 2021
Towers, Lucy. “How to Farm Pigs – Feeding“. The Pig Site. Accessed 20 March, 2021
Garman, Janet. “A Pig Feeding Guide for Raising Hogs“. Countryside. Accessed 20 March, 2021
“Things That Are Toxic To Pigs“. The Open Sanctuary Project. Accessed 20 March, 2021
Morgan, Jayce. “A diet fit for a pig: seven basic rules“. Department of Primary Industries. Accessed 20 March, 2021