Once you have your pigs, now you need to feed them. How often should your pigs be fed to keep them at their healthiest and growing at their best?
Feeder pigs should have unrestricted access to all they can eat, specially formulated, ground pig feed while you are feeding them for market or your freezer. Breeding stock pigs should be limit fed twice per day, with the amount of feed based on the body condition of the pig.
Basically, you have two categories of pigs, the growers (feeder pigs) and your breeding stock. The feeding plan for each group is very different, because you want different results for each group.
The Best Feed For Raising Pigs is an article I wrote to help you choose your best pig feeding option based on the changing needs of your growing pigs.
Pigs should be raised on all they can eat feed, not fed in meals
Feeder or finishing pigs are fed around the clock, not at certain times of the day or in restricted amounts.
Growing pigs should be fed all they can eat pig feed. If you only allow them to eat sometimes, like providing meals for them, you’ll slow down their growth rate.
Pigs will naturally limit themselves to the amount of feed they can handle for the day. You do not need to worry about keeping them from overeating, let the pigs choose how much to eat.
The reason why you want your pigs to be eating all the feed they want, per day is that the bigger the pigs get the less efficient they are at digesting feed.
A pig that has a 1 to 2.5 feed to gain ratio when it is 50 pounds has a 1 to 5 feed to gain ratio when it is approaching 300 pounds. Yikes!
Pigs on all they can eat feed will reach finishing weight sooner, so they spend less time in the 1 to 5 gains zone and more time in the 1 to 2.5-3. This zone is much better for your wallet and your back (less feed to carry)!
It’s also important to note that smaller sized feeder pigs also have smaller stomachs. If you feed small pigs one time per day, you are running the risk of underfeeding your piglets because they can only eat so much at a time.
Breeding stock pigs should be limit fed
Breeding stock pigs should be limit fed, starting at about 200-220 pounds of body weight for both boars and gilts, and continuing for their entire lives.
You need to restrict feed to these characters because keeping them on all they can eat feed at this stage will make them overly fat, which reduces their production ability as adults.
Boars that are overly fat will outgrow their usefulness by growing until they are too heavy to use. Gilts that are too fat will have restricted milking ability, not good for those future piglets!
It will be tough to keep your breeding stock at the appropriate weights. They always act like they need more feed, like what I gave them was them barely getting started, but you must resist.
Too much feed equals pigs that have to be turned into sausage because they are no longer productive. The best way to keep your breeding stock around is to maximize their life in your herd by keeping them at ideal weight.
Pigs will eat up to 8 pounds of feed per pig per day
Your growing pigs will eat up to 8 pounds of feed per pig per day. This is on the high end of their daily intake, I would guess 6 pounds to be more of an average.
Smaller pigs will eat less total pounds per day, bigger pigs will eat more, of course, but the average is around 6 pounds.
So, why is this important to you? Easy, the feed has to be available to the pig! Does your feeder or pan hold the amount your porkers need to eat?
If you want to lower the daily feed intake, consider giving the pigs some forage or putting them out to get their own! With grass or other pasture plants available to eat, growing pigs will reduce their daily feed intake by 30%, sows 50%.
Eating more of a forage based diet will slow the growth of your pigs, compared to pigs eating feed alone.
Pounds Of Feed Needed To Raise Pigs will show you how to figure the amount of feed you should plan to buy for your piglets, based on how big you want them to be at finishing.
Pigs can be fed once per day
You can feed your pigs once per day, however, be sure you are giving them the whole day’s worth of feed. Depending upon the size of your pigs, you may need to fit quite a bit of feed in that feed pan. Does it fit?
There are people who feel they get better results from their pigs by hand feeding them, meaning feeding the pigs twice a day with no leftover feed for in between meal snacks. I see this more with show pig raisers.
I have never fed growing pigs this way, they get a full feeder to eat out of as they please. My adult pigs are fed a weighed amount of feed based on body condition twice per day.
If you are feeding sow cubes, the bag states that you can feed one time per day. I like to make sure to see the pigs twice a day, so I feed twice a day, even though I could just feed the adults once per day.
The best feed for pigs is specifically formulated pig feed
No matter how often you feed your pigs, you should be giving them a pig feed that is specifically formulated for growing pigs. The formulation they need will change as they grow and is based on bodyweight.
You can by 50 pound bags of brand name feed at the feed store or, if buying from a feed mill is an option for your area, get 100 pound bags of ground feed. These bags will be noticeably cheaper, per pound and work great.
The cheapest feed for pigs is free, non perfect people food
If you are looking to cheaply feed your pigs, you can see what non perfect people food is available for free in your area. I’m talking about old or imperfect produce, old bread, distillers grains, etc. Each area will be different.
Be sure to only feed your pigs things they would be able to find naturally, meaning that fast food is a no go, but old carrots, imperfect squash and day old bread might work out just fine.
You should know that feeding large amounts of these foods or using free foods exclusively will slow down the growth of your pigs.
Feed pigs wholesome foods only, no junk
If you are going to give your pigs some alternative feeds, make sure they are wholesome foods, not junk. Think about what a wild pig would come across in it’s daily travels looking for lunch and feed things like that.
Another way to look at it is if you could get that food at a farmer’s market produce stand or grow it in your own backyard, it’s probably pig friendly.
Pig feed: what you can and can’t feed pigs is an article from Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, which lists the approved and forbidden pig food sources for Australian pigs.
While the rules may be different in your country, it’s can only help to know what’s on the “approved” list!