You can look at pigs and see them laying about, rooting around then laying about again. What is it that pigs do all day? Do they really spend that much time laying around?
Pigs spend 75-85% of their time laying around and/or sleeping, 5-10% of their time eating, 2% of the day drinking and the rest of the day in other activities like walking or rooting.
Here’s a breakdown of what a pig’s day looks like, according to the numbers. I made a chart for high activity pigs and one for low activity pigs so it would be easy to compare between them. You’ll notice they still look very similar!
Do Pigs Eat Hay? is another article you may be interested looking over to learn more about pigs.
Pigs spend a large part of the day lounging around and sleeping
The biggest section of time for a pig’s day is the “do nothing” section. We would call it rest and relaxation!
Pigs spend between 18 and 20 (actually 20.4) hours of lounging and sleeping per day.
Pigs spend the majority of their time resting or lying. On average, grow-finish pigs spend 75 to 85% of their time lying, and 5 to10% eating, with the remainder of their time involving in other activities such as walking, sitting, rooting/nosing, and drinkinghttps://porkgateway.org/resource/normal-and-abnormal-behaviors-of-swine-under-productions-conditions/
I have to admit, when I look in on my pigs, the main thing I see is sleeping! Especially if it is warm out, they would rather just lay around than do anything else.
If I spray them off with water, then the pigs will get up and go have another round of feed, but if they don’t get cooled off, they just keep sleeping until the temperatures go down for the day.
In the colder part of the year, it’s the same amount of sleeping, but this time together, like sardines! They like to lay down together, to use each other’s body heat to keep their nest warm.
It’s funny, in the winter I have seen the pigs pop their eyes open and watch me, but they won’t get up and leave the cozy nest unless I’m actually going to produce the goods (feed them).
If I’m just walking through or checking on them, they’d rather stay where they are!
Pigs eat, anytime they want to
Most growing pigs (feeder pigs to market hogs) are kept on all they can eat feed and water. Free choice feed and water helps pigs grow and gain weight quickly.
As you may have guessed, another big deal on a pig’s daily list is eating! Pigs head back to the feeder and keep adding meals all day. The younger the pigs are the more meals they have in a day.
On average, pigs eat 10 to 25 meals per day, with younger pigs having more meals than older pigshttps://porkgateway.org/resource/normal-and-abnormal-behaviors-of-swine-under-productions-conditions/
Our pigs that are being raised for market hogs, meaning they are being grown out to be sold for meat (or, in our case, being processed for our freezer) are getting all they can eat feed and water, everyday.
They also get a bit of hay or grass, just to give them something to chew on and keep them busy!
These characters will eat more per day as they grow, beginning at around 3 pounds per day each and topping out at as much as 10 pounds per day, each. Obviously, the biggest pigs eat the most per day!
These numbers will change a bit do to other considerations, like the weather. On hot days, pigs will lay around and eat nearly nothing, it’s just too hot for them. On cool days, they will really tank up and eat a lot.
How Often Do Pigs Need To Be Fed? will show you the common options you have for feeding your porkers.
Adult pigs (the breeders) spend less time eating than growing pigs
For the breeding herd, they are fed differently than growing pigs, so they spend less time per day eating. The breeding age pigs are on restricted feed. This means they get a certain amount of feed, based on their body condition, per day.
The purpose of restricting feed is to keep them from getting too fat! Overweight pigs have all manner of problems, including birth problems, so keeping breeding stock at an ideal weight is very important for their health.
My breeding age pigs, some bred gilts, two bred sows and a boar all get fed twice per day and take about 10 minutes per meal to clean up all of their feed.
I have one additional sow that has babies right now, so she is yet again a different story. She still is limit fed, but she is getting more pound per day than the other pigs because she is feeding her litter and the piglets eat some of her feed.
Pigs love to mess with water
Pigs of all ages love to play in and with water! Pigs will spill a water pan or continuously push the water nipple so it overruns and they have a puddle to play in.
Grow-finish pigs usually spend 20 to 30 min drinking per day, with 15 to 30 second for each drink. Under conditions of heat stress, however, pigs spend more time drinking as well as playing with the drinker.https://porkgateway.org/resource/normal-and-abnormal-behaviors-of-swine-under-productions-conditions/
As you may have heard, pigs also enjoy a wallow. A wallow is a wet or muddy spot that the pig will lay in to get cooled off. In hot weather, pigs will spend a lot of time just hanging out in their wallow enjoying the cool spot.
Pigs will rearrange their bedding materials to make a custom built nest
Pigs that have bedding materials, as all pigs should, will spend time rearranging or tearing apart the bedding and putting it back together in a way that suits them.
When I throw bedding into my pigs, I just throw in a few flakes of straw or old hay and let them spread it out. They like to play with it and tear it apart and they actually do a pretty good job of it, too.
My older pigs will also chew on the bedding materials. Some is eaten and some is just chewed into smaller pieces and left in place. It’s like they turn one bigger piece of straw into 3 or 4 little pieces.
The month old piglets just like to tear apart the bedding to spread it out, then they usually ignore it. They don’t seem to have a plan, other than destruction!
Bedding materials keep pigs busy and happy
While it may sound like the pigs are just messing around, to them it is important to have plenty of bedding.
First off, bedding keeps them comfortable, giving them a nice place to hang out. It also gives them something to do with their time, which is good for helping pigs use any extra energy without harassing pen mates.
Secondly, the bedding soaks up the manure so that the manure nutrients can be stored and used later. In this way, bedding is functioning kind of like a group diaper.
While the pigs don’t care too much about saving nutrients, they just want a nice place to sleep, you should care. Used bedding material is a great source of fertility for your garden or yard, compost here we come!
Best Bedding For Pigs goes over your bedding options, including a few you might not have considered.
For fun, pigs root through bedding or dirt
Given the chance, pigs will spend part of their day rooting, either rooting outside or rooting around through their bedding materials. All pigs, no matter where they live, need to spend time rooting to be happy and healthy.
Another reason why having plenty of bedding for your pigs is that they spend a good amount of time in the “other activities” part of the pie chart. This is the walking around and doing whatever section.
One of the burn off some energy activities pigs love is to root. They will root through dirt outside, and they will root through bedding inside.
So, why am I nattering on about bedding? Easy without bedding pigs have no where to direct their extra energy and tend to be mean to pen mates or the pen, itself.
Pigs with plenty of bedding or pigs that are outside have a way to spend their time that is healthy and natural. Without that outlet for extra energy, pigs will use their extra energy to harass other pigs in the pen or try to tear apart the barn.
Pigs run and play with each other
Pigs like to run and play together. They really don’t do this a large portion of the day, but it is a common thing for them to do, especially if they feel good!
My pen of three feeder pigs, the ones being raised for meat, have a really big pen that has a section out of my view unless I hop in the pen with them.
Sometimes, when they are back in the “hidden” area and I come into the barn and surprise them. This makes all three “woof” and run over to see what I’ve brought.
Usually, it’s just more feed or a snack, but they run because, no matter what I have, they all want to get to the first!
Normally, the pigs (all ages) are all sleeping or resting when I check on them, but I do see short bursts of play from them, especially the younger pigs, throughout the day.
The youngest pigs right now are a month old litter that loves to run around and “play fight” with each other. They are by far the most active of all the pigs. The least active are the bred sows, they mostly just eat and sleep!
Pork Information Gateway, Normal and Abnormal Behavior of Swine Under Production Conditions for the percentages of time pigs spend on different activities, amount of time drinking and meals per day