Most people and certainly all owners know that pigs are omnivores and like all omnivores pigs eat meat. But did you know that pigs will also eat meat from other pigs, pork?
It is unsettling, but it is true and this raises the question if pigs can eat bacon. Can pigs eat bacon, and is it safe?
Yes, pigs may safely eat bacon although the salt content is quite high. Pigs have no reservations about eating meat of their own kind, and can derive nutrition from bacon like any other meat, including protein and fat.
I know this is bound to disturb some readers, and I don’t blame you. But, when you think about it, pigs are adaptable scavengers in nature and will not let meat go to waste including meat of their own kind.
But things aren’t quite that simple for those of us that keep pigs on the farm or homestead. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving bacon to your pigs.
What Happens if a Pig Eats Bacon?
Nothing, really. Pigs are capable of eating meat, including pork, and that necessarily includes bacon. Pigs can digest bacon normally and derive nutrition from it in the form of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Is it OK to Feed a Pig Bacon?
From a strictly nutritional perspective, yes it’s okay to feed bacon to pigs. As long as you give it to them sparingly and keep an eye on their sodium intake, you don’t have much to worry about.
You might be wondering if it is ethically okay to feed bacon to pigs. After all, they are under our care, should we be making cannibals of them? It is a reasonable question, but again I would point to nature on this matter. Pigs can and will eat other pigs in the wild, when given a chance.
And, besides, it is not like we are neglecting the pigs by leaving them to die and then feeding upon the carcasses of their departed friends and family members.
Even if we do slaughter a hog of our own for meat, we are taking it away from them and then returning the products of that slaughter to them, back into the food chain.
Whether or not feeding bacon to pigs bothers you, this is a decision that you and you alone can act on. You don’t have to give it to them.
Do Pigs Like Bacon?
Perhaps even more disturbingly, yes, pigs seem to enjoy bacon very much. Pigs that have never had it or other meat before might show some reluctance in eating it, but that usually goes away in short order after they try it.
Nutritional Benefits of Bacon for Pigs
Bacon has several significant nutritional benefits for pigs, namely a high amount of protein and fat along with a decent assortment of vitamins and minerals. However, this is offset by a tremendous amount of salt in most commercial varieties.
Pigs always need protein for growth and healing, and fat is just another source of concentrated calories that they will need for the same purpose.
Bacon has plenty of both, and in a small factor that can provide them with plenty of calories without filling them up.
This makes it perfect for helping pigs that are recovering from injury or trying to pack on those last few pounds of finishing weight.
Can Pigs Eat Raw Bacon?
Pigs can eat raw bacon, but you shouldn’t let them and you definitely shouldn’t serve it to them this way.
Raw bacon as a high likelihood of making your pigs sick through bacteria or parasites, and many such illnesses can easily spread from pig to pig. Prevent this outcome by thoroughly cooking any bacon prior to serving to your herd.
Can Pigs Eat Cooked Bacon?
Yes. This is also the only way you should serve bacon to your pigs. Cooking bacon makes it delicious, but more importantly, it makes it safe by killing off any harmful bacteria and other microorganisms that might be in it.
Can Pigs Eat Other Pork?
Yes, pigs can and will eat other kinds of pork besides bacon.
Dangers of a Carnivorous Pig
Some owners are rightly concerned that pigs who get a taste for meat might become aggressive, or perhaps come to prefer meat over all other foods. This is understandable but generally misguided.
Pigs, especially large and powerful ones, might have a cheery reputation but they remain pretty dangerous animals more than capable of harming humans.
Experienced, long-time pig farmers will caution people about entering pig enclosures alone, and many refuse to do so if they are not armed. This is with good reason.
Does feeding meat, especially bacon, to pigs make them more prone to harm or attack people?
The evidence does not seem to suggest so, but it is one thing to consider that pigs that have become accustomed to meat and prefer it will have no qualms about getting it from you if something happens.
How to Prevent Pig Cannibalism
You generally won’t have to worry about pigs being aggressive or predatory towards each other so long as they have adequate food and their other needs are met.
Of course, there is always the chance that you might have a problem child that just cannot get along with the rest of the pigs and they should be dealt with accordingly one way or the other.
But on the other hand, any cannibalism that does occur is probably going to be incidental. Something like a pig dying when you aren’t around or don’t notice it.
Such an instance might lead to other pigs starting to eat the body, particularly if they are used to eating meat and especially if they have been fed pork.
Although unsettling, this is not necessarily something that you should be too worried about aside from the risks of your pigs eating raw meat.
How Much Bacon Can Pigs Have?
Bacon is very calorie dense and extremely salty, so pigs should only be fed this stuff sparingly and intermittently. A few small strips of bacon per pig once or perhaps twice a week is more than enough.
How to Give Bacon to Your Pigs
You have two good options for giving bacon to your pigs, and both assume that the bacon is cooked as discussed above.
The first option is to simply give your pigs pieces or strips of bacon. The second option is to crumble up the bacon into bits or small chunks and then mix it in with other food in order to entice them to eat.
Keep in mind you can successfully mix bacon and with all kinds of things for pigs, not just things that you and I think are good.
Can Baby Pigs Have Bacon, Too?
Yes, piglets may also have bacon once they are old enough to be eating solid food at all times.
Do keep in mind, however, that piglets are much smaller and have far more sensitive systems compared to adult pigs.
The salt and fat content in bacon can knock their digestive system for a loop, so you should only give them a very small amount as a treat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not in the US, and not generally. Some countries do have legislation that prevents the feeding of meat to pigs, however, such as Australia.
Yes, but only in sharply limited quantities. Mini pigs are particularly sensitive to too much salt in their diet.
Yes. Potbelly pigs can have bacon the same as any other pig
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.