Pigs are mammals, and that means that females raise young on milk. But after a piglet weans, most owners probably don’t think about giving their pigs any more dairy products in their diet.
Maybe our pigs are missing out on a convenient and important source of nutrients because of this. So what’s the story? Can our pigs eat cheese and other dairy products safely?
Yes, pigs may have cheese and other dairy products so long as they are fed to them sparingly. Dairy products contain lots of protein and minerals that pigs need, but have the downside of containing high levels of salt, typically.
There is no reason why you can’t use dairy products to either treat your pigs or to supplement their diet when they need a boost of nutrition or calories.
That being said, you must be careful not to overdo it, as dairy products can easily cause digestive upset when fed in excess or wind up giving your pigs too much salt in their diet.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about giving dairy products to your pigs.
Is Dairy Good for Pigs?
Dairy products can be surprisingly good for pigs. Growing pigs always need extra protein, and dairy products usually have plenty.
Plus, most pigs seem to really enjoy the taste of dairy products even as adults, so you can use dairy as a treat to reward good behavior or just to make your pigs feel good.
Do Pigs Like Cheese?
Most of them do, yes. Cheese is simply delicious, and most varieties are salty. Pigs gravitate toward salty food and cheese is no exception. Pigs that are allowed to try cheese it usually develop a taste for it quickly.
Nutritional Benefits of Cheese and Dairy for Pigs
Cheese and other dairy foods have three major benefits for your pigs: protein, minerals, and calories. Protein is essential for all growing animals, including pigs.
Protein helps with muscle development, and it’s also necessary for the production of enzymes and hormones. Pretty much all cheeses and other dairy products are an excellent source of protein for pigs.
Dairy products are also a typically rich source of calcium for pigs. Pigs need calcium to develop strong bones and teeth. Finally, dairy products are also a good source of calories for pigs.
Pigs are growth-oriented livestock and they need lots of calories to support their rapid growth. Cheese and other dairy products can provide that boost of calories that growing pigs need.
Can Pigs Eat Cheese?
Yes, your pigs can eat cheese with no problems so long as they get it sparingly. Too much cheese can easily cause constipation or indigestion in pigs.
Also, keep an eye on the salt level of the cheese in question because it is easy to give pigs too much by feeding them cheese.
Can Pigs Have Milk?
Yes, they can. Milk is something that pigs will enjoy throughout their life, and milk can easily be used as the basis of slop or added to dry ingredients in order to increase the calorie and nutrient content.
Can Pigs Have Sour Milk?
It might turn your stomach, but yes they can. Milk that has just turned sour and smells a little funky is absolutely safe for pigs and they will drink it or eat food that has been mixed with it gladly.
Can Pigs Eat Cottage Cheese?
Yes. Pigs will happily lap up cottage cheese, and cottage cheese particularly of the low sodium variety can make a great basis for mixing in other wholesome ingredients to give your pigs a well-rounded, delicious meal.
Can Pigs Eat Sour Cream?
Yes, they can. Pigs typically love sour cream mixed into other foods, but as has been mentioned several times do keep an eye on the sodium content.
Can Pigs Eat Cooked Cheese and Dairy?
Absolutely. Cheese that has been cooked or grilled is just fine for pigs, but you want to keep an eye on them if the cheese gets really runny and stretchy like mozzarella or provolone as it can pose a choking hazard.
Don’t Give Your Pigs Cheese or Dairy if Either Was Made with Bad Ingredients
Since we’re on the subject of preparing cheese and other dairy products and various ways for serving to pigs, it’s a good time to remind you that you should never give them either if they have been prepared with harmful ingredients.
Cheese and all sorts of other dairy products or regular features in every kind of recipe, both savory and sweet.
Whatever it is, and however it’s used, you don’t want to feed it to your pigs if it contains anything that they cannot or should not eat.
Artificial ingredients, tons of extra salt or sugar, and things of that nature are bad for pigs. If you are very lucky, such ingredients will only cause indigestion or cause pigs to put on fat.
But if you are unfortunate your pigs could wind up with a serious health problem, including such severe maladies as high blood pressure, peritonitis, and organ damage.
Many dairy products already have high salt levels, so when combined with other ingredients and extra salt sodium poisoning becomes a very real possibility.
Can You Give Pigs Cheese or Dairy Every Day?
You can give your pigs cheese and other dairy products everyday if you strictly limit the quantity.
A little bit of milk, a few bites of cheese, some cottage cheese and other products as a small part of a well-rounded and varied diet is not going to hurt your pigs at all.
However, if you’re going to give them larger quantities in a single serving, you’ll need to spread out those feedings by several days, ideally.
How Much Cheese and Dairy Can Pigs Have?
The nutritional requirements of your pigs will dictate how much cheese or other dairy foods they can have.
As a general rule of thumb, though, you should only give your pigs a small serving of dairy at each meal, or else mix in a larger quantity with other foods to provide a more complete meal option.
If your pigs are getting between 5% and 10% of their total calories from dairy they will probably be fine.
Be warned that overfeeding dairy is a sure way to make your pigs constipated or do the opposite and give them severe diarrhea.
How to Give Cheese and Dairy to Your Pigs
Serving cheese or other dairy products to your pigs is mostly dependent on what exactly you are giving them. Cheese can be given to them in cubes or little chunks, or else mixed in with other foods.
Your pigs can lap up milk out of a bucket or trough, but you might decide to mix it in with dry goods to make a sort of porridge or slop.
The same thing goes with sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, and so forth. Come up with a way to keep it off the ground and out of the dirt while making it accessible for your pigs, or else mix it in with other food to help bind it to solid pieces that they can easily eat.
Can Baby Pigs Have Cheese and Dairy Foods, Too?
Of course they can. Piglets will be living on milk for the first weeks of their life, and they can continue to have dairy products after they wean but with one caveat.
I highly recommend it you hold off on giving piglets dairy products when they turn to solid food because you are trying to make a dedicated effort to keep them off of the teat.
Once they grow up a little bit into proper adolescence and stop hanging around mom so much you can give them cheese or other dairy goods like the rest of the adults.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, cheese can be very good for helping pigs grow, but it has one major drawback in the form of its typically high salt content.
So long as you can keep that under control, the protein in calories in cheese can help your pigs put on the pounds in short order.
Yes. Potbelly pigs can have cheese safely and other dairy goods and they generally love the stuff, like most pigs.
Yes, they can. However, be very cautious as many pigs don’t need nearly as many calories as larger breeds and furthermore are typically more vulnerable to indigestion and other issues when they overindulge in food, and dairy in particular.
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.