Most pig owners know that their animals need a varied and nutritious diet if they’re going to grow up healthy.
This diet will naturally include produce in the form of fruits and vegetables, but considering vegetables there are some that are thought to be bad for pigs.
Citrus fruits have something of a bad reputation for pigs, and oranges are sometimes included on that list. But what’s the truth? Can pigs eat oranges and orange peels safely or not?
Yes, pigs can safely eat oranges in limited quantities. Both the flesh of the fruit and the skin or peel is nutritious for pigs and can supply them with quick energy and plenty of vitamin C.
Oranges, like most fruits, can be a healthy supplement for the diet of your pigs. However, they are extremely high in sugar and together with their acidity can make them problematic for your pigs if they have too many.
But so long as you feed them sparingly you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving your pigs oranges, with or without the peels.
Is Feeding Oranges to Your Pigs Harmful?
No, so long as you only give them oranges sparingly. There is nothing intrinsically harmful about oranges for pigs.
In moderation, they can actually be quite healthy and provide some essential nutrients that your pigs might not get elsewhere in their diet.
The main issue with feeding oranges to pigs is that they’re very sugary. A 100 gram serving of orange has around 9 grams of sugar, which is more than twice as much as a comparable serving of apple.
This sugar is mainly in the form of fructose, which is fine for pigs in moderation but can still cause problems if they eat too much.
Another potential issue with oranges is their acidity. The pH level of oranges is around 3.5, which makes them quite acidic.
This acidity isn’t generally a problem for pigs, but if they eat too many oranges it could potentially lead to an upset stomach or even an irritated intestinal tract.
So for the most part, you don’t need to worry about feeding your pigs oranges. So long as you give them in moderation and make sure that the rest of their diet is well-rounded, they should be able to handle the occasional orange without any issues.
Nutritional Benefits of Oranges and Peelings for Pigs
Oranges are certainly delicious, but they also happen to be pretty nutritious, with a good complement of vitamins and even a few minerals in the bargain.
Oranges contain a little bit of vitamin A equivalent, a decent selection of the B complex vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and folate, a little bit of choline, and just a tad of vitamin E. Of course, the most standout nutrient that oranges contain is vitamin C.
The mineral quantity, while significantly less impressive than the vitamins, is nonetheless worthwhile, with calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc all being present.
Oranges are also around 86% water by weight, meaning they can help keep pigs hydrated on hot days, especially in conjunction with potassium and sugar.
Vitamin C is used by pigs for all sorts of different things, from maintaining healthy bones and connective tissue to helping the pig’s immune system fight off infection.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which means it can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
The B vitamins are all important for different things, but in general they help with energy metabolism, maintaining a healthy nervous system, and keeping the pig’s skin and coat healthy.
Oranges are also a good source of dietary fiber, which is important for pigs (and most animals) to maintain a healthy digestive system.
Can Pigs Eat the Flesh of Oranges?
Absolutely. The flesh is the best part of the orange and the one your pigs will like.
Can Pigs Eat Orange Peels?
Yes, most pigs don’t like them. They are tough, a bit leathery, and don’t taste good. Three things pigs typically avoid in their food.
Peels do contain some minerals, but the best an orange has to offer, both in taste and in nutrition is within the flesh.
Can Pigs Eat Oranges with the Peel?
Yes, but again some pigs will avoid them if they aren’t peeled. The peels aren’t really appealing, ha, to pigs. They will of course enjoy that sweet flesh inside, though!
Can Pigs Eat Orange Seeds?
Yes. There is nothing in an orange seed that will hurt a pig. Though they will not go out of their way to eat them, they are likely to get scarfed down with the flesh if you don’t remove them.
Can Pigs Eat Cooked Oranges and Peelings?
Yes, but there is no good reason to cook oranges prior to serving them to your pigs. Cooking oranges will only severely degrade their nutritional value and won’t make them any easier to digest.
Don’t Give Your Pigs Oranges if They Were Made with Bad Ingredients
When giving oranges to your pigs, in any form, it should be noted that you must not serve any that have been prepared with or made into something harmful they cannot eat.
This includes orange juice that has been enriched with added sugars or other harmful sweeteners and any oranges that have been candied, glazed, or otherwise prepared with toxic ingredients.
While you might have some delicious, orange-containing delicacy close at hand and be eager to share it with your pigs, doing so might harm them.
At best, they could wind up with a seriously upset stomach, but at worst you could be dealing with a sick or even dead pig.
When in doubt, err on the side of caution and keep your pigs away from anything that might contain harmful ingredients, especially if you don’t know for sure what those ingredients might be.
Ensure any oranges you feed your pigs are fresh, ripe, and haven’t been added to with any harmful ingredients.
Be Mindful of Pesticides if the Oranges Came from the Grocery
There is one more thing you must be aware of when giving oranges to your pig, at least if they came from the grocery store: Pesticides.
Pretty much every bit of commercial produce these days is coated in them continuously, and unfortunately that includes oranges.
These pesticides have been definitively linked with all sorts of harmful health effects in mammals, everything from neurological damage to cancer.
So, if you’re going to be feeding your pigs oranges that came from the grocery store, it’s doubly important that you buy organic.
The very best thing you can do is grow them yourself, but if neither of these outcomes is attainable then at least wash the oranges before you give them to your pigs, and consider peeling them.
How Many Oranges and Peelings Can Pigs Have?
Oranges, as mentioned throughout this article, should only be given to pigs in limited quantities.
Don’t give them large servings, don’t make a meal out of nothing but oranges, and don’t feed them oranges regularly.
In general, it’s best to give an adult pig no more than one medium orange a day, and no more than twice a week. Even that might be too much for some pigs.
If you want to give them oranges more often, you’ll need to reduce the serving size.
How to Give Oranges and Peelings to Your Pigs
The best way to give oranges to your pigs is to peel them and cut them into small pieces. This will make them both easier to eat and digest.
You can also remove the seeds if you want, but as mentioned earlier, they won’t hurt the pig if they eat them.
Another option is to give them whole orange slices, peel and all, but be aware that the rind can be tough for them to chew and digest. If you go this route, make sure the slices are small (1/8th of an orange) to help prevent choking.
You can also give your pigs whole oranges, but this is not recommended. Not only is it tough to eat, but pigs have been known to play with whole oranges and roll them around. Talk about a waste of good fruit!
Can Baby Pigs Have Oranges, Too?
Yes, but you’ll need to be even more conservative with the portions and the schedule. As your piglet grows, you can gradually increase the portion size and frequency, but always err on the side of caution. It’s better to give them too little than too much.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Consider blood oranges to be no different than regular oranges when feeding them to your pigs.
Yes, but limit their intake as you would with regular oranges.
No! Orange juice is super tasty, but that it is because it is super sweet. Way too sugary for pigs to have anything more than a sip.
Yes, they can. Potbelly pigs can have oranges just like any other pig.
Yes, but cautiously. Mini pigs are smaller than other species, so they don’t need as much orange flesh in a serving as larger breeds.
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.