Pigs can be challenging animals to raise. They grow quickly, have high-calorie requirements, and still require a varied, balanced diet if they are going to thrive.
Sometimes it keeping them in food means you need to improvise with what you have on hand, but nobody wants to feed their pigs something that could hurt them.
How about something like sweet potatoes, or sweet potato skins? Can pigs eat those?
Yes, pigs will happily eat sweet potatoes and their skins with no problems. Sweet potatoes are tasty and highly nutritious, but hard, and you should consider chopping them up small or cooking them to make them easier for pigs to chew and swallow.
Sweet potatoes are a wonderful supplement to the diet of your pigs. Highly nutritious, filling, and affordable this is one root veggie that you should definitely incorporate into their usual menu. There is more to know on the topic, so keep reading.
Nutritional Benefits of Sweet Potatoes for Pigs
Sweet potatoes are usually thought of as the tastier cousin to regular potatoes, but they are actually nutritional powerhouses in disguise.
Sweet potatoes contain a ton of vitamin A equivalent and a great assortment of B complex vitamins, including b1, b2, b3, tons of v6 and a little bit of folate. I also contain a great amount of vitamin C and a little bit of vitamin e to round things out.
The mineral content is equally impressive, starting off with a little bit of calcium, iron, and magnesium, a ton of manganese, a good amount of phosphorus and potassium, and then finally a little bit of sodium and zinc to finish things off.
These nutrients, each and every one, all play a vital role in a pig’s body. Vitamin A is used for vision, growth and development, cell differentiation, immunity and reproductive function.
The B vitamins are important for energy metabolism, nervous system function, and the production of enzymes and hormones.
Vitamin c is an important antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage, while vitamin e does much the same thing.
The minerals play a role in everything from fluid regulation to metabolism, cell function and repair and so much more.
This makes sweet potatoes a perfect supplement to add to the diet of your pigs, giving them a little bit of everything they need to stay healthy and thrive.
Can Pigs Eat Raw Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, they can. However, you’ll need to grate them or chop them up small, however. Sweet potatoes are quite dense, and hard, and only the largest pigs will have an easy time with them when raw.
Aren’t Raw Potatoes Toxic for Pigs?
No, they aren’t. Raw green potatoes, actual potatoes, can be quite toxic for pigs, but sweet potatoes and a distinct vegetable and so do not suffer from this quirk.
Can Pigs Eat Raw Sweet Potato Peelings?
Yes. Pigs can safely eat sweet potato peelings (skins) with no issues, though they might not find them tasty on their own.
Can Pigs Eat Cooked Sweet Potatoes and Peelings?
They sure can. Cooking sweet potatoes is something of a tradeoff, though. On the one hand, it makes them softer and easier to eat, which is good for most pigs and especially small ones. On the other hand, it also reduces the nutritional content dramatically.
The choice is yours, and whether or not you cook them should be decided by the health needs and preferences of your pigs, and also how much time and effort you can put into prepping the sweet potatoes.
Don’t Give Your Pigs Sweet Potatoes if They Were Made with Bad Ingredients
Sweet potatoes are definitely a healthy option for your pigs, and they can enjoy them raw or cooked, but on that note you must never serve your pigs cooked sweet potatoes if they’ve been prepared with any harmful ingredients that they should not have.
For sweet potatoes, this is usually something like sugar, salt, seasoning mixtures, butter, syrup and things of that nature.
None of these are things your pigs really need and they might be harmful. At best, high caloric ingredients could cause your pigs to pack on fat without getting much nutrition in the bargain.
At worst, it could cause a life-threatening ailments like peritonitis, sodium poisoning or kidney damage.
you probably have your own favorite preparation for sweet potatoes when eating them at your own table, but as humorous as you might think it is and as much as you might think your pigs would enjoy it, don’t serve these things to them.
Stick to sweet potatoes cooked either plain or only with other, wholesome items that your pigs can have.
Be Mindful of Pesticide if the Sweet Potatoes Came from the Grocery
Another issue, or rather possible issue, with sweet potatoes that come from the grocery is the presence of pesticide residue.
Pesticides are pretty ubiquitous in our food supply and nearly every piece of produce you see on the shelves or in bins will have some pesticide residue on them.
While an important part of maintaining such gargantuan production, these chemicals have been linked to all sorts of health problems in animals and humans alike.
These chemicals have a way of building up over time, and can cause health issues like cancers, birth defects, brain damage and more.
The good news is that sweet potatoes are actually on the list of foods that USDA testing found to have relatively low pesticide residue.
The bad news is that these residues are still present and still bad for your pigs. Accordingly, make it a point to either buy organic sweet potatoes or wash them very thoroughly before feeding them to your pigs.
How Much Sweet Potatoes and Peelings Can Pigs Have?
Sweet potatoes are something that pigs seemingly cannot have enough of.
In terms of frequency, they can have sweet potatoes as often as you’re willing to give them, so long as they are part of an overall balanced diet; as good as they are, pigs cannot live and thrive on sweet potatoes alone.
As for servings, good rule of thumb is to start with one or two portions per day, per pig and then go from there. If they seem to be doing well on that amount, then you can feel free to give them a little more at other meals.
How to Give Sweet Potatoes or Peelings to Your Pigs
The simplest way to give sweet potatoes to your pigs is, of course, just to hand them a raw or cooked potato.
Most pigs will be more than happy to eat it that way and will enjoy the experience immensely. Again, keep in mind small or weak pigs will struggle a lot with a raw sweet potato.
That said, there are other ways to serve sweet potatoes that can be a bit more fun for both you and your pigs.
You can cut them into small pieces or chunks for serving or mash and mix them into the regular pig feed. You can even grate them into slaw for adding to other food. Truly, the sky is the limit when it comes to feeding your pigs sweet potatoes.
Can Baby Pigs Have Sweet Potatoes Too?
Yes, but they will need cooked or finely grated sweet potato once they are old enough to eat solid food. Sweet potatoes are just too hard for them to eat in any other form while they are small.
Remember to keep the sizes, chunks and servings, small to account for the smaller mass of a piglet. They should not fill up on sweet potatoes and miss out on other food sources.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, sweet potatoes are fine for mini pigs as long as you follow the rules for giving them to piglets: small portions and small sizes!
Yes, of course. Potbelly pigs can have sweet potatoes the same as any other pig, just be mindful of the size and serving so that they get a balanced diet.
No, sweet potatoes do not have to be cooked before feeding to pigs. However, if you have very small, infirm or weak pigs, it is best to cook them or grate them so they can easily eat them.
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.
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