It’s one facet of pig ownership that pretty much everyone has seen, but no one wants to talk about. Besides regular pig feed, sometimes pigs eat their own poop.
And while it might not be the most pleasant thing to think about, it is our responsibility to look after our animals, and that means being attuned to their health.
But to do that we must confront this gross eventuality head-on. Why do pigs eat their own poop? Is it okay?
Yes, it is usually okay if pigs eat a little of their poop. They do it because they are trying to get more nutrients and vitamins. However, this can infect pigs with bacterial, viral, or parasitic pathogens. You should discourage poop-eating if possible.
Unsettling and always gross, your pigs will eat poop from time to time, but they should rarely do it if their nutritional and habitation needs are being met.
In the rest of this article, we’ll be examining the dirty truth about pigs eating their poop. Brace yourself and let’s get going.
Why Do Pigs Eat their Feces?
There are a few reasons pigs might snack on their own droppings. They could be deficient in certain vitamins or minerals and are looking to rectify that by eating their poop.
They may have been introduced to the practice by other pigs and now think it’s normal behavior. They could simply be hungry and looking for a meal, since poop is full of nutrients.
Eating poop could also be a sign of boredom, as pigs are intelligent animals and need stimulation.
Poop eating can also indicate poor sanitation and overcrowding, as pigs will eat anything when they’re desperate enough.
Whatever the reason, it’s not a desirable behavior and you’ll want to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Not only is it gross, but it can also make your pigs sick.
Is it Okay for Pigs to Eat Feces?
That is a complicated question. The short answer is no. The longer answer is maybe, sometimes.
Generally, a pig that eats a little poop is rarely cause for alarm. Sometimes a pig just decides to go for it and eats a little. Most of the time nothing comes of it, though there is always a chance the pig could get sick.
However, if your pig is eating a lot of poop, you should be concerned. This could be a sign of malnutrition or some other problem and you should take your pig to the vet for a check-up.
Eating large amounts of feces will also reliably lead to health problems like parasite infections or serious diseases.
If your pig is eating so much poop that it’s causing them to vomit or lose weight, you need to take immediate action.
Do Pigs Like Eating Poop?
Hard to say, though based on the enthusiasm for it some of them show you’d be justified in thinking they do.
Assuming your pig is hungry and has access to both poop and actual food, it is a vanishing rarity you’ll see them go for the poop instead of the food.
But there are certain circumstances in which eating poop becomes more attractive than whatever they are being fed.
If a pig is deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, their body may start craving those nutrients and they will turn to poop as a source for procuring them. This is an instinctive behavior common to many animals, not just pigs.
Can Eating Poop Make Pigs Sick?
Absolutely, yes. There is always a chance, even a good chance, that eating poop will make your pigs sick.
The main reason for this is that feces often contain harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites. These can cause a whole host of diseases in pigs.
Can Pigs Eat Other Animals’ Poop?
Should they, no. Will they, yes. Pigs are omnivores, which means they will pretty much eat anything. This includes other animals’ feces.
While the idea of your pig chowing down on another animal’s leavings is nauseating, it’s not as worrisome as you might think unless they are doing it all the time as outlined above.
Some other livestock leave behind poop that seems particularly attractive to pigs, chickens in particular.
How Can You Stop a Pig from Eating Poop?
The best way to stop a pig from eating poop is to address the underlying reason they are doing it.
If they seem hungry, feed them more regularly. If they are malnourished, address the deficiency.
If their living space is filthy, clean it up, they cannot eat poop that is not there to begin with. If they are bored, give them toys for enrichment or more attention.
In some cases, you may need to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause of your pig’s poop eating. They will be able to help you develop a plan to address the problem.
If all else fails, there are products available that make pigs’ feces less appealing to them, but this should be considered a last resort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally not, unless they are very young or very old. Pigs are actually quite fastidious creatures and prefer to keep their sleeping and eating areas separate from where they relieve themselves.
Pigs defecate anywhere from three to six times a day. This can vary depending on how much they’re eating, though.
Multiply that by the number of pigs you have and you can see what a problem that can turn into!
Again, generally not, but they might in an effort to cool themselves if very hot and mud is unavailable.
Sometimes they can be, but in most cases, it is more a matter of people’s perceptions. If you have ever spent any time around pigs, you know they enjoy wallowing in mud when hot but will avoid getting dirty if they can.
But if they are kept in clean conditions and given regular baths, they can be just as clean as any other animal.
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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.