Every kind of livestock has its own reputation. You know, those character traits that are attributed to them pretty much the world over. Cows are supposed to be dumb, goats are stubborn, chickens are frantic and pigs, well, pigs are gluttonous!
Although they aren’t quite the filthy eating machines that some people imagine them as, it is true that pigs eat an awful lot of food, and often way more than their size would suggest.
This is needed to ensure proper growth and development in a reasonable period of time. The question is, just how much do pigs eat exactly?
Adolescent pigs that are putting on weight will need 2,200 calories a day or more, whereas a sow that is gestating a litter of piglets might need 2,800 calories a day and beyond.
As always, calorie requirements must also be balanced against good nutrition…
While it is true that pigs will eat pretty much anything, not everything is good or worth feeding to your pigs if you want them to grow up fast and healthy.
That being said, failing to meet calorie requirements is a bigger problem for small-time farmers and homestead pig keepers than you might imagine.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about how much your pigs can eat down below.
How Many Calories Does a Pig Need a Day?
The number of calories a pig needs per day can vary depending on several factors, such as the pig’s age, weight, activity level, and the purpose for which it is being raised.
For example, a growing piglet requires a lower amount of calories than an adult pig as it’s still developing, and a gestating sow, which is pregnant, will need much more.
On average, an average pig requires about 2,200 to 3,500 calories per day to maintain its weight, again depending on size, with growing pigs or those being raised for meat production requiring a higher calorie intake.
This calorie requirement can be met through an appropriate diet consisting of grain, soybean meal, vitamins, and minerals.
However, it’s important to note that the quality of the diet and the pig’s ability to digest it successfully plays a critical role in ensuring the pig’s good health and growth.
The following chart will provide you with some guidelines for feeding growing pigs.
What’s the Best Way to Calculate Your Pigs’ Feed Requirements?
The best way to determine a pig’s feed requirements is by considering its age and your purpose for raising it.
Pigs have different nutritional needs at different stages of their lives, and this is balanced against your goals with the animal.
Piglets need a higher protein diet than mature pigs to grow up big and healthy, while pigs being raised for meat, and especially maximum finishing weight, will need a high-calorie diet.
It’s best to consult with a swine nutritionist who can guide you on the best feeding plan that meets the pigs’ nutritional needs while also considering their health, growth, and development.
See the table below for basic guidelines.
|Age/Weeks||Weight/lbs||Food per Day/lbs|
How Much Will it Cost to Feed a Pig for a Month?
That depends on how much feed you’re buying and how much it costs (obviously)…
Let’s say you have 10 pigs that each weigh around 100 pounds, and you want to feed them a commercial feed that costs $20 per 50-pound bag.
Each pig will eat around 4-5 pounds of feed per day, so for 30 days, you’ll need approximately 1,200-1,500 pounds of feed.
That means you’ll need to purchase 24-30 bags of feed (1,200-1,500 pounds divided by 50 pounds per bag) at a cost of $480-$600 for the month.
If you have fewer pigs, you can adjust the calculation accordingly. For example, let’s say you have 3 pigs that weigh around 150 pounds each and you want to feed them a custom ration that costs $0.40 per pound.
Each pig will eat around 5-6 pounds of feed per day, so for 30 days, you’ll need around 1,350 – 1,620 pounds of feed.
That means you’ll need to purchase around 675-810 pounds of each ingredient in the custom feed blend.
If the custom blend consists of corn, soybean meal, and a vitamin-mineral premix, you might calculate the cost like this: 450 pounds of corn at $0.12 per pound ($54), 180 pounds of soybean meal at $0.30 per pound ($54), and 45 pounds of premix at $0.50 per pound ($22.50), for a total of approximately $130.50 for the month.
Keep in mind that the cost of feed can vary depending on many factors, such as location, season, and availability.
Additionally, pigs may consume different amounts of feed depending on their weight and stage of life.
How Often Should You Feed Pigs?
Feeding schedule is highly dependent on your purposes, once again. Generally, pigs should be fed at least twice a day, with some additional snacks or grazing throughout the day for growing pigs or those being raised for meat production.
For pigs that need to pack on weight quickly, without bulking too much fat, more frequent small feedings are best, up to six per day!
Is it OK to Feed Pigs Once per Day?
While it is possible to feed pigs once per day, it is not ideal. Pigs need a consistent supply of energy and nutrition throughout the day in order to maintain their health and growth.
When fed once a day, there can be an imbalance in their nutrient intake that may result in suboptimal growth, as well as digestive issues and even disease.
A cycle of gorging during a solitary feeding and basically fasting the rest of the time is not a good practice.
That said, if you must feed your pigs once per day, be sure to provide them with plenty of feed and the highest-quality ingredients possible.
Should You Let Pigs Eat as Much as they Want?
No! Just like humans, pigs shouldn’t be overfed. Overfeeding can lead to adverse health effects such as obesity and metabolic problems.
For best results, feed your pigs in accordance with their nutritional requirements for their age and size, as discussed earlier.
What Happens to Pigs that Overeat?
If pigs are regularly allowed to overeat, it can cause many health problems such as obesity, joint issues, respiratory problems, digestive problems, heat stress, and lower productivity.
Overweight pigs may develop health problems such as arthritis by putting extra weight on their joints. Overeating can also lead to digestive issues like bloating, colic, and diarrhea.
Moreover, obese pigs may have a harder time regulating their body temperature leading to pronounced heat stress during hot weather.
Fatigue will also arise, leading to reduced productivity overall. Hence, regulating a pig’s food consumption is important to ensure their nutritional needs are met adequately while preventing negative outcomes.
Depends on the pig. Generally, pigs should eat 2-6 pounds of feed per day, depending on their size, age, and purpose.
A 150-pound pig will consume approximately 2,100-4,400 pounds of feed in 6 months. Keep in mind that this estimation depends on the individual pig, their age and purpose, as well as the type of feed.
Only sometimes. Pigs have a tendency to overeat, so it’s important to monitor their food consumption and not let them eat too much.
Be mindful of the amount of food they are consuming and adjust accordingly, and never trust your pig to “free eat” if you’re worried about them overeating!
Yes. Pigs require more energy in the winter months to maintain their body temperature, so they will need extra food to meet their nutritional needs. Pigs that are digesting food are generating more body heat.
Make sure you are providing your pigs with enough feed and other high-energy sources during this time to keep them healthy and comfortable, especially if their shelter is a bit lacking.
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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