Potatoes are one of the most versatile and popular vegetables on earth, and can be found used in all sorts of dishes and cuisines.
However, they must be fed more cautiously to livestock since potatoes are part of the nightshade family and can negatively affect the health of animals. But how about our pigs? Pigs are omnivores, but can they eat potatoes?
Yes, pigs may eat potatoes as part of a well-balanced diet. Potatoes contain valuable vitamins and minerals that pigs need, but you must be careful not to feed pigs too many potatoes or give them green potatoes since these may poison them.
Eating a bad potato may be a life-threatening event for a pig, and even eating too many potatoes two regularly can negatively affect their health and impact the quality of their meat.
But, so long as you are careful, potatoes could still make up a valuable addition to their diet. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving potatoes to your pigs.
Are Potatoes Good for Pigs?
Broadly, yes: Fed responsibly, potatoes can be very good for pigs. Potatoes contain a good amount of energy as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
They also have a pretty decent balance of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.
All these nutrients are important for pigs since they help support growth, reproduction, immunity, and other crucial functions in their bodies.
However, feeding too many potatoes to pigs will cause negative effects, including digestive issues, poor muscle development, and reduced immunity.
So while potatoes are good for pigs, they need to be fed in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet.
Notably, green potatoes and all other parts of the potato plant are harmful to pigs. This is because they contain solanine.
What is Solanine?
Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison that naturally occurs in all members of the nightshade family, including potatoes.
Solanine is found in greatest concentrations just below the green patches on the potato’s skin.
However, it can be found throughout the entire potato if it has been damaged in any way (such as being cut or bruised).
Solanine is also found in all other parts of the plant, which is why pigs should never have any.
Pigs are very sensitive to the effects of solanine and just a small amount can make them very ill.
Symptoms of solanine poisoning in pigs include weakness, paralysis, thrashing, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. If not treated immediately, solanine poisoning can be fatal.
Green potatoes should never be fed to pigs since they contain high levels of solanine.
Nutritional Benefits of Potatoes for Pigs
Assuming you only feed good quality potatoes to pigs in the recommended amounts, potatoes have a lot to offer pigs.
The vitamin and mineral content is very respectable, and includes vitamins C, B6, and potassium.
Pigs also benefit from the high levels of dietary fiber in potatoes, which helps keep their digestive system healthy.
Vitamin C is always important for pigs, and is used to support many different functions in their bodies.
Vitamin B6 is essential for metabolism, and pigs need it to convert the potatoes they eat into usable energy.
Potatoes are also a good source of potassium, which helps support muscle function, heart health, and fluid balance in pigs. The carbohydrates in potatoes are also great for giving pigs a boost of energy.
Pigs can safely make use of these nutrients as part of a well-balanced diet. However, you must be careful not to give them green potatoes or any other part of the plant.
Can Pigs Eat Raw Potatoes?
Yes, but cautiously. Raw potatoes have the most nutrients on paper, but are also the most likely to upset a pig’s system.
So long as you select healthy potatoes and avoid any that are green or have been damaged, feeding raw potatoes in limited amounts to pigs shouldn’t pose any problems.
Never Feed Green Potatoes to Pigs!
This point cannot be stressed enough! Raw or cooked, green potatoes are very dangerous for pigs and should never be given to them. That’s because green potatoes contain high amounts of solanine.
Solanine is toxic to pigs in any form, and even a small amount can cause serious illness or death.
The greener the potato the worse it is, so be sure to discard green potatoes and cut off any green patches from otherwise good one.
Can Pigs Eat Potato Peels?
Yes. Pigs can safely eat potato skins so long as they are properly ripe and not green. The skins contain fiber and nutrients, so they can be a healthy part of a pig’s diet. Just make sure to wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt or pesticides.
Can Pigs Eat Potato Plants?
No! All parts of the potato plant, aside from the flesh of the ripe root part, contain harmful levels of solanine.
Can Pigs Eat Cooked Potatoes?
Yes, and cooking potatoes for your pigs is generally a good idea.
Cooking does reduce the overall level of nutrients, but also makes the nutrients more bioavailable for pigs. This means they can better absorb and use the nutrients from cooked potatoes.
Cooked potatoes are also much easier for pigs to digest than raw ones and gentler on their system, so there’s less risk of them getting an upset stomach.
Also, dried potatoes have the same qualities as cooked ones, so make those an option, too.
Don’t Give Your Pigs Potatoes if it Was Made with Bad Ingredients
When you are cooking potatoes for your pigs, be sure to never add any harmful ingredients that they cannot have. Things like salt, sugar, seasonings, oil, and other such things are all bad for your pigs’ health.
These extra ingredients might make potatoes taste even better, but they offer no nutritional value and can actually cause health problems in pigs.
At best, they will be looking at an upset stomach for sure, but maybe even worse problems like intestinal inflammation, high blood pressure, or sodium poisoning.
So, it’s best to just stick to plain, cooked potatoes when feeding them to your pigs.
However, you decide to cook them, don’t add anything else unless it is wholesome ingredients that you know your pigs can have.
Be Mindful of Pesticide if the Potatoes Came from the Grocery
One more thing you’ll need to be aware of is the possible presence of pesticides on grocery-bought potatoes.
Pretty much every commercial farm use pesticides to help protect their crops from pests and diseases until they can be sold and make it to market.
While these pesticides can help the potato plants, they can be harmful to your pigs if ingested.
Modern pesticides have been linked with all sorts of health issues in animals and people alike, including cancer, endocrine disruption, and neurological problems.
So, if you’re feeding your pigs potatoes that came from the grocery store, be sure to wash them thoroughly first.
If possible, you even peel them to remove any residual pesticide that might be present on the skin.
It’s always best to buy organic potatoes if you can, as they are grown That’s why it’s always a good idea to wash potatoes thoroughly before feeding them to your pigs, even cooked ones.
Can Pigs Eat Potatoes Every Day?
They can, but they really shouldn’t. Just like any other food, potatoes should be given in moderation as part of a well-rounded diet.
Too many potatoes can lead to obesity and other health problems, so be sure to feed them in moderation.
How Many Potatoes Can Pigs Have?
A good rule of thumb is to give your pigs no more than 5% of their body weight in potatoes when they get a serving, and ideally they should only get a serving or two a week.
How to Give Potatoes to Your Pigs
As mentioned above, your best bet is to cook or dry potatoes before serving them to your pigs. This makes them easier to digest even though it reduces the overall level of nutrients.
You can either bake or boil potatoes before feeding them to your pigs. Don’t fry them, and be sure to avoid oils and extra salt, sugar, or other seasonings.
Once they’re cooked, you can either cut them up into pieces or mash them before feeding. If mashing, you can also add potatoes to other foods like pellets or grain mixes.
Can Baby Pigs Have Potatoes, Too?
Yes, piglets can have potatoes too using all the advice for feeding them to adults, but only once they are grown enough to be eating solid food all the time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, but just like with all other pigs raw potatoes might be hard on their stomachs.
Some people just cannot stand to abstain from giving pigs junk food. Pigs can eat french fries, but really should not: The grease and extra calories are bad for pigs.
No! Rotten potatoes can easily poison or kill a pig though a combination of solanine and foodborne bacteria. Never, ever give your pigs any rotten potato!
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.