When it comes to refreshing summer treats, nothing is more symbolic than watermelon. Sweet, cooling, and incredibly juicy, there is nothing better than a slice on a hot day.
As it turns out, many animals also enjoy watermelon for much the same reason as we do. But how about our pigs? Can our pigs eat watermelon, and is it safe for them?
Yes, pigs can safely eat watermelon and they generally love it, giving them a boost of energy and hydration, and even has a decent complement of vitamins and minerals. All parts of the watermelon itself are safe for pigs, including the rind, flesh, and seeds.
Pretty much every pig owner that has fed watermelon to their pigs knows that they cannot get enough of it.
Is a wholesome snack to be sure, and one that you can feed your pigs without worry, but there’s still more you need to know. Keep reading to find out.
Is Watermelon OK for Pigs?
Yes, watermelon is a food perfectly safe for your pigs. It is a tasty treat that will give them quick energy along with a decent boost of nutrition. Most importantly, perhaps, it can help them stay hydrated during hot weather.
Nutritional Benefits of Watermelon for Pigs
Watermelon is most commonly thought of as a sweet and delicious treat, but it also has a decent nutritional profile to go along with great taste.
Watermelon contains a good spread of both vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A equivalent and beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2, and a little bit of B3, B5, B6, and choline. Watermelon also contains abundant vitamin C.
The mineral profile of watermelon is varied about somewhat limited, containing a little bit of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. It also has a little bit of lycopene.
Vitamin A is always needed and is used by pigs for growth, reproduction, and immunity. Vitamin B1 is used in metabolism, while B2 helps with energy production, cell repair, and reproduction.
Vitamin B3 helps with metabolism, while B5 aids in tissue repair.
Vitamin B6 is needed for metabolism and immunity, while choline helps maintain cell structure.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and is needed for collagen production, immunity, tissue repair, and iron absorption.
Calcium helps with bone development, while iron is needed for oxygen transport and cell function.
Magnesium is used in energy production and muscle function, while manganese is an important antioxidant.
Phosphorus helps with cell growth, bone development, and energy metabolism, while potassium helps with fluid balance, muscle contraction, and nerve function.
Zinc is essential for immunity, cell growth, and reproduction.
Lycopene is watermelon’s most noteworthy nutrient, more specifically a powerful antioxidant.
Watermelon is also about 92% water, making it an excellent source of hydration for pigs. This is especially important in hot weather when pigs can become dehydrated quickly.
Can Pigs Eat Raw Watermelon?
Yes, and this is definitely the best way to feed it to them. Raw watermelon will contain all of the nutritional benefits listed above and will be easier for pigs to digest.
Can Pigs Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Yes. Pigs will often gobble up the seeds in watermelon as they dig into the soft flesh. However, the taste is usually disagreeable to them, so don’t be surprised if some pigs spit them out.
Can Pigs Eat Watermelon Skin?
Yes, they can. Watermelon skin is totally safe for pigs to eat.
Can Pigs Eat Watermelon Rind?
They sure can. The tough rind that you and I leave behind is safe and edible for pigs. Whether or not they actually enjoy eating it is another story.
Can Pigs Eat Cooked Watermelon?
They can, but there is no need whatsoever to cook watermelon prior to serving it. Cooking watermelon will deplete both its nutrients and its water content, its best attributes.
Don’t Give Your Pigs Watermelon if it Was Made with Bad Ingredients
Note that you should never serve your pigs watermelon that has been prepared with anything harmful that they should not eat.
Things like alcohol, salt, sugar, and whipped toppings can ruin watermelon for pigs and make it harmful.
At best, the added ingredients could make them sick or give them diarrhea, but at worst it could lead to serious harm like high blood pressure, sodium poisoning, liver damage, peritonitis, and more.
Watermelon makes a great base or ingredient in all kinds of dishes, but your pigs should only have it when it is plain or mixed with other wholesome stuff.
Be Mindful of Pesticides if the Watermelon Came from the Grocery
Another constant risk you’ll need to be aware of with watermelon, though not one unique to watermelon, is the presence of pesticides on commercially-sourced ones.
Pesticides are employed to fight off various pests, bugs, and insects that could potentially damage crops prior to them making it to market, and are used continually on pretty much all common fruits and veggies.
The harmful effects of these pesticide chems on pigs have been well documented, with studies showing an increased risk in various cancers, hormone disruptions, reproductive difficulties, and more.
Worst of all, they tend to build up gradually in tissues over time, slowly poisoning your poor animals.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your pig’s exposure to these chemicals. You can either buy organic watermelons, though they are hard to find or grow your own.
If in doubt, simply cut the flesh from the melon and discard the rind. That will help significantly to reduce the pesticide residues your pigs ingest.
How Much Watermelon Can Pigs Have?
Watermelon is a great treat for pigs, but not one they should have all the time. Too much watermelon can lead to diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
A good rule of thumb is to give each pig no more than one pound of watermelon per day.
This is especially important if you are feeding other fruits as well, as pigs can easily overdo it if they consume too much sugar, even in the form of fructose.
How to Give Watermelon to Your Pigs
Watermelon is easy to serve to your pigs, and dependent only on their size and the way you like to feed them.
For smaller pigs or piglets, you may want to cut the watermelon into manageable chunks or slices. This will make it easier for them to eat and will help prevent them from wasting any.
For larger pigs, you can simply leave the watermelon whole and let them have at it. Just be mindful that they don’t roll it around too much! If they struggle to break it open, I recommend you cut it lengthwise into quarters.
Alternatively, you can mix cubes of watermelon in with other produce or even dry food to make a tasty mix that your pigs will love.
The sweetness of the melon will entice them to eat other items that they might normally avoid.
Can Baby Pigs Have Watermelon, Too?
Yes, your piglets can enjoy some watermelon also. Again, cut it up into small chunks or slices to make it easy for them to eat, and don’t give them too much at once.
As always, your piglet should be weaned prior to trying any solid foods, even one as wholesome as watermelon.
A quarter of a pound per day is plenty for an adolescent piglet, and you can gradually increase the amount as they grow bigger.
Just be sure not to go overboard, as piglets can easily get diarrhea which can mean trouble for them; they are significantly more vulnerable to dehydration than adults!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, pigs can eat honeydew melon (including the skin) the same as watermelon. Though not as juicy, it is also a good source of vitamins and minerals.
They sure can. Potbelly pigs love watermelon just as much as other pigs.
Not really. Though it is sugary for a fruit, this is offset by the massive amount of water it contains, and watermelon is in no way a high-calorie food.
If you are trying to bulk up your pigs after weaning or prior to finishing you should try something else.
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.
Find out more about the team here.