Do you ever wonder what piglets eat? Pretty much everyone knows that baby animals of any species have unique dietary requirements.
Mammals, specifically, will typically subsist on their mother’s milk, but that’s rarely all they eat as they move into adolescence.
Piglets are certainly no different in this regard. So, what exactly do piglets eat?
Newborn piglets will drink milk alone for the most part for their first couple of weeks of life, but begin to eat solid foods after that. Piglets can have starter feed and many whole foods, including fruits, veggies and more.
Among livestock, piglets have one of the most varied diets around assuming that you don’t want them to subsist on feed alone.
In any case, piglets won’t be able to go the distance drinking nothing but milk, so solid foods are a must.
Keep reading, and I’ll tell you a lot more about piglets and the foods they eat while they are young…
What Do You Feed Piglets?
A piglet’s diet varies with age. Newborn piglets require milk for the first few weeks of their lives, but how much milk is dependent on how old they are and their growth objectives.
Piglets should be fed high-quality starter feed, which contains all the essential nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins that they need to thrive.
Starter feed is specially formulated for piglets, and is an easy way to get the right amount of nutrients they need for proper growth.
It’s also possible to feed piglets a mixture of whole foods when the time is right, or even to create your own piglet feed, but in all cases you must make sure that nutrient and calorie profiles are balanced.
Homemade piglet feed may include various grains for carbs and minerals along with protein sources like soybean meal.
Do Piglets Need Special Food?
Yes and no. Piglets don’t require truly special food so long as they get all of the nutrients they need in the right amounts.
However, as mentioned earlier, high-quality piglet starter feed is often the best option for them since it’s a convenient and easy way for you to ensure they’re getting what they need, nutritionally.
When Can Piglets Eat Pellets?
Piglets can start eating pellets when they are around 3 weeks old, or sometimes a little older. At this age, they are typically still nursing or taking milk replacer, but they are ready for some solid foods.
Just make sure that any pellets they are getting are on a limited basis if they isn’t an equivalent starter feed…
What Human Foods Can Piglets Eat?
Piglets can eat a surprising amount of human foods once they’re old enough. However, they need whole, healthy foods that people eat, not highly processed, super salty junk that can make them sick.
Piglets are especially big fans of eggs, and hard-boiled eggs in particular. These are a great treat for piglets, or you can crumble them up and mix them in with their other food for a boost of flavor and protein that they will love.
All sorts of produce, fruits and vegetables alike, are likewise a great option for piglets. All kinds of leafy green salad vegetables are a great choice, as are apples, tubers, carrots, squashes, berries, and a lot more.
You’ll just want to be cautious of any vegetable that has high oxalate content or is very sugary because this can upset their young and developing digestive systems.
And piglets can even continue to have milk and other dairy products after weaning. Yogurt is an especially good choice that can boost the protein levels in a piglet’s diet while also helping their overall gut health.
And lastly, but not least, pigs are omnivores and that means piglets are too, so meat is definitely on the menu.
Various lean meats are especially good for them, and poultry, chicken, duck and turkey alike, is a good supplemental treat so long as it is fed in moderation.
At What Age Do Piglets Eat Solids?
A piglet will start properly eating solid foods between 4 and 5 weeks old, though many piglets will begin eating solid foods on a highly limited, regimented basis through a process known as creep feeding by as early as week 2 of their life.
By the end of week five, though, most piglets have transitioned completely to standard feed and other whole foods fulltime.
When Should I Introduce Feed to Piglets?
This depends on your strategy with the piglet, but most are started on creep feed by week two of their life, and the amount of solid feed they receive increases proportionally to the decrease of milk intake.
What is Starter Feed for Piglets?
Starter feed is specially formulated to be an ideal solid food for piglets and one that contains all of the calories, protein, vitamins and minerals that they need for optimum growth.
Basically, it’s everything that a growing porcine body needs!
It is the equivalent of any other pig feed, only it is one that is specifically for piglets. It should be noted that piglets and adult pigs have significantly differing nutritional requirements, and though piglets can eat adult pig feed and adult pigs eat starter feed, neither is ideal for the other.
Stick with starter feed for piglets, and a standard grower feed or finishing feed for adult pigs.
Can You Bottle Feed Piglets?
Yes, it is possible to bottle feed piglets, but it is generally more difficult than you might think and should only be done in cases when a sow simply cannot provide enough milk for her litter, or enough teats, or if she perishes during the first week of the piglet’s life.
Will Piglets Drink from a Bowl?
Yes! Piglets can and will drink from a bowl, although you usually must prompt them to do so by pushing their snouts down into a shallow bowl of milk a few times until they get the message.
This seems rough and a little mean, but the concept of lapping is somewhat foreign to tiny piglets who are used to getting their milk from their mother’s teat.
After you repeat this process just a couple of times, most piglets will take to it very quickly and then readily drink their milk from a bowl. This will make your life much easier if your piglets are still drinking milk.
Can Baby Pigs Drink Cow Milk?
Yes, but with some restrictions. Cow milk, and also goat milk, are safe and reasonably nutritious alternatives for a piglet if its mother’s milk or milk replacer isn’t available.
However, be on the lookout for excessive weight gain and significant digestive upset, including diarrhea, and piglets that are fed cow’s milk.
As mentioned above, it’s not nutritionally complete for piglets, and it generally has too many calories and too much fat, but it is acceptable in a pinch.
What’s the Best Milk Replacement for Piglets?
Milk replacers can be an important tool in your arsenal, or rather in your menu, for feeding piglets.
Milk replacers are exactly what they sound like, basically a special formula that you can mix up and give to piglets in place of actual milk that will still meet all of their nutritional requirements.
The best milk replacers will have a balanced profile of fat, protein, carbs and all essential vitamins and minerals.
Many of them are fortified with vitamins and minerals levels that go above and beyond what is actually found and even the highest quality pig milk.
As such, these can be especially good options for raising piglets when the challenges associated with letting the nurse or just too great, or in the case of an orphaned piglet.
What Do 1 Week Old Piglets Eat?
Piglets that are only a week old or less will live pretty much entirely on milk or a milk replacement. Piglets this young struggle to digest solid foods.
What Do 2 Week Old Piglets Eat?
Once a piglet is 2 weeks old, at the discretion of the owner milk consumption can begin to slightly taper off and creep feeding can start.
Creep feeding is a process that will slowly acclimatize a piglet to the concept of solid food, with the intention of getting them off of milk and on to solid foods quicker than usual.
What Do 3 Week Old Piglets Eat?
Three week old piglets will typically begin eating starter feed along with a little bit of milk or milk replacer.
At this stage of development, piglets really start to grow quickly, and so their nutritional demands will outstrip what can be provided by milk or milk replacer alone.
What Do 4 Week Old Piglets Eat?
More of the same, with more feed and some solid foods being fed experimentally or as treats, with less milk.
What Do 5 Week Old Piglets Eat?
By the end of week five, most piglets are done drinking milk or milk replacer of any kind, and their diet will look much closer to that of an adult pig.
This phase of life, piglets may be allowed to eat significantly more whole foods along with their usual feed.
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.