While they can and will eat scraps and garbage, pigs require a decent, balanced diet if they are to thrive. Commercial pig foods are formulated to contain all of the essentials, making it easy to ensure that a pig gets adequate nutrition throughout his life span.
Pig owners commonly feed their pigs as much of a balanced commercial pig feed as they will eat. A commercially produced, quality-controlled pig feed ensures the swine get adequate amounts of crude protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in their diets. Such feeds are usually based on a combination of corn or wheat and soybeans, with added vitamin and mineral supplements to promote overall health and preservatives to prevent mold and other problems that may make the pigs sick. Typically commercial foods will provide 18 percent to 22 percent protein and about 3.5 percent to 6.5 percent carbohydrates.
Water is a vital component of all pigs’ diets. Animals raised without adequate water often grow poorly and may sicken more easily than those that have plenty to drink. Provide water in a large, heavy tub on a flat surface and check it often to ensure your pigs haven't spilled it. Or use an automatic watering system in place.
People raising just a few pigs often give them scraps from the table and garden; some large producers collect leftovers from restaurants and feed those. Done right, the practice can offset some of the expense of feeding pigs, but scraps alone don’t provide for optimal growth. Some scraps, meanwhile, can contain bacteria or other undesirable elements that can affect the quality of the meat of pigs raised as food. The University of Florida's extension service website says heating scraps to boiling and holding them at that temperature for at least half an hour kills these organisms and makes scraps safe to feed.
Pigs that live in the wild are normally omnivorous and will eat just about anything they can get hold of. Their diets vary by season, but some of the more common plant matter pigs eat includes grass, roots, bulbs and tubers, fruit, nuts and mushrooms. Wild pigs also eat worms, snails, insects, frogs, lizards and other small creatures, and they’ll scavenge carrion when it’s available. They’ll also eat small mammals and birds if they can catch them. If they live around humans, wild pigs often slip into fields and gardens, uprooting and consuming as much grain and vegetable matter as they can.
- Utah State University Extension: Basic Show Pig Feeding and Care
- Oklahoma State University Extension: Pig, Pork, Swine Facts
- University of New Hampshire Extension: Raising Pigs at Home
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Feeding Food Wastes to Swine
- University of Minnesota Extension: Quality Control of On-Farm Swine Feed Manufacturing
- Texas Parks and Wildlife: Feral Hogs