Pigs are bred mostly for their meat, but pigs can also make excellent pets. In fact, some types of pigs are regularly kept as indoor pets because of their intelligence and personality. Whether you are raising a pig as a pet or for consumption purposes, it is important to feed the pig a balanced diet appropriate to the age and weight of the pig. As a pig grows, it needs different types of food to help it develop into a healthy animal.
When a pig is weaned off its mother’s milk, it will be fed a starter feed. Starter feeds are made from dried milk products like lactose and whey and animal protein products such as fish meal and dried plasma. Starter diets are typically broken up into three phases depending on the weight of the pig. The pig is fed the Starter 1 diet until it reaches 15 lbs. The Starter 2 diet is fed until the pig reaches 25 lbs., and then the pig is fed the Starter 3 diet until it reaches 50 lbs.
After the pig has reached approximately 50 lbs., it should be fed a grower-to-finisher feed. These types of feed are given to the pigs in phases — there are four phases in total. The first phase is fed until the pig reaches 100 lbs., the second phase is fed until the pig reaches 150 lbs., and the third phase is fed until the pig weighs 150 lbs. The finisher stage is fed until the pig reaches its final weight, which is about 270 lbs. for most pigs.
This diet is fed to gestating sows and differs from the regular pig diet in that it has higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. When a pig is eating a gestation feed, it will receive about 3.5 to 5 lbs. of feed in a day, which is less than it would normally get; this is because the food is so rich in nutrients and vitamins. This diet is also fed to boars who are the correct age for breeding.
When a sow gives birth to her young, she should be fed a special lactation feed. Lactation feed, like gestation feed, has a higher level of minerals and nutrients to support her production of milk. However, gestation feed should never replace lactation feed, because it does not contain adequate nutrients for the pig. This diet is fed to the pig gradually until by the seventh or eighth day of lactation the sow is consuming a full amount.
Elyse James began writing professionally in 2006 after deciding to pursue a career in journalism. She has written for "The Algonquin Times" as a general assignment reporter and published blogs and articles on Webcitybeat. James holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Ottawa.