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  #1  
Old 03/05/13, 10:10 AM
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What is a pig's natural diet?

If I were to buy a breeding pair of pigs - not for production but just to feed the family and wanted to avoid pig chow, what would I feed them? I know pasture is ideal but there is only so much pasture I have for rotating. Would they thrive on scraps? Veggies, goat/cow milk, leftovers ect?

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Old 03/05/13, 10:19 AM
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They would do fine on that if there is enough of it. Pigs eat like . . . pigs. A lactating sow will eat like three or four pigs. Just watch their condition, and adjust rations accordingly, and if you have to, buy feed. If you want to avoid commercial chow, know that cooked or rolled grains are better digested than raw, whole grains. Cooked potatoes also. Pumpkin is good any old way - raw, cooked, frozen, thawed. Milk, sour milk, leftovers, vegetable trimmings, whole eggs, butchering scraps, it's all good food for pigs.

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Old 03/05/13, 11:27 AM
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honestly, i'm at a loss for pig advice, but i found a lot about rabbit natural diet (from a time before pellet was invented) in old farming books and old scientific papers. check out google books, library of congress, and other spots on the internet. after all, we've been domesticating pigs in europe for, oh, forever, and they didn't have a ranch hand store to head down to!

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Old 03/05/13, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by tentance View Post
honestly, i'm at a loss for pig advice, but i found a lot about rabbit natural diet (from a time before pellet was invented) in old farming books and old scientific papers. check out google books, library of congress, and other spots on the internet. after all, we've been domesticating pigs in europe for, oh, forever, and they didn't have a ranch hand store to head down to!
The only thing you have to be careful of when using really old sources is that today's animals tend to be a lot more productive than the ones who had to scratch for a living. If you expect modern performance, adjustments will need to be made.
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Old 03/05/13, 11:42 AM
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So like how much a day, per pound? I know if it were grain there might be an easier answer to that-but if I were to raise these two - about how much scrap per day would I need? I guess I would also not butcher chickens once a year if I were to feed the offal to the hogs; I'd need to do it weekly. Not. Fun.

I remember my grandma used to have a bucket she would keep on the counter and all scraps would go into it and it would be emptied either in the pig pen or the worm beds (they raised worms and sold them-daddy was really, really poor ) but I have no memory of how much she was feeding-or really even how many pigs there were!

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Old 03/05/13, 12:57 PM
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A well balanced ration needs to be fed at 3-4% of bodyweight. The further away from being balance it becomes, the more you need to feed in order to meet both energy and nutrient requirements. And the more water it contains (remember most corn-soy rations are dry) the more you will have to feed as well. For a wet, unbalanced ration it is not unreasonable to expect to feed 2-3 times as much, and sometimes more.

Contrary to what many would have you believe, pasture is not "ideal". Even 50, 60, 70 years ago farmers knew that pigs are inefficient converters of pasture into meat and supplemented with a good ration. Pasture is good for exercise and entertainment, but it is not a silver bullet.

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Old 03/05/13, 12:59 PM
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Pigs graze and they scavenge. They will eat just about anything they come across provided it isn't toxic. There is a bit of learning that goes on of what is good to eat - they may be hesitant about new things. I find they are not fond of onions for example when they're raw but are fine with them cooked.

Here's what we feed:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/pigs

Mostly it is pasture/hay depending on the season plus dairy and then supplemented seasonally available with veggies we grow, a little spent barley from beer making we get from a local pub, etc. We grow a lot of pumpkins, beets and turnips which help with late fall and winter as the pastures fade.

We have about 400 pigs on pasture and they thrive.

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Old 03/05/13, 01:33 PM
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That 3-4% of bodyweight is on a dry matter basis. In other words, if you're feeding pumpkins, at about 90% water, 100 pounds of pumpkins equals 10 pounds of dry feed. At 3% of body weight, that will feed about 330 pounds of pig. And note that pigs are a LOT heavier than they look. What looks to most people like a 65-pound pig (based on the appearance of dogs of similar size) usually winds up being a 120-pound pig.

Oh, my gosh! Looking at the math above, a 330 pound hog is eating 100 pounds of pumpkins in a single day. Is that even possible!?! . . . Yes it is. And the hog would most likely eat more if you let it. Like I said, they eat like pigs.

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Old 03/05/13, 01:35 PM
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On the upside, that 3-4% of bodyweight is also for a fast-growing or otherwise heavily producing pig. Maintenance ration would be considerably less, like 1-2% of bodyweight.

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  #10  
Old 03/05/13, 01:41 PM
 
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To just feed your family, I would recommend getting a couple of feeders vs a breeding pair. Boars are expensive if they aren't busy doing their job more than twice a year.

It will amaze you how fast pigs can turn a pasture into the surface of the moon. If you can't rotate often, just plan to have anything green gone pretty quickly. They eat a lot and there really isn't that much food-stuff in an average grass pasture. Great for exercise and stress-reduction, but not a major source of food.

For diet, think balance and variety - a lot like people. They need good protein. Scraps, milk, veggies are all good as long as it's quality, but you'll probably need grain to fill in the cracks unless you generate a lot of kitchen scraps. Old onion rings, french fries, and donuts will make for pigs that look like people that only eat that and the pork won't be good.

If your goal is to get them and butcher any time they're ready, feeding is different than if you want them gone at 5 months old. If time doesn't matter so much, you can afford to let them grow more slowly.

On good grain, 800 pounds per pig is a general rule of thumb to get one to butcher size. That's a lot of scraps. I've calculated that a gallon of milk equals about .3 pounds of grain and at butcher time, a pig will be eating 4-6 pounds of grain per day, so you would need around 13 gallons of milk per day to replace all the grain.

So, if you can get a good source of scraps, milk, etc., it's a great way to lower the feed bill, but it does take a lot to replace a good grain ration. Just remember to keep it quality food and balanced.

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Old 03/05/13, 01:52 PM
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Do you have extra eggs and goat milk? My pigs loved to eat those as well as all and any extra scraps from the garden. (Not that I have answered your question, but just adding my experience!)
We did buy pig feed for ours. I didn't have enough pasture of leftovers/scraps to keep up with them.

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  #12  
Old 03/05/13, 03:53 PM
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I might come close to that much milk each day but I sure don't want to give it all to the pigs ! I guess just a pig for slaughter would be okay; I was thinking of insulating us for TEOTW but I have a good friend who will be happy to keep us in piglets.

That is a heck of a lot of food but I just found out that out source for "pastured pork" loads them up on GMO feed. I'm not too happy right now and need to get something built here real soon to raise my own.

Thanks.

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Old 03/05/13, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooper101 View Post
To just feed your family, I would recommend getting a couple of feeders vs a breeding pair. Boars are expensive if they aren't busy doing their job more than twice a year.

It will amaze you how fast pigs can turn a pasture into the surface of the moon. If you can't rotate often, just plan to have anything green gone pretty quickly. They eat a lot and there really isn't that much food-stuff in an average grass pasture. Great for exercise and stress-reduction, but not a major source of food.

For diet, think balance and variety - a lot like people. They need good protein. Scraps, milk, veggies are all good as long as it's quality, but you'll probably need grain to fill in the cracks unless you generate a lot of kitchen scraps. Old onion rings, french fries, and donuts will make for pigs that look like people that only eat that and the pork won't be good.

If your goal is to get them and butcher any time they're ready, feeding is different than if you want them gone at 5 months old. If time doesn't matter so much, you can afford to let them grow more slowly.
^^^^THIS^^^

Is exactly right. Our general rule of thumb for a growing feeder over 100 pounds is at least a 5 gallon bucket of dense feed a day.

For breeding animals not in milk or the later stages of pregnancy, not winter, two 5 gallon buckets of feed a day per pig. Of course this varies depending on what you are feeding, but this is how we measure. Our brood pigs are at least 600 pounds. Not for sure on weight, but they are huge.
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  #14  
Old 03/05/13, 06:28 PM
 
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I have 2 sows and a boar in the pasture with my nurse cows 5 milking cows and about 5 head of younger stock . the 3 pigs get a 3 gallon bucket of feed (ground corn/oats / 32% cattle grower pellets) every day some days they dont empty their feeder . we also feed them the house scraps and they get waste hay from the cows feeders and all the straw they want . you cant find a cow pile in the pasture .

I have about 35 head of feeder pigs in the 40-125 lb range running under about 120 head of beef calves we backround for a feedlot operation the pigs have access to their own corner to get away from the cows when they want to they get about 250 lbs of corn screenings and gluten pellets every other day 1 skidloader bucket dumped over a panel and into their self feeder and access to poor quality hay and free access to straw those feeder pigs grow fast and keep the cow manure/lot rooted up and loose makes it much easier to clean out . in the summer i also feed them junk veggies from a couple produce stands and the farmers market . You can feed pigs cheap you just have to watch them and feed what they need if they are not getting it from what they have

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Old 03/05/13, 07:10 PM
 
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Boars are expensive if they aren't busy doing their job more than twice a year.
I keep reading this, why is this so? What does a boar need that a another pig does not? Is it just because you have to feed him all year? Seems like if you had him for his lifetime and he produced two litters a year, and you are able to sell the piglets, he would pay for himself eventually.
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Old 03/05/13, 07:28 PM
 
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It varies by region and what's available locally, but if you do the math and you look at the cost of feeding/keeping a boar and sows versus just buying feeder pigs, it's usually more cost effective to just buy feeders until you get to around 6 to 7 sows.

A 400 pound pig will eat at least 6 pounds of food a day, probably more. Call it a 50 pound bag per week per breeding pig. That's around $600 a year plus a little for bedding and incidentals. So, you have one pair that costs $1,300 per year if you're lucky. If you have 2 good litters, you might get 16 pigs out of the pair ($81 each). You can buy those 16 for around $1,000 here. Somebody else takes the risk of still-borns, failed litters, etc. If you really want the experience of breeding, that's one thing. For pure economic reasons, it's pretty simple math to calc out where breeding breaks even. At just 2 litters per year, you'll never make it up on volume and he'll just eat more and more as he gets bigger.

If you have 1 boar and 7 sows, you're lucky to spend about $5,000 per year on feed. You might get 112 piglets out of it for an average cost of about $45 per pig. Spreading the boar out over more sows starts making it cost effective.

I also just like some time during the year when there's no need to go out to the barn.

My estimates are probably low and don't account for thepurchase of breeding stock, cost of worming, maybe a vet visit, housing, bedding, replacing whatever they break, etc. Boars don't require anything special; they just eat a lot.

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Old 03/05/13, 08:04 PM
 
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If they are organic free range pastured feed with additional vegetables grown on the property, seems like it might be more feasable.

You sell a 6 month old 220 lb pig for $81?

I understand the incidentals, housing, fencing and stuff they break, but if you treat them like a pet that seems reasonable. I have a dog and she is expensvie but it is totally worth it from the entertainment I get from her. I could only imagine how much entertainment I would get if she had puppies twice a year and I got to raise them for 6 months.

2 grown pigs and 8-14 piglets seems reasonable, but 8 adults and 112 pglets is just nuts. You're saying go big or go home.

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Old 03/05/13, 08:49 PM
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You sell a 6 month old 220 lb pig for $81?
I believe he was talking about weaner pigs, since he didn't have feed costs for raising a 6-month-old pig in his estimated budget.
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Old 03/06/13, 05:20 AM
 
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Again, as pets and for the experience, nothing wrong with a breeding pair. Economically, it's a losing proposition unless you can get at least half your feed for free and have the facilities already. Unless you have a really big pasture and an even bigger garden, you can't feed a pair of pigs without some other source of food.

Yes, in my example I was talking about the cost of feeder pigs. I can buy 16 feeders much cheaper than I can roll my own. I could roll 112 of my own cheaper than buying 112. My niche is to buy around 40-50 pigs per year, grow them on pasture plus grain and dairy and sell direct to the consumer. Buying feeders works better for me because it's easier and considerably cheaper. I don't have the time or facilities currently to breed my own and the economics don't lend themselves to my model.

I agree, it would be great fun to have babies, we just have two different goals in mind.

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  #20  
Old 03/06/13, 06:03 AM
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Natural diet for pigs, what they eat naturally is acorns, roots, eggs and young of ground nesting birds, small rodents and larger animals they find dead and any piglets they can cut from the litter.

Milk, grain and alfalfa are what modern farmers feed pigs that is not what they would eat naturally.

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