How to feed pigs

Feeds and Feeding

Pig Feeding

Important facts about feeds and feeding of pigs

  • Feed costs represent 60 – 70 % of the total cost of production in the pig industry. Therefore the profit from a pig enterprise is affected by the efficient and economic use of the feeds.
  • The pig is omnivorous, i.e. it can eat all types of food except that it cannot digest too much fiber and therefore it cannot live entirely on roughage.
  • Pigs thrive best on foods that are suitable for humans and fortunately they also thrive on by-product feeds and other materials that are practically useless as food for man.
  • Farmers should always aim at using cheaper, lower grade feed stuffs to the fullest extent and to supplement them by the more expensive nutritious feeds to the point that true economy dictates.
  • Nutrient requirements vary with age and physical conditions.
  • Diseased pigs cannot utilize feed efficiently and therefore farmers must ensure that the pigs are in good health. Also, poorly fed pigs are susceptible to diseases.

Nutritional requirements for the different pig categories

  • Piglets

Each newborn piglet should be fed on colostrum within the first 18 hours after birth. If the sow is hostile, bottle feeding of the colostrum to the piglets is recommended.

Sow’s milk does not contain enough iron to meet the requirements of baby pigs within their first 3 or 4 days to prevent anemia.

Starting at one week of age, piglets should be given creep feed. It contains 20% crude protein. At 3 weeks, farmers may switch to starter feed which contains 18% crude protein and this is fed to the piglets until they reach weaning age where the weight will also be about 15kg.

  • Weaners/Growers

After weaning, the pigs should be switched from the creep feed to a lower cost pig grower feed which contains 16% of crude protein. Clean fresh water should be available to the pigs at all times.

  • Boar

Boars may be fed on rations containing 14% crude protein. Water must always be available for the boar.

  • Pregnant Sow

During gestation, the sow is limit fed for 2 to 3 kg per day of a 14% protein diet (sow and weaner meal). Close to farrowing, maize bran may be added as 25% and this will be mainly the source of energy. Maize will also increase bulk and this prevents constipation. Water must always be available for the sow.

  • Lactating Sow

Bulky ingredients should be removed from the sow ration soon after farrowing. Sows are fed on rations containing 14% protein and those nursing large litters need full feeding during lactation. Sows that finish lactation with excessive weight losses have delayed estrus beyond the usual 3 to 7 days post weaning. Sows nursing fewer than 8 piglets must be fed an amount of 3kg a day with an added bonus of 0.25kg for each piglet being nursed.

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