Survival Gardening

32 Things to Feed Your Pigs (And 10 Not To)

There’s not much arguing with the fact that pigs are the livestock species that have the most varied diet. As omnivores, pigs can have nearly anything, including a wide variety of plant matter like buds, grains, fruits, and veggies along with animal protein of all kinds. There’s almost nothing that your pigs won’t eat and enjoy!

pigs eating treats collage

That said, even though hogs have a reputation for being eating machines, there are still some things out there, natural foods and otherwise, that they shouldn’t have. Some foods can upset their stomach. Others can make them sick, and a few could even kill them!

If you want your pigs to grow fast and healthy, you’ll want the following lists of foods that you either should or shouldn’t feed them.

Pig Feed

Of course, pigs can have pig feed! All sorts of ingredients go into pig feed, but it usually has grains as a basis.

Depending on the brand and the variety, it might have more or fewer whole ingredients and be fortified with vitamins, minerals, and sometimes even medication.

You’ll rarely go wrong giving your pigs a feed that’s specific for their phase of life and growth, but you’ll always be wise to check that ingredients list to know exactly what they are getting.

Cooked Meat

You can give your hogs any kind of meat you want, be it beef, poultry, or fish, including the bones.

I strongly recommend that you cook it, though, to reduce the transmission of dangerous diseases, many of which, like salmonella, can then be transmitted to people.

Alfalfa

Alfalfa is another common feed for pigs, either in its whole natural form or processed into feed, hay, or haylage. Alfalfa, whatever form it comes in, offers pigs lots of protein, fiber, and various other nutrients, and it’s a great thing for them to have if they are allowed to free-range.

A diet that’s too rich in alfalfa can cause digestive upset in pigs, but luckily they won’t suffer serious harm from it like ruminant animals will if they get too much.

Clover

If you’ve got clover taking over your pasture, you can kiss it goodbye if you’ve got pigs: they will gobble the stuff up with enthusiasm.

Clover supplies pigs with a little bit of protein and lots of fiber. Just make sure you don’t let them eat any that’s been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.

Dandelions

If you like keeping a tidy lawn, this is another plant you never want to see, but you might be surprised to learn that it’s extremely nutritious for people and animals alike.

All parts of a dandelion, from the roots to the blooms, are safe, edible, and packed with vitamins, iron, and calcium. Again, never let pigs eat any that might have been sprayed with weed killer.

a pig enjoying some peanuts
a pig enjoying some peanuts

Nuts

You might not think of it as a common food for pigs, but they enjoy getting all kinds of treats.

Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, and even acorns in limited amounts: nuts supply tons of protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients like iron, phosphorus, and lots of B complex vitamins.

Just make sure that any nuts you give your pigs don’t have any added seasoning, salt, sugar, or flavorings.

Oats

A good rule of thumb is that if an animal lives on a farm or homestead, it loves oats. And it’s easy to see why! Oats are sweet, tender, easy to digest, and packed full of nutrients.

Your pigs can have oats as a treat or enjoy them mixed in with other foods, and all basic types of oats are okay as long as they don’t have added sugar and artificial ingredients.

a couple of young pigs eating corn
a couple of young pigs eating corn

Corn

Corn is a mainstay item in the diet of pigs, and nearly all commonly available pig feeds will have corn as an ingredient, majority or otherwise. Corn gives pigs lots of calories and that means lots of energy, but it’s also a great source of various vitamins and minerals.

However, you don’t want to overdo it because of its high starch content. Too much corn can cause digestive issues in pigs.

a pig eating raw rice
a pig eating raw rice

Rice

Another great source of energy for pigs. These hardy animals can have it raw or cooked at your preference and convenience, but it’s a little easier for them to digest cooked if you want to feed it to them on a regular basis.

White rice, brown rice, and other varieties are all fine as long as they don’t have a lot of added salt or sauces. All types of rice are a wonderful source of minerals, too.

two pigs eating carrots
two pigs eating carrots

Carrots

Carrots can be a mainstay food for pigs, as they dig up and eat all sorts of root veggies and tubers out in the wild and show a marked preference for them in captivity.

All varieties of carrots are loaded with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Don’t forget to throw in the tops, too; carrot greens are edible and nutritious.

Radishes

If you’ve ever bitten into a raw radish, you might have harsh memories about the experience: they can really open up your sinuses!

Pigs, though, don’t seem to mind at all, and these crunchy root veggies are loaded with vitamins that they need and a few minerals. You can give radishes to your herd raw if you want, or gently boiled to make them a little more digestible.

Potatoes

I’ve never known a pig that doesn’t like potatoes, and chances are yours won’t be the first. Potatoes are completely fine for pigs, skin and all, as long as they are cooked; raw or green potatoes can cause problems for your animals.

pig eating sliced sweet potato
pig eating sliced sweet potato

Sweet Potatoes

In my opinion, sweet potatoes are a superior choice for pigs compared to regular ones. Loaded with vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and fiber, they’re a great source of energy and easily digestible.

Too many, though, can cause constipation, so don’t overdo it and make sure your pigs are getting enough roughage in conjunction.

Lettuce

All kinds of lettuce are completely safe and nutritious for pigs. Romaine, iceberg, bibb, and more are good choices and great sources of minerals like calcium and some vitamins, though very light on calories.

Cabbage

All common kinds of cabbage are edible by pigs, and most types are a uniformly good source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

Brussels Sprouts

You might hate Brussels sprouts, but I promise that your pigs won’t. These mini-cabbages are loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. They are also loaded with fiber and will help your pigs stay regular.

a pig eating broccoli
a pig eating broccoli

Broccoli

Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse, and not just for people. Pigs will also benefit from the abundant micronutrients it contains.

Florets and leaves are safe for pigs, but don’t give them too much broccoli in one serving or too often: it can cause significant digestive upset if you overdo it.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower can make an inspired addition to the diet of your herd. It is one of the best and most easily digestible sources of phosphorus and manganese for pigs, along with more vitamin C and vitamin K. And just to be clear, pigs can eat the knobby head as well as the leaves.

Cucumber

Cool, crisp, and a great source of magnesium and various B complex vitamins, pigs always seem to enjoy getting a juicy cucumber when the weather is hot. These, along with watermelon, are some of my favorite hot-weather treats for my animals.

a piglet eating some corn and tomatoes
a piglet eating some corn and tomatoes

Tomatoes

Another somewhat divisive food, but one that pigs can definitely have safely as long as they don’t get any green parts of the plant at all.

Tomatoes are terrific sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, and lycopene, all of which will help pigs stay healthy and thrive. But easy does it: too many tomatoes will easily cause indigestion and diarrhea!

Bell Peppers

Brightly colored bell peppers are a tasty source of vitamins that your pigs are bound to enjoy as a supplement to their usual diet. Just make sure you remove all green parts of the plant, including the stem and calyx, before you serve them.

Note that you don’t want to give pigs any hot peppers: they will feel the burn from capsaicin and get significant indigestion from them! Bell peppers only!

Beans

Contrary to popular assertion, beans can be a great menu item for pigs but only as long as they’re cooked properly. Cooking beans deactivates the harmful proteins that can tear up the digestive tract of pigs, and people for that matter!

All sorts of beans, including red beans, pinto beans, white beans, and black beans, are just fine for them and an excellent source of protein and fiber.

Pumpkins

It might seem surprising, but pumpkins are a wonderful food source for pigs and something that even wild hogs will get from time to time.

Loaded with vitamin A, B complex vitamins, and fiber, pigs can eat every part of a pumpkin except the woody stem. If you have adventurous eaters in your herd, hand over a whole pumpkin and let them break it up for fun. Otherwise, chunk it prior to serving.

Strawberries

Sweet, tasty, and very easy for pigs to eat, strawberries are a wonderful treat or a great dietary supplement if you can get them in quantity. Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants and various vitamins and minerals.

Just keep in mind that they are relatively low in calories, so not something you can reliably bulk up your herd with, though they will certainly benefit their health.

a pig trying some blueberries
a pig trying some blueberries

Blueberries

Another antioxidant powerhouse, blueberries are loaded with beneficial minerals and are a great source of fiber which will improve pigs’ digestion and help them maintain regular bowel movements.

They also have a little more sugar compared to strawberries which makes them a little more flexible if your pigs are growing.

a pig eating an apple
a pig eating an apple

Apples

Pigs love the sweet, crispy crunch of apples, and you’ll love the nutrition and burst of energy they can get from them. If your hogs are feeling a little down, an apple is the perfect thing to perk them up.

I recommend you remove the seeds prior to feeding because they are a cyanide precursor that can cause problems if they get too many of them. A few whole apples won’t hurt, though.

Pears

Pigs will eat pears with delight, and speaking for my own, they really seem to love the softness and the flavor. This is one of my favorite treats for when pigs are closing in on finishing weight because they are more sugary than apples and most other fruits.

Once again, I advise you to remove the seeds prior to feeding if they’re going to be getting large quantities.

Citrus Fruit

Citruses are just fine for pigs in moderation, contrary to what some folks might tell you. They should, though, be fed to them in moderation to prevent tummy troubles. Pigs can eat every part of these fruits, peel and all.

Peaches

There’s hardly anything more perfect than a ripe, juicy peach. They are intensely sugary, and that makes them a good source of calories, though they are fairly lacking in terms of other nutrients compared to most other fruits.

Your pigs won’t care about that, though! Be sure that you remove the rock-hard pit because it is a choking hazard and is also toxic.

Apricots

Apricots are very much like peaches as far as your pigs are concerned. They are highly aromatic and very sweet, a great source of calories, and they have more vitamins compared to peaches.

But like peaches, they are a stone fruit: be sure to remove and discard the pit before serving them to your herd, and doing that with a big bushel of apricots might take some time.

feeding grapes to a pig
feeding grapes to a pig

Grapes

I don’t know what it is about them, but pigs go absolutely crazy for grapes. Sweet, juicy, and one of the best sources of B complex vitamins, bushels of grapes can be a great summertime treat and dietary supplement.

If you’re lucky enough to have a vineyard around, you might be able to get grapes very cheaply or even free. Just make sure they haven’t started to ferment or that might give your poor pigs alcohol poisoning!

a pig enjoying a watermelon
a pig enjoying a watermelon

Watermelons

Watermelons are only modestly nutritious compared to other fruits, but they are a supreme source of hydration and a little bit of energy.

Pigs are just like people in this regard: they will always look forward to a delectable slice of watermelon in the summertime!

Watermelons are one of my favorite treats to help my herd combat heat stress in the hottest summer months. They will always chow down on the watermelon and then head for the shade to take a nap.

Things You Shouldn’t Feed Your Pigs!

That is a ton of food that pigs can eat safely! But like I promised at the beginning of this article, they can’t eat everything. Never give your pigs the following.

Moldy or Rotting Food

A persistent, awful myth that has caused lots of harm to pigs over the years. Pigs are not garbage disposals, and food that is way past edibility should not be foisted on them.

They might eat stuff that’s rotting, slimy, and gross, but it’s highly likely to make them sick. Remember again that many diseases pigs can contract can be passed on to humans. If you care about your animals, you should only give them fresh and wholesome food.

Avocado

Giving avocados to pigs is a very bad idea. The giant seed in the middle, the leaves, and the skin all contain a toxic compound called persin. The edible flesh contains very little, if any, but for me, this is another veggie that’s just too close for comfort. Avoid it!

Nightshade-Family Greens

All veggies in the nightshade family, including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, grow on plants that contain dangerous amounts of toxic solanine.

For this reason, you must never, ever give the greenery from these plants to your pigs, or allow them to eat them in your garden or anywhere else. Vines, leaves, roots, and all are dangerous!

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a contentious food for pigs, with some keepers reporting absolutely no ill effects and others shouting about the dangers from the rooftops.

The truth is that both are correct: rhubarb stalks are safe and nutritious, but rhubarb leaves contain lots of oxalic acid which can cause urinary tract stones and kidney problems in pigs, and in high doses cause internal hemorrhaging and even death.

Also, based on my own research, it seems like some pigs are more sensitive to oxalic acid than others. If you want to harvest the stalks and hand them over, I wouldn’t worry about it. Think twice before letting your pigs eat the leaves and all.

Onions

I know lots of owners that report their animals aren’t harmed or upset in the slightest by onions, but I also know plenty that report serious digestive problems, and scientific reporting tells us that onions can cause anemia in pigs if they get too many.

When things are unclear, I think it’s best to avoid feeding them at all…

Wild Mushrooms

Contrary to internet legends you’ll see popping up in forums, pigs are not immune to toxic mushrooms. And furthermore, they don’t always know which ones are bad for them.

Never, ever give your animals any wild mushrooms that you have not 100% positively identified as safe! If they eat any poisonous mushrooms, they are probably done for…

Raw Meat

I know it’s tempting and a lot of people do it, but you shouldn’t give your pigs any raw meat. Just because they eat it in the wild doesn’t mean they should eat it on your homestead.

This is a surefire way to make them sick and increase their parasite load. Stick to cooked meat as I wrote above…

Sugar

Pigs can have just a little bit of processed sugar without major problems. I know it is currently “fashionable” to give them leftover baked goods, sweets, and other delicious things, but this is likely to cause more problems than not.

I recommend you only give them sugar very rarely, and even then only when they are close to finishing.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, and really any artificial ingredients, are bad, bad news for your herd. They will eat it readily enough, but the long-term health consequences are still mostly unknown.

In my experience, it depresses pigs and gives them diarrhea. This is another ingredient you should avoid serving at all costs.

Poison Ivy

This is another persistent rumor that must be dispensed with: pigs are not, in any way, immune to poison ivy. Some animals are, but our precious porky pals are not, and it will make them very ill if they ingest it. Keep them well away from it.

what pigs eat Pinterest image

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