By Nancy Shepherd, Pig O’ My Heart Potbellies

What Is The Proper Amount To Feed My Pig?

How much to feed your pig is very tricky and is dependent upon age, stage of development, genetic makeup, body type and status as a pet or breeding animal. The most important element is to provide adequate nutrition while not underfeeding or overfeeding. I have revised my feeding practices several times over the years and feel that I have hit upon a formula that keeps my pigs in proper physical condition. I am assuming you are using a potbellied pig chow that is appropriate for the developmental stage of your pig, be it starter, grower or breeder. Healthy Pigs offers a starter and maintenance ration. This Mount Dora, FL supplier can be reached at 352-589-1702, www.healthypigs.com. Champion is a premium potbellied pig maintenance ration and is distributed nationwide. The east coast manufacturer is Ross Mill Farm, Inc., Rushland, PA. at 215-322-1539, www.rossmillfarm.com.

Nursing Piglets through 5 weeks of age

At about ten days of age piglets should be provided with a palatable starter ration containing 17% to 19% protein. It may take them a few days to decide it’s worth eating. Be sure to keep the supply fresh and let them eat as much as they want. This is known as free choice feeding. Make sure mom cannot access this food.

5 Weeks to 3 Months

After weaning, each piglet should receive 3/4 cup of food per day, using at least a 16% protein grower ration. Your judgment comes into play here, but I firmly believe that 3/4 cup per day per pig is the minimum for this age range. This age pig requires a hefty amount of food in order that the nervous system, organs and bones develop properly.

3 Months and Older

In order to maintain a pig in good condition I suggest feeding a 14% protein maintenance ration. Start increasing slowly as the pig grows with a maximum of 2 cups daily for an adult pig. You must use your good judgment. Try not to underfeed or overfeed your sweetie pig. If you can see the pig’s ribs, hipbones and/or backbone, you are not feeding enough.

Weather is a factor to consider when determining all your pigs’ food rations, whether young or old, male or female, breeder or pet. Be sure to increase the ration of all pigs housed out of doors when winter weather prevails. Your pigs will be burning many calories just keeping warm. When pigs have access to lots of fresh grass and other yard goodies, you may find it necessary to decrease the amount of pig chow provided. All my adult pigs (over one year old) receive two cups of food daily, with alteration as dictated by their individual body condition, weather, grazing availability and where they are in their breeding cycle.

My Pig Chokes When She Eats. What Can I Do?

If you notice your pig coughing or choking a little while eating dry pellets, try wetting her food. Simply measure the proper amount and add enough warm water to more than cover the ration. Wait a few moments for the food to absorb the moisture and serve. My pigs prefer their meals to be this oatmeal consistency.

Feeding dry food can actually be dangerous. Food can get stuck in the esophagus so the pig is unable to swallow completely and can even tear the esophagus. Hence feeding wet food is recommended. In order to provide good tooth health, be sure your pigs has rough stuff to chew on as well such as raw hide of some of the other dental products recommended for dogs. Remember NOT to over do those types of products.

My Pig Goes Back And Forth Between The Food And Water Bowls When Eating. Is This A Problem?

This manner of eating/drinking, eating/drinking is a habit and not necessary. Your pig may urinate way more frequently than needed because of this excessive water intake. If you moisten the food and remove the water dish while the pig is eating, your problem should be solved. I am not suggesting that you limit the pig’s water consumption at any time other than meals. Always supply your pig with fresh water in a clean bowl.

What Are Healthy Snacks?

Since a pig will eat just about anything, it is your job to pick the healthy treats. A pig is just as happy with one square of shredded wheat as she is with a whole apple. Best treats are fresh veggies, green ones best. It’s fun figuring out which ones you pig likes. Some that have been most popular are: cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, carrots (not all the time — too many calories), and raw potatoes. Never use canned veggies — too much salt. Frozen ones are fine. Fruit can be provided but in small amounts. Two apple slices or four grapes for example. Incorporate tricks into the treats formula. NO FREE TREATS