pigs; rations

Pork production: Alternatives to commercial feed rations for your pigs

Question: I want to feed my pigs well so they can grow and be healthy, but commercial rations are very expensive, and I can’t always afford them. Are there any alternatives?

Pigs grow best on commercial rations which have been designed to supply the balanced diet they need.

But if you can’t recover your feed costs and make a profit from the sale of your pigs if you feed them commercial rations, try these ways to make it go further:

  • Replace up to half the commercial rations with bran (eg hominy chop) or brewer’s grain.
  • Crop residues such as maize stalks, leaves and cobs can be used instead of bran, but are not as digestible and not as nourishing.
  • Feed up to 10% of the total diet in the form of green feed and forages such as leafy vegetables (eg cabbage), leafy branches from edible plants (get advice if you’re not sure which ones to use as some plants are poisonous to livestock) and green grass.
  • Feed them factory waste such as stale bread, reject ice cream cones, reject dog chunks, spoilt milk, whey (from cheese-making) and brewery waste.
  • Give them reject or surplus fruit and vegetables (20% to 30% of the diet).

Feeding pigs swill (leftovers from the kitchen or from restaurants, hotels, hostels and hospitals) isn’t a good idea because the pigs won’t grow very well. The swill may contain material that could harm the pigs, for example meat from sick pigs or chickens. South African law, for instance, stipulates that swill should first be boiled for 1 hour to make it safe to feed to pigs.

Always make sure your pigs get enough to eat – if they do not take naps between meals and behave aggressively, they could be hungry. And make sure your pigs have a good supply of fresh, clean water.

  • This article was written by Dr. Mary-Louise Penrith and first appeared in Farming SA.

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