“Pigs can eat anything!” I hear it a lot! The truth is, pigs actually have very specific dietary needs but, sadly, there is a lot of confusing and misleading information about pot bellied pigs that can make planning a healthy meal a challenge. There are four aspects to a balanced pot bellied pig diet which I will discuss below: commercial feed, fresh produce, water and grazing.
The first component to a healthy pig’s diet is a balanced and fortified commercial diet. The commercial diet should be a high fiber, low calorie pellet that contains the necessary vitamins, minerals and protein your pig needs as the base of his diet. It’s important that you do not feed products designed for meat pigs, as the protein and calories are too high for pot bellied pigs.
We recommend Mazuri Mini Pig diets. Mazuri is available in three formulas:
-Youth: to be fed from 8 weeks to approximately 16 weeks
-Adult: to be fed from approximately 16 weeks to maturity for pigs that remain “active” (meaning with a healthy body condition)
-Elder: to be fed to senior pigs or pigs who are overweight
The second component of a balanced diet comes from fresh foods. 25-35% of your pig’s diet should come from fresh vegetables and fruits. A “rainbow” selection of vegetables is best: leafy greens, cabbage, peppers, radishes, beans, broccoli, and squashes are all great options. Sugary produce such as fruits, tomatoes and carrots can be included (in moderation) although “sweet treats” are often best when reserved for training. Starchy potatoes can also be given in moderation.
Ideally, your pigs diet should be split into two feedings, morning and evening, with limited snacks in between.
One of the challenges in feeding a pig is NOT over feeding a pig. Pigs are hungry. If you ask your pig, he’ll tell you he’s starving! Obesity is extremely common in pigs and many people find that once the extra weight is on… It’s nearly impossible to get off.
Pay close attention to the feeding guidelines and consider your pig’s age, weight and activity level when determining his feed intake. While you don’t want to over feed your pig, it’s equally important that you do not under feed your pig. Cutting your pig’s required feed will not keep him small in stature. Remember, his genetics will determine body size and under feeding can lead to development issues. Find the balance, watch your pig’s growth and adjust his feed as necessary.
A very important and often forgotten diet staple is water. Just like any animal, your pig should always have access to fresh water. Pigs are susceptible to Water Deprivation Sodium Ion Toxicosis- in a nut shell salt toxicity from dehydration. So eliminate salty food and give your pig a lot of water. You never want a thirsty pig!
The final staple in a pot bellied pigs diet is fresh grass. Pigs need the opportunity to graze daily. In addition to the grass and foliage your pig consumes, he will get minerals from the soil. “House pig’s” not given the opportunity to graze frequently have iron deficiencies.
If you are feeding a balanced diet of an appropriate commercial pellet and fresh foods, you may not need to supplement. But, I have found that even with a well rounded diet, a pigs chronically dry skin can still be an issue. Adding a high quality fish oil, such as Alaska Naturals Salmon or Pollock Oil is a great way to introduce omegas to the diet to soothe dry skin.
This may sound like a lot for a twice daily feeding routine, but in practice it is easily achieved. For our pig 1 1/2 year old Ruth, I buy veggies twice a week (to keep the volume more manageable in my fridge). We pre-chop veggies so they are quick to grab and easy to portion. When it’s time to serve, we create the salad, add Mazuri Active Adult pellets (1/4 cup/twice daily), fish oil (we use Alaska Naturals Pollock) and then add fresh water to her bowl. That way she gets her pellets, veggies and we can make sure she drinks water with her meals.