What should I feed my mini-pig?
Pigs are omnivores, meaning they eat both vegetable and animal protein. Wild pigs typically eat multiple small meals throughout the day and evening for a total of about 7-11 meals per day. This type of feeding schedule generally is not practical for a pet mini-pig owner; therefore, pet pigs should have their daily ration divided into a minimum of 2-3 feedings, if possible. When fed appropriately, they should finish each meal completely and not leave leftover food. If a pig does not routinely finish meals, it is likely being overfed. Extremes in environmental temperature may make a pig consume less than normal. Pigs that normally finish their meals and suddenly stop doing so may be sick and should be examined by your veterinarian.
A mini-pig’s base diet should consist of a commercially available, nutritionally balanced pelleted chow formulated for mini-pigs. Different formulations are available based on the life stage of your pig and whether it is newly born (a “starter,” up to about 7 weeks of age), young and growing (a “grower,” about 8-16 weeks of age), a fully-grown adult (“maintenance age,” or greater than a year old), or breeding or lactating. Newborn piglets are generally bottle fed commercially available milk replacer for piglets and given starter food until about seven weeks of age, when they are weaned completely on to solid food. All pigs, even nursing piglets, should be offered fresh water daily.
"A mini-pig’s base diet should consist of a commercially available, nutritionally balanced pelleted chow formulated for mini-pigs."
In addition to pelleted pig chow, mini-pigs may be fed small amounts of other foods, including fresh or frozen vegetables and small amounts of fruit. Pelleted food should be offered first to the pig to help ensure it is consuming a balanced diet. Celery, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens may be offered; starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, should be limited, as should canned vegetables that may be high in salt. Fruits such as apples, grapes, and pears, can be fed as well, but in moderation due to their high sugar content. Mini-pigs also should be offered hay to increase their dietary fiber content. If it is available for them to graze on, fresh untreated grass also increases dietary fiber and water consumption by pigs.
How much should I feed my mini-pig each day?
The exact amount of pelleted food to feed depends on the brand being fed; most brands give general feeding recommendations calculated from their caloric content. In general, adult pigs should be fed a daily amount (including the pelleted ration and other foods) equivalent to approximately 2% of their body weight. Many pigs will willingly consume more than this amount if given the opportunity; if they are fed more than 2%, they will become obese and develop arthritis and other health problems.
What should I not feed my mini-pig?
Foods that are potentially toxic to pigs and that should be avoided include:
- salty foods (such as chips and pretzels)
- caffeinated items (such as coffee, tea, and chocolate)
- large amounts of breakfast cereals (especially those that contain high-phosphorus containing wheat bran that can disrupt the pig’s calcium and phosphorus balance or those that have high sodium content that can induce a condition called salt poisoning in pigs)
- un-pitted stone fruits (such as peaches and nectarines that contain pits that can lodge in the intestines)
- unshelled nuts (which have shells that can pierce the lining of the mouth and esophagus).
"Pigs are very intelligent and easily learn how to open cabinet and refrigerator doors."
Cat and dog foods should not be fed to pigs, as they are too high in protein. Pigs are very intelligent and easily learn how to open cabinet and refrigerator doors; therefore, pig-proofing (akin to child-proofing) your kitchen is typically required if you have a pig in your home.
Can I give my mini-pig treats?
Treats such as small pieces of succulent fruits or vegetables may be offered once or twice a day and are best used as rewards in training. Pigs are food-motivated and learn better when offered edible treats than when they are disciplined. Treats should be limited however, as excess treat-feeding may lead to aggression from pigs that typically act dominant, demanding treats, and to obesity if offered too frequently. If your pig acts aggressively around food, or if you are noticing excessive weight gain (as indicated by rolls of fat), be sure to contact your veterinarian for specific feeding recommendations.
Can I feed multiple mini-pigs together?
Pigs can become very aggressive when it comes to eating and will frequently compete with other pigs for food. Fighting amongst pigs fed together is not uncommon and ultimately leads to the dominant pig’s consuming most of the meal. In general, pigs should be fed separately to ensure that submissive animals eat enough.