Feeding Your Mini-Pig

By Gregory Rich, DVM; Laurie Hess, DVM

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 is usually not practical for a pet mini-pig owner, so pet pigs should have their total daily ration divided into a minimum of 2–3 feedings.

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 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. Mazuri®, Heartland, and Ross Mill Farm offer reputable mini-pig diets recommended by many veterinarians and mini-pig breeders. Different formulations are available based on your pig’s life stage: newly born (a “starter,” up to about seven 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.

"A mini-pig’s base diet should consist of a commercially available, nutritionally balanced, pelleted chow formulated for mini-pigs."

Newborn piglets are generally bottle-fed commercially available milk replacer for piglets and given starter food until about seven weeks of age. After seven weeks of age, they are weaned on to solid food. All pigs, even nursing piglets, should be offered fresh water daily. It is also recommended to offer several feeding stations to make sure your mini-pig moves around to look for food.

In addition to pelleted pig chow, mini-pigs may be fed small amounts of other foods, including fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit. Pelleted food should be offered first, to help ensure the pig consumes 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. Canned vegetables are not recommended as they are generally 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 fresh hay, such as timothy, orchard grass hay, or brome hay (bromegrass), to increase their dietary fiber content. Fresh, untreated grass also increases dietary fiber and water consumption by pigs, if it is available for them to graze on.

"Pigs naturally forage for food, so providing foraging toys or rooting stations is recommended."

Pigs naturally forage for food, so providing foraging toys or rooting stations is recommended. A foraging toy, like a Manna Ball, allows food items to trickle out as the pig rolls the ball around. You can fill a wading pool or children’s pool with medium-sized, smooth rocks and hide food items in it. These pools must be washed out weekly as they will become soiled with urine and saliva.

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. This amounts to roughly 1 cup of pelleted food per 23 kg (50 pounds) of body weight. Many pigs willingly consume more than this amount if given the opportunity. However, if they are fed more than 2%, they will likely become obese, develop arthritis, and encounter other health problems.

Pigs root around with their nose, so heavy ceramic bowls are recommended for food and water. It is essential to clean the food and water bowls daily, as pigs are messy eaters.

What foods are harmful to my mini-pig?

Foods that are potentially toxic to pigs and should be avoided include:

  • Canned fruits or vegetables, as they contain too much salt.
  • Commercial hog foods. These diets are meant to provide rapid growth in a relatively short time.
  • Salty foods, such as chips and pretzels.
  • Caffeinated items, such as coffee, tea, and chocolate.
  • Large amounts of breakfast cereals, especially those that contain wheat bran, which can disrupt the pig’s calcium and phosphorus balance, or those with high sodium content, which can induce a condition called salt poisoning in pigs.
  • Un-pitted stone fruits, such as peaches and nectarines, which contain pits that can lodge in the intestines.
  • Un-shelled nuts, which have shells that can pierce the lining of the mouth and esophagus.

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 cabinets and refrigerator doors, so it is usually necessary to pig-proof your kitchen (akin to childproofing) 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, once they understand that responding to commands will be rewarded with a nutritious treat. Treats should be limited, however, as excess treat-feeding may lead to pigs demanding treats, aggression (from pigs that typically act dominant), and obesity.

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 eating and frequently compete with other pigs for food. Fighting among pigs fed together is not uncommon and ultimately leads to the dominant pig consuming most of the meal. In general, pigs should be fed separately to ensure that submissive animals eat enough.

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