While we may think we know a lot about pigs, when it comes to raising them, there may be plenty of gaps in our knowledge. This includes whether pigs can eat hay, and what other types of food to feed them.
Do pigs eat hay: Pigs need a nutritious diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals in order for them to grow into their hulking size. From spring to fall, they will happily eat grass but during wintertime, when this becomes unavailable, most farmers will switch to hay. It’s best to introduce hay into a pig’s diet from an early age so that they become used to the texture. You can also add a bit of molasses to the hay in order to encourage your pig to try it. Make hay about half your pig’s diet with the rest of it made up of other grains and fresh vegetables.
What is hay?
First, let’s start by defining what exactly we are talking about. Hay is dried grass, although it can also contain dried legumes and other plants that grow in between the long grass.
Hay is very different than straw and the two are not interchangeable. While hay is a complete product, straw is a byproduct of grain and therefore does not contain enough nutrients to be used as food for animals.
Is hay good for pigs?
Yes, hay is good for pigs. The reason is that pigs need a diet that is primarily made up of grass, barley, corn, and wheat.
While you should always try to feed your pigs fresh grass and other grains, in the wintertime this is near impossible. As a result, hay is a solid substitution.
How much hay do you feed a pig?
Knowing how much of a particular food to feed your pigs depends on their size. The larger the pig, the more they will need to eat.
It can be hard to make these calculations as pigs grow fast so it is better to slightly overfeed your pig than to underfeed them as it is growing.
On average, your pig needs about 5 to 7 pounds of food per day. This should be a combination of grains and fresh vegetables.
As for hay, it should be about 2 to 3 pounds of its total food allotment per day. So, between a third and a half of a pig’s diet can be hay.
The only time this may change is during the winter. However, you should still try to include other dried grains as well as vegetables throughout the year.
How to Feed Hay to Pigs
During most of the year, if you let a pig roam around a field of grass, it will naturally start to eat. It seems logical that pigs will then take to eating hay. However, hay has a much different texture and taste than grass, so you may need to help your pig out.
Option 1: Only hay
This is a controversial means of getting your pig to eat hay, so you may not want to go this route. However, you may also be in a position where it is the only option.
At the end of the day, pigs need to eat. If all they have in front of them, they will eventually learn to eat hay, even if they don’t prefer doing so.
Essentially, you may have to starve your pig for a few days before it realizes it needs to eat the hay.
However, this can be mean, especially if it does take your pig a few days to make the connection. Furthermore, pigs need more than just hay so if you go this route, you have to give up other nutritious options for the duration.
Option 2: Make it a sweet treat
Pigs love a good treat and if you show them that hay can taste really good, they will be more willing to eat it.
You can mix your hay with sweet treats such as apples or even pour molasses over the mixture. While you can start with a very sweet mixture, slowly work down so your pig eventually will eat the hay without the addition of extra sugar.
Option 3: Introduce hay at an early age
Often, hay is only introduced during the wintertime, which is often when your pigs are nearing their full size. It can be hard for older pigs to switch to new food.
Instead, start using hay when they are younger and in their grower stage. At this point, your pigs will be constantly hungry as they grow very quickly.
What should you not feed pigs?
We have this idea that pigs can live off of kitchen scraps. Technically this is true but it won’t result in healthy animals.
Pigs should have a diet that also consists of fresh vegetables and the occasional fruit. However, kitchen scraps include much more than this.
Pigs are animals and while they are domesticated, they have origins in the wild. As such, all food should be fresh, whole food, and not processed food.
You should not include cooked food such as bread and pasta. Furthermore, you should never feed them meat. Even though pigs are natural omnivores, and thus will eat both plants and small animals in the wild, the processed meat that we ourselves eat is not suitable for them.
Finally, you can give your pigs fruit to eat as a treat, but this should be minimal. Fruit is high in natural sugars and too much will lead to an unhealthy diet.
Can pigs live on hay alone?
Pigs can technically live on hay alone but they won’t receive enough nutrients from this. Instead, hay should be kept for use in the wintertime and should be given in addition to other grains such as corn and wheat.
Pigs need a diet that consists of grains and fresh vegetables. While grass is an important food source, it is scarce in the wintertime, which is why many farmers choose to feed their pig’s hay.