There’s this perception that pigs can eat anything and while they might be tempted to eat whatever is set in front of them, as a responsible pet owner, you should be aware of the many foods that pigs in fact cannot eat. In this pig feeding guide, we’ll go over what foods to avoid.
What not to feed a pig: Pigs are pretty good about knowing what is toxic for them to eat but you can never be too careful. While you should give your pigs fresh vegetables and the occasional fruit, not all of this is healthy. Avoid the seeds from apples as well as fruit tree leaves. Broccoli is a portion of good food but doesn’t feed the roots or seeds from it. When getting pigs for the first time, ensure there are no ivy or buttercup plants as these are toxic. Finally, remove any rusted tools as this can cause lead poisoning, and drain any forgotten ponds so that toxic algae doesn’t form.
What foods are toxic to pigs
Apples are a great treat for pigs. Not only are they naturally sweet but they provide good amounts of vitamins and plenty of fiber.
However, when you are chopping up an apple for your pig, be sure to cut around the seeds. While a seed or two may not be too detrimental, they are quite toxic in large doses so it is best to always avoid apple seeds.
Another treat for pigs is tomatoes. They are soft and easy to eat, and there is enough natural sweetness to them to count as a treat.
However, while you can feed your pig a whole tomato, you should be careful about the leaves. Always remove tomato leaves as these can be toxic for your pigs.
Furthermore, be sure to remove the tomatoes from vines as these are also toxic. A few extra steps will lead to a safe treat for your pig.
Although you would need to consume a lot of green potatoes for them to be toxic, nonetheless, it is a good habit to avoid them altogether. Green potatoes arise after your potatoes are exposed to extra sunlight.
As the potato warms, the toxin inside of it, solanine, increases. While a small amount of solanine is fine for consumption, in large doses it can cause nausea and even neurological problems.
Broccoli roots and seeds
Giving your pet pig a diet rich in vegetables is important. These vegetables have vitamins and minerals that will keep your pig nice and healthy.
Broccoli is a favorite and pigs love its crunchy texture. However, you should avoid feeding your pig any roots or seeds from the broccoli plant.
The good news is that if you purchase broccoli from the grocery store, these are naturally removed. If you grab broccoli from your garden, just make sure to remove the roots and harvest it before it goes to seed.
Avocado skin and pit
Rich in good fats, avocado will help your pig’s skin stay a luscious texture. While you shouldn’t feed your pig a lot of avocados, the occasional treat is healthy.
When serving avocado to your pig, be sure to remove the flesh from its skin. Unfortunately, the skin of an avocado can be toxic to pigs.
Furthermore, always remove the pit. Not only is this also toxic but it can prove to be a dangerous choking hazard.
Fruit tree leaves
In the summer, when fruit abounds, giving your pig a tasty treat is a must. Just remember that this fruit has plenty of natural sugars, so you shouldn’t give too much at a time.
When feeding fruit to your pigs, only feed them the fruit part and not the leaves. Unfortunately, many fruit tree leaves are indeed toxic.
These include pear leaves, plum leaves, apricot leaves, and cherry leaves.
What plants are toxic to pigs
Pigs have a way of getting into mischief and they may be tempted to scout around their surroundings in search of a hidden feast. To this end, you should be aware of what plants you have in your garden and if they are accessible to your pigs.
Often grown on fences or the backs of houses, ivy is a nice cover and can provide an extra screen of privacy and noise dampening. However, it is toxic to pigs so you should remove it.
The good news is that pigs are pretty intelligent and are good about avoiding the leaves of ivy, which are poisonous. However, they may still munch on the stems and while this won’t cause any damage to the pigs, it may ruin your ivy growth.
Cute and prominent in a lot of grassy areas, buttercups are a natural indication that summer is on its way. However, while humans may love the sight of buttercups, they can actually be toxic to pigs.
Buttercups are part of the ranunculus family of plants and when you chew them, they can release a toxin that will blister your mouth.
This is quite serious because pigs are natural lovers of pasture. If they are let out into a field of grass, they will happily munch for hours.
Be sure to inspect your pasture for signs of buttercups and remove them right away.
While the bay laurel plant is not toxic, the laurel plant is, for both humans and animals. And although humans are good at not eating plants, pigs may forget themselves.
Laurel plants are often used as small hedges and borders and are pretty common. You should either plant these in an area where your pig can’t access them or find a different plant for the purpose.
Other Pig Toxins to be Wary
You may be wondering about the inclusion of algae since pigs are land-based animals. However, algae can quickly grow on stagnant water, such as old ponds and even forgotten water dishes.
Pigs need water in addition to food and as they explore their surroundings, they may be tempted to refresh themselves at an old pond.
Unfortunately, algae are very toxic to pigs. They can start to vomit, cough, froth at the mouth, and even have muscle tremors.
The onset of symptoms is almost immediate and if a pig consumes too many algae, the consequences can be dire. Always inspect your pig’s environment and clean up any slow-moving waters, especially when it is very warm out.
Fortunately, lead is not a common addition to many objects anymore. But while new tools won’t have lead in them, old, forgotten tools can and there are usually plenty of these on any farm.
Pigs may get into an old shed, lick a wall painted with lead paint, or test out the rust on an old shovel.
You may even inadvertently be leaking lead into the soil your pig plays in. If you have inherited an old farm or it’s been a while, you should conduct a thorough investigation of any outbuildings and do a deep purge of old tools.
You can also perform a soil sample to ensure no lead or other toxins are in your soil. Monitor your pig for symptoms such as a lack of appetite or convulsions, as these are symptoms of lead poisoning.
Pesticides, Rodenticides, Herbicides
Hopefully, you are aware of the dangers of pesticides. Even though you may need these harsh chemicals to ward off weeds or pests, they can spread to other food sources for pigs and be then ingested.
No matter how careful you are, pesticides and the like can blow away on the wind so even if you spray away from where your pig habitat is, they can still be affected.
Try your best to use other methods like these that can be fatal to your pigs and any other animal on your farm.
Hopefully, you live in an area where there are no poisonous snakes but if you do, you should familiarize yourself with what kinds they are and how long you have to find treatment.
Signs of a snake bite include swelling of the area, bleeding, rapid heart rate, and a staggering appearance. Take your pig to a vet immediately if this happens.
Proper Pig Diet – What to Feed Pigs
Now that we’ve covered what not to feed your pigs, it’s time to cover what you should feed them.
Most of your pig’s diet, about 80 percent of it, should be in the form of pig pellets. This will be a mixture of whole grains and vitamins that will ensure your pig is healthy.
The remaining 20 percent should be a mixture of healthy vegetables. You can feed your pigs specific vegetables or the leftover scraps as you cut up your own vegetables.
If you would like to treat your pig, stick to fruit as it has natural sugars that are very sweet. However, your pig shouldn’t have too much fruit as too much can cause a change in behavior as well as weight gain.
Pigs need a diet of specific pig pellets as well as fresh vegetables. Be sure to avoid toxic food, such as fruit tree leaves, apple seeds, and even avocado skins. Also be aware of toxic plants such as ivy, buttercups, and laurel.