“How much should my pig be eating?” A question many pig farmers ask. The two most important parts of your pigs’ nutrition is the proper type and amount of feed and a fresh, clean water source. Knowing how to use supplements for added fat, muscle, body, joint protection, etc. are all very valuable tools, however making sure your pig has a healthy digestive system and is consuming their basic feed ration and daily water intake will get you a long way down the road to success.
You can monitor the amount of feed your pig is eating and know exactly the amount they are consuming. The right amount of total feed to provide will change throughout the season and is dependent on factors such as appetite, size, and the physical traits and weight you’re targeting.
Pig feed should be of high quality to ensure the pigs grow to the desired weight for the market.
Young pigs do not take much in terms of solid feed because they get all their nutritional needs from their mothers’ milk. To ensure piglets get enough milk from suckling during the early stages of growth, farmers should give the sows adequate and balanced feed to ensure they produce adequate milk for the piglets. At three weeks after farrowing (birth), the farmer should castrate all male piglets and start to train them to eat solid feeds. Suckling piglets should also have their sharp teeth clipped, three days after farrowing to prevent them causing injury to their mother during suckling.
Assuming a farmer has 10 piglets to feed, they can isolate a creep area (housing for young ones) where their mother cannot reach and put in 50g of feed per piglet per day. Observe the feeding daily; if you see the feed reducing, add another 50g for each into their feeding trough to make it 1kg. At 5 weeks (35 to 42 days) add another 50g per piglet to make it 150g. The piglets should always have access to their mother in case they want to suckle. They should also have access to clean water at all times.
At 6 weeks, each piglet should be getting 200g of feed per week. If they finish the feed, keep on adding an extra 50g per piglet daily. During the feeding process, the farmer should weigh the pigs weekly (a healthy pig at this stage should add at least 900g per day). If there is an increase in weight at this rate, it means that the pigs are growing well. Weaners should be given dry feed at all times to prevent scouring or diarrhoea. Give adequate clean water at all times.
At 14 weeks, the pigs will require additional feed; the farmer can give 1.4kg of extra feed per pig per day. In addition, the farmer should continue giving the 50g of feed as they were doing before. Divide the pig feed into three equal portions:
A wet ration in the morning at 7 am (feed mixed with water), a dry feed at noon (feed with no water) and a final wet feed (feed mixed with water) at 4 pm. A well-fed porker pig should add an extra 300g of weight per day (weigh them regularly and record their weight to monitor their growth).
At 22 weeks, the pigs (now called baconers) require a higher feed ration as they are about to attain the market liveweight of between 80-90kg. At this stage the farmer should give them 2.5 – 2.75kg of feed per pig per day. From 23 weeks, the feed should be increased to 3kg (1kg of wet feed in the morning, 1kg of dry feed at noon and 1kg of wet feed at 4pm). If well managed at this stage pigs can attain up to 100kg in 5 months.
At this stage the farmers can now do selection of the pigs to determine those that can go to the abbattoir for slaughter, young female pigs (gilts) can be served and sold to interested farmers while others can be retained for breeding as sows. The boars (male pigs) can also be sold or retained for breeding purposes (be careful to ensure the pig does not serve its daughters or related pigs to avoid inbreeding). A well-managed baconer should add an extra 900g to 1000g (1 kg) per day.
Sows need special attention in feeding. A sow’s yield can be as high as 16-17 litres of milk per day. To produce this amount of milk, a sow has to be well fed, both for body maintenance and milk production. A sow with piglets that are suckling requires 6 kilogrammes of feed every day or an amount of feed that is equal to 25 % of her body weight.
The feeding should be divided into 3 rations (2kg of wet feed in the morning, 2kg of dry feed at noon and 2kg of wet feed at 4pm). Like other pigs, sows should be given adequate and clean water at all times.
A female pig that is not yet served (gilts) should be given at least 3kg of feed per day. The farmer can supplement this with any other available feed in addition to this ration to keep them in good shape in terms of health and reproduction.
Male pigs (boars) should not be given a lot of feed. If given more feed, they tend to put more weight and this compromises their fertility. A boar should be given 3 to 4 kg of feed per day. Some farmers give less or even starve them in order to reduce fattening. Give them clean water at all times.
Pig feed formulation
Feed formulation is not easy especially for small-scale farmers due to lack of raw materials and the technical knowledge on how to prepare their own feeds. For farmers keeping a few pigs, we would advise that they buy feeds from reputable companies who are known to make quality feeds. However, such farmers can reduce their feed costs considerably if they can formulate supplementary feeds like sweet potato vines.
However, for farmers who want to keep many pigs, say, between 500 to 1000 pigs, it makes economic sense to make their own feeds as long as they can get the right raw materials for feed formulation. Below, we give farmers two methods they can use to make pig feed in order to reduce their feed costs:
Quality of a good Pig Food:
- Pig food must be fresh and not stale.
- It must be well process and packaged.
- The digestibility of the feed must be high.
- The feed must support optimum growth and development of pig.
- The feed must be palatable.
- The ingredients for the feed must be available at all time.
- The feed must be affordable.
- The feed must be balanced in Nutrients.
- It must be attractive and palatable to the pig
- It must not be mouldy.
What makes up the pig’s feed:
- Fat and Oil.