Home-Raised Pig Feeds

Discover the healthiest and thriftiest pig chow comes from your kitchen scraps, yard weeds, extra produce and cover crops used to homestead.

| March/April 2020

Pigs have always been great animals for small farms. But when you raise pigs on commercial feed, the original $45 to $50 investment in a piglet can escalate into hundreds of dollars. Add in butchering costs, and the price of home-raised meat can quickly reach more than $2 a pound. But pigs haven’t always been such a pricey proposition. The traditional role of pigs on the farmstead was as garbage recyclers. That’s why pigs were always considered the thrifty farmer’s best friend.

Photo by Getty Images/Barbara Cerovsek 

You may have lots of pig food on your homestead that you just haven’t recognized. Most of us are composting, burning, or throwing away materials that our ancestors would’ve seen as premium pig food. With just a little adjustment to your present practices in the garden, kitchen, barn, and pasture, you can take advantage of these sources of pig nutrients.

The Original Piggy Bank

Photo by Masha Dougherty 

Pigs are exceptionally well-adapted to live symbiotically with human beings because, like us, they’re omnivores. They eat what we eat. But pigs are far less particular than humans, and will happily eat all the waste and spoilage from our kitchens, gardens, and dairies. Despite all the corn and soy in commercial pig feed, pigs don’t need either in their diets. Instead, they need proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and micronutrients just like us, and these can be obtained from the farm.

Additionally, pigs are uniquely adapted to take advantage of times when nature produces a lot of good calories. Their adjustable metabolisms let them enjoy seasons of boom and bust. They’ll happily “pig out” when there’s plenty on the table, storing huge quantities of whatever nutrients are available. Then, when times are leaner, they can drop back to a maintenance ration, waiting comfortably until the next period of plenty. This makes them a huge benefit to the farmer or homesteader with seasonal surges of production in the garden, orchard, and dairy. With a pig on the farm, waste is no longer a burden. All of our surplus calories become delectable pork.

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