Getting started with pigs – 5

Feed your pigs correctly and you’ll have efficient reproduction and
growth as well as good quality meat.

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Boars, pregnant sows and three- to 10-week-old piglets each eat a different ration and must be fed the correct quantity of the right mixture of digestible energy, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Feed mixtures
Four different mixtures must be used (see Table 1).

Mixture 1: Boars and dry/pregnant sows

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  • Feed the boar 2kg/day of Mixture 1. If he stays lean, give him a little extra every day. Feed slightly less if the boar gets too fat.
  • Between the time sows wean their piglets until their next farrowing, provide mixture 1 at 2kg/day.
  • As with the boar, watch the sow’s weight and increase or decrease the quantity of feed slightly as necessary.

Mixture 2: Sows (lactating) and suckling piglets

  • The sow should lose as little weight as possible while suckling her litter so that she remains in good condition until the end of her lactation. This will ensure she comes on heat within seven days after weaning with an excellent chance of producing a big litter.
  • On the day the piglets are born, sows are usually not interested in eating. Provide 2kg of mixture 2 the following day and gradually increase the quantity up to the maximum amount about seven days after farrowing.
  • The maximum amount fed will depend on the number of piglets in the litter.
  • A sow in good condition should be fed 2kg plus 0,4kg per piglet in the litter. This means that a sow with 10 piglets should receive at least 6kg a day.
  • Feed the sow more than the recommended quantity if she’s willing to eat more, to prevent weight loss during lactation.
  • The daily quantity of feed can be provided in two equal portions, mixed with water, early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Sows eat more feed when it’s mixed with water.

READ MORE: Helping small-scale pig farming 

Mixture 3: Young pigs

  • This mixture is fed to piglets from the time they start eating at three weeks until they’re about 10 weeks old and weigh between 25kg and 30kg.
  • Always feed it dry, and make sure the trough is placed where the sow can’t reach it. It must be freely available to the piglets, as they must now eat as much as possible to ensure quick growth.

Mixture 4: Growing pigs

  • Fast-growing pigs will produce a good quality carcass with a high meat/low fat ratio. They must be fed as much as they’ll eat of mixture 4 from 10 weeks old to slaughter.

Other factors
Fresh, clean water must be available at all times. Aim to keep feed and water as far apart as possible to keep the feed dry.
Finally, it’s very important that feed mixtures meet the protein and energy requirements of the specific production class. Never change the feedstuffs or the quantities used in a mixture without consulting an expert on pig nutrition.

READ MORE: Success with pigs

Mixing feed
It may be cheaper to mix your own feed than to buy it ready mixed. Make sure you follow the correct procedures when mixing your own feed – feed must be accurately weighed and well mixed. Mix the feed with a spade on a hard, smooth, preferably concrete, floor.

If using your own or locally available maize, make sure it’s dry and mould-free, and coarsely ground before mixing it. This requires the addition and thorough mixing of 70% of maize meal to 30% of the bought mixture. Alternatively, if you supply your own maize, you can ask your local feed company to mix in the remaining feeds for you. Doing it this way saves money on transport costs.


Sources: Farming with Pigs (compiled by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture); Guide to Small-Scale Pig Farming, by EH Kemm, (department of agriculture); the South African Pork Producers’ Association (