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Feeding Pot Bellied Pigs

Proper Diet Important to Health of Pet Pigs

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Pot bellied pigs generally have voracious appetites and will eat nearly anything that you offer them. Unfortunately they are also very prone to obesity which can lead to foot and joint problems as well as other health problems. In addition to the health implications they can also become very persistent and pesky beggars and can even learn to open the refrigerator in their search for tasty treats. Feeding the proper diet, limiting treats and developing a feeding routine can help prevent problems.

Pot bellied pigs need a good quality diet that is high in fiber and low in calories. Ideally, a food formulated specifically for pot bellied pigs or mini pigs should be fed, and these can now be found at some feed stores and pet stores. If your local store doesn't carry these diets they may be able to order them in for you, or you could also check to see if your veterinarian can order them. Here are some examples of pot bellied pig diets:

If you feed a commercial food meant for farmed pigs make sure you choose a maintenance ration - especially avoid the grower and finisher type foods which are meant for optimum growth and are too rich for pot bellied pigs. The

Young piglets can be fed a commercial pig starter diet, but only up to about 2-3 months of age.

As a rule, in non-breeding adults feed about 1/2 cup of maintenance food per 25 pounds of the pig's weight (so a 75 pound pig would get 1 1/2 cups of food). The total amount should be divided into 2 meals a day. However, this amount is a guideline and should be adjusted based on the pig's body condition. If the pig is developing rolls of fat around the face and you have a hard time feeling the hip bones, the pig is becoming obese and should be fed less. Conversely, if the pig feels skinny you should feed more. Piglets up to 6 weeks of age can be fed starter ration free choice (as much as they want) but from 6 weeks to 3 months gradually limit the starter food down to about 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day. Nearing 3 months, make the gradual change to the adult diet.

In addition to the formulated diet, you can feed a good variety of fresh vegetables to make up about 25% of the pig's diet. Foods such as celery, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, potatoes and some greens are good choices (but try to limit the starchy vegetables like potatoes). Some fruits can be feed as well but only in moderation due to the high sugar content. Most pigs love treats like apples, grapes and raisins, but these are good to reserve as treats to be used in training.

Pigs should also be allowed opportunity to root in soil and graze on grass (not treated with chemicals or fertilizer). Pigs are susceptible to selenium deficiency but in most areas if they are allowed to graze and root in the soil they will get enough. If you live in an area with soil deficient in selenium you may need a mineral supplement. Check with your veterinarian for advice on this.

Extra fiber can be provided by feeding hay (e.g. alfalfa), and some experts recommend adding bran to the diet. In summary:

  • feed a diet specifically made for pot bellied pigs if possible
  • do not overfeed - never feed as much as they will eat since pigs have voracious appetites
  • do not feed dog or cat food (much too high in protein)
  • avoid fatty foods, particularly animal fats
  • absolutely avoid chocolate or salty snacks
  • ensure plenty of fresh water is always available
  • do not give into begging or your pig is likely to become a pest and beg constantly
  • do not feed directly from the fridge or your pig may quickly become an expert at opening the fridge
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