Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Pigs
It is amazing how much a full grown teacup pig can resemble a human, especially when it comes to their dietary needs and habits. If you have seen baby pigs for sale, are considering purchasing one, but are wondering how big do teacup pigs get, it is best to learn all the facts about their dietary dos and don’ts before claiming them for a pet.
Whether these pet teacup pigs are called pocket nanos, nanos, super micro nanos, regular micro minis, teacup pigs or potbelly pigs, they are all the same. When we refer to humans as petite, stocky, burly, medium-framed, or plump, we are referring to their appearance in size and height. When a human is first born, it is very hard to predict exactly what their size and height will be at adulthood. Medical research has allowed for estimations, but unpredictable variables make it impossible to guarantee exact height and weight. So it is with these mini pet pigs.
When you peruse websites that have pigs for sale, you will notice that the smaller the fully-grown pig, the higher the price. Through cross-breeding, some pig farms have been able to produce smaller and smaller pot belly pigs. The difference in names denotes their estimated range of adult weight. However, potential piggy parents need to know that it is possible for even the smallest piglet to grow up to be a 60-plus pound porker. Some of this unpredictability is due to genetics. So you should know that pigs do not reach full adulthood until they are six years old.
Sometimes, pig pet owners are advised to underfeed their pets in an attempt to keep them within their weight class. This is a cruel and abusive practice that may lead to a pigs early death. Your pig may be bigger than was promised, and this fact is something you should seriously consider before taking on the responsibility as a pet owner.
Pet pigs also grow heavier than promised as a result of three combined forces: the pigs intelligence, its insatiable appetite and its owners inability to properly nourish them. Pigs do not have a thalamus to indicate when the stomach is full, so they will eat constantly. Pigs are notorious for eating everything in sight, and they have a keen sense of smell. Food should be kept out of sight and out of smell. Just like most humans, pigs will choose a high carbohydrate diet of junk food if you let them.
Humans have height/weight charts or the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart to determine ideal weight, but there is no ideal weight for pigs! An easy way to tell if a pig is too fat or skinny is to place your finger on the pigs backbone, right above the hips. The backbone should not be visible, but you should be able to feel it easily without pressing too hard. Inspect the pigs eyes. If there are extra folds surrounding the eye sockets, your pig is overweight.
Being overweight is just as bad for pigs as it is for humans. Since their tiny pig feet are not very big, extra weight makes them prone to bone and joint problems like arthritis. The extra fatty folds around the eyes cause blindness, and extra fat in the ear canals causes deafness. Overweight pigs can have heart problems and are more prone to heat stress. In addition, overweight pigs become lethargic and depressed.
As with humans, bad eating habits are very difficult to correct so it is best to know what food your pet pig must have, what food it can have occasionally and what it absolutely should not have. Follow these guidelines and you will have a healthy, pet pig.
What a Pig Must Have In Their Daily Diet
Miniature pigs must have a combination of specially formulated pig food along with fresh vegetables and fruit. A 75/25 combination of the two includes 75 percent pelleted pig food with a 25 percent combination of fruits and vegetables. Of this 25 percent, two-thirds should be vegetables and one-third should be fruits.
At first, pet piglets should be fed as much as they want. When it grows older, a pig should be fed a half cup of pig feed for every 25 pounds of body weight. For example, a 100-pound pig should be fed 2 cups of pig feed daily. The total amount should be divided into two portions. One portion can be placed out for the pig in the morning and the remaining portion set out mid-afternoon.
Special pig food is sold at most feed stores or pet stores. It can also be ordered online. Be sure to purchase the right formula. A baby pigs feed should contain between 15 to 18 percent protein. For adults, it should contain no more than 16 percent. Any more than these recommended amounts will result in extra poundage.
Pigs have very large stomachs; that is why fiber is an important part of their diet. Ideally, a pig should be outside, free to graze in order to meet its daily intake of fiber. If this is not possible, then fiber will have to come from the vegetables the pig consumes. Vegetables should be low in sugar and high in fiber. Typical vegetables to feed a pig are romaine lettuce, cucumbers and cauliflower. Limit carrots, corn or starchy vegetables as they contain higher levels of sugar which has been known to increase a pigs aggressiveness. This is also why fruits should only be 1/12th of a pigs total daily requirements. Fruits and vegetables should be fresh or frozen without added salt.
With added fiber, copious amounts of water are needed to prevent constipation. Water makes up one-half to two-thirds of a pigs body. Fresh, clean water should be available for pigs to drink whenever they wish. Pigs can survive without food longer than without water.
What Pigs Can Have In Their Daily Diet
Pigs vary in the way they process or metabolize food. If you have a lean piggy, which is eating healthy and can afford to gain a few pounds, you can treat it to extra snacks. However, be careful when providing extra food because you may open a piggy Pandora’s Box of bad-eating habits. You must also keep in mind that salt is very bad for pigs. As long as the following snacks do not have extra salt or are high in sodium, pigs can have:
Some pet owners will hide treats in the grazing area so the pig can practice foraging for food.
What A Pig Should Never Eat
There are certain items that can be toxic to pigs. The level of harm depends on how much is consumed and the pigs tolerance. To be safe, these items should never be part of a pigs diet:
Finally, teacup pigs must have daily exercise. Teacup pigs reap the same benefits from exercise as humans. If your piggy likes to go to the snack trough, then extra exercise should burn off any extra calories. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” certainly applies to pet pig diets; in this case, it is worth a pound of bacon.
- Breakfast cereals low in sugar and sodium
- Unsalted, unbuttered popcorn
- Alfalfa hay
- Unsalted crackers or pretzels
- Made-for-pig apple or peanut butter flavored treats
- Fruit pits or seeds
- Skin of fruits or vegetables which may contain pesticides
- High protein, fatty foods
- Acorns from oak trees
- Certain plants and leaves
- Dog or cat food
- Items high in salt
- Corn husks or cobs
- Table food or scraps