Feeding in practice

 

Natural pig farming feeds wet + dry mix or feeds dry mix but with fresh greens fed separately. Main feed times are morning and late afternoon / early evening. In-between fresh feed in the form of grass, leaves, vegetables are occasionally fed. Whilst the main meals are always fed from the trough fresh feed and pig feed pellets are often scattered on the pen floor bedding. This allows for

  • feeding to take place over a wider area limiting potential aggression
  • fosters your pigs natural foraging behavior
  • helps to keep the pigs meaningfully and happily occupied over a longer period of time than if just served in a trough. This is especially true when scattering pig feed pellets on the flooring. Once the majority have been found and eaten there is always others still to be sniffed out.

Natural pig farming wet + dry feed mix

Our standard feed mix in one that is made up of dry elements and wet elements. The dry elements consist mainly of agri-business by product powders whilst the wet elements consists of fresh greens that go through a short pickling process. Making up our own pig feed significantly saves lots money v buying in pre-made pig feed and allows us to add much needed fiber and bulk to the feed. (Photograph on left shows banana tree trunks being cut up)

 

The dry element

  • rice husk powder 
  • yellow soya bean
  • sweet corn
  • chicken powder
  • red soil
  • vitamins(optional)
  • salt

This is mixed with the wet element:

  • pickled banana tree trunks / wild Chinese water lettuce, water lilies etc.
Your eyes don’t deceive you. Yes, we add in red soil – this keeps the pigs digestive tracts healthy, and provides natural iron, vitamin D and trace elements necessary for a pig’s health. It’s also very low cost. In addition we also throw red soil into the pig sty every now and again for the pigs to eat. They love it.

Pigs also enjoy charcoal, ash form wood fires and salt – all which provide minerals and trace elements the pigs clearly want judging from the enthusiasm they eat these substances.

 

The wet fresh mix is cut up into small chunks / lengths 3 days before mixing: It is put into containers in compressed layers. Each layer has salt and sugar added. This is pickled to produce a kind of silage, which we mix in with the dry mix.

 

Adding water to feed

Pig operators tend to have differing opinions of whether adding water to pig feed when feeding is necessary or desirable. Many factory farms will simply feed dry feed dry with no added moisture, whilst others have automated liquid feed systems that mix fluid and dry mix to a pre programmed consistency (usually 3 parts water to 1 part dry feed). Whilst both methods are fine, on balance we err on the side that feeding feed with the addition of water is preferable for the following reasons:

  • Getting sufficient water is very important to a pig’s health and growth and so consumption of fluid should be encouraged. Between one-half to two-thirds of a pigs body weight is water.
  • Feed with low moisture is an abnormality in the real world. Virtually everything we eat contains between 60-80% moisture and we still drink liquids separately in addition. However, dry pig feed only contains only 15% moisture. Not surprisingly this makes it extremely difficult to eat, as anyone who has eaten a dry cracker or cereal without milk will appreciate. It is noticeable that if water is not added to feed the pigs will leave the trough at intervals during feed time to drink water before returning to continue eating. That seems pretty tangible evidence that feed without added water is dryer than a pig would preferably want.
  • Feed with added water facilitates successful weaning of piglets from the mother sow. Dry feed creates a big hurdle for piglets who from birth are given a natural liquid diet by the mother sow that is highly palatable, highly nutritious and highly digestible, and then abruptly separated from the mother and given liquid-free dry feed. Not only are they going from one extreme to another, not only is the dry feed taste and texture is so different, but the feed is so dry it is hard to swallow. Inevitably this leads to an adjustment period where fed intake is less than optimum and that there is a slight stalling of growth rates until the piglets have adapted to the new feed. 
  • Pigs will eat higher quantities of feed with water thereby reaching slaughter weight sooner than dry feed only systems.  
  • Subjectively, it seems to me that pigs seem to eat the feed mixed with water more enthusiastically.

The system of adding water we use is quite simple but effective. Dry feed is dispensed into the trough and then water is added from a watering can. We often add more water once the initial water has been absorbed so that there is no dry powder observable.

 

The better way to raise pigs