- opportunist: will eat almost anything
- food is varied and high in fiber: grass, roots, tubers, invertebrates, nuts, berries
- eat vertebrates: frogs, snakes, turtles, young birds, eggs, small rodents
- takes long time to find and consume
- foraging done at ground level: sniffing, rooting, chewing, eating
- spring / summer: forage in open grassland/ marshland
- autumn: forage in woodland: nuts, berries
- will forage for several hours a day, normally in early morning and late afternoon time parts
- eat considerable amounts of food high in natural fiber
- prefer to eat together as a group at the same time rather than individually at different times
Natural pig farming provides bulking vegetables that:
- provides natural food to pigs
- provides vitamins naturally
- provides bulk / fiber / starch / stomach fill, eliminating pig hunger pangs
- offers texture and variety of food
Todays pig producers seem to have completely lost sight of the fact that pigs are naturally grazing and rooting animals. Pigs in their natural environment seek nutrition from fresh green vegetation of all types, grubs and insects, and from mineral matter within the soil. Prior to modern factory farming intensification pig producers catered for these necessary feed needs through ensuring access to pasture and the provision of fresh greens and crops for the pig. Indeed pasture and fodder crop management was a key aspect of pig raising.
The factory farming mentality focuses on providing the essential nutrition pigs need to grow at the lowest possible cost. Such feed is designed for the fast growth, low cost needs of producers. It tends to be:
- over-protein base
- often contains added anti-biotics to promote faster growth and disease protection
- totally alien to pigs natural diet
- lacking in bulk / poor stomach fill resulting in hunger
- lacking in variety: same feed day in day out
The pigs natural diet in wide and varied in taste and texture. Whilst the pigs desire to eat almost anything has often been derided in popular culture, the fact remains that the pigs enjoy eating a wide variety of food stuffs. They have a wider palette for different taste sensations than almost any other animal and they clearly enjoy fresh and cooked food of almost every kind. It is therefore doubly cruel that their diet has been replaced with a monotonous processed powder that provides little variation in taste or format.
A major issue is the fact that these processed powder feeds lack the capacity to provide stomach fill. The type of feed and amount of feed simply isn't sufficient to give the pig a sense of being full. This situation is worsened by the feeding practices of factory farm producers. To maximise the feed : weight gain ratio feed is limited to the minimum required to most efficiently add weight growth to the pig. The result is that pigs, especially sows and boars, who are put in restrictive diets, are in a constant state of hunger (go to Fight for pig welfare for more details). But you don't need scientific reports to be aware of this. Visit any pig raising operation using the factory farm mentality and you will see sties totally devoid of any sign of food. Every last grain has been eaten, It's a clear sign that the pigs are very hungry.
Factory farms also increasingly ignore the fact that it is in a pig's natural behavior is to feed twice a day, once in the early morning and once in the late afternoon / early evening. Many factory farms use an ad libum feed allowance system (where pigs are given a set amount of food that can be accessed at any time through automated feeders). This often results in sows, who are fed highly restricted quantities of feed, eating all of their allowance for feed in one go, normally in the morning and then spend the rest of the day hungry until the next days feeding.