Pig farmers who want to feed their pigs organically have plenty of options. Natural Pig Farming (NPF) indicates that pigs are omnivorous, and they are somewhat opportunistic in terms of what they will eat. As such, they will be less particular about what they are fed than many other farm animals or domesticated animals.
Organic Pig Feed Options
There's plenty of demand for organic pig feed since many farmers are interested in raising pigs that are as healthy as possible. There's a large market for all organic food products, including pork products. Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) indicates that livestock feed that complies with CNG standards is often hard to locate, and people in certain areas may spend a lot of money on shipping costs.
There will be some companies that supposedly specialize in organic pig feed aren't actually selling genuinely organic feed, which has to be acknowledged. Ordering pig feed online is much more difficult than ordering food for pets online. Pig feed is a niche item. The price of organic pig feed is going to vary greatly depending upon the shipping costs involved, which will vary from company to company.
Finding Recommended Companies
CNG has a directory available for organic feed suppliers. Pig farmers and other livestock farmers can consult with lists like these to locate the suppliers that are most convenient for them. CNG also recommends other directories for organic pig feed, including the directories available through the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) and the United States Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (NOP).
Nature's Best Organic Feeds
The CNG lists Nature's Best Organic Feeds (NBOF) as a rare supplier that operates on a national level for the United States. They have one type of swine feed available: the Nature's Best Organic 16% Sow and Hog Pellet. The primary ingredients of this feed are wheat, corn, wheat middlings, and soybean meal, along with an extensive list of added vitamins and minerals and soybean oil, as the NBOF website indicates.
Green Mountain Feeds
The CNG also recommends Green Mountain Feeds (GMF), which is widely available across the Northeastern region of the United States. The Organic Pig Grower Pellets from GMF are made from organic whole grain barley, organic corn, organic soybean meal, organic soybean oil, and organic wheat middlings, along with all of their supplemental vitamins.
When purchasing organic pig feed, farmers should try to keep the feed in airtight containers away from moisture to stop them from spoiling prematurely. Many types of non-organic feed contain preservatives that slow down spoilage, but organic pig feed will not. However, pigs tend to consume pig feed rapidly enough that this problem may not alway present itself.
Other Ways Of Feeding Pigs Organically
There are plenty of organic farmers that want to pursue alternate methods of feeding their pigs. My Healthy Green Family (MHGF) indicates that organic hog feed cost them 24 dollars for every bag, and pigs went through bags of feed very rapidly over the course of their development. MHGF eventually transitioned to letting the pigs root around on the pasture while feeding them with organic vegetable trimmings and stale certified organic bread. Many farmers traditionally fed pigs on the scraps from their own meals, and people that eat certified organic food themselves can more or less do something similar today.
Nutritional Needs of Pigs
The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (UNUT) has outlined different guidelines for feeding organic pigs. The UNUT recommends daily supplements of roughage for all pigs, but that lactating sows, growing pigs, dry sows and boars, nursing and newly weaned piglets, and finishing pigs will all have different dietary needs. The diets that the UNUT recommends for pigs will revolve around the following materials, although some pigs will require more of these materials than others:
- Expeller or full fat soya meal
The UNUT indicates that people can create home mixed diets based on these ingredients. Lactating sows will need more of almost everything, but in many cases, the UNUT has guidelines for how much of each ingredient pigs should receive at different life stages. The UNUT also has guidelines about the sorts of foods to keep to a minimum when feeding pigs, such as corn gluten feed. MHGF also avoids giving pigs too much corn.
Making Organic Pig Feed
Organic farmers can certainly produce their own pig feed with the right ingredients. The Organic Farmer (OF) has included formulas for pig feed as well as feeding guidelines. The UNUT also goes into suggestions for home mixed diets for pigs. Both guides are good resources for farmers looking to make their own pig feed.
The ingredients for a possible formula for pig feed include:
- 48 kilograms of wheat
- 12 kilograms of peas
- 8.5 kilograms of bonemeal
- 12 kilograms of pollard
- 12.5 kilograms of expeller soya meal or full fat soya meal
- 125 grams of salt
- 150 grams of vitamin supplement
Preparation and Feeding
The OF indicates that these ingredients can be blended in a specialized feed mixer, so the actual preparation is simple. Different pigs will have different needs when it comes to feed, and this recipe will create approximately 95 kilograms worth of pig feed. The OF indicates that a gilt needs three kilograms of feed daily, a sow with suckling piglets needs six kilograms, and boars need as much as four kilograms a day.
This recipe could satisfy the needs of a wide range of pigs, so the number of pigs that this recipe will feed will depend on the pig population of a given farm. As an estimation, this recipe could feed about 30 pigs.
Farmers can also be somewhat flexible when it comes to the ingredients. The OF uses maize germ instead of wheat and barley to provide carbohydrates for the pig. The OF places a great deal of emphasis on lysine and zinc, and the UNUT emphasizes calcium, so farmers need to make sure that those nutrients are represented in the vitamin supplements that they choose. Ali's Organics & Garden Supply indicates that bone meal and fish bone meal aren't especially different, at least from the standpoint of nutrition. Most organic farmers should be able to meet the needs of their pigs.
Raising Organic Pigs
Organic livestock is part of sustainable organic agriculture. Raising pigs on organic diets is certainly practical. To a certain extent, the farmers that go in this direction are going to be returning to more traditional ways of farming. In other respects, their farming methods could not be more modern.