Pig Nutrition | Bailey’s Bit About Nutrition

Pig Nutrition

The most essential items in pig nutrition are energy, protein, and lysine. Pigs need energy to live, grow and reproduce. Pigs need energy just to keep their bodily functions working. The amount of energy needed will vary according to climate, the environment, the age and weight of the pigs, and whether they are breeding or not. For example, during cold weather, pigs use more energy to keep themselves warm. Meaning they have to eat more if they are to keep growing as there is less energy left over for growth compared with springtime because they are using a larger portion of their feed for maintenance. Pigs get all their energy from feed, but not all of it is digestible. Since pigs are monogastric, they do not digest plant fiber well so feeds with high fiber will be less digestible than other ingredients with low fiber. Digestible energy is part of the total energy in the feed. Wheat contains less fiber than barley, so wheat has more digestible energy than barley. By comparison, the digestible energy in fats and oils is very high and pig’s waste has very little derived from them.

Protein is different from energy. Pigs need protein to grow and most importantly, to develop muscle tissue (muscles contain chiefly protein and water). Protein is made up of amino acids, the ‘building blocks’ of protein, linked together in chains. Amino acids contain nitrogen and this is what distinguishes them from other food groups such as fat and carbohydrates. Non-essential amino acids are manufactured in pigs, while essential amino acids must be supplied in the feed. Eventually, the amino acids are combined to make protein in lean muscles, with each type of protein having a strict and specific arrangement of amino acids. In cereal-based diets, the most common diets fed to pigs, the essential amino acids lysine, methionine, tryptophan, threonine, and isoleucine are the most deficient with lysine usually in the shortest supply. Pigs have a high requirement for lysine.

Without enough lysine in the diet, the other amino acids cannot combine correctly to form muscle protein. Some proteins in feed ingredients contain more lysine than others. For example, barley, with 11% crude protein, contains 0.36% of available Lysine. Sorghum testing at 13% crude protein, contains only 0.24% of available lysine. Barley contains more lysine so it is a better-quality grain for pigs. When formulating diets, you need to take account of how the pigs are growing at each stage of their lives. As they grow older, they put on a proportionally greater amount of fat and less lean meat than younger pigs (i.e., lighter pigs have less fat relative to lean meat than heavier pigs). Therefore, younger pigs need a diet higher in amino acids than older pigs so they can grow proportionally more muscle tissue. Young pigs also have a small stomach capacity and need more nutrient-dense diets. Diet specification must also take into account the pig’s age, weight, sex, genotype, and environment.


Product of the Week: “O” Pork Premix

“O” Pork Premix is a complete mineral and vitamin supplement designed to meet the specific nutritional needs of swine. Contains sulfate forms of trace mineral. Includes vitamins A, D3, E and B complex to meet daily vitamin needs of swine.




Pig Facts

+ Newborn piglets learn to respond to their mothers’ voices, and mother pigs communicate with their babies through grunts while nursing.

+ Pigs have no sweat glands so they can’t sweat.

+ Bacon is one of the oldest meats in the world.

+ The average gestation length for most sows is 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days

+ Pigs have 15,000 taste buds, while humans only have 9,000.

+ They can drink up to 14 gallons of water a day

+ Pigs need to eat 3 pounds of feed to gain 1 pound.

+ The average litter size is 7.5 piglets

+ A pig’s sense of smell is about 2000 times more sensitive than humans.

Bailey’s Bit: Pig Nutrition