Lately, it’s a popular trend for YouTubers seeking the shock factor to feed their pigs pork or bacon. But, just because it’s a popular trend- doesn’t mean pork is safe for you to feed your pigs. It may also carry legal ramifications. There are many potential issues with pigs eating pork.
I questioned our vet when he visited to vaccinate the other pigs.
Is it okay for pigs to eat pork? While pigs will eat their own kind, feeding them pork, especially raw pork, is not advisable. Feeding pork, eggs, and other meat products can transfer diseases like foot and mouth disease to pigs. Cooked pork is safer for pigs to eat but can create nutritional deficiencies.
In this article, I’ll dive into the various aspects of feeding pork to pigs, from practical to ethical.
- Is It Illegal To Feed Pigs Pork?
- Can Pigs Eat Pork?
- Why Pigs Shouldn’t Eat Pork
- The Danger of a Carnivorous Pig
- Raw Pork on Your Plate
- Is It Wrong To Feed Pigs Pork Table
- Pigs Eat Pork FAQs
Is It Illegal To Feed Pigs Pork?
It is illegal to feed pork to pigs, except in specific circumstances in many places. In Australia, pigs cannot be fed any meat products or products that had contact with meat. In the USA, 23 states have laws prohibiting feeding pigs pork and other meat products with varying exceptions. But 48 states have some law around feeding pigs scraps, so it’s important that you understand your local laws.
In Australia, any meat products or food that has come in contact with meat is prohibited from being fed to pigs. In some U.S. States, pigs cannot be fed raw meat unless that pig is only consumed by the homesteader’s family (but that doesn’t mean it’s safe).
Most states don’t have even that level of leniency. The Federal Swine Health Protection Act’s guidelines require that meat be heated at least 30 minutes at boiling before it is fed to pigs. Farmers must get licenses for this process in many states by showing that they have the equipment and ability to meet this requirement.
State laws vary, so it’s critical that you check out your own state laws before attempting it. But another more important question is whether feeding pigs pork can be a safety issue or not.
Why Is It Illegal To Feed Pigs Pork?
In the 1950s pigs were commonly fed meat waste products, but illness swept across the swine industry in the USA. Pathogens and bacteria caused widespread damage to the commercial pig industry causing financial damage.
Feeding your pig pork can result in similar diseases that may spread to humans who consume pork. Feeding your pig raw meat and pig meat increases the risk of your pigs contracting species-specific diseases. African Swine Flu (ASF) can lead to massive pig death in your swine herd. The spread of disease and the possible contaminant threat to humans are why feeding meat to pigs destined for slaughter in most states in the U.S., parts of Europe, and Australia is illegal.
Can Pigs Eat Pork?
Technically pigs will and can eat pork. That is consuming it. But pigs cannot safely eat pork on a wide scale. Pigs eating pork poses many health challenges for the pigs. Raw meat poses serious health risks, but eating pork can pose even greater health issues for pigs. Among mammals, widespread cannibalism tends to lead to terrible diseases.
Cows that eat beef can get mad cow disease. Cannibalism among humans in Papa Guinea and among certain tribes in Africa has led to debilitating diseases.
In addition to the huge risks of feeding raw pork to pigs, pork meat does not contain the right nutrients and vitamins that pigs need to be healthy. Even if you fed your pig cooked pork so that the pathogens and other risks were eliminated, it would not be a healthy way to feed your pig.
Swine have a monogastric stomach, also called a nonruminant digestive system. As such, they can eat plants and meat but flourish with plants. Like humans, who also have a monogastric stomach, pigs are omnivores by nature.
That means they can eat both plants and animals. In the wild and in captivity, they are opportunistic eaters. Pig’s “morales” will keep them from eating other pigs only until they are faced with high stress, neglect, starvation, fear, or poor husbandry.
Pigs will eat anything from veggies and grasses to roadkill or other protein sources such as eggs and small animals that may find their way into the pigpen. If given a choice, pigs prefer to eat veggies, roots, and roughage such as quality hay and leafy forage.
Why would pigs eat pork if it’s not their preference?
In modern farming, pigs are often penned in large numbers with limited resources, leading to intense competition. The natural social structures to pigs are denied, and the pigs begin to see each other as competition and enemies. The result is aggressive behavior and an “eat while you can” mentality.
It is bad for pigs to eat pork, especially raw pork since it contains transferable bacteria and parasites. Eating the brain and central nervous system tissue in the brain stem or spine is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of pigs eating pork. Eating nerve tissue causes mad cow disease among cows, which is transferable to humans.
Why Pigs Shouldn’t Eat Pork
Some farmers feed dead piglets back to pigs, called feedback, but that’s becoming an outdated practice for many reasons. Pigs shouldn’t eat pork because of the potential risk of pathogens and disease that can occur, the nutritional deficiency and because it can develop savaging in sows. Savaging is when mother pigs kill and eat their piglets.
It usually occurs when sows are under great stress. But, if pigs eat pork, they can develop a taste for pork, they can become aggressive with piglets and older swine. Male and female pigs with a taste for raw pork will attack healthy pigs, often severely injurying or killing them. Ultimately, it’s an issue that can only be resolved by culling the swine involved.
The Danger of a Carnivorous Pig
While pigs may happily munch away on some bones in their pen, there is a hidden danger that the small-scale pig farmer needs to be conscious of. Pigs can develop a liking for meat, and they may not wait for that meat to be offered as part of their feed.
The smell of blood can attract pigs, and the herd instinct may take over, turning your cute curly-tailed pigs into ravaging predators. Stepping into their pen can become dangerous to you, your family, and your pets. Pigs reared on meat may also start to attack each other, leading to severe injuries and the savaging of whole litters of piglets. Tail biting and ear ripping are two ways that pig cannibalism already manifests among pigs in confinement.
Considering the risks of feeding meat to pigs, is it not far better to avoid adding meat to their diet? While some pigs do well on milk and other dairy products, this is also risky. Unpasteurized milk products can transmit worms and other parasites. It is far better to feed pigs what nature intended: vegetables, fruits, nuts, hay, weeds, and other plant materials.
Possible Reasons That Cause Pig Cannibalism
Pigs can become cannibalistic when they feel threatened in their pen, and they may act aggressively toward the other pigs. Competing for resources, pigs may see the other pigs as enemies and then attack, kill, and eat them. This savage situation made headlines when a top pig farm in the U.K. was filmed with pigs eating each other out of starvation.
First-time mommies may be confused by the piglets when they are born. These squirming and squealing bundles are usually blood-covered, and the sow may confuse her own offspring for a tasty treat. If a sow is malnourished or has a deficiency, she may also eat some, if not all, of her litter in an attempt to regain the protein she lacks.
Wrapping up, the reasons pig may eat their own include:
- They feel threatened.
- There is a lack of correct food and water.
- Territorial behavior kicks in, and they attack each other in the pen.
- Sows may eat their young when the piglets are ill.
- Sows may eat their young when they feel weak.
How to Prevent Pig Cannibalism
Pig cannibalism is not natural when the pigs are kept in the right conditions. Commercial farms have contributed to unhealthy conditions being accepted by pig farmers. The drive to produce more and more pigs in as small a space as possible has fueled the rise of diseases related to the consumption of contaminated meat (among pigs and humans).
Yet, keeping pigs healthy and happy and preventing mishaps like my Sally-sow eating her young is not difficult.
- Ensure the pigs have enough space – When pigs have enough space to roam, forage, roll, and sleep, they are happy and won’t feel threatened.
- Feed a diverse vegetable and grass-based diet – Pigs require a balanced diet of raw vegetables, grasses, roughage, fruit, and quality pig feed. When the pigs aren’t hungry, they won’t see each other or their piglets as food.
- Isolate the sow before she starts to farrow – Never keep the sow with other pigs when she is busy giving birth, as this can lead to aggressive behavior and tension. As a result, she may bite and then eat one or more of her piglets.
- Remove dead piglets or pigs from the pen – Always remove dead piglets or any pigs that die from the pen as soon as possible as the presence of a carcass can lead to pestilence, and the smell of death or blood can also encourage cannibalism.
- Calm nervous sows – If a sow is particularly nervous and agitated before she starts to farrow, you can consult with your vet about giving her a calmative or injection to reduce anxiety. This can help soothe her so she will be less inclined to savage her piglets as they appear.
Raw Pork on Your Plate
Rare or raw meat is considered a delicacy for many food connoisseurs, and while raw pork has been considered taboo for many years, boutique farms are catering to this market.
Raw pork is not fit for human consumption since it contains many parasitic organisms like worms, which can transfer to humans and cause serious illness.
The parasite Trichinella spiralis is one of the better-known organisms in raw pork that can lead to serious foodborne illness. Other germs found in raw pork include:
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Escherichia coli
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Yersinia enterocolitica
These disease-causing germs can lead to significant food poisoning. However, these symptoms can take as much as 2-8 weeks to show up, making diagnosis difficult.
Is It Wrong To Feed Pigs Pork Table
|Is it unethical to feed pork to pigs?||Yes||Pigs naturally avoid eating pork unless they are in dire circumstances.|
|Should pigs eat other pigs?||No||Eating pork can cause illness and disease to pigs.|
|Can pits eat bacon?||No||Pigs should not eat bacon because, even cooked, it lacks vital nutrients pigs need. It is also high in fat- not ideal for a monogastric digestive system.|
|Is pig meat safe for human consumption?||Yes||Pork meat is generally considered safe, although certain dietary groups such as vegans, avoid meat products.|
|Will pigs eat anything?||Yes||In desperation or hunger, pigs will often eat nearly anything. Historically, it was common to feed them garbage.|
|Does eating pork affects a pig’s taste after slaughter||Yes||The food a pig eats will affect the taste of it after slaughter.|
Pigs Eat Pork FAQs
Can pigs eat cooked meat? Pigs can eat cooked meat if it’s been cooked long enough and hot enough to kill pathogens. However, most countries and states regulate the feeding of meat to pigs because of the high risk for contamination. While pigs can eat meat, they do not thrive when eating meat and many health issues can arise.
Can Pigs Eat Pork Chops? Pigs can eat pork chops, but should not because the bones in pork chops can choke, cut, or damage pigs when they eat it. In addition pork chops won’t provide the necessary dietary nutrients and can change the flavor of the pig’s meat when it’s slaughtered. Pigs should not eat pork bones either.
Can Pigs Eat Pork Rinds? Technically, pigs can eat pork rinds, which are fried pig skin. However, the processed nature of pork rinds leaves them nutrient empty and they will not provide any value to the pigs. Highly processed foods are not good for pigs and can cause health issues if eaten in regular quantities.
Can Pigs Eat Pork or Bacon? Pigs can eat pork or bacon, but they should not. There are risks of spreading disease from the raw meat to the pig. If the meat is cooked, it reduces the risks somewhat, though nerve tissue and brain tissue may contain harmful bacteria that don’t denature with cooking.
If you are considering feeding your pigs pork scraps to save on feed costs or because you want to save the environment, it’s not a good idea. Overall the risks associated with feeding pigs pork are high. Pigs will do much better on a balanced diet with corn than eating pork or other meat products.
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My Most Used Pig Supplies
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A pig blanket to keep her warm. This one also has bright colors and helps to provide rooting without the destruction.
A large crate for keeping her safe in your house at night and when you leave the house. This is essential. You’ll also want a litterbox, and I like mine with a lid for nighttime. Pine shavings are best, and you may be able to find them in larger quantities locally.
You’ll also want an outdoor house to keep her warm when she gets outside time, an essential part of her development.
Dewormer- Ivermectin is the primary dewormer I use, although I do rotate with a non-ivermect ingredient once so that the worms don’t get immune to it.