Pigs can survive in a wide variety of different habitats. Its ancestor, the wild boar, lived in almost every corner of the earth, except for arid deserts and cold, alpine regions. This adaptability is primarily due to their omnivorous diets. Pigs and wild boar will eat pretty much anything a human would, and few other things besides.
In addition to their usual diet of roots, shoots, insects, and grain, pigs will investigate other food sources. Sometimes this includes dirt.
Will Pigs Eat Anything? Pigs can eat almost anything, including cheese, milk, garbage, grains, fruits, nuts, bird eggs and nestling, baby rabbits, mice, rats, reptiles, and even other pigs. Pigs are omnivorous, meaning they eat both animal and plant matter. Generally, pigs will eat anything they find appealing, but that doesn’t mean you should give them anything you come across to eat.
Do Pigs Eat Poop? A Pig Eating Its Feces May Appear To Be Eating Dirt
As we mentioned earlier, pigs eat all sorts of weird and wonderful things, including their own poop. This behavior is perfectly normal, but it can often look like they’re eating soil rather than feces.
Do pigs eat poop? Pigs eat almost anything including their poop. In most cases, pigs eat poop if they aren’t fed well. Surprisingly, they also eat human and other animals’ feces. Eating poop isn’t harmful to pigs unless the poop is infested with worms or other harmful pathogens. Eating poop can give them some nutrients but should not substitute for a healthy diet.
Pigs have efficient digestive systems, but even they can’t completely break down everything they consume the first time around. Feces may not be their favorite item on the menu, but they will eat them if hungry enough. This practice gives the pig a second chance to digest any foodstuffs they didn’t utilize adequately the first time around.
My Pig is Eating Mud. What’s Wrong?!
Pigs don’t eat mud intentionally. They usually dig in the mud when searching for food, like soft tubers, but not to eat the mud. However, while eating muddy food, they end up eating mud. Pigs love mud so much because it protects their skin from sunburn and regulates their body temperatures.
Another reason pigs like wallowing in mud is that it is a social behavior that gives them a sense of belonging. Pigs also wallow in the mud to eliminate parasites from their skin and to spread their scent to mark territory. In addition, pigs wallow in mud when satisfied and happy.
Why is my pig eating dirt? A pig eats dirt and mud for a variety of reasons. Pigs may consume soil or mud in order to obtain iron and other minerals, especially if their diet is unbalanced and they are deficient in important nutrients. Pigs’ innate desire to wallow in mud serves a number of purposes, including cooling off, providing protection from the sun and insects, and providing them with a fun activity that enhances their physical and mental well-being. This is another explanation for why pigs may consume mud.
However, it’s crucial to remember that consuming large amounts of mud or soil could potentially cause pigs’ digestive issues. If you notice your pig frequently consuming mud, it’s advisable to seek advice from a veterinarian. To avoid pigs turning to mud or soil as a supplement for deficient nutrients, providing them with a balanced diet and access to reliable nutrition sources is imperative.
Pigs Chew Rocks, Which Can Damage Their Health
Stone chewing is a behavior whereby pigs, especially sows kept outdoors, will either ingest or chew on rocks. Despite the fact that this behavior is common, there are risks involved. Pigs who chew on rocks risk damaging their teeth as well as ingesting rocks, which are bad for their digestive systems.
Why do pigs chew on rocks? It’s crucial to remember that the precise cause of why pigs chew on rocks is unknown, and more investigation is required to identify the root of the problem. Pigs may chew on rocks for a number of reasons, including the search for minerals, addressing nutritional deficiencies, or simply engaging in normal behaviors. Little research hasn’t been done on pigs’ stone-chewing behavior or how it affects their teeth and stomachs.
Stone Chewing (Pigs Eating Pebbles) Happens Regularly
Does chewing on pebbles hurt pigs? Chewing rocks is potentially more damaging to a pig’s health than eating soil. There’s a chance the pig might ingest the rock or damage its teeth while chewing. Despite those possible problems, a study of outdoor-housed sows discovered that, although 40% had stones in their stomachs, “there was no indication that stone-chewing affected the health of the sows.”
Many Pigs Enjoy Eating Coal
Coal, particularly brown coal, is good for pigs as a dietary supplement. Pigs fed on brown coal become healthier, happier, less stressed, and fatter than those fed on other chemical additives. Coal provides pigs with iron and magnesium, thereby decreasing anemia by boosting hemoglobin levels.
Coal also contains organic acids that absorb toxins from the pigs’ digestive system and improve their bacterial flora, which helps to prevent diarrhea.
Can I Feed My Pigs Any Scraps?
Feeding pigs fish, meat, or any fish- or meat-contaminated food leads to pig illness that can be fatal. These food substances decompose, and bacteria and viruses can infect them.
The Swine Health Protection Act of 1980 has rules for garbage feeding (feeding scraps to pigs). One of the requirements is that you must be licensed before you can feed human food waste to pigs, especially waste that contains or has been in contact with fish, poultry, or meat.
This requirement applies to all waste collected from food processing plants, school cafeterias, restaurants, etc. And before feeding such waste to pigs, they must be cooked for at least 30 minutes at 100 degrees celcius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill bacteria and viruses.
According to The Swine Health Protection Act, each state is free to determine whether garbage feeding is allowed in the state. So, before feeding scraps to your pigs, find out if the law in your state allows it.
3 Reasons Your Pig Eats Dirt
Pigs eat soil to get additional nutrients. While foraging, they sometimes eat earth to obtain missing minerals from their diet. Although they rarely eat soil in large quantities, they will consume small amounts, especially as piglets. Soil contains organisms and bacteria that help to build up the piglet’s immune system.
Pigs eat soil to obtain iron, and minerals or to compensate for a health issue. Dirt usually had a decent amount of iron and a myriad of minerals. When pigs don’t get a balanced diet, they may resort to eating dirt to supplement for missing nutrients. Some pigs with certain health ailments may also eat dirt in an attempt to mitigate the health issue.
#1 Piglets Eat Dirt to Boost Their Iron Reserve
Piglets are born with limited iron reserves. The milk and colostrum they get from the sow contain just 15 and 50% of their daily iron requirements.
Piglets grow rapidly, which means their blood volume also increases. That increase in volume dilutes their iron reserves even further. If they fail to find an alternative source of iron, they will become deficient, leading to anemia.
Studies found that pigs raised in confinement, with no access to “soil or feces containing iron,” are more prone to anemia than free-ranging pigs. They also get traces of copper from these sources, which enables them to utilize iron more efficiently.
#2 Pigs Practice Pica To Boost Mineral Intake
Pica, or Geophagia, is the “deliberate consumption of earth, soil, or clay.” Humans have practiced geophagia for hundreds of years and are not the only ones. Goats also face pica problems.
Geophagia is a form of mineral consumption practiced by invertebrates, birds, and mammals.
The most common form of geophagia within a domestic environment involves salt licks. Salt and mineral licks can occur naturally, or you can provide them artificially. A natural salt lick is a specific area where animals access essential mineral nutrients from the soil.
If your pig returns to eat soil in the same place repeatedly, chances are he’s found a good source of a mineral or essential elements, such as biometals and other trace elements.
Changing your pig’s behavior in such circumstances should be relatively easy. Place a high-quality swine mineral lick into his enclosure, and he should get all the minerals and vitamins he needs from that and leave his soil-eating days behind him.
#3 Health Issues Can Cause a Pig to Eat Soil
If a pig consumes mouthfuls of soil and refuses to eat anything else, she needs immediate veterinary assistance.
A friend of mine had a pregnant sow who was due to give birth any day. We didn’t think much of it when she went off her food. Pregnant sows often stop eating shortly before giving birth.
The next day, when there was no improvement and no sign of any piglets, we started to worry. Later that same day, we found the sow taking great bites out of the earth.
She wouldn’t touch the clover or grain we’d carefully prepared for her but was munching vast quantities of dirt.
When the veterinarian arrived, she soon identified the cause. The sow was full of dead babies.
The veterinarian quickly removed the piglets, and after the ordeal was over, the sow soon regained her appetite. She also stopped eating dirt.
Pig Habits That Make It Look Like They’re Eating Dirt
Pigs have several habits that can make it look like they are eating dirt, even when they aren’t. If your pig appears to be eating dirt, watch to make sure that some of these habits aren’t showing up.
A Rooting Pig May Appear To Be Eating Soil
When pigs root, they push their snouts under the earth’s surface, moving it away to either side like a bulldozer.
Pigs root around in the earth for a variety of reasons. They dig for tubers, roots, and bulbs underground and often come up with a mouthful of soil. The soil is a side dish in these situations. The main meal arrives in the form of unearthed plant material.
Pigs are also partial to insects and other organisms found in the soil, so they could well be hunting around for a juicy earthworm rather than seeking a meal of dirt.
I’ve seen pigs taking giant bites of earth from inside their wallows. They don’t eat this soil but use their mouths as earth-moving machines.
Mixing fresh earth into the wallow creates the type of muddy puddle pigs relish. They can also deepen or enlarge their wallows this way, giving them more access to the water and mud they need to maintain their average body temperature.
Wallowing in water helps pigs cool off. As the water evaporates from the surface of their skin, so it removes excess heat. Water can do little against the penetrating UV of the sun and the irritating parasites that attach themselves to the pig’s sensitive skin. On the other hand, mud creates a protective layer that acts similarly to sunscreen. It also helps to remove ticks and other biting insects.
Soil Isn’t The Only Non-Food Item Pigs Eat
Pig owners report seeing their animals chewing on stones and eating soil. This behavior is more prevalent in bare earth paddocks and other relatively barren environments. Scientists believe it’s associated with boredom, the inability to forage naturally, and a way to deal with stress.
Soil Types That Are Good For Pigs
Given that mineral licks are a type of soil, are there other types of dirt that are good for pigs? Soil can form a valuable part of a pig’s diet. Some soil types can even prevent disease and boost your pigs’ growth rate.
White Clay Improves Nutrient Digestibility in Pigs
Also known as bentonite, white clay contains numerous minerals essential for pig growth. These include calcium, copper, iron, and phosphorus. Adding a small amount (2% to 4%) of white clay to your pig’s daily grain improves palatability and boosts nutrient availability. It also makes their feed more easily digestible and slows the rate at which the food passes through the pig’s digestive tract. As a result, it can accelerate your pigs’ growth rate.
Bentonite can also:
- Absorb harmful substances from the gastrointestinal tract
- Inhibit the growth of bacteria in the digestive system
- Improve disease resistance
- Boost the immune system
- Balance the pig’s calcium: phosphorus ratio
Yellow and Red Clay Combats Iron Deficiency
Yellow clay contains large quantities of copper and iron compounds. It can help combat iron deficiency and curb your pig’s soil-eating habits. In addition to copper and iron, yellow clay contains 20 mineral elements that can increase appetite and weight gain while reducing the risk of disease.
Cinder Soil Contains a Pig Growth Regulator
Cinder soil accelerates growth and weight gain. It contains many minerals, trace elements, and a pig growth regulator called humic acid.
Dietary humic acids can increase a pig’s average daily weight gain. In young pigs, it also boosts the feed conversion rate.
Adding cinder soil to your pig’s diet can also regulate their levels of salt and alkali, reducing the risk of diarrhea, constipation, and other common health issues.
Medical Stone Can Boost a Pig’s Metabolism
More of a natural medicine than a type of soil, maifan stone contains a range of trace elements, including critical ones like selenium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Added to your pig’s daily rations, maifan stone increase enzyme activity, boosting your pig’s metabolism and improving its food conversion rate.
It also absorbs bacteria and helps prevent disease.
Diatomaceous Earth Promotes Weight Gain
Diatomaceous earth isn’t soil, but a type of rock. It contains the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Rich in silica, it promotes healthy skin and hoofs and helps prevent parasite outbreaks.
Adding to your pig’s feed promotes weight and supports both the immune and digestive systems.
Why Pigs Eat Pretty Much Anything
Pigs eat almost anything because they are omnivores – they eat plant and animal matter. But, just because they can eat anything- doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them. They are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will eat anything appealing to them. They can eat fruits, roots, leaves, small reptiles, rodents, poop, and pork. However, this doesn’t mean you should feed them anything you come across. And you should not allow them to eat anything they stumble on. Feed them a healthy diet to keep them healthy.
Do Pigs Eat Poop FAQs
Pigs not only eat their poop but that of other creatures. They mainly eat poop when they are starving. You will never see your pigs eating feces when you feed them well. Naturally, pigs don’t like eating poop, but they will go for it if they have no option.
Are pigs dirty animals? Contrary to popular belief, pigs are clean animals. They don’t pee or poop where they sit or lie and like to keep their food away from where they poop and pee. People believe pigs are dirty because they like rolling in mud, but they have a reason to do so. Pigs, unlike humans, have few sweat glands, so they roll in mud to cool their bodies and not for fun. Rolling in mud also helps to remove parasites from their skin.
Do pigs eat humans? Pigs eat humans, though in rare circumstances. Pigs eat humans and other animals if they are hungry, poorly treated, or feel threatened. They can also eat live human beings. There are many reports of pigs eating humans in different situations, but it is worth stating that well-fed pigs can not chase people down to eat them because they are calm, non-violent animals.
What do pigs eat naturally? Most pigs will eat almost anything edible, but some are choosy and can refuse to eat certain foods. Naturally, pigs feed on fish, eggs, roots, vegetables, flowers, leaves, nuts, grass, small animals, insects, dead animals, mushrooms, etc.
If your pigs don’t get adequate nutrients from what you provide, you can add supplements and additives to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.
What do pigs eat when they root? Pigs root in search of food, and eat many things from the soil including insects, larvae, (such as grubs), worms, crickets, roots, grass, wood, dry fruits, corn, and more can all fall under this category. Pigs are omnivores with a varied diet in the wild, where they eat rodents, small reptiles, fruits, leaves, and roots.
It’s important to remember that pigs don’t always root because they lack minerals; they sometimes do it for food. Pigs raised on farms typically consume commercial feed that is primarily made of corn. Pigs must have a nutritionally adequate diet that is well-balanced in order to keep them from inappropriately rooting for food.
Pigs do consume small amounts of soil. This natural behavior gives the pig access to trace elements and minerals that may otherwise be unavailable.
Some pig owners even add specific soils to their pig feed to boost their metabolism, accelerate growth, and support the immune system.
However, a pig eating large quantities of dirt and nothing else needs immediate veterinarian assistance.
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.