What to Do When Pigs Are Not Eating: Causes, Solutions & More

Get pigs to eat again

Do you have a pig that recently quit eating, but you don’t know why? How do you get a pig to eat when it doesn’t want to eat? What could be wrong with it? Several things could be wrong with your piggy and there are several solutions you can try to get them to eat something.

So what do you do when pigs are not eating?  The first thing you do when your pig is not eating is to give them some water. Water consumption is directly related to food consumption. This is the most common reason pigs will not eat. Sometimes their water may have algae in it, and they will not drink it, causing them not to eat. 

But that’s not all!

There are more reasons could be causing your pig not to eat. If your pig is not eating or drinking they could be sick. There are many tricks you could try in the books to entice your chunky friend to eat and drink. 

How to Get My Pig to Drink Water

The first thing you should do if your pig doesn’t want to eat is to try to get them to drink water. There are many tricks farmers have up their sleeves to get their pigs to drink water. 

Only trial and error will show you what your pig likes best. 

  • A Bottle: Quite often, farmers will resort to a bottle that you would use for a bum calf to get their pigs to drink water. You can buy these bottles at your local farmers’ store. They have a giant rubber nipple on them. Try giving them water from this every half hour. Your pigs may be dehydrated.
  • Kool-aid mix: Farmers have to be resourceful in the tactics they use because not many veterinarians will see pigs. Naturally, they have to think outside of the box when their animals show signs of falling ill. Sweeteners like kool-aid mix can be sprinkled in their water to entice them to drink straight water. This is safe. 
  • Honey: Farmers have also found that pigs like honey. Put a tablespoon or two full of honey in their water, and they may drink some water. 
  • Clean Their Water: PIgs will not drink water if it is dirty. Could you take a look at their water? Is there food in it? Are there algae growing in it? Empty their water tank, clean it, and give them some freshwater and see if that helps. 

The reason why their intake of water is directly related to their consumption of food is that when pigs don’t get enough water to drink, they become lethargic. When they become lethargic naturally they will not get up to eat their food. 

If you get your pig to start drinking water, you will know that was the issue if they start becoming more active within the next day. 

If they do you can begin offering them food. You may have to begin with hand-feeding them. If you’ve tried to give your pig water, and they are drinking it just fine, maybe you could spice up their food a little bit. Read on to see how you can do that. 

Plus, water also makes a difference in a pig’s ability to digest food. 

Alter Their Food

Sometimes when your pigs don’t have an appetite, all you have to do is change their food. 

Did you know? 

Pigs are not only smart but often they can be picky. 

Now is the time to resort to your resourcefulness. Here are some tips and tricks to get your pig to eat their food. Even if it is just a little bit at a time. 

  • Put Water In Their Food: Sometimes when your pig isn’t feeling well, everyday food doesn’t sound too good. Putting water in their diet will make it a little softer for them to eat.
  • Molasses: Pigs love sweet things. So even if your pig is sick and you are trying to get her to eat something molasses will for sure get her to eat a little something. 
  • Switch their food: Maybe your pig prefers corn over pellets, maybe he prefers one brand over another brand. As stated before, pigs are picky eaters, despite the old rumor. 
  • Vegetables: Pigs love vegetables. Try giving your pigs some vegetables to much on and see how that goes over. Try a little bit at a time. Most pigs love cooked cucumbers, and potatoes. These serve as tasty treats for pigs.
  • Peanuts: Peanuts with the shell on could do the trick to get your pig to eat a little something. 
  • Eggs: mixing eggs in with their food could help them eat their meal if you want to try to get them to eat their feed. 
  • Popcorn: Pigs love popcorn. You can either mix it in with their feed or you can hand feed it to them. Whichever way works for your chunky friends.
  • Fruits: If your pig is struggling to drink as well as eat fruits may be the way to kill two birds with one stone. Try fruit with high water content. 
  • Vitamins: There are a variety of vitamin shots available to give your pig before you go trying to treat for a bunch of illnesses. Try vitamin b12, vitamin b, iron, and vitamin A. These are all available in shot form. Try some of the vitamins and see if your pig starts eating within a couple of days. 

Often, if your pig is not sick, these tricks should help your pigs to start eating again. Pigs love to eat, so for them not to eat is very unlikely and should be dealt with urgently. 

Change pigs environment to help them start eating again

If you’ve tried all of the above and nothing is working your pigs, have likely fallen ill. Don’t panic just yet. Let’s see if we can figure out what may be wrong. 

If Your Pig Is Sick

Pigs are relatively stable creatures. When pigs do get sick it is most likely severe since it takes a lot to bring these guys down. 

They will not show telltale signs of being sick. So when they do stop eating or become lethargic it can be worrisome. 

They love to eat and are relatively stubborn guys. There are a few ways you can check to see if your pig is sick and if they are it is vital they receive care as quickly as possible.  Here’s what you should check to see if your pig has fallen ill.

  • Check Their Temperature: Pigs may have a fever for a week before they start showing signs of being sick. It would help if you used a rectal thermometer and the temperature should be no higher than 101 degrees. Anything above should be considered a fever. 
  • Have They Gained Weight? Checking to see if your pig has gained weight will tell you if they have not been eating for a while. If your pig has lost weight, it is vital that you separate the pig from the rest of the pigs in case the pig has something that could be spread to the rest of the pigs. 
  • How’s The Poop Look? This may sound gross, but it is part of the job. Your veterinarian will ask you how your pigs poop looks. You know what it looks like usually. Look for any abnormalities in your pigs’ poop. It is easier to do this if you separate your pig from the other pigs if you have more than one pig. 
  • Check For Injuries: Look your pig over from top to bottom. Is there any sign of injury? If so, your pig may not be eating because it is hurt. Talk to your veterinarian and give your pig an over the counter pain medication. The injury may have gotten infected, and your pig may need to take some antibiotics. 
  • Vomiting: Take a look around the pigs’ area and check for any vomiting. Again f you isolate the one pig you’re having issues with it will be easier to tell if it is vomiting. If he is, then you need to get immediate care. 
  • Check Breathing: Check to see if your pigs breathing is normal. Is she wheezing? Is she breathing fast? Slow? Is her breathing shallow? Your pig could have a respiratory infection, which for pigs can be deadly if it isn’t treated quickly. 

How to Keep Your Pig From Getting Sick

When your pig is sick, it’s never good. Once they are sick, they are usually really sick. 

But don’t worry! 

They do have a chance of survival if you get a vet out to see them promptly, and medical care is given promptly. Here are some helpful tips to keep your pig happy and healthy. 

  • Clean Bedding: To keep your pig from falling sick, you should always have clean dry straw for them. Pigs, ironically are actually very clean animals. They will not sleep in a dirty pen. If they are forced to they can quickly become fatally sick. So keeping their area where they sleep clean is very important. 
  • Separate Rest Area: Following keeping their sleeping area clean you should also have a separate place for them to go to the bathroom. As stated above pigs will not sleep where they use the bathroom at. This area should be further away from their food as well as not to contaminate their food. If their food is contaminated with feces, they will not eat or fall sick from eating it. 
  • Mud Pit: Pigs also need a place to soak in the mud. As odd as it sounds dirt serves two purposes for pigs. On hot days, mud baths help pigs keep cool. If they don’t have a mud pit they can become overheated. The mud baths also help pigs stay clean. Just as birds take dust baths to keep mites and other bugs off of them, mud pits do the same for pigs. 
  • Regular Shots: Your pigs should all also get regular shots and vaccines to avoid deadly diseases such as swine flu, among other diseases. You should also get your pigs wormed regularly, and they should be seen by a veterinarian for wellness checkups. 
  • Regular Fecal Sample: Many vets will run a fecal sample test free of charge, so it might be worth it to get a sample and bring it into the vet. This way, you can see if your pig is suffering from a bacterial or intestinal infection. 

Too little water can cause pigs to become lethargic

Keep in mind that all of the areas mentioned above should be separated from one another. Doing these things from the time they are piglets will give them a long healthy life they deserve. 

How to Get a Baby Pig to Eat

Having piglets is a beautiful thing. They are so tiny and fragile. But they can be a lot of work and it’s confusing if you’re a first-time pig owner. 

There are many questions you may have: 

When do you introduce them to solid food? How to introduce them to solid food? How much should they be eating? 

Piglets take their time switching to solid food. So don’t worry if your piglets aren’t taking to solids like you think they should. If you have a goat’s bottle, you can bottle feed a piglet, then try goats milk formula. 

It’s got all the nutrients in it that piglets need to gain the weight that is necessary for them to be strong and healthy. 

Creep Feeding

When piglets are feeding off of mama, mama decides when and how often to feed them. Life’s a breeze when you’re a piglet. 

When they are weaned, the piglets are suddenly responsible for feeding themselves. Sometimes this causes confusion with these guys. Farmers often use a technique called creep feeding. 

Baby pigs can have trouble adjusting to food

Creep feeding is the process of slowly introducing food to calves or piglets while the babies are still feeding off of mom. The process involves supplementing one feeding at a time with small amounts of solids and continuing on until the animal is successfully weaned. Let’s take a look at how you can successfully use this method to get your piggies to eat. 

  • Feed Them Regularly:  As a result of mama deciding when it’s time to eat, piglets take their time and learn to listen to their bodies. Feeding them regularly every day will help get them on a new routine. This time of their life is confusing for them and helping them by feeding them at the same time every day will set their bodies natural clock. 
  • Star weaning at the right time: You should wean your piglets from mom around four to six weeks of age or when piglets start stealing some of mom’s food. Some people like to let the animals decide by themselves and use the latter method. 
  • Supplement With Solids: Once you start weaning your piglets off of mom you can supplement one feeding with whatever you feed your adult pigs a day, then two and so on until they are completely weaned. This should cause less confusion for you and the piglets.  This is referred to as “creep feeding.”
  • Keep Feed Away From Sows: Once you have mastered this technique it is important to keep their piglets food away from mom. Piglets have different nutritional needs than mom does at this tender age. Find a place to put the food where it is out of direct heat and where it can be kept clean. 
  • Keep Food Fresh: Change the food every couple of days to ensure that it is fresh. Piglets will not eat stale food. But you also want to find a place that is close to them as to pique their interest. 
  • Offer Food When Adults Are Eating: To be successful at creep feeding you should offer feed when the sows are eating as well. The piglets will be active then. You don’t want to overfeed the piglets. Feed them when they seem most hungry and if you have to remove the trays when you feel they have had their fill.
  • Patience: Be patient with these little guys. It may get frustrating, or you may get worried that they are not getting enough. However, if you’re persistent enough and if you develop a routine and stick to it they will get the hang of it. 
  • Use the Same Feed: Do not switch the feed you are using during creep feeding. Using the same feed every time will make the transition to solid go a whole lot smoother for both of you. 
  • Be Persistent: Do not start and then give up and don’t change up the routine once you’ve found one that seems to work. Before you know it, within a couple of months the piglets will not need you to help them feed. 

Creep feeding is the most effective way to transition to solids because the baby is still getting milk from mom, but they get to taste something different. Not only are pigs smart but they are curious as well. You can use this curiosity to your advantage.

If you think your piglet is not eating because it is sick, the first steps you should take are to separate it from the other piglets and provide warmth. You can then begin feeding the nutrient-filled feed and keep it hydrated. 

You can give water and food through a syringe if it is needed to keep your piglets eating healthy. You can give piglets vitamin b or b12 shots just like you like with an adult pig to help with special nutritional needs. All the vitamins mentioned above, you can also give your sick piglet. 

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Annemaria Duran

Hi, I’m Annemaria Duran. I moved out to the country 6 years ago, mainly so I could have more land. I love all aspects of country living. First, we got chickens, then ducks. Now we have sheep, goats, and rabbits. I'm always learning and love sharing it!

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