We know it’s important to eat nutritious, wholesome food for our health and wellbeing. That means fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils and, for many of us, lean meats.
What about the food our food eats? Do animal diets make a difference? They sure do! For instance, let’s take a look at what pigs eat.
You may have grown up hearing pigs eat slop. That simply isn’t true. Slop for a pig would be like junk food for us. If your whole diet consisted of junk food, you’d be in pretty sorry shape. It’s the same for pigs. You can’t feed a pig just any old thing. In fact, some foods that are healthy for people like celery and raw sweet potatoes are downright dangerous for pigs.
Pig diets are carefully developed and change throughout their lives because they need different nutrients in different amounts at different stages. Like a lot of animals, piglets start out feeding on their mother’s milk, but can move on to eating solid food in as little as a week after being born.Corn provides energy and soybeans provide protein. They also eat other grains like wheat and sorghum.
Farmers may add supplements to ensure their hogs get necessary nutrients. There are even additives to help hogs convert calories to muscle instead of fat, which makes for leaner cuts of meat at the grocery.
Hog farmers can buy feed rations, which is sort of like buying dog food — the mixture is ready to go. Even cooler, a lot of farmers grow their own grains to feed their animals.over eight million bushels of soybean products are used to feed hogs on Kansas farms.
That’s only part of the picture. A lot of the total harvest of Kansas corn, soybeans, wheat and sorghum goes to feed pigs — more than 30 million bushels of grain per year to feed Kansas hogs!
Why are pig diets important to us? Because healthy animals mean healthy meat that’s safe to eat.
Fun Fact: Hogs can eat up to seven pounds of food and drink three to six gallons of water every day!
Have you ever thought about raising your own pigs? Insteading.com breaks down some of the basic questions to address, like where they would live, how to build a pen and how to buy piglets. It's a good introduction to the practice, and a great reminder that taking on the care of an animal is a serious responsibility.