The ultimate list of optimal nutrition for pigs on small rural farms

Swine feeding in small rural farms

In the context of commercial pig farming, feed accounts for 60% to 70% of production costs, so efficient feed utilization is essential to the economic growth of the farm.

For small-scale family farms, the cost of feed is almost irrelevant because pigs tend to eat most food waste and dig in the soil for earthworms and other small insects, yet adequate nutrient supply is often placed on the back burner. In contrast, in commercial production systems, a variety of diets tailored to the physiological state of the animals are used to meet energy and protein requirements in order to maximize the productivity of the animal for meat production.

In order to allow small producers in less developed contexts the possibility to expand and enter national and international markets, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) has identified some low-cost nutrients widely available in warm temperate areas of the planet, such as the tropics. After briefly analyzing the structure of the pig intestine, we will illustrate the main ingredients to be integrated into the diet of the animal in rural contexts with few resources.

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The structure of the pig intestine

The small intestine of the adult pig is about 18 meters long. Because of this, the time elapsed between feed ingestion and nutrient absorption, about four hours, is relatively short compared to the time required for digest to pass through the entire gastrointestinal tract, which takes about 24 hours.

In the large intestine, digest is modified by the flora of the gastrointestinal tract. This fermentative process “digests” 10 to 20% of the food from the mouth to the rectum.

The waste material, leaves the large intestine, and gradually loses fluid and is then excreted.

Protein and carbohydrate resources available in rural areas.

1. Canavalia ensiformis

It is a good example of an alternative tropical legume for pigs. However, due to anti-nutritional factors, the general use of this legume for pigs is limited to no more than 5% of the diet.

2. Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan)

A valuable legume consumed by humans and animals, it is cultivated widely in India, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa and the West Indies.

3. Soy flour

It accounts for about 80% of the total protein supplements used in non-ruminant feeds.

4.Floating aquatic plants (macrophytes)

They can contribute to the protein content of the diet and, if grown in liquid swine waste slurry (runoff) that has been anaerobically treated, can also contribute to nitrogen recycling.

5. Gum tree seed flour

It is produced in substantial quantities in southern Asia and parts of Africa, where it is a valuable source of protein. When cooked, it is suitable for pork nutrition

6. The soluble fraction of sugarcane

It can provide several sources of energy for pigs: juice, molasses, or raw and refined sugar.

7. Cassava (or Manioc)

Raw cassava, can provide the main source of energy for growing pigs in tropical regions. The root of this plant can be fed in the form of silage or fresh.

8. Sweet potato

Although the main nutritional importance of sweet potato lies in the starch content of the root, it is also a source of important vitamins, such as vitamin A, ascorbic acid, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. If it is cooked, its nutritional potential for pigs increases.

9. Bananas

If not intended for human consumption, they can be fed to pigs either fresh, ensiled or in the form of dry meal, although the latter is extremely difficult to obtain.

10. Vegetable, fruit or bread scraps

Organic waste is a good source of calories for pigs on rural farms, provided that it has not been in contact with animal products or by-products, and that it is properly cooked.


Warning! This list of nutrients for pigs, is primarily intended for farmers in rural tropical and equatorial areas, where most farms are located where commercial feed supply is scarce.

Alessandro Azzolin
Alessandro Azzolin
Digital marketing intern, with interests in different cultures. My priority is the preservation of ecosystems.

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