Natural Or Raw Diet
If you choose to replace pellets with a natural diet you need to make sure you are meeting all the nutritional requirements of your pig. The best way to do this is variety. The more variety they have in their diet the more opportunity they have to fill all their nutritional needs.
BASIC DAILY DIET: Whole grains (such as oatmeal, barley, wheat, quinoa and brown rice), lentils and/or beans, nuts and seeds (raw unsalted pumpkin seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews), and a variety of vegetables and fruits. Most grains can be fed raw o cooked. Rice should always be cooked. While pigs thrive on a natural wholesome diet, it is not easy for all pig parents to provide. It can be time consuming a difficult to provide a balanced diet for pigs and if a strong commitment to feeding a nutritionally balanced, varietal diet is not possible a pelleted diet is best.
Vegetables with every meal, because no pig ever had too many healthy vegetables. Leafy greens, root veggies, summer squashes, winter squashes (such as pumpkin), broccoli, fennel, Brussel sprouts, peas, beets, radishes, parsnips, green beans, spinach, turnip greens, beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, kale, okra, Swiss chard, celery, romaine lettuce, different types, textures, and colors of veggies. Grazing, a raw egg a couple times a week (raw or cooked is fine), and the supplements listed below.
Give coconut oil for overall health including skin and hair.
Fish oil pills for many benefits including joint, heart, and skin/hair health.
Vitamin E as to ensure they are getting enough. A deficiency in selenium or vitamin E will result in a painful degenerative muscle disease as these two nutrients work together.
Pigs get selenium from the soil and some foods. They get vitamin E from foods, but some supplement to be sure they are getting enough to meet their needs.
A multivitamin with a variety of vitamins and minerals can be given daily. Strive to meet their nutritional needs with diet alone, and if their body doesn’t need the additional supplements they will just pass it in their urine.
Pigs can graze and root in the soil to get natural vitamins and minerals that they require. Here’s one interesting link on fish oil, http://sciencenordic.com/fish-oil-helps-pigs-through-operations
GRAINS: amaranth, oats/oatmeal, barley, sorghum/milo, freekah, millet, wheat, wheat berries, wheat germ, spelt, farro, barley, rye, bulgur, teff, and brown rice, quinoa.
SEEDS & NUTS: always unsalted, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, shelled sunflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, hemp hearts/hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds, cumin seeds, grape seeds, papaya seeds.
VEGETABLES & FRUITS:
BEANS: No canned or raw beans Only cooked or frozen beans. Lentils, azuk, Anasazi, black turtle, black eye peas, garbanzo/chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, split peas, pinto beans, soybeans.
OTHER: These foods come in handy for special treats, sick pigs, or dispensing medications- yogurt, applesauce with no sugar added, canned pumpkin, wholegrain cereals, coconut water, cottage cheese, eggs (raw or cooked, with or without shell), fruit juice with no sugar added, granola, popcorn- air popped from kernels with no salt or oils, peanut butter, raisins.
The quantity of diet of course is going to vary greatly by individual needs, metabolism, activity, other food sources such as grazing, calories within each meal, etc. However, the recommended 2% of body weight still applies
GRAINS: There seems to be consensus that the grains portion of the natural diet should mimic the pellet guidelines, approx. 1/2 cup per day for every 25 lbs. body weight split into two meals, then adjust to ensure your pig is maintaining the correct weight. Therefore a pig up to 25 lbs. would get 1/4 cup grains in the morning and 1/4 cup at night, plus the mid-day salad. A 100 pound pig would get 1 cup of grains in the morning and 1 cup of grains at night. The grains can be fed dry (raw), cooked, or blended into a powder and mixed with water.
VEGETABLES: Vegetables will make the bulk of the diet. 2 cups of salad a day to each pig. Variety is essential for their health, since vegetables are full of nutrients, and they all have different nutritional profiles. Dark leafy greens every day plus a variety of other textures, colors, types. Such as spinach, butternut squash, green beans, banana peels, eggplant, celery, cucumber, and a cherry tomato would be a great day’s salad.
SEEDS AND NUTS: A handful per day. You can add it to a meal (grains or salad), you can toss them in the yard for the pigs to forage, you can put them in a treat ball to roll around, you can take a minute and practice training tricks and give them a nut/seed for each reward, and the possibilities are limitless. These are packed with nutrition, especially selenium and vitamin E which are the leading nutritional deficiencies in pigs. Variety is best, as much variety as you can find. However, the basic essentials would be unsalted almonds and black oil sunflower seeds. 1/4 ounce of mixed nuts/seeds and 1/4 ounce of black oil sunflower seeds per pig/per day.
FRUITS: Give fruits sparingly. Fruits have their place in the diet and their own special nutrients. Maybe every other day they get a small amount of fruit with their salad, or separate as a special snack.
BEANS: Beans and lentils are excellent nutritionally. Many benefits and high in fiber. They should be considered part of the grain allowance (even though they obviously aren’t grain).
These foods fill many nutritional requirements for the pigs, such as protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, b vitamins, calcium, potassium, folate, iron. No one bean is perfect as they all have different nutritional makeups. A variety is best. A handful with a salad or as a special side dish would be a great filler.
OTHER: Other foods are optional. Keep in mind the pig’s overall body condition, if they are overweight they don’t need any extras. Eggs are especially nutritious and can be given once or twice a week, raw or cooked, with or without shell.