Appropriate vitamins and supplements for pigs will vary for each pig, his/her health, dietary needs, environment, age, weight, and feed. There are no hard and fast rules of vitamins or supplements. A high quality, fresh, commercial mini pig pelleted feed is supposed to have everything your pig needs. However, some vitamins and minerals are less stable than others, are damaged during manufacture, improper storage, heat, moisture, or during shelf life. For this reason, some may choose to supplement their pig’s diet to ensure they are getting everything they need. Supplements and vitamins should be discussed with your veterinarian if you have questions about your pigs individual needs.
The following are optional supplements pig owners may choose for their pigs. You do not need to use all of these. Remember that oils are lubricating and will lubricate the digestive tract if introduced too fast. Start slow with oils and increase dosage to bowel tolerance. Also keep in mind calories. Oils are calorie dense. Fed in excess, or in a diet of other excess, oils can contribute to obesity. Supplements are not “free” calories just because they are healthy. Keep in mind your pig’s overall food and nutritional intake when adding supplements. Some vitamins, minerals, supplements are toxic if overdosed, others will be excreted in urine if not needed.
Two supplements that are recommended for all pet pigs are selenium and vitamin e. The reason to supplement vitamin E and selenium despite their inclusion in a commercial diet, is explained in the pot bellied pig manual by Dr. Lisle George:”Commercial rations are heavily supplemented with vitamin E and selenium. Nevertheless, vitamin E activity declines during prolonged storage. Piglets that are not otherwise supplemented with vitamin E may develop deficiency despite being fed adequate amounts of a balanced food. This condition is characterized by lameness, recumbence, poor hair coat, dry, crusty skin, and acute death from myocardiopathy and pulmonary edema.”
VITAMIN E: (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
Vitamin E is probably the most important addition to your pig’s diet. It is an essential nutrient in the body and works with selenium to keep the pig healthy. A deficiency in either of these will result in a painful and possibly lethal disease. There are many factors that influence vitamin E concentrations and requirements. Some of these include: artificial drying of grains, storage time and conditions, unsaturated fatty acids, and selenium concentrations. Vitamin E, even though added to commercial mini pig pellets, will break down with improper storage, during manufacture of feed, and during a normal shelf life. Due to the importance of this vitamin in the body and the instability of the vitamin in commercial feeds, the only way to ensure your pig is getting enough is to supplement.
One 400 IU capsule per day will provide sufficient vitamin E for your pig with no toxic risks.
Foods naturally rich in Vitamin E: almonds, raw sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, swiss chard, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens, kale, plant oils, hazelnuts, pine nuts, broccoli, and papaya.
SELENIUM: (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
Selenium is an essential nutrient. It is added to good quality mini pig feed pellets. Cathy Zolicani has advised an additional selenium dose of 150 to 300 mcg given ONCE PER WEEK. You will find selenium supplements in the human supplement aisle at the store or you can get horse vitamin e/selenium supplements from Tractor Supply or your local farm store. ElevateSe is a good horse supplement you can give to your pigs instead of the human selenium tablet. ElevateSe can be given at the dose of 1 tsp each week.
Many healthy foods are good sources of selenium but the amount cannot be guaranteed because the actual selenium in the food will depend on the selenium content of the soil it was grown in. Some parts of the United States have selenium deficient soil, producing selenium deficient crops. It is safest to add once a week supplement to avoid terrible and devastating nutritional deficiencies. However, selenium is toxic if overdosed. Only a small amount is needed, be careful to not overdose. Mini pigs fed a commercial diet should not be given selenium supplementation more than once per week.
Foods naturally rich in selenium include: barley, brown rice, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Most pigs may benefit from a good quality children’s multivitamin daily. Young piglets can have 1/2 children’s vitamin daily. Pigs over 6 months or 25 lbs can have 1 children’s vitamin daily. Be aware gummy vitamins are terrible for dental health, as any chewy foods are, and loaded with sugar. Some pig owners prefer to find a vitamin with no aspartame (artificial sweetener) or gelatin (often includes porcine ingredients).
Yucca root is an extraordinary supplement useful for a variety of reasons. This supplement is truly one of nature’s miracles. However, it can cause problems if given in large quantity. Supplement in moderation, only as needed. Always consult your veterinarian with any questions, concerns, or recommendations.
Benefits may include:
- anti inflammatory
- pain relief
- decreases feces odors
- aids in digestion
- appetite stimluant for weak or ill pigs
- relieve skin issues when used in shampoos
- vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorous, protein, and B vitamins
According to Clara Fenger, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, “the recommended feeding rate for general use is 60 g per ton of feed, which translates to 30 mg per pound of feed, which would be about 40 to 50 mg of Yucca per pig per day. This is about 1/100 teaspoon. The dose recommendation for decreasing the ammonia in the feces is 125 mg/kg, or about 4 – 5 grams per pig per day, which is about one teaspoon per day. Yucca has not been specifically evaluated for use against intestinal protozoa (giardia) in mini pigs, but was successful in lambs in treatment of giardia at 10 g (2 teaspoons) per day.”
Use 100% pure Yucca Schidigera root (order here).
Coconut oil is a great supplement for pigs. You can pour it over their food, rub it on them, or refrigerate it into bite sized treats using a mini muffin pan, silicone mold, or ice cube tray. 1 tablespoon per 25 pounds daily. Coconut oil is great for skin and hair health among other benefits. Order the AMPA Mini Pig Cookbook here, or check out the AMPA Blog Recipes here, for great coconut oil treat recipes!
REFINED OR UNREFINED?
Refined or unrefined coconut oil is a personal preference. Either variety is ok, but they are distinctly different. Unrefined has purity and added health benefits. Organic Virgin Cold Pressed coconut oil is going to have the most nutrients and health benefits.
Unrefined coconut oil may be referred to as virgin or pure. This is the preferred form of coconut oil for nutritional supplementation and health benefits. Processing the fresh coconut meat prevents contamination found in other methods, so the harsh chemicals used for refined coconut oil aren’t needed. Unrefined coconut oil has more phytonutrients and polyphenols. Unrefined coconut oil is richer in proteins, vitamins, and anti oxidants. This variety of coconut oil smells and tastes of fresh coconut. If you choose unrefined, organic is best, look for “pure” “unrefined” “virgin” or “extra virgin” “cold pressed” on the label. Unrefined coconut oil can be processed as Cold Pressed or Expeller Pressed. Cold pressing retains more nutrients than expeller pressed.
Refined coconut oil has been through a manufacturing process. This manufacturing process may use bleach or other harsh chemicals. These chemicals will not be on the label because they are used in processing, not an ingredient. Food regulations only require ingredients on the label. The reason to use bleach and harsh chemicals is to whiten the oil, to deodorize to remove the distinct coconut scent and flavor, and added sodium hydroxide to prolong its shelf life. Many nutritive factors are damaged or destroyed during the refinement process such as phytonutrients. Refined coconut oil is typically derived from coconut meat that has been dried (copra). The benefits of refined coconut oil are cost, absent flavor (good for baking), and a higher smoking point of 450 degrees (unrefined coconut oil has a smoking point of 350 degrees).
Cold Pressed or Expeller pressed?? http://www.coconutoilfacts.org/cold-pressed-coconut-oil.php
Cold pressed coconut oil is processed at or below 120 degrees. It will have a mild coconut flavor. This lower temperature processing preserves more nutrients than other methods, particularly the phenolic compounds.
Expeller pressed coconut oil is processed at higher temperatures resulting in a more toasted coconut flavor. This method uses a higher temperature than cold pressed, losing some nutrients int he process. This is still far lower temperature than refined coconut oil, therefore preserves more of the nutrients.
Benefits of coconut oil internally (eaten)
- Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and iron
- Lauric acic, CAprylic acid, and Capric acid
- Boosts immune system
- Supports healthy skin
- Promotes heart health
- Promotes healthy brain function
- Supports thyroid function
- Promotes healthy skin
- Has been shown to dramatically reduce seizures in epileptic children
- Benefits of coconut oil externally
- Moisturizes dry skin
- Promotes healthy hair
- Heals cracks and chapped skin
- Heals minor sunburn (avoid sun!)
- Helps to sooth and heal damaged irritated skin
- Bug bites
- Used on teeth promotes dental health:
Benefits of coconut oil http://wellnessmama.com/13700/benefits-coconut-oil-pets/
Ways to use coconut oil http://everydayroots.com/coconut-oil-uses
Coconut oil, refined or unrefined. Not all coconut oil is the same quality!!
Choosing a coconut oil https://www.organicfacts.net/…/unrefined-coconut-oil.html
Refined vs unrefined coconut oil http://www.livestrong.com/article/318185-refined-vs-unrefined-coconut-oil/#page=1
Guide to choosing a coconut oil http://www.foodrenegade.com/how-to-choose-a-good-coconut-oil/
Healthy pigs can be given 100 to 150 mg EPA and DHA per 10 pounds of body weight daily; pigs who have health problems (arthritis, seasonal allergies, or dry skin) can be given up to 300 mg per 10 pounds of body weight.
With fish oil, check the ingredients. You want as few ingredients as possible. Gelatin and glycerin are common to make the capsule. No getting around that. Tocopherols are used as a preservative and stabilizer. No problem. Avoid anything extra, you don’t want rosemary or anything else added. Look for “fish oil” not enteric coated or burpless, just fish oil.
Fish oil is one of the most commonly used supplements in veterinary medicine. It is so well known and used that it is considered a mainstream or conventional medication instead of an alternative medication. This has the benefit of bringing a lot of exposure and clinical experience of fish oil use in pets. Fish oil supports their heart health and immune system
With fish oil you want to look at the total Omega-3. On the back will show DHA, EPA, and Total OMEGA-3. It’s the total Omega 3 you look at for dosing. Also check the serving size. That # can be for 1 capsule or 2 capsules. Introduce any oil into your pig’s diet slowly or you will deal with diarrhea while their digestive tracts adjust. Most pills are 300 to 360 Omega-3 per pill. If it says 720 Omega-3, check serving size, that may be for 2 pills, meaning each pill would be 360 mg. You can also find more concentrated fish oil pills with a higher concentration of Omega-3 requiring less pills per day for larger pigs.
Benefits may include:
- Nourishes & promotes healthy skin and hair
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces arthritis pain
- Boost in immune system
- Aids in fighting infections
- Reduced joint discomfort
- Increased stamina
- Reduced risk of stroke or heart problems
- Antioxidant properties lower cancer risk
- Relief of allergy symptoms
- Helpful in treating kidney disease
- May shrink tumors
Some information on fish oil http://www.dog-swim.com/clinical-services/nutritional-supplements/fish-oil
Fish oil use in pigs http://sciencenordic.com/fish-oil-helps-pigs-through-operations
Adult or mature pigs do not need supplemental iron. These pigs have a very low need for iron and excess iron can be toxic. They are able to get iron from rooting in the dirt. If they have no access to the outdoors it’s best to feed them iron rich foods. Young piglets with no access to dirt may be given a 1/2 children’s vitamin with iron 2-3 times per week. A better solution would be to bring in some dirt for them to root through daily to get a variety of essential minerals.
According to Cathy Zolicani, too much iron supplementation “can select for bad enteric bacteria and cause significant diarrhea. Enough is in the pelleted diets and things like spinach that she does not need to worry about it. Iron supplementation is for young piglets, those with whip worms, and those that have bleeding for some reason.”
Foods naturally rich in iron include: spinach, other dark leafy greens, beans (lima beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, or split peas), lentils, breakfast cereals enriched with iron, wheat germ, rice, sunflower seeds and nuts (peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews).
Biotin is a coenzyme and a B vitamin, an essential nutrient that is used for hair, skin and nail (hoof) growth. It is available in many natural foods and also in pig pelleted feed. Some pigs may require extra biotin. If your pigs hair or hooves are dry, brittle, sparse, or cracking, then a biotin supplement may help the pig with new healthier growth (of hair and hooves). 1 biotin supplement daily per pig. These will come in capsule or gummy forms in the human supplement aisle. 1,000 mcg biotin daily is sufficient for the needs of most mini pigs.
Or, you can give Horseshoers Secret which is a horse pelleted supplement. It supplies biotin, zinc, trace minerals, and omega fatty acids to help with healthy skin and hooves. 1 teaspoon per week is recommended for pigs.
Foods naturally rich in biotin include nuts, root vegetables, and eggs.
For healthy skin. If a pig is taking a multi-vitamin there is no need for extra Vitamin C. If skin conditions persist, supplemental Vitamin C may improve skin condition if the condition is due to a deficiency of Vitamin C. You can find pills or gummy vitamins in the pharmacy. Dose is 500 mg daily per pig.
WHEAT GERM OIL:
Wheat Germ & Wheat Germ Oil is another supplement that some use internally or externally. Oral dose is 1 ounce oil or 1 tsp powder mixed with food each day. Store in fridge to prevent oil from going rancid. Can also be used in cooking/baking treats or mixed in with pellets, yogurt, or pumpkin.
- Promotes skin & hair health
- Rich in Vitamin E
- Rich in essential fatty acids Omega 3-6-9
- Rich in magnesium
- Rich in vitamin B, helps repair tissues
- Promotes stable blood sugar levels
Benefits applied externally:
- Heals dry, cracked skin
- Moisturizes skin
- Delivers vitamin A, vitamin D, B vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR:
Said to be beneficial in many ways, although little has been proven. Can be used internally or externally. Available at the grocery store. Unfiltered, organic or raw apple cider vinegar is preferred for the health benefits. \. Also offer plain water in a separate bowl nearby in case your pet chooses not to drink the ACV to prevent dehydration.
Benefits of ACV may include:
- Supports natural body functions Supports healthy urinary tract
- Relief of constipation
- Supports immune system
- Promotes digestion and ph balance
- Supports healthy skin
- Supports healthy gut bacteria
- High in potassium
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels
- Soothes sunburn, insect bites, abrasions, stings, and other skin ailments
- Insect repellent
- Increases absorption of essential nutrients in other foods
- Scours, or loose stool
“Since early times raw, natural ACV has been known as “Mother nature’s perfect food”. ACV contains acetic acid; an undissociated weak organic acid that acts by disrupting the energy, sustenance and transport systems of aggressive bacteria and microorganisms. Harmful organisms thrive in weakly acidic or mildly alkaline conditions. You can be confident that through regular use of ACV your stock will be able to cope with the demands of intensive farming and production. It is also believed to help correct deficiencies that are the result of poor nutrition. It supports natural body functions and is ideal for preventing illnesses. ACV contains Malic Acid which improves the digestive process and stimulates the animals’ appetite by buffering the pH in the gut. ACV targets infections by purifying the blood and allowing the animals natural defense system to fight back.”
Not exactly a supplement, but used as a chemical free natural dewormer when fed to pigs (ONLY FOOD GRADE DE) to rid them of intestinal parasites. This has not been proven effective and many pigs that are dewormed with DE will be full of roundworms. When used in conjunction with chemical dewormers such as ivermectin and fenbendazole you’ll be sure to have all bases covered.
Also can be applied to their skin to rid them of fleas, although it is very drying and will exacerbate dry skin. Can be sprinkled on their beds, blankets, indoors, outdoors, in the yard, on the dirt, all over their environment to eradicate many pests. Sprinkle over poop to control flies and other insects.
Since it is safe to eat it’s totally find to sprinkle where they graze. Also safe for dogs and other pets. Can be found at Tractor Supply or other farm stores. Must be food grade. It’s so safe and natural that many people ingest it also.
Wonderful website on DE and it’s uses: http://wolfcreekranch1.tripod.com/defaq.html
Excellent DE info http://diatomaceous.org/
Not a supplement, but very useful none the less. 100% pure pumpkin. It will bulk and binds food together so will help relieve constipation and diarrhea. This is not pumpkin pie filling even though there is a picture of pumpkin pie on the front. Look for “100% pure” and on the back look at ingredients. The only ingredient should be pumpkin. Great as a snack and for sneaking in liquid medications also. Mix worming medications or other liquids into the pumpkin for a special snack and they won’t even know they took their medications. Should be fed to pigs as surgery care to keep their bowels moving. Anesthesia and pain medications are constipating, pain will further the constipation causing them to not eat and complications may develop including ulcers. 1/4 can of pumpkin twice a day before and after surgery will keep everything moving as it should.
Vitamin E & Selenium Nutritional Deficiencies:
Vitamin E/Selenium deficiency dangers:
Vitamin E Deficiency http://www.thepigsite.com/diseaseinfo/69/mulberry-heart-disease-vitamin-e-deficiency
Vitamin E and Selenium Relationship http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02870/selenium.html
Vitamin E/Selenium deficiency http://www.carrsconsulting.com/thepig/disorders/chest/mulberry/mulberryheartdisease06.htm
Other Considerations and Vitamin/Mineral needs:
Vitamin E and Selenium have a special relationship. The body cannot absorb and use one without sufficient amounts of the other. A deficiency in either will result in a terrible and possibly lethal disease.
“Are there any other special considerations?
It is best to take selenium and vitamin E together as they facilitate each other’s absorption. Gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease may block selenium absorption. Avoid taking inorganic forms, such as selenium selenite, which adversely interacts with Vitamin C and other nutrients.”
“Muscle disease. Vitamin E deficiency is a well-known cause of nutritional myopathy (white muscle disease) in a variety of animals. This disorder is most commonly seen in pigs, cattle and sheep, and is characterized by cardiac and skeletal muscle necrosis and calcification, sometimes observed shortly after birth. In many cases, there is a clear interaction between vitamin E and selenium deficiency in the pathogenesis of this syndrome.”
“The most important synergistic relationships to remember are that: vitamin A cannot be released from storage without zinc; 86 cannot be used at all without zinc; calcium, magnesium and vitamin D function together; so do selenium and vitamin E; 86 and magnesium”
“When deficiency occurs, metabolic pathways are disturbed and damage results. In the pig, vitamin E and selenium – working in conjunction – are the primary limiting anti-oxidants and it is deficiency of one or both of these that is associated with typical disease problems. ”
“Vitamin E is widespread in feed stuffs including vegetable oils, cereals and green plants but problems arise often from using polyunsaturated fats in diets as sources of energy which destroys the vitamins. Vitamin E is necessary for the optimum function and metabolism of the nervous, muscular, circulatory and immune systems. It helps to maintain the integral structure of muscles in the digestive and reproductive systems and is involved in the synthesis of certain amino acids and vitamin C. It has a close relationship with selenium metabolism. The less selenium in the diet the greater is the requirement for vitamin E.”
Mulberry Heart Disease (vitamin E deficiency) – Disease of Pigs from The Pig Site. Pig Diseases List:
Vitamins- why they’re needed, stability, sources, ect
Pig nutritional needs from the Merck Manual:
Pig nutritional deficiencies from the Merck Manual
Vitamin E/Selenium deficiency dangers:
Insight from a respected farmer on raising pigs with optimum nutritional naturally
Regarding food pigs but has excellent info and offers insight into overall feeding and nutritional needs.