Supplementing the diet of our livestock with vegetables just makes sense. Veggies are so nutritious and wholesome; surely they are as good for pigs as they are for us, especially when you consider the varied appetites they have.
Much of the time this is true, but the unique biology of pigs means that not everything is okay for them to eat. And that includes some vegetables.
One contentious veggie is broccoli. Some say it is okay, others disagree. Who is right? Is broccoli safe for pigs to eat or not?
Yes, broccoli is safe for pigs as a smaller supplement to their usual diet. Broccoli is packed with good nutrients but can become toxic for them in high amounts.
There’s a lot of static out there concerning the safety status of broccoli for pigs and other animals.
Some folks correctly point out the fact that broccoli, and related vegetables, contain harmful compounds. Others maintain that these compounds are only a problem if pigs get way too much of the stuff.
Like most of these debates, each side makes good points but the practical answer is somewhere between the two extremes. It’s nothing to worry about, really, and I’ll explain it all below…
Bottom Line: Is Broccoli Toxic or Not?
I suppose we should clear this up before we go any further.
The straight answer is that broccoli does contain compounds which can become toxic for pigs. But practically speaking, this is only possible if pigs get way too much broccoli or other brassica genus vegetables in their diet.
Let me explain…
Without delving too far into the science of it, broccoli has certain compounds called glucosinolates. Lots of other vegetables contain these same compounds, including cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
But moving on, when these plants are digested they will break down further to release certain potentially harmful enzymes, and it is these enzymes in actuality which can be harmful to pigs in high amounts.
They can be harmful because they can interfere with the bloodstream, specifically by damaging red blood cells and preventing the oxygenation of blood, causing a type of anemia. That’s no good!
Potentially worse in the long run, these enzymes can interfere with a pig’s thyroid gland; specifically by disrupting the hormones necessary for the regulation of metabolism.
Sounds scary, right? It definitely is, and these side effects are no joke. They can be life-threatening!
But, practically speaking any given pig would have to eat a whole lot of broccoli or the other related vegetables containing these harmful compounds for this to be even within the realm of possibility.
That isn’t to say it cannot and has not happened: it has. But assuming you are doing your job and giving your herd, a properly balanced diet with the right amount of good foods in it, including broccoli, there is not one thing to worry about.
Do Pigs Like Broccoli?
Yes, generally. Pigs tend to enjoy broccoli, especially the crunchy florets and the smaller stems. They will eat the thick, woody stems but they generally don’t prefer them over the better bits.
Is Broccoli Healthy for Pigs?
Yes, it is, as long as they get the right amounts. Broccoli has a justified reputation as a supremely nutritious vegetable, and that’s because it contains a huge array of vitamins and minerals. All of these nutrients can benefit your pigs!
The vitamin content of broccoli is particularly impressive, as it contains a great amount of vitamin A and many B-complex vitamins in abundance, including B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6. Broccoli also contains a good amount of vitamin C and vitamin K along with a little bit of vitamin E, folate, and choline. Truly impressive!
But the mineral lineup is no slouch either, and broccoli is full of manganese and magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, iron, calcium, and zinc.
This makes broccoli a powerhouse vegetable when it comes to boosting immune system performance, nervous system health, organ function, and a whole lot more.
Regular but small amounts of broccoli in a pig’s diet can help keep them safe from all kinds of diseases and help them resist the ravages of aging and injury. I promise these are all benefits that you want for your herd!
Is Raw Broccoli Safe for Pigs?
Yes, raw broccoli is totally safe for pigs and is the best way to feed it to them. It’s plenty easy for them to eat and contains a great amount of nutrients, both vitamins and minerals.
Are Broccoli Florets Okay for Pigs?
Yes, they are. Broccoli florets, or crowns, are those little seed-like buds that grow all over the top. They’re nutritious, tender, and tasty, and pigs love them.
Are Broccoli Stems Okay for Pigs?
Yes. Pigs will eat broccoli stems but they greatly prefer the smaller, branching stems right under the floor rather than a large, thick stalk. Nonetheless, they will usually eat the entire stalk.
Can Pigs Have The Leaves?
Yes, they can. Broccoli leaves are nearly as nutritious as the rest of the plant, and pigs will eat them.
Can They Eat Cooked Broccoli?
They can. If you have picky eaters in your herd, cooking broccoli may be just the thing to make it more appealing to them. However, the cooking process will reduce the vitamin content significantly, and the mineral content to a lesser degree.
How Often Can Pigs Eat Broccoli?
Pigs can have broccoli regularly as part of their diet but only if they get it in small amounts and get it periodically. Don’t give it to them every day.
As a rule of thumb, you can give each of your pigs a couple of cups of broccoli daily, a few times a week.
But, keep an eye on them and make sure they are handling it okay. If you notice diarrhea or a loss of appetite, back off on the broccoli. The same as with any other new food that you introduce.
How Can I Feed My Pigs Broccoli?
Your pigs will happily crunch on a whole head of broccoli, but you’ll have a much easier time measuring out the portions and integrating them into their diet if you roughly chop it into pieces. Remember, they can eat the stalk just fine.
Mixing broccoli in with other vegetables, grains, and various other foods they like is a great way to get it into their diet.
Can Piglets Have Broccoli, Too?
Yes, but be cautious. Baby piglets should be eating nothing but solid food, no more milk, before they have broccoli for the first time and make sure you adjust the portion size for them since they are so much smaller.
Getting too much broccoli or other brassica genus vegetables in their diet can easily make piglets very sick.
Some More Facts
Is broccoli safe for mini pigs?
Yes, broccoli is safe for mini pigs according to the guidelines above. Make sure you reduce the serving size since they are so much smaller than most breeds.
Is broccoli okay for potbelly pigs to eat?
Yes, potbelly pigs can eat broccoli with no problem as long as you don’t give them too much.
Can pigs eat yellowed broccoli?
Yes, they can. Yellow broccoli doesn’t taste very good to us, but pigs don’t seem to mind it. As long as it isn’t molding, rotting, or going slimy it is just fine for them.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.