When it comes to drinking milk and eating dairy products, humans are the only creatures that continue to consume them well into adulthood.
Pigs are mammals too, of course, and naturally, they get a steady diet of milk when they are very young, but sows and owners don’t let this go on forever.
Some people claim that they can continue to benefit from cheese and other dairy products throughout the rest of their adult lives, too. Is it true? Can pigs eat cheese and have other dairy foods?
Yes, cheese and other dairy foods are safe for pigs in limited amounts. Although they’re packed with protein, calories and nutrients that they need, too much dairy of any kind will cause serious indigestion, and high salt levels in cheeses can cause major problems.
Dairy, as a category of food, is one that you need to be cautious with when it comes to feeding your herd.
Pigs can generally partake of dairy products and cheese safely but you never want to overdo it or else that is going to cause health issues. There’s a lot to consider on the topic, and a lot of different dairy to look at, so I’ll tell you what you need to know below.
Do Pigs Like Cheese and Dairy Products?
Yes, generally they do! All kinds of dairy products are high-calorie foods, and many of them are salty, fatty and satisfying, traits that greatly endear them to pigs. If you’ll let them, they will, of course, pig out on dairy foods!
Are Cheese and Other Kinds of Dairy Healthy for Pigs?
Yes, somewhat. Concerning adult pigs, cheese, and dairy foods generally can always offer them lots of calories for growth and energy, plenty of protein, and a good amount of minerals that they need.
This can make cheese and dairy a healthy, energizing snack or a pretty decent nutritional supplement to their usual diet.
Perhaps most importantly, dairy products are famously rich with calcium, which they always need for skeletal growth and maintenance, and also for healthy teeth and various other processes in the body.
Overall, you can depend on a little bit of dairy now and then to help your pigs grow quickly, grow big and put on extra weight when finishing.
And, not for nothing, most pigs I’ve seen tend to really enjoy the stuff so it will improve their attitude!
Is Milk Okay for Pigs?
Yes, milk is okay for pigs, including adult pigs. Milk is routinely added to various dry foods like grains that are served to pigs, and is also commonly used as the basis for slop.
Is Sour Cream Okay for Pigs?
Yes, sour cream is also okay for pigs. Pay close attention to the amount of salt in it and don’t overdo it, but they’ll will be happy to have sour cream dolloped on top of anything else they are eating or mixed in with other food.
Is Butter Okay for Pigs?
Yes, butter is also okay for pigs but cautiously: butter is extremely high in calories and often loaded with salt, two things that it is easy to overdo when it comes to feeding your herd. I only recommend giving them a little bit of butter mixed in with other food, and do so sparingly.
Is Hard Cheese Okay for Pigs?
Yes, cheese generally is okay for pigs and hard cheese is fine. But note that many hard cheeses are especially packed with salt, like parmesan. If you want to give your herd hard cheese of any kind, try to find a variety or brand that has less sodium.
Is Soft Cheese Okay for Pigs?
Yes, soft cheese is okay for pigs and most really love the stuff. Some soft cheeses can make a good choice for a snack or supplement for them because they tend to be naturally lower in salt than other kinds, like swiss cheese for instance.
Is Ice Cream Okay for Pigs?
No! I know it’s hard to hear, but I say ice cream is a no-go for pigs even though some people delight in giving it to their herd. Ice cream, of any kind and in any form, has way too much sugar, calories, and often other ingredients to be remotely okay for pigs. Just don’t do it!
Are Cheese and Dairy Products Harmful to Pigs in Any Way?
Generally not, but only so long as they’re fed to them in moderation. As mentioned, most dairy products, and certainly cheeses, are packed with sodium which can have negative health consequences for pigs if they get too much.
The condition, sodium poisoning which is also known as hypernatremia, can cause seizures and even be fatal.
In any case, well prior to that point, pigs that are given too much cheese or other dairy will certainly suffer from serious indigestion and probably scours. This will make their life, and yours, miserable.
How Often Can Pigs Eat Cheese and Dairy Products?
So how often can you give pigs cheese or other dairy foods? I prefer to give my herd a few smaller servings a couple of times a week and no more. This will give them maximum benefit and avoid overindulgence.
However, as mentioned above because milk is especially useful as an ingredient in other foods it stands to reason that pigs can have a little bit every day.
A good rule of thumb is that your pigs can have low-sodium dairy daily if they are getting no more than 10% of their total calories from it.
This should be sufficient to avoid any problems.
How Should You Give Cheese and Dairy Products to Your Pigs?
You should give cheese to your pigs as a treat. Accordingly, I like to cube it so that I can easily measure out a portion and give it to each individual pig, or it makes it in with their other food as a little treat.
Milk, or near-liquid dairy like sour cream, can likewise be mixed into other dry foods or you can pour it into a trough or other container to let the pigs gulp it down.
Can Piglets Have Cheese and Dairy Products, Too?
Of course, piglets can have milk, because that’s what they live on for the first few weeks of their life! But can piglets have other dairy foods like cheese?
I say yes, but very cautiously, because as mentioned the salt content is problematic and that can be extra troubling for piglets.
You can make things easier on yourself and reduce the likelihood of problems if you wait until they are switching over to solid food before you let it try a little bit of cheese or other dairy as a treat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Pigs Like Sour Milk?
Yes, they really, really do! There is something about sour milk that pigs just love, and assuming it isn’t truly spoiled any milk that has fermented and gone a little tangy is still fine for them.
Can Pigs Eat Cottage Cheese?
Yes, pigs can also eat cottage cheese but as I’ve already said, you’ve got to watch the salt content. I don’t give my herd cottage cheese except very sparingly, and I always choose the brand with the least amount of sodium.
Can Pigs Eat Feta Cheese?
Yes, feta cheese is safe for them. But, like all other cheeses, be cautious of giving them too much. Feta tends to be quite salty!
Can Mini-pigs Have Cheese and Dairy, Too?
Yes, mini-pigs can have cheese and other dairy foods and moderation just like larger breeds. Be sure to keep a close eye on their calorie intake because they are even more prone to suffering from obesity.
Is Cheese or Milk Good for Pigs’ Growth?
Yes, it can be. Dairy products, aside from supplying plenty of calories and protein, also contain beneficial enzymes that can help pigs produce and stabilize various hormones responsible for rapid, effective growth. Even so, don’t overdo it!
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.