Most folks already know that pigs eat all kinds of foods, from vegetables like carrots and potatoes to various kinds of fruit and grains and, of course, meat.
Typically, pigs are happy to get any meat that you will give them, and seemingly no cut is beneath them. They will even eat pork from their fellow pigs!
But how about novel sources of meat, something out of the ordinary? What about fish? Can pigs eat fish?
Yes, pigs can eat fish safely with few concerns as long as it is cooked. Fish is a good source of nutrients for pigs, including protein, good fats, and vitamins and minerals. Don’t let pigs eat raw fish because this increases the likelihood of them getting foodborne illnesses.
It’s kind of funny that you rarely hear people talk about giving fish to pigs considering that seafood-derived bone meal is a relatively common ingredient in some feeds.
But whatever the case, I’m here to give you more information if you want to make fish a regular part of your herd’s diet, and I can tell you right now that there are plenty of good reasons to do so!
Do Pigs Even Like Fish?
Some do, others don’t, but all pigs will eat fish if they are hungry enough…
Pigs tend not to be picky eaters, but then again each pig is an individual: in my experience, there are some pigs that just don’t care for fish and will avoid it if they have other things to eat.
That being said, if you take the time to mix cooked fish in with other ingredients, it’ll be a rare day when a pig will pass that up!
Is Fish Healthy for Pigs?
I’m happy to report that yes, it absolutely is! Fish is one of the very best animal proteins out there, and it is bursting with protein, healthy fats, and tons of vitamins and minerals that pigs need in order to thrive.
It’s no exaggeration to say that fish tends to be one of the most complete proteins out there and is one of only a few great sources of vital fatty acids like Omega 3s.
But beyond this, virtually every kind of fish out there will supply your animals with abundant phosphorus, selenium, iron, iodine, and vitamins like B12, A, D, and plenty of vitamin E.
This excellent nutritional profile will improve every facet of a pig’s health, from metabolism and growth to disease resistance and healing. You can make a great case for including fish as a regular part of a pig’s diet!
Is Raw Fish Okay for Pigs?
Not really. Wild pigs will certainly eat raw fish and like most wild animals they are pretty good about digesting it, pigs still prove to be quite vulnerable to foodborne illnesses and, especially, parasites.
You might get away with giving your pigs raw fish of the highest quality, say of the kind that is typically used for sushi, but even that is risky.
Is Cooked Fish Okay for Pigs?
Yes, cooked fish is just fine for pigs. I say this is the preferred way to feed it to them since you’ll all but eliminate the risks of disease as mentioned above while giving up only a little bit of vitamin and mineral content in return.
Are Fish Bones Safe for Pigs?
Yes, as long as they aren’t too big. Pigs can easily crunch up and eat small fish bones.
Is Fish Dangerous to Pigs in Any Way?
Not if you’re preparing the fish carefully and only giving them known species. Assuming that you aren’t feeding your pigs any unknown fish you pulled out of the river or the ocean, you don’t have much to fear if the fish is cooked.
There are plenty of toxic fish out there or species that are covered with defensive body parts like spines and stingers, but this is more of an academic risk than a practical one.
How Often Can Pigs Have Fish?
Pigs can have fish every day if you want to make that the primary source of protein in their diet. As mentioned above, it is a uniformly excellent option for them from a nutritional standpoint.
Pigs need anywhere from 14% to 18% of their total daily caloric intake as crude protein, depending on what stage of life they are in.
Piglets and nursing sows need more, weaners and pigs that are being finished need a little less. Adjust the amount of fish you give your pigs accordingly, and don’t forget to account for other sources of protein in their diet.
How Can I Feed My Pigs Fish?
They’re all sorts of ways to give fish to your pigs, and as long as you’re cooking it, you can be pretty sure that it will be safe and they will love it.
It is possible to cook whole fish, or large cuts of fish, and serve them as-is because pigs can easily tear them apart. Or you can chop or flake the fish and then mix it in with other food to make an interesting mash for them.
And remember, pigs are entirely happy to eat fish whole from head to tail, so you don’t necessarily have to cut them up if you don’t want to; just take care that every pig gets a portion.
Can Piglets Have Fish, Too?
Yes, baby pigs can eat fish too but with the caveat that they are old enough to be eating solid food at all times.
Also, think twice before you give piglets any raw fish: piglets are even more prone to infection from germs and parasites than adults are, and the effects can easily be fatal for a little piglet.
Don’t forget that piglets have high nutritional demands that must be met, so make sure that they’re getting a complete diet! As good as it is, fish cannot be the only part of their diet.
Are All Kinds of Fish Safe to Serve to Pigs?
Yes, so long as they are not toxic or rotten, and as long as they aren’t covered with spines, spikes, barbels, or other sharp body parts that might cause pigs to choke.
Are Fish Guts Okay for Pigs?
Fish guts are gross, but okay for pigs so long as they are cooked. I highly advise against letting your pigs eat raw fish guts.
Will Pigs Eat Fish Heads?
They sure will. Pigs will consume a fish in its entirety, including the tail, fins, and bones.
Will Fish Make Pigs Fat?
Unlikely, unless they are getting way, way too much food. Among animal proteins fish tends to be low in calories but high in nutrients.
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.