Pretty much everyone knows by now that pigs have incredibly varied diets. There’s almost nothing that they cannot eat safely and get nutrition from. That’s one of the great things about owning pigs!
But depending on who you ask, you might hear some strong opinions concerning whether or not pigs can, or should, eat meat. It’s definitely a touchy subject with some people. So what’s the real story? Can pigs eat meat or not?
Yes, meat is okay for pigs to eat. Meat is a terrific source of protein and other crucial nutrients that they need. Adding meat to a pig’s diet can help them grow and put on weight quickly, but meat should be cooked to reduce instances of infection.
There’s an awful lot of lore, and also some hard-earned experience, concerning the feeding of meat to pigs. Some people have no problem with it, and other people would rather get out of the business and get rid of their pigs before they did.
It’s a complicated subject, but one that you can easily tackle yourself with just a little bit of guidance. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about giving meat to your pigs in the rest of this article.
Is Meat Healthy for Pigs?
Yes. The bottom line upfront is that meat is a healthy option for pigs and a natural source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that they desperately need.
Wild pigs are also omnivores and would eat meat when they could catch it or when it was available in some other way.
Especially in a domestic setting, where getting pigs to reach a suitable weight for slaughter quickly is critical, adding meat to their diet is one of the very best ways to accomplish this reliably.
Pigs grow quickly, and accordingly, they will need plenty of protein and plenty of calories in equal measure.
But they need more than just that: they will need vitamins and minerals in order to attain optimal health. Meat can also provide these, especially in the form of various B vitamins and critical minerals like zinc, iron, phosphorus and selenium.
Of course, the exact nutritional profile of meat varies depending on the species of animal that it comes from, but all kinds of meat, from beef to chicken, can provide what pigs need.
This alone is a great reason to incorporate meat into the diet of your herd one way or the other.
How Does a Pig’s Digestive System Handle Meat?
Contrary to the assessments of some people, a pig’s digestive tract is indeed equipped to handle meat, and plenty of it. Pigs are omnivores, meaning they’re able to digest both plant matter and meat.
In fact, a pig’s stomach is virtually identical in function to our own, standing in stark contrast to the stomachs of purely herbivorous livestock like goats, sheep, cows, and horses.
When a pig eats meat of any kind and in any form, the meat will be broken down in the stomach initially via digestive acids before moving into the small intestine where all of the macro- and micronutrients are absorbed for use in the body.
After that, the large intestine will move it a little farther down the line to prepare it for being excreted as waste along with everything else that the pig eats.
Pigs can easily handle meat, and quite a bit of it, and though you don’t want to feed them a strictly carnivorous diet, they will easily and gladly partake of meat if you serve it to them.
Are There Any Side Effects if Pigs Eat Meat?
No, not under most circumstances. Assuming the meat is fresh, cooked and if given to pigs as part of a well-rounded diet you should not expect any negative consequences.
However, there is lots of anecdotal evidence to suggest that pigs that are accustomed to getting meat in their diet regularly might become more aggressive towards each other, to other animals, and to human beings if they are underfed or starving.
This will not always be the case, but it is something to be aware of. Regardless, pigs tend to be large and powerful animals and caution is always advised when you are working near them and especially if you are inside their pen.
Do Pigs Even Like Meat?
Yes, they do! Pigs really like meat, and if they aren’t fed on a regular basis they can even get a little pushy over it, or rather pushier than usual.
Is Raw Meat Okay for Pigs?
Not really. While wild pigs would not have any real opportunity to get cooked meat, it isn’t so for our domestic pigs.
Make no mistake, domestic pigs can eat raw meat, and they will, but you shouldn’t make it a point to feed it to them deliberately
Raw meat, of any kind, is always going to be swarming with bacteria and other microorganisms that can infect your pigs and make them extremely sick or even kill them. This is even the case for the freshest and highest quality meat.
Another problem is that these diseases can jump the gap from pig to person, at least some of them can, potentially infecting you and your family.
Is Cooked Meat Okay for Pigs?
Yes, cooked meat is just fine for pigs and is definitely preferable to raw meat as a usual part of their diet. Aside from being a whole lot safer, it is also easier for pigs to digest.
Can Pigs Have Chicken?
Yes, pigs can have chicken and they tend to really like it. Chicken is one of the best kinds of meat for pigs all around, being highly nutritious, typically lean and easily digestible.
Can Pigs Have Turkey?
Yes, they can. Although it is less commonly given to pigs turkey has many of the same advantages that chicken does.
Can Pigs Have Beef?
Yes. Lean beef is absolutely packed with protein and minerals, and is a superb choice for pigs offset somewhat only by its increased cost.
Can Pigs Have Lamb?
Yes. Lamb and mutton are not common menu items for pigs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t eat it. They definitely will, and they will enjoy it!
Can Pigs Have Goat Meat?
Yes. A particularly uncommon meat in the United States, for human or livestock consumption, goat is nonetheless edible by pigs.
Can Pigs Have Fish?
Yes, surprisingly enough! I know it’s hard to imagine a set of circumstances or a pig could even get fish in the wild, all you need to know is that they can certainly benefit from this extremely nutritious animal protein. In my experience, lots of pigs seem to really like fish as a treat.
Can Pigs Have… Pork?!
Yes, believe it or not, pigs can eat pig, er, pork. But as usual, you want to make sure it is cooked before you feed it to them otherwise they can easily contract dangerous parasites.
And before you ask: most evidence points to the fact that feeding pork to pigs does not promote hostility among the herd. It does, however, increase the likelihood that the herd will eat any pig that dies among them. Something to keep in mind…
Is it Okay for Pigs to Eat Rotting Meat?
No! Pigs have a reputation of eating absolutely anything, including nasty garbage that the rest of us would throw away.
When it comes to meat, you never want to give your pigs any cut of meat that has spoiled. Pigs will eat it, yes, but they are far more vulnerable to foodborne diseases than you might think.
Any meat you give your pigs should be healthy, wholesome, and fresh.
How Often Can Pigs Eat Meat?
Pigs can have meat regularly, as often as every day so long as it is part of a balanced diet. A good guideline is that you should spread out your pig’s daily meat consumption, feeding them the total amount over the course of several feedings, not one big one.
Feeding Meat To Pigs
You have lots of options for giving me to your pigs as long as it is cooked. From there you can cut it up into cubes, shred it or even give them a whole cut like a roast if you want to.
I highly recommend you prepare it in a way that makes it easier for the herd to each get a portion to reduce the possibility of fighting over a single, large cut.
Can Piglets Have Meat, Too?
Yes, little piglets can have meat also as soon as they are eating solid food all the time in place of milk. The quantity you give them should be dictated by their calorie and nutritional requirements.
Can Pigs Eat Bones?
Yes, pigs can eat bones. However, they should only be fed small, raw bones for safety.
Will Eating Meat Make Pigs Aggressive?
Not typically. However, plenty of historical and anecdotal accounts suggest that pigs that are fed meat might become aggressive if they are underfed or starving.
Can Potbelly Pigs Have Meat?
Yes, potbelly pigs can have meat just like all other breeds.
Can Mini-pigs Eat Meat?
Yes, they sure can. Mini pigs can also eat meat with no problems according to the guidelines detailed above.
Will a Diet of Meat Make Pigs Fat?
It can. Meat should be fed to pigs as part of a nutritionally correct diet according to their age and requirements. Meat is high in calories and can easily cause them to gain too much weight.
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.