Out of all the different livestock species people commonly keep, I think there’s no question that pigs enjoy the most varied diet of them all.
They get all different kinds of feed, grains, meat, and of course fruits and veggies. And speaking of fruit, you’ll often hear folks caution against giving livestock citrus fruits in particular.
They definitely have something of a tarnished reputation, but why is this? And how about something that’s sweet and wholesome like an orange? Can pigs eat oranges safely?
Yes, oranges and orange peels are safe and nutritious for pigs. However, they should only have them as a small part of their diet. Though packed with vitamins, too many can upset their stomach.
In reality, I think the supposed risks of citrus fruits are entirely overblown… These animals are remarkably hardy and adaptable, and oranges can give them a great boost of energy along with other nutrients they need in their diet.
You don’t need to be afraid of giving your pigs some sweet goodness in the form of oranges. I’ll tell you what you need to know below.
Do Pigs Like Oranges? What About Orange Peels?
Yes, pigs really seem to like oranges, in my experience! And although they prefer the sweet flesh above every other part, they are more than happy to eat the skin from what I’ve seen.
They may or may not eat the skins by themselves, but if you leave the skin on when feeding them orange slices, they’ll gobble them up with no problem.
Are Oranges Beneficial for Pigs?
Yes, oranges are definitely a healthy component of a pig’s diet. They are very sugary and this makes them a great source of concentrated, quick energy.
But more than that, oranges are remarkably healthy with a great assortment of vitamins and a decent array of minerals.
Looking at the vitamin content first, we find a tremendous amount of vitamin C, and oranges are one of the best sources for this critical vitamin.
We also find a good lineup of B complex vitamins in the form of B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate. Besides these, oranges have just a little bit of vitamin E and choline.
Compared to the vitamin content, oranges aren’t great source of minerals but still a respectable one. Many of the minerals are found in the skin so that’s a good reason to feed them to your pigs.
Overall, oranges have a good amount of iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
These are all things that pigs need in order to stay healthy, and oranges are especially good at boosting immune system and circulatory health and helping them deal with heat stress and low energy levels generally.
These are all great benefits, but all they will care about is how good they taste!
Is Orange Flesh Safe for Pigs?
Yes, of course. The sweet, tender flesh of oranges is completely safe for pigs and a great source of dietary fiber.
Are Orange Peels Safe for Pigs?
Yes, they are, contrary to popular conception. Orange peels are a decent source of minerals for pigs and a good source of fiber.
However, pigs tend to ignore the peels if they don’t have that sweet flesh attached, so you probably won’t have much luck feeding them the peels alone.
Can Pigs Eat Whole Oranges?
Yes, they can. Larger pigs will happily eat whole oranges to get at the sweet flesh and juice inside.
Note that smaller animals might struggle to deal with whole, intact oranges, so it’s always worth cutting them into halves or quarters at the least.
Is Orange Juice Okay for Pigs?
No. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing in orange juice that’s directly bad for pigs – they couldn’t eat oranges otherwise – but you don’t want to give pigs a large quantity of orange juice to drink. It’s just way too much concentrated sugar and likely to give them an upset stomach.
Are Cooked Oranges Okay for Pigs?
Yes, but there’s absolutely no reason to cook oranges before giving them to your pigs. Cooking is only going to significantly reduce the vitamin content present in them, and not make them any more edible or appealing to them. Don’t waste your time, get on with life!
Are Oranges Poisonous or Harmful to Pigs in Any Way?
No, oranges are not poisonous to pigs. However, you shouldn’t give them too many or any other very sweet food.
Even though the sugars present in oranges are fructose, naturally occurring fruit sugars, oranges are just too sweet to be eaten in large quantities. That much sugar can easily cause digestive upset.
Another concern is the acidity of oranges, as with most other citrus fruits. This is where all of the cautionary tales come from! Pigs can handle the acidity of oranges just fine as long as they aren’t getting them all the time or getting huge amounts.
But to be clear, it is possible that eating a large quantity could irritate their digestive tract, causing major diarrhea and other issues.
But, these are relatively small concerns so long as you are disciplined and stick to the right schedule for treats and supplements when feeding your pigs.
How Often Can Pigs Eat Oranges?
Occasionally and in limited amounts is the name of the game when feeding oranges to pigs. At no point should they be eating a huge quantity of oranges in one sitting, and they shouldn’t be getting them every day even in smaller amounts.
My rule of thumb is that an adult pig can have a single, large orange up to twice a week. Consider reducing the portion size for younger pigs or smaller breeds. Do that and you won’t have any issues.
How Can I Feed My Pigs Oranges?
The very best way to serve oranges to your pigs is sliced into halves or into quarters.
If you want to make it go further or only give them as treats, you can slice each orange up into its constituent sections. No need to worry about removing the seeds, either, as they can eat them safely.
Now, concerning the peel, pigs will eat them if you leave the flesh on, but they’re a lot less likely to eat the peels by themselves. If you want your herd to eat the whole thing and get maximum nutrition from the orange, leave the peel on.
Can Piglets Have Oranges, Too?
Yes, but only when they are fully on solid foods as their usual diet, and even then, you want to give piglets a very small quantity.
Piglets have more sensitive stomachs compared to adults, and the acidity and sweetness of oranges can easily upset them. This could be particularly problematic for baby piglets because they dehydrate much quicker if they come down with diarrhea.
Give them a small portion as a treat and wash them to see how they do. If it looks like it causes any problems, just give them time to grow up a bit.
Are oranges OK for mini pigs?
Yes, oranges are safe for mini pigs according to all the recommendations above. Just be sure to reduce the portion sizes in accordance with their smaller size.
Are oranges safe for potbelly pigs?
Yes, they sure are. However, be careful about feeding potbelly pigs too much sweet stuff, even fruit, because they have a tendency to put on unhealthy amounts of weight.
Are oranges safe for Kunekune pigs?
Yes, they are. Oranges are also safe for Kunekune pigs.
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.