22 Recipes for Pig Feed (and tips for feeding)

This article contains a compilation of pig feed recipes and feeding tips from myself and other farmers. You’ll want to read the whole page.

One thing you need for pigs, no matter your raising system, is a parasitic worm treatment. The best swine dewormer is Fenbendazole. It’s known by the brand name Safeguard. Safeguard is available as a medicated corn/alfalfa pellet. It’s the only way I can worm my pigs since they won’t stand still for an injection of Ivermectin. It’s easy and cheap.

I use the multi-species version because it’s what’s available in my local store and I can use it for my chickens too. It’s the most effective swine wormer and the easiest to administer. I use it on all weaned piglets and adults twice a year. Don’t go without it.

My Recipes using just Corn and Roasted Soybean

Corn used: yellow dent @ 8 percent protein. Soy used: whole roasted soybean @ 46 percent protein

  • 17.5 percent protein
    • 3 parts corn, one part roasted soybean
  • 15.5 percent protein
    • 4 parts corn, 1 part roasted soybean
  • 14.5 percent protein
    • 5 parts corn, 1 part roasted soybean
  • 13.4 percent protein
    • 6 parts corn, 1 part roasted soybean

*expect a 10 percent or greater increase in digestion efficiency if the corn is finely ground, or soaked in water after weighing.

Formulating a pig feed is basically mixing easily digestible starch and good protein source together to get the desired protein amount. Mineral mix added in is standard, but some producers don’t feel the need for added minerals if their animals are on pasture. Mineral mix should probably be added.

Mineral powder is usually added at a ratio of 60 lbs. per ton of feed, or 3 lbs. per 100 lbs. of feed. Hog mineral is ideal, but a cattle mineral mix will work as a substitute.

Adding in the mineral mix will bring down the above-listed protein ratios by approximately 1/2 percent.

Most hog feed is approximately 80 percent yellow corn, about 15 percent soy, and some added minerals. Sometimes, fat or oils are added to up the calories a bit. Sometimes, fiber is added. It’s useful for pigs past 9 months old, and especially for breeding sows.

If older pigs have access to pasture, they don’t need any additional fiber in their feed, and seldom need much additional vitamins. Most minerals are available in plenty from pasture too.

Alternatively, you can offer vegetation to confined pigs. Some farmers give a little hay or fresh-cut grass to pigs, they absolutely relish fresh grass and it’s full of good vitamins.

My Recipes using fermented corn with roasted soybean

Corn used: yellow dent, fermented @ 10.8 percent protein Soy used: whole roasted @ 46 percent protein

*NOTE: fermenting to a pH of 4.5-4.3 can increase the protein of corn by 30-40 percent and double the lysine content. This recipe assumes a 35 percent protein increase from 8 to 10.8 percent, which is about what I get. The corn is weighed first, then fermented in water for around 48 hours at room temperature.

  • 17.8 percent protein
    • 4 parts fermented corn, fermented, 1 part roasted soybean
  • 16.6 percent protein
    • 5 parts corn, fermented, 1 part roasted soybean
  • 14.2 percent protein
    • 6 parts fermented corn, fermented, 1 part roasted soybean
  • 13.6 percent protein
    • 92 percent corn, fermented, 8 percent roasted soybean

*ingredients measured by weight. Corn is weighed out before fermenting. Remember, adding mineral mix will bring down the overall protein by 1/4 to 1/2 percent, and pigs fed some hay or fresh pasture fodder will always be healthier.

Why Ferment Corn?

Pigs fed fermented corn show better gains, better feed efficiency, and better health than pigs fed a dry mash or pelleted feed. Fermenting corn is considered a grain processing technique and eliminates the need to mill the corn. It adds probiotics, vitamins, and protein to the grain.

Fermenting grains is little more than soaking it in water until it creates enough carbonic acid to bring the pH of the water down below 4.5 (it will be nice and bubbly). I ferment at room temperature for about 36-48 hours. You can test pH with an electric pH tester or pool testing strips.

It’s an extra step, but for us, it helps keep the costs lower by not needing as much protein and it makes the pigs a bit healthier. Here’s an article I wrote on Making Fermented Feed for Pigs

My Recipes using oats, corn, and roasted soybean

Corn used, yellow dent at 8 percent protein, 0.22 percent lysine. Oats used, unhusked (groats) @ 12 percent protein, 0.42 percent lysine. Soybean used, whole roasted @ 46 percent protein, 2.5 percent lysine.

Ingredients are measured by weight

  • 17.76 percent protein
    • 4 parts corn, 3 parts oats, 2 parts roasted soybean
  • 15.75 percent protein
    • 5 parts corn, 2 parts oats, 1 part roasted soybean
  • 12.9 percent protein
    • 6 parts corn, 4 parts oats, 1 part roasted soybean

*Remember, adding mineral powder, around 3 pounds per 100 pounds of feed (60 pounds per ton), will reduce protein by 1/2 a percent or so and is usually needed.

My Recipes using Fermented oats, Fermented corn, and Roasted Soybean

Corn used, fermented dent corn @ 10.8 percent protein, 0.4 percent lysine Oats used, fermented unhusked oats @14.4 percent protein, 0.6 percent lysine Soybean used, whole roasted @ 46 percent protein, 0.25 percent lysine

Ingredients are measured by weight before fermenting

  • 18.14 percent protein
    • 5 parts fermented corn, 5 parts fermented oats, 2 parts roasted soybean
  • 16.1 percent protein
    • 5 parts fermented corn, 2 parts fermented oats, 1 part roasted soybean.
  • 15.57 percent protein
    • 5 parts fermented corn, 5 parts fermented oats, 1 part roasted soybean
  • 14 percent protein
    • 10 parts fermented corn, 3 parts fermented oats,1 part roasted soybean
  • Soy-Free 12.6 percent protein
    • 1 part fermented corn, 1 part fermented oats.

*Remember, adding mineral powder, around 3 pounds per 100 pounds of feed (60 pounds per ton), will reduce protein by 1/2 a percent or so and is usually needed.

I have had folks recommend we limit oats to no more than 10 percent of the total diet for a pig. They cite both too much fiber and decreased pork quality. According to This Article on The Pig Site, young pigs can have 25 percent oats and older pigs up to 40 percent oats without reducing daily muscle gains.

Oats have around 20 percent fewer calories than corn, so it does require about 5-10 percent or more feed when using an oat mix. I personally don’t mind.

There’s also concern over oats negatively impacting the fat quality of pork. Corn tends to make pork fat more saturated, which is firmer. Firm fat doesn’t cook out as easily which makes it easier to cook tender pork. Feeding a lot of oats can make the fat slightly softer, which is seen as bad.

Personally, we don’t seem to mind it. I’ve butchered a dozen hogs for our own use that were fed on 50:50 oats/corn and didn’t see a problem, but those were fermented grains. That does completely change the protein and fat profile of a grain.

Conventional Pig Feed Recipe

Ingredients for 1 ton of commercial pig feed, measured in pounds
(instead of separate mineral ingredients, a singular mineral/ vitamin blend can work, if it’s complete)
Vitamins are not needed if raised on green pasture.
Ground corn or grain sorghum7751440103510051140
Ground oats1000200400600600
Soybean meal @ 44% protein150300500350220
Dicalcium phosphate4030302015
Limestone, ground1515151515
Vitamin-trace mineral premix1051055
Crude protein, %
Lysine, %.

The above chart is about what you’d get from most feed companies. Protein content dictates feed type.

How Much Protein do Pigs Need?

Pigs need between 18 and 12 percent protein and between 1.5 and 0.5 percent lysine in their diet, depending on age, growth stage, and breed. A standard butcher hog feed is 15 to 16 percent protein and close to 1 percent lysine. Older pigs generally need less protein than younger pigs.

Here’s a simple list of protein needs by age, taken from standard hog farm info.

  • 12 percent protein– gestating sows
  • 13 percent protein plus extra minerals- lactating sows
  • 13 percent protein– finisher feed (5+ months old)
  • 15 percent protein– grower feed (4-5 months old)
  • 17-18 percent protein– starter feed (2-3 months old)

Some of the older and richer breeds, sometimes called lard breeds, will do alright on a lower concentration of protein. Breeds like the Kunekune, Potbelly, and American Guinea Hog usually do well on a few percent less protein and seem to handle a fair bit less lysine without trouble in my experience.

High protein tends to make those pigs fat. But leaner breeds will grow more muscle instead of fat on a higher protein diet. Still, there’s a limit to it. Too much protein would just come out the other end, and can damage the kidneys of a pig. It’s usually wise to stick near the regular protein standards.

Alternatives to Soy in Pig Feed

Soy is the main protein source for almost all livestock feeds in the world these days. Recent concerns about both the possible health implications and the way it impacts the pork fat quality have made some farmers look for other options for affordable protein.

Soy can be replaced by any sort of pea, bean, or lentil, as well as sunflower seed, canola seed, and flax seed. Most of these are available, but in lesser amounts and in fewer areas. It can be darn hard to find much else.

I honestly don’t know a single farmer, besides myself, who grows any protein crop other than soybean. It it more common to see in the Amish and Mennonite communities. They usually farm a wider variety of more traditional food and feed crops.

I grow some sunflowers for the pigs. I have used them in place of soy in our pig’s diets. Sunflower seeds are a bit low in some of the proteins pigs need, like lysine. but, when mixed with fermented grain, it seems to do quite well.

Black Oil Sunflower Seed, being quite high in unsaturated oils, can cause pork fat to become softer and reduce in quality. Softer fat tends to cook out more, making the cooked pork more dry and tough. Sunflower meal is basically oil-free.

We grow a Russian Mammoth sunflower, the kind of seeds you can buy roasted at a gas station. It does help, and it’s the simplest protein we can grow.

Also, using grains higher in lysine, like wheat and oats, helps to gain most of the lysine needed. Oats are about 0.4 percent lysine and wheat is closer to 0.5 percent. that’s double that of corn at 0.2 percent.

When fermented, we can figure around double the lysine in grains, although that sometimes takes experimentation to get right. If I ferment oats and wheat well, it’s about all the lysine pigs need. That’s close to a brewer’s grain, which is a sought after high-protein ingredient.

The ideal fermentation for feed is less than breweries use, but it still really builds up the protein, which is why we do it.

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I practice what I preach. Here in rural west Michigan, me, my wife, and 5 young kids work together to grow food, raise animals, and grow aninmal feed on just 1 acre. I teach homesteading classes locally, and help people where I can.

One thought on “22 Recipes for Pig Feed (and tips for feeding)

  1. I find it surprising that you could use different pig feed ingredients to give them the nutrients needed as they grow. I saw online ads that offer animal feed options around my uncle’s neighborhood, and this piqued my interest. Since he wants to try owning a couple of animals, I should talk to him about finding a feed dealer someday.

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