Sometimes, less is really more – and this is especially true if you’re raising pigs.
If you have pigs, it’s important to know the difference between fat and healthy. Many people believe that the heavier their pigs are, the better. More meat, right?
that’s not it. In fact, a pig that is too fat is a pig that is unhealthy and will not produce quality meat. While there will certainly be more meat, the resulting meat will be thicker and more tasteless.
The problem with getting pigs to grow to a healthy weight is this – pigs are very smart animals that love to eat. As they get older, their nutritional needs change.
Because of this, you will need to keep a close eye on your pig’s weight to make sure it is getting enough exercise, food, and water.
Here are some tips to help you identify if your pig is too fat – and if so, what you can do about it.
- 1 Is my pig fat?
- 2 The problem of overweight pigs
- 3 How to help an overweight pig lose weight
- 4 raising healthy pigs
Is my pig fat?
I’m not trying to body shame here – but there is such a thing as a pig that is too fat. Like any other animal, very overweight pigs are prone to a variety of health problems.
How do you know if your pig is too fat?
One of the easiest ways is to just watch him. If your pig’s belly drags on the ground or the tail is deeply sunken in the back, there is a good chance that your pig is fat.
Another sign that your pig is too heavy is that its ears are pushed forward or down by fat, not gravity. Fat rolls, especially those that hide or partially hide the eyes, should also serve as a sign that your pig is too heavy.
On the other hand, you don’t want your pig to be too skinny. If your pig is very thin, it will have bones that can be felt easily with a little pressure, or the major bones can be seen without pressing on them.
Most pigs don’t stop growing until they’re about 3-5 years old, so obesity isn’t a problem unless you’re raising breeding animals. However, a pig can do If you are also raising productive pigs, there is more fat than is ideal for the market.
The ideal size for a pig will vary by breed but in general, a healthy, mature boar will weigh no more than 700lbs while a sow will weigh slightly less. Productive pigs should be weaned to about 250-300 lbs live weight (typically, this is when they are around 6 or 7 months old).
The problem of overweight pigs
Obesity is not healthy for any animal, including pigs. The problem with pigs, especially compared to other animals, is that they gain weight quickly but lose it slowly. Maintenance can be tough!
Among the obvious issues, such as lethargy and an increased propensity for injury from carrying that extra weight, pigs that are very obese can also suffer from depression and anxiety.
A pig that has become overweight will be less likely to play, explore, and move around in the mud. This can make it difficult to lose weight in the future.
Not only this, obesity can cause something called fat blindness. Also known as entropion, this disease causes the eyelids to turn inward and stick to the eye.
It can also be genetic but most often, it develops in pigs that have become overweight because of the downward pressure on the eye from the excess fat.
Overweight pigs may also be more prone to reproductive failure. The heavier a pig is, the less likely it is to produce healthy litters of piglets.
The issues described above are, of course, more common in mature pigs. However, a number of problems can arise when growing pigs become too fat. The biggest takeaway is that, at the time of the butcher, the meat will not be of optimum quality.
Many people believe that a fat pig is a tasty pig, but it is not. In fact, the fatter the pig, the more likely you are to waste your money. When pigs become too fat, it results in a carcass that requires a lot of fat to be removed from the meat. Most of the time, that fat goes in the trash (though you can, of course, make fat out of some of it, though not all).
How to help an overweight pig lose weight
If you’ve realized that your pig is fat, it’s time to come up with some strategies to help your pig lose weight. Here are some great tips.
1. Draw a baseline
Before starting your pig on a strict diet, make sure you know the baseline. Don’t assume that your pig is overweight and needs to lose x pounds – weigh your pig and definitely find out. That way, you’ll know what numbers to work with.
If you can’t get your pig on a scale — one possibility — you can estimate its weight with a tape measure. Measure the dimensions of the circumference and length of the heart. Square the circumference of the heart, then multiply it by the length and divide by 400. This will give you the approximate weight of your pig in pounds.
2. Limit Food Intake
One of the biggest challenges in helping an overweight pig lose some weight is knowing what and how much you should be feeding it.
It is often recommended that productive pigs be provided with an automatic feeder so that they can help feed themselves whenever they feel hungry.
However, I do not recommend doing this with mature breeding animals. They will continue to eat until their weight becomes too much.
Instead, provide a daily ratio. It is difficult to give an exact number of how much you should feed your animal as it will vary depending on the age, sex and breeding status of the pig. Pregnant or lactating sows require much more fuel than dry sows.
Half a cup of food for every 25 pounds of a pig is the general recommendation, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Even things like activity level and illness can play a role in how much you should be feeding your pig.
Another option for feeding pigs is to feed 1-2% of the total body weight. This is fine for pigs that are already at an ideal weight, but be careful using this calculation for obese pigs as it is likely to be too high.
3. Add Exercise
Pigs are not like humans, who can lose weight by doing intense exercise. Instead, they lose weight by balancing calories with calories. Larger pigs won’t be as active as they were when they were young – and their metabolism is also going to slow down, especially when you consider that many overweight pigs already have mobility issues.
Therefore, you have to focus on nutrition first, and then do some exercise.
By exercise I mean moderate exercise. The goal here is not to have your pig lap around a pen wearing a weighted vest.
Instead, start small. Move utensils of food and water to different parts of the pen to encourage your pig to move. That’s all you have to do.
You can also consider feeding your pig inside a treat feeder that requires little stirring.
4. Consider Adding More Pigs
This tip should be implemented with caution. You need to be careful about adding too many pigs, as this can backfire and lead to aggression and fighting.
However, you may be able to increase the competition by adding pigs. A little competition is good for a pig that needs to lose weight.
This will encourage him to move more and may help ease some of the symptoms of depression that come with obesity.
5. Check What You’re Feeding
When it comes to pig diet, the quality of feed often matters much more than quantity. Avoid foods that are calorie-rich but nutrient-poor, such as donuts, bread, and sweets.
Instead, feed lots of fresh, leafy greens and other nutritious foods. This will help your pig get essential nutrients and energy without packing on the pounds.
raising healthy pigs
Raising healthy pigs is not as complicated as it sounds.
You don’t need to put your pig on Weight Watchers to keep it at a healthy weight. Most of the time nature will take care of everything for you. Just make sure you give your pigs plenty of nutritious food and water. Also, provide enough space to move around and exercise during the day.
Skip fatty treats like breads and sweets and instead stick to a ready-made feed and fresh fruits and vegetables.
By providing your pigs with mostly healthy food, they will be able to eat to their heart’s content – without packing on the pounds.
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