Scientific evidence shows that giving chicken feed to pigs is a safe and common practice all over the world because there is very little difference between the contents of chicken feed and pig feed. However, in as much as it is safe, it can not be used as the main source of food for pigs because of the differences in nutritional needs of both pigs and chickens.
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Pigs and Chicken Feed
Pigs are very flexible eaters and they can definitely eat chicken feed. A balanced diet for pigs contains all the known nutrients pigs require for optimum performance. Accurate knowledge of the energy and nutrient content of feed ingredients is an important aspect of sound diet formulation and this has to be considered when on is choosing to give pigs chicken feed.
Chances of chicken feed working as pig feed are very high because both pigs and chickens are non-ruminants. They require a similar mix of amino acids and vitamin B, they are monogastric animals and they are inefficient digesters of fibre. They are not suited to eating pasture alone and they are bound to appreciate the change in diet.
When feeding pigs, it is important to consider the nutritional requirements as there is no such thing as a standard diet. The nutritional requirements are often simplified and described as a requirement for energy and protein. The protein requirement is described as lysine requirement. Lysine is an important amino acid that indicates the quality of protein in pig feed.
Pig producers normally use a narrow range of ingredients which includes maize, wheat, sorghum, soybean and sunflower when formulating pig diets. A balanced diet combined with the right environment is vital to support pigs through the growing and or breeding phases.
Pigs nutritional requirements for optimal and healthy growth change and are influenced by factors such as age and body weight, genetic potential of the pigs and the housing environment.
Pig nutrition is a captivating issue, factors like feed formulation, ingredient selection, feed manufacturing and feed management all require special attention only so the pigs are not exposed to diseases that can be passed on to humans through eating the meat.
Nutrient concentration and energy density are not as important as ingredient selection during the first weeks of pig weaning. Following this sensitive period, high nutrient density diets are required to promote rapid and efficient growth of pigs. A good quality nutrition should support a feed to gain ratio of about 1.45. The main energy sources are wheat, maize and sorghum and they are also found in chicken feed.
Pigs are omnivorous and they can benefit from a healthy balanced diet. They can eat grains, fruits and vegetables as well as formulated commercial food. Pigs eat an average of 6 to 8 pounds of feed per day and they can convert non-human edible food into high quality animal protein source.
Nutritional Needs of Pigs
Good feed is necessary for growth, body maintenance and the production of meat and milk. Nutritional needs of pigs can be divided into six categories, water, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Feeds should meet the animal’s needs for growth and reproduction and chicken feed does a considerable job when it comes to meeting these needs.
The ingredients of pig feed are almost the same as those of chicken feed. The major ingredients of pig feed are wheat, barley and grains like peas. Canola meal and triticale are also used. The barely different chicken diets are primarily made up of macro ingredients such as cereal grains, and allseed meals. Cereal grains contribute 60-70% of the diet and are the major source of energy in the diet for both pigs and chickens.
Both pigs and chickens are very sensitive to the correct balance of vitamins, particular minerals and amino acids in their diets. Where the correct balance of these is not provided by the macro ingredients, supplementary foods or micro ingredients will be added to make up for shortfalls and correcting the imbalances.
It depends however on what is in the chicken feed, there may be need to find complimentary food in order to have a healthy diet. Whether or not the nutritional requirements of the pigs will be met depends on how old the pigs are and the type of feed you are using.
Costs of Pig Feed
It is becoming more costly to raise and keep pigs. The cost of feed is the most important cost of both pig and chicken feed. It is therefore important to estimate precisely the energy value of feeds, either for least cost formulation of compound feeds or for adapting supply to the energy requirements of the animals. Where pig feed is not within reach, one can get chicken feed and is guaranteed that both groups are covered although it should be for a short time.
Whether you are keeping chickens or pigs, getting enough feed can sometimes be a challenge. There may be a shortage of feed in your area or it may simply be that animal feed is expensive to buy so in most cases, you have to find some different, cheaper feeds. Pigs are often forced to compete with humans and poultry for feed resources because their diets are mostly made up of similar things and this makes the cost of pig production very high. Where there are shortages, chicken feed can stand in the gap.
Raising Pigs and Chickens Together
It can be quite easy to give pigs chicken feed since these two animals can occupy the same space in harmony. However, this requires a lot of planning because there are some steps that you must take to ensure that both are as healthy, happy and productive as can be.
Providing pigs with the feed that has been designed for them is a good idea because it will be correctly balanced to support efficient growth and optimum health.
Chicken layer feeds are very high in calcium which can be harmful to pigs. The calcium is meant to help with egg production and is not helpful at all when it is taken by pigs. Having some nutrients in excess and or in deficit can affect the pigs in many ways. The pigs are most likely to have retarded growth, less lean muscles, skeletal problems and they will be vulnerable to diseases.
It is important to realise that some feed ingredients possess inherent factors that will decrease pig growth and reproductive performance and or impact carcass composition and the quality of feed in excess.