Feed makes up a significant amount of livestock production costs. Studies reveal that feed prices are most likely to increase within the next coming years. While this may be reason for worry among livestock farmers, the problem can be easily solved, particularly for pig breeders. The upside of keeping pigs is that they are monogastric animals and have digestive systems that operate similar to that of humans. As such, pigs can eat potatoes among other feedstuffs meant for humans. This allows farmers to limit financial investments while still maintaining high levels of production.

Nutritional Value

Potatoes constitute a significant amount of human dietary plans. This is because they contain nutrients and minerals that are of the utmost importance for daily sustenance and health maintenance. Since pigs digest feed similarly to humans, they are able to consume feedstuffs primarily meant for humans. As such, pigs can feed on potatoes without experiencing any negative effects on maintenance, reproduction and production. Potatoes are a good source of vitamins including vitamin C. They also contain potassium. Aside from being high in water, they are also primarily composed of carbohydrates. To add on, potatoes contain moderate amounts of protein and fibre but are lacking in fat. Additional compounds found in potatoes include antioxidant agents including polyphenols. These are mostly concentrated in the skin.  Varieties with purple or red skin and flesh contain the highest amounts of polyphenols which is a type of antioxidant. Pigs can feed on potatoes to absorb necessary nutrients, minerals as well important compounds for improved performance.

However, although pigs can eat potatoes without experiencing any adverse effects on health and production, caution should be practised when including the vegetable in livestock dietary plans. Potatoes are part of the nightshade family which are known to be poisonous when leaves, vines or unripe fruit is ingested. The green part of the vegetable is made up of many toxic alkaloids including solanine. According to research, solanine toxicity presents similarly to atropine toxicity resulting in ataxia, muscular weakness, restlessness, thrashing and changes in mentation. Additional effects include diarrhoea, haematochezia and hypersalivation. Despite the risk of poisoning, the benefits of potatoes in livestock dietary plans cannot be overlooked. Pigs can eat potatoes when cooked which are often efficiently used for fattening and breeding animals. Pigs can be fed up to 6kg potatoes daily. Take care to ensile the feed with supplements rich in protein which is low and other lacking nutrients including sufficient fibre and minerals. Also make sure that potatoes are cooked and sprouts removed before providing them to pigs. Fungal infested potatoes should never be used as feed for livestock as they can be just as harmful to health and production.

Physical Development

Growing pigs that are kept for slaughter should have an unlimited intake of balanced feed to maximise their growing potential. Since livestock feed is costly, pigs can feed on potatoes as a means to ensure that they are provided with sufficient nutrients for development. Potatoes are mainly composed of carbohydrates. In the animal body carbohydrates are mainly used to provide the energy covering the direct needs of the animal. They allow for the efficient operation of various bodily functions and daily sustenance. Animals lacking in carbohydrates tend to be weak and suffer from a range of health related issues. Additional consequences include slow growth and declined productivity. Pigs can also feed on potatoes as they are made up of potassium needed for healthy livestock therefore making it possible for animals to reach full potential in terms of physiological development. In fact, studies indicate that potatoes have been effectively used to fatten livestock in many parts of the world. To add on, potatoes contain some trace elements necessary for animal growth and development. Pigs deficient in trace elements usually suffer from reduced reproductive performance or impaired health.

Despite the fact that pigs can eat potatoes for improved performance, note that livestock diets cannot be solely sustained by the vegetable. Potatoes are low in protein, calcium and phosphorus. These nutrients are regarded as the most important in the physiological development of animals. They are necessary for teeth, bone and muscle development. Deficiencies often lead to slow growth, bone fractures, low protein content in milk, lower milk yields which negatively impact on the development of young piglets. Pigs may also experience impaired reproduction, depraved appetite, and loss of body weight as well as increased risk of infectious and metabolic diseases. For this reason, potatoes should always be given with supplementary feed rich is lacking nutrients.

Health Maintenance

The success of a swine rearing venture is largely determined by the health of livestock. Healthy animals are more productive and allow for increased profitability. The opposite applies to livestock in poor health. Pigs can potatoes ensilaged with complementary feed stuff such as soybean meal or meat supplements for health sustenance purposes. Take note that potatoes must be cooked and introduced to growing livestock gradually. Rapid dietary changes may cause digestion problems among other health related issues. Also, green parts of the vegetable should be removed to prevent poisoning. That being said, pigs can feed on potatoes mixed with additives to get necessary nutrients for blood synthesis, hormone structure, normal reproduction, vitamin synthesis, enzyme formation, and immune system integrity. A well-balanced dietary plan is also essential for acid-base balance, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, osmotic pressure, and enzyme activation as well as repair of damaged tissue, immune system and teat keratin formation.

Antioxidant Agent

Pigs can feed on potatoes combined with complementary additives to prevent the occurrence of lipid oxidation. Most farmers record cases of oxidation yearly. Oxidative reactions affect the quality, texture as well as the taste of the meat. The nutritional value of the meat is also affected resulting in below standard produce. In severe cases, farmers experience tremendous losses. For many years this problem has been managed through the use of antibiotics. However, with the recent restrictions placed on their usage in livestock maintenance, there is need for adoption of natural methods. Pigs provided with balanced feed in appropriate rations rarely suffer from lipid oxidation. As such, pigs can feed on potatoes with high levels of polyphenols. Chlorogenic acid is the main polyphenol found in potatoes. They also contain catechin which accounts for about 1/3 of total polyphenol content. Potatoes therefore harbour some healthy antioxidants responsible for superior quality production.