Pig farming is a profitable animal husbandry venture. Pigs are fascinating and possess some interesting qualities. For instance, pigs are highly intelligent animals – the 5th most intelligent in the world. Socially, pigs are quite sensitive. Pigs are also sensitive when it comes to what they eat. They do love to eat a wide range of foods. They are of course averse to a wide range of foods. One of the notable things pigs are sensitive to is mycotoxins. To avoid complications you need to know what pigs can or cannot eat. Our discussion here is on sunflower seeds; can pigs eat sunflower seeds?
Can Pig Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Yes, pigs can eat sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds do have nutritional benefits for pigs. Sunflower seeds also serve as a cheaper feed alternative. They can replace traditional pig feeds that are usually more expensive. However, sunflower seeds are not the type of feed you can just feed to pigs. There are important things you need to do or consider prior. This is mainly due to some intricacies regarding the nutritional profile of sunflower seeds.
For instance, sunflower seeds with hulls may not be the best for your pigs. Pigs eating raw whole sunflower seeds may not be the best. By nature, sunflower seeds have high fat or oil content. That again is an issue of concern. It may pose choking risks or risks of indigestion. These are just some examples to show you that there are important factors to consider. Otherwise pigs can eat sunflower seeds and benefit from them.
Sunflower Seeds Are Rich In Beneficial Nutrients
Pigs stand to benefit nutritionally from sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds contain 19 percent protein. Of which protein is a cardinal nutrient in the growth and development of pigs. In fact, sunflower seeds can serve as a protein alternative in pig diets. Sunflower seeds also have roughly 16 percent crude fiber. Their oil content is around 45 percent. This provides the pigs with adequate amounts of linoleic acid. When it comes to energy content, sunflower seeds are just like cereal grains.
Pigs Must Eat Sunflower Seeds In Moderation
Sunflower seeds have a crude fiber content of as high as 16 percent. That is extremely high and that is why pigs must not eat too much. You need to understand why high fiber content is detrimental. One, it drastically reduces the digestibility of the foods the pigs eat. Two, it makes the pigs excrete more. Thus feed conversion becomes compromised and this affects the pigs’ growth and development. Moderation is also important when you consider the high oil or fat content of the sunflower seeds. If unchecked the pigs can become obese which can pose health risks.
How To Feed The Sunflower Seeds To Pigs
As Whole Sunflower Seeds
Pigs can eat whole sunflower seeds but there are important things to consider. First of all, removing the shells or hulls is imperative, irrespective of what you want to do to the seeds. Leaving the shells on, leads to excessive fiber intake and this is problematic for the pigs. When pigs eat raw whole sunflower seeds, the feed conversion or efficiency is not the best. Yes, they can eat them but you will not get the best results.
There are 3 options you can consider to improve whole sunflower seeds for pigs. You can pellet the whole sunflower seeds. You can low roast them before feeding the pigs. The third option is to high roast them prior to feeding the pigs. Those approaches are the best when it comes to feeding pigs with whole sunflower seeds. You just have to weigh your options and see what best applies to your context.
As Sunflower Meal Or Cake
The sunflower seeds can be ground into sunflower meal. This can be done directly but can be complicated. This is due to the seeds’ significant oil content. Thus it can be and often should be mixed up with other foods before being ground. It is advised to extract the sunflower seed shells first. This is because the shells contain the bulk of the crude fiber. If they are included they will diminish the nutrient density of the actual seeds. Bear in mind that sunflower meal can also be obtained as a by-product of oil extraction from sunflower seeds.
There can be an exception to this shell-less approach. Sunflower seeds along with their shells can ground into sunflower meal for boars or sows that are pregnant. Such sunflower meal can be used as maintenance feed. You could also use the same if you deliberately want to reduce weight gain. This can be necessary when feeding pigs that are in their final stages of maturation.
Why De-hulling Is Important
We have established that for the most part, the sunflower seeds must be dehulled first. It does not matter what the process is, de-hulling first is needed. Why, you may wonder? The sunflower seeds hulls or shells constitute a quarter of the whole seed. This means if you do not dehull, the quality and yield of what you get is compromised. After all, the hulls are predominantly fiber so the resulting sunflower meal will be too fibrous. If ever you have to work the sunflower seeds first, always pay attention to this.
It is important to know that sunflower seeds are usually in the form of sunflower meal. Of which sunflower meal is often a key ingredient in livestock feed formulations. That is why it can be best to convert your sunflower seeds into sunflower meal. Then you mix it up with other pig foods for a well-balanced ration. There are important nutritional considerations e.g. fat content and fiber content. It is imperative that you do not exceed the recommended thresholds. If you are not sure it would be better to consult animal health and nutrition experts for guidance. Please factor in all these dynamics. That way your pigs can eat sunflower seeds efficiently enough to enhance your bottom line.