Feed is the most important aspect of livestock farming. It determines the productivity as well the profitability of the farming venture. In fact, feed represents approximately 65 to 70% of the overall pig production costs. This is often beyond the financial capacity of most farmers, particularly those who practice domestic farming. As such, pig feed formulation is a necessary skill for pig breeders. The formulation of pig feed requires detailed understanding of nutrient requirements and types of feed needed by livestock at different maturity levels. In addition, it is important to realise that some feed ingredients possess inherent factors that decrease pig growth and reproductive performance. A suitable dietary plan should be inclusive of all nutrients and minerals with main components being energy and protein. This article provides a detailed discussion on pig feed formulation paying special attention to nutritional requirements versus maturity level.

Creep Feed

This is the first feed provided to piglets. It should contain about 20% protein. A combination of protein source, milk replacer, vitamins, amino acids and rich feed ingredients makes this type of feed the ideal start for young healthy piglets.  This type of pig feed formulation makes use of various ingredients including  corn, soya bean meal, barley, wheat bran, vegetable protein, oilseeds extracts, fatty acids, feed phosphate, pig vitamins, and trace minerals. Note that these have been listed in their descending order. An alternative is to provide animals with a mixture of fine rice bran, broken rice and milled maize grains. Make sure that fresh drinking water is readily available. In addition, animals must be introduced to this type of pig feed slowly. This is because sudden changes in livestock dietary plans often bring about health complications.

Sweet Potato Silage

Sweet potatoes are popular for their high nutritional value hence make up a significant part of the human diet. Their benefits can fortunately be transferred to pigs through consumption. It has been reported that farmers who incorporate sweet potato silage in pig dietary plans reduce their feed costs by up to 30%.  As the term suggests, this form of pig feed formulation utilises sweet potato vines as the main ingredient.  About 60 to 100kg vines are cut and spread outside. They are given approximately 30 minute to dry out in the sun. Note that cutting allows them to dry faster and evenly. Once dried, they are further chopped into small pieces and combined with 10kg of maize gem. Some farmers prefer to mix sweet potato vines with grower mash to improve on the nutrient value of commercially produced feeds. About ½ kg of mineral salt is added and mixed thoroughly. When the mixture is ready, it should be placed in a 250 litre plastic tank. Farmers should make sure that the container used is airtight. It is advisable to firmly compress the vines as a means to remove air spaces. An additional recommendation is basically adding some EM1 solution to improve the quality of pig feed. The mixture must be left undisturbed for 2 weeks. Pig feed formulation has been a success when the mixture develops a sweet smell and is yellow in colour. This type of pig feed is provided to pigs that are at least 4 months of age.

Maize Gem Silage

Pig feed formulation using maize gem as the main ingredient requires a range of additional materials which provide essential nutrients lacking from maize. About 48kg of maize gem should be availed. Additional feed ingredients include 12kg of pollard, 12.5kg soya cake, 7.5kg fish meal, 0.75kg lime, 1kg bone meal, 125g salt, 150g lysine, 150g feed premix and 300g zinc. The formulation of pig feed using these ingredients is quite simple. They are all placed in a food mixture where they are thoroughly combined as a means to make sure that they are well distributed. Pigs are provided with maize gem silage at all stages of growth. The up side of formulation of pig feed using these ingredients is that the mixture contains a digestible crude protein content of about 22.5%. Although some ingredients such as feed premix, lysine, bone meal and lime require some form of financial investment, pig feed formulation remains an affordable solution in comparison to store bought feeds.

Maize, Pollard and Soya Cake Mixture

This form of pig feed formulation requires use of clean maize. In other words, rotten maize should not be used. An estimate of 60kg of whole maize, 210kg of maize gem, 50kg soya cake and 140kg pollard is necessary to formulate pig feed. Additional ingredients include 27kg of fishmeal, 4kg bone meal, 7kg lime, 1kg salt, 1kg premix, 1kg lysine and 2kg zinc. Note that fish meal can be substituted by first grade omena. The total nutritional value of this type of pig feed is 16.83% protein, 5.05% fat, 4.43% fibre and 0.89% lysine. Other supplementary feeds for pigs are inclusive of vegetables, cabbages, lucerne, amaranth, paw paws or even bananas.

Rice Silage

Rice Bran contains about 11% protein therefore can be used as a main ingredient for pig feed formulation. It can be mixed with other feeds to 30 – 45%. Popular mixtures include vegetables. These may have been damaged during transportation, storage or handling. Rice bran silage is prepared by combining it with vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, spinach, morning glory, sweet potato vine, cola-cassia, pumpkin, guards and water hyacinth. Note that cola-cassia should be boiled prior to usage. Soybeans can also be mixed with rice bran as it has a high nutritional value hence ideal for pig feeding. Soybeans contain 38% protein. Keep in mind that it should be dried, milled or well-cooked before utilization. An alternative is to combine soybeans with maize or broken rice. Wheat bran can also be used for pig feed formulation instead of rice bran. It is rich in dietary fibre and contains carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Conclusion

While commercially produced feeds are often preferred, they are expensive making them difficult to maintain. Pig feed formulation is therefore a crucial skill as it presents an affordable yet effective means of a maintaining proper dietary plan. Proper formulation of pig feed involves having accurate knowledge of the nutrient requirements of the pig and information about the energy and nutrient composition of available feed ingredients. Good pig feed contains sufficient energy, protein, minerals and vitamins.  Energy is provided by carbohydrates and lipids, every dietary plan should be inclusive of this component. Note that proteins are also of the essence therefore must be provided accordingly. Recommended ingredients for pig feed formulation include rice bran, broken rice, maize, soya-beans, cassava, vegetables and distillers’ residues.