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How To Feed Pigs Cheaply: 37 Cost-Saving Strategies For Thrifty Farmers

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The cost of feeding farm animals is skyrocketing worldwide. But feeding pigs doesn’t always have to break the bank. We have many borderline-genius ideas to minimize the cost of feeding your pet or farmyard swine. Put our bottom-budget pig-feeding methods to the test. We can significantly reduce your costs while offering your pigs plenty of nutritious meals.

Pigs eating vegetable scraps from the kitchen for how to feed pigs cheaply

Here’s our comprehensive list of ideas on how to feed pigs cheaply.

Sound good?

Then, let’s dig in.

How To Feed Pigs Cheaply

Two beautiful pigs foraging and grazing in a green pasture.

Figuring out how to feed pigs cheaply took trial and error, but I’ve found that tapping into local resources is the key. Using kitchen and garden scraps, teaming up with local bakeries for unsold goods, and letting pigs graze on pasture have significantly reduced my feed costs.

And a bonus tip? Grow crops like turnips or beets for your pigs! Homegrown animal fodder is cost-effective and nutritious.

We have more ideas for feeding your hungry swine, too.

Here is a list of more ideas on how to feed your pigs on a budget.

1. Forage And Pasture

Happy piglets eating mouthfuls of grass.

Allow pigs to graze on pasture. They can feed on grass, clover, legumes, and other greens, reducing the amount of commercial feed required. Think of it as a free salad bar!

Benefits:

  • Low Cost: Grazing allows pigs to consume natural vegetation without additional expenses.
  • Nutrient-rich: Fresh forage provides vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Healthier Pigs: Access to sunlight and exercise promotes pig health.

Consider rotational grazing to maximize pasture use and minimize costs.

2. Kitchen Scraps

Rotted fruits and veggies garden waste for the compost bin or pig feed.

Those kitchen scraps you’re about to toss? Your pigs might love them. Just make sure everything is safe and non-toxic.

Benefits:

  • Zero Cost: Utilize food waste you would otherwise chuck.
  • Variety: Pigs enjoy different flavors and textures.

Vegetable peels, stale bread, and fruit scraps work.

Read More – Best Tasting Pig Breeds For Yummy Bacon, Pork, and Ham!

3. Seaweed

Harvesting edible seaweed from the ocean.

In coastal areas, certain types of seaweed can supplement pig diets.

Benefits:

  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Including seaweed in swine diets can help lower your farm or homestead’s overall carbon footprint.
  • Gut Health: Seaweed supplementation regulates piglet gut microbiota, reducing stress-related issues during weaning and enhancing overall health.
  • Sustainability: Seaweed is a more environmentally friendly feed ingredient than traditional grains, as it doesn’t require fresh water, pesticides, or arable land for cultivation. (It’s nearly perfect as an oceanfront fodder.)

Pigs trying seaweed for the first time: “Is this a salad or a spa treatment?”

4. Brewery Waste

Holding handfuls of green hop cones.

If you live near a brewery, they often have waste grains that can be a treat for pigs.

Benefits:

  • High Nutritional Value: Spent grains are rich in protein and fiber.
  • Economical: Breweries often give away or sell BSG at a low cost.
  • Sustainable: Utilizes a byproduct that would otherwise get chucked.

If you talk to your local brewer, ask about their spent grains (brewer’s spent grain or BSG). They are most likely to discard these.

5. Dairy Byproducts

Many yummy wheels of cheese curing at a dairy farm.

Whey is a byproduct of cheese production. It can be a nutritious feed source. You may also find leftover buttermilk from cheese production.

Benefits:

  • Nutrient-Rich: Dairy byproducts provide essential proteins and minerals.
  • Cost-Effective: Often available at reduced prices.
  • Minimizes Waste: Supports circular economy practices.

Finding dairy production leftovers is possible if you know local farmers. It’s always worth a shot to ask.

6. Garden Waste

Compost with veggie and fruit peels plus random garden scraps.

Leftovers from your garden, like damaged vegetables or trimmings, fallen leaves, and garden clippings, can supplement their diet.

Benefits:

  • Cost-Effective: Utilize free garden waste to supplement pig diets.
  • Nutrient-rich: Provides vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Using garden waste to feed pigs is especially wise if you lack a decent compost pile. Don’t waste your leftover garden clippings!

7. Farm Crop Leftovers

A massive garden snail snacking on the cabbage patch.

After harvesting crops, some leftovers, such as corn stalks, damaged fruits, or vegetables, can be fed to pigs.

Benefits:

  • Variety: You’ll be surprised at the nutrients packed into those veggie cores, rotted pumpkins, and half-eaten husks.
  • Economical: Turn waste into valuable pig energy.

Don’t use only damaged fruits. Also, consider frequently-neglected items like stalks, cobs, leaves, and husks.

8. Eggs

Yummy chicken eggs in a brown bowl atop a wooden table.

If your poultry produces an overproduction of eggs, you can boil and mash them as a protein source.

Benefits:

  • High Protein: Eggs provide essential protein for pig growth.
  • Cost-Effective: Utilize cracked or unsellable eggs without waste.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Eggs offer vitamins and minerals.

Eggs can be a superb addition to your pig’s diet. They are a great source of protein and essential nutrients.

Read More – 60+ Hilarious Pig Names That’ll Have You In Stitches!

9. Fish Processing Waste

Yummy and colorful seafood at the local seafood market.

If you’re near a fish processing facility, the waste can be a source of protein.

Benefits:

  • Nutrient-Rich: Many fish byproducts have tons of protein.
  • Enzymes: Utilize fish waste enzymes and turn them into delicious bacon, ham, and pork.

It sounds gross, but fish processing generates byproducts like fish heads, guts, and skin. Your pigs will love it all.

10. Acorns And Other Mast

Extra ripe cashew fruit after harvest on the ground.

Acorns can be a great seasonal treat if you have oak trees around.

Benefits:

  • Natural Food Source: Pigs can forage on acorns and other mast in forests.
  • Cost-Free: Utilize abundant tree fruit during mast seeding years.
  • Traditional Practice: Historically, pigs were turned loose in forests during mast seasons (pannage).

Pigs love foraging for nuts and mast (tree fruits). If you have a few acorn trees, let your pigs forage. They’ll go hog wild for leftover nuts.

11. Earthworms

A big juicy earthworm on a green leaf.

Earthworms are soil-dwelling invertebrates belonging to the phylum Annelida. Worms feed on organic matter, including detritus, microorganisms, and rotifers. You can quickly cultivate a worm farm for your hogs! Pigs love them, and they’re protein-rich.

Benefits:

  • Cost-Effective: Earthworms can be collected from compost-rich soil or bred on the farm.
  • High Protein: Pigs love earthworms, which are rich in protein.
  • Natural Foraging: Allowing pigs to forage for earthworms mimics their natural behavior.

Tip: Cultivate earthworms in designated areas or use existing compost piles.

12. Local Food Processors

Delicious meat from a local butcher meat deli including sausage ham and bacon.

Collaborate with local food processors or meat markets to obtain byproducts or surplus food. They might have waste products suitable for pig feed.

Benefits:

  • Reduced Costs: Food processors may offer discounted or free waste products.
  • Variety: Access different food types for pig nutrition.

Offering a bribe might help improve negotiations if you have lots of bacon. 🙂

13. Grow Fast-Growing Crops

Arugula plant growing in the backyard garden.

Grow fodder for your piggies. Consider crops like turnips, beets, or sweet potatoes specifically for pig feed. You can also share the crops with them.

Examples:

  • Arugula: Ready within a month; a peppery green for salads.
  • Spinach: Harvest in 4-6 weeks; versatile for salads or cooking.
  • Baby Carrots: Quick-growing variety; great for snacks or cooking.
  • Radishes: Fastest-growing plant; simple to grow.
  • Cucumbers: Versatile; use fresh or for pickling.

Tip: Sow seeds in succession for continuous harvest throughout the season. (Your pigs will thank you.)

14. Alternative Grains

A deer enjoying a massive buckwheat field.

Sometimes, non-conventional grains like barley, rye, or triticale might be cheaper than corn or soy.

Examples:

  • Buckwheat: Gluten-free, nutty flavor. High in nutrients.
  • Millet: Fast-growing and versatile. Suitable for both humans and pigs.
  • Quinoa: High protein content. Cook and serve like rice.
  • Cornmeal, Polenta, Grits, Hominy: Derived from corn and has various uses.

Tip: Experiment with these grains in pig diets to diversify nutrition.

Read More – Raising Pigs For Profit – Will It Break Your Heart? Or Your Bank?

15. Feed Co-Ops

A farmer standing in the farmyard at sundown holding a big box of veggies.

Joining or starting a local co-op can lead to bulk purchase discounts.

Benefits:

  • Bulk Purchasing: Co-ops allow collective buying, reducing costs.
  • Shared Resources: Access feed, supplements, and other supplies.
  • Community Support: Collaborate with fellow farmers.

Tip: Explore local co-ops or consider starting one in your area.

16. Direct From The Mill

Massive wheat grain store storing in the grain mill.

Buying feed directly from a grain mill might save costs compared to purchasing from retailers.

Benefits:

  • Lower Costs: By eliminating go-betweens, you can negotiate better prices.
  • Freshness: Mill-fresh feed ensures quality and nutritional value.
  • Customization: Some mills allow custom blends tailored to your pigs’ needs.

Take advantage of this method. Mills often offer bulk discounts, especially when buying large quantities.

17. Fodder Systems

A farmer with a handful of yummy wheat grains in hand.

Grow sprouted grains like barley using a fodder system. It increases volume and nutritional content.

Benefits:

  • Year-Round Feed: You can harvest sprouts for much of the year, regardless of weather.
  • Low Input: Seeds, water, and minimal space are all you need.
  • Healthier Pigs: Sprouts provide vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

Some fodder systems grow fresh sprouts from grains (e.g., barley and wheat) indoors. These sprouts are highly nutritious, cost-effective, and allow a daily harvest.

18. Peanut Processing Waste

A pile of yummy shelled peanuts sitting on a table.

Peanuts or peanut hay can be an excellent feed locally.

Benefits:

  • Cost-Free: Peanut shells are easy to waste, but your pigs will eat them.
  • Fiber and Nutrients: Shells provide roughage and trace minerals.

While not the most enticing snack, it’s a nearly free roughage source.

19. Free Range

A young domestic pig foraging in the bright green meadow.

Allow pigs to forage for insects, small animals, and roots, further diversifying their diet.

Benefits:

  • Natural Diet: Pigs love devouring grass, insects, and other natural foods.
  • Healthier Pigs: Sunlight and exercise improve overall well-being.

Your pigs will also live happier if you let them run, play, and explore in an open area.

20. Negotiate Bulk Purchases

Farmer feeding a rotund iberian pig in the pen.

If buying commercial feed, negotiate prices for bulk purchases.

Benefits:

  • Lower Prices: Suppliers might offer discounts for bulk orders.
  • Streamlined Process: Fewer transactions and paperwork.

Negotiating bulk prices can help you find a long-term, high-quality, reliable pig food source at a discount.

Read More – Cheap Fencing For Hogs! Help Keep Your Pigs Where You Want Them!

21. Mix Your Feed

Farmer holding grains as food for their pigs.

You can buy individual ingredients and mix your pig feed with proper knowledge, potentially reducing costs.

Benefits:

  • Cost Savings: By blending grains, legumes, and other ingredients, you can reduce reliance on expensive commercial feeds.
  • Customization: Adjust protein, carbohydrates, and fats based on your pigs’ growth stage and health.
  • Resource Utilization: Utilize locally available ingredients.

Mixing feed also helps keep your pigs guessing, happy, and interested.

22. Regularly Rotate Pastures

Wild boar foraging and eating some yummy fresh greens.

Implement rotational grazing by moving pigs to different sections of a pasture periodically.

Benefits:

  • Forage Regeneration: Allowing pastures to rest and recover ensures better-quality forage.
  • Reduced Parasites: Rotating pastures helps break parasite life cycles.
  • Cost-Effective: Less reliance on supplemental feed.

Tip: We wrote an excellent guide about natural sheep deworming methods and how pasture rotation plays an integral part.

23. Rice Bran Or Millings

Varying shades of wheat grains and cereals.

Rice bran is a rice milling byproduct. It’s famously rich in nutrients and can supplement pig diets.

Benefits:

  • Nutritional Value: Rice bran contains proteins, vitamins B and E, and bran oil.
  • Multiple Uses: You can extract bran oil for cooking or biodiesel.

Rice bran or rice milling can be a cheap feed source if you’re near rice mills.

24. Utilize Agricultural Extensions

A dirty piggy foraging and grazing for food.

Local agricultural extensions might have programs or recommendations for cost-effective pig feeding in your area.

Benefits:

  • Knowledge Sharing: Access research-based advice on pig nutrition, health, and management.
  • Cost-Effective Practices: Learn efficient methods for feeding and raising pigs.
  • Community Support: Connect with other farmers and share experiences.

Agricultural extension services provide valuable information and resources to farmers. But you only know once you ask. Inquire at your local outpost!

25. Poultry Byproducts

A flock of lovely chickens foraging in a field.

Some poultry farms might have waste products or unsuitable batches of feed available at reduced prices.

Examples:

  • Chicken gizzards: It sounds gross. But your pigs love cooked chicken guts.
  • Leftover meat: Nearly any unused chicken meat or excess chicken feed will serve your hogs well.

Poultry byproducts are tricky to come by. But it’s worth a shot if you know local poultry farmers, butchers, or producers.

Read More – Best Bedding For Pigs – Straw Vs. Hay Vs. Leaves!

26. Local Grocery Stores

Fresh and colorful vegetables for sale at the local market.

They might have farm produce past its sell-by date but still suitable for animal consumption.

Benefits:

  • Low Cost: Grocery stores may sell or donate excess produce, bakery items, or dairy products.
  • Delicious: Your pigs will love nearly any treat from a bakery. Access delicious food types for pig nutrition.
  • Reduce Waste: Prevents food from going to landfill.

Remember to ask your local grocery store’s bakery! They are a potential goldmine for cheap baked goods that your pigs might love.

27. Hydroponics

Organic hydroponic garden growing rows of yummy salad crops.

Consider growing hydroponic fodder. This method requires minimal space and produces green feed rapidly.

Benefits:

  • Fresh Greens: Grow nutritious greens year-round.
  • Space-Efficient: Hydroponics can thrive in small areas.
  • Low Input Costs: Use recycled materials for setup.

Plus, pigs love leafy greens!

28. Local Feed Trials

Small piggies eating their breakfast on the farm.

Some agricultural schools or extensions conduct feed trials and might have surplus feed available post-trials.

Benefits:

  • Cost Savings: Locally sourced feeds reduce transportation expenses.
  • Support Local Economy: Strengthen community ties by buying local.

Experimenting with locally available feed options can yield surprising results. Test different grains, legumes, and forage crops.

29. Community Leftovers

Rooftop community garden growing leafy greens in the city.

Organize a community program where locals can drop off suitable food scraps for pig feed.

Benefits:

  • Reduced Waste: Repurpose surplus food from restaurants and events.
  • Varied Diet: Pigs benefit from diverse food sources.
  • Economical: Collect leftovers at minimal cost.

Contact local restaurants, diners, markets, grocery stores, and community events.

30. Fruit & Vegetable Stands

Fresh fruits and veggies for sale at the local farm market.

Contact local fruit and vegetable stands for unsold produce.

Benefits:

  • Affordable: Purchase discounted produce.
  • Health Boost: Fresh fruits and veggies enhance pig health.
  • Sustainable: Reduce food waste by using overripe produce.

Visit nearby fruit and vegetable stands or markets. Often, they have produce that is slightly damaged or overripe.

31. Fruit Orchards

Beautiful orange tree among many other trees in a fruit orchard.

Farmers might spend the entire week picking up fallen fruit after harvest. Ask them if they need help! The leftover fruit makes superb pig feed.

Benefits:

  • Abundant Fruit: Fruit orchards provide a surplus of fallen or overripe fruits. Pigs can feast on apples, pears, and other fruits.
  • Cost-Effective: Utilize fruit that might otherwise go to waste, reducing feed expenses.
  • Natural Vitamins: Fruits offer essential vitamins and antioxidants.

Your pigs will adore nearly any fruit you offer them. Expired or not!

32. Expired Dry Goods

Colorful selection of dried breakfast cereals.

Some stores discard dry goods, like grains or pasta, once they’re past their sell-by date, even if they’re still good.

Benefits:

  • Resourceful: Expired dry goods (such as cereal, bread, or crackers) can still be nutritious for pigs.
  • Economical: Maximize value from pantry leftovers.

Expired dried goods also work if you have a box of oatmeal or cereal a tad past its freshness date. Your backyard hogs won’t mind.

33. Soybean Meal

Farmer scooping some soybean husk from a massive storage pile.

A soybean meal can be a good protein source if you’re near a soy processing plant.

Benefits:

  • High Protein: Soybean meal is a protein-rich feed option.
  • Affordable: Bulk soybean meal purchases are cost-effective.
  • Balanced Nutrition: Enhance pigs’ amino acid intake.

Soybean meal: Your swine’s secret to bulking up for the annual Piglympics.

34. Contract Growing

Community garden with many raised garden beds.

You can agree with local farmers to grow feeds specifically for your pigs at a predetermined price.

Benefits:

  • Collaboration: Partner with local farmers to grow specific crops for pig feed.
  • Shared Costs: Split expenses related to planting, cultivating, and harvesting.
  • Tailored Feed: Customize crops based on pigs’ nutritional needs.

Do pigs like signing contracts? Well, they’re serious about their feed negotiations!

Read More – What Are Feeder Pigs? Are They Easy To Raise?

35. Harvesting Aquatic Weeds

Water hyacinth growing in a wild pond.

Some aquatic plants work as pig feed if you can access ponds or lakes.

Benefits:

  • Free Forage: Aquatic weeds (like water hyacinths) grow naturally in ponds and lakes.
  • Low Cost: Harvesting aquatic weeds requires minimal investment.
  • Green Nutrition: Pigs benefit from fresh aquatic plants.

We’ve heard rumors of pigs becoming secretive lake explorers to find the best aquatic weed buffet. We’re still determining if the rumors are farfetched.

36. Local Harvest Festivals

Urban community garden with some fresh garden salad greens growing.

A surplus of foods might be available cheaply after harvest festivals.

Benefits:

  • Community Connection: Harvest festivals unite farmers, artisans, and residents to celebrate the region’s agricultural bounty.
  • Access to Fresh Produce: These festivals often feature fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and other farm products.
  • Budget-Friendly: Purchasing directly from farmers at these events can be cost-effective and support the local economy.

At the piggy potluck, the local harvest festival was the highlight. The pigs were oinking with joy!

37. Bakery Leftovers

Sweet and savory treats in the bakery window.

Chat with your local baker. Sometimes, they have unsold bread or pastries your pigs would love. They may give them away for free or sell them at a minimal cost.

Benefits:

  • Affordable: Bakeries often sell leftovers at discounted prices.
  • Reduced Waste: Prevents day-old bakery products from going to waste.

Bakeries often THROW AWAY day-old items. Offer them a few bucks for anything they don’t need. Local supermarket bakeries might be the best low-hanging fruit to feed pigs on a low budget.

Cutting Feed Waste

Cute farmyard piggie peeking over the fence.

Ensure your feed storage and feeding methods minimize waste. Proper storage, regular cleaning, and efficient feeders can prevent unnecessary losses.

Always ensure that the cheap feed sources are nutritious and safe for your pigs. Monitoring their health and weight will give you a good indication of the quality of their diet. Remember, while cost-saving is essential, the health and well-being of your animals should always be a priority.

Foods You Should Never Feed Pigs

Funny pig playing and foraging on a small farm.

Pigs are famous for their omnivorous and seemingly insatiable appetites. However, they should avoid the following foods for their health and safety.

Raw meat and scraps from kitchen waste can carry diseases, especially if they contain remnants of pork, and can risk transmitting conditions like trichinosis to the pigs.

Processed foods high in salt, sugar, or artificial additives are also a no-go, as they can upset a pig’s digestive system and lead to other health issues.

Certain plants, like nightshade family plants (e.g., raw green potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant), rhubarb leaves, and avocados, are toxic to pigs and can cause severe health complications or even death.

Similarly, foods that have gone moldy or rancid can contain toxins harmful to pigs. It’s also essential to steer clear of feeding pigs alcoholic beverages or foods containing alcohol, as these can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Lastly, while pigs have robust digestive systems, they’re not equipped to process large quantities of dairy. Excessive amounts can cause digestive upset.

How to feed pigs cheaply 37 ways.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading our guide about feeding pigs for cheap.

We know the cost of pig feed has skyrocketed in recent years.

But we hope our guide makes feeding your piggies easier.

What about you?

  • Do you raise pigs? What kind of pigs do you have?
  • Do you know any cheap pig foods we missed?
  • How many pounds of food do your pigs eat daily?
  • Do your pigs eat more in the winter?
  • What is your favorite nutrient-dense food for swine?

We love raising farm animals and brainstorming with like-minded ranchers, farmers, and homesteaders.

So, we hope to hear from you!

Thanks again for reading.

Have a great day!

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