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What is a Feeder Pig? And How Do You Raise Them?

Are you thinking about raising a feeder pig (or two – or twelve!) on your farm? If so, you’ll need to know a few feeder pig tips to maximize your luck.

And no, a feeder pig isn’t just a pig that you feed – there are other tasks involved as well.

In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to raise a feeder pig successfully!

Sound good?

Let’s begin!

What Is a Feeder Pig?

A feeder pig is a pig with the sole intention of slaughter after a prolonged feeding period. Usually, this period is around five or six months, though the time from being weaned to butchering can vary depending on the breed, type of feed, and other conditions. 

Feeder pigs usually get purchased as young piglets that have weaned and moved to a transitional grower feed ration. Usually, 40 pounds or more when you buy them, these animals are easy to market in several ways.

You might raise a feeder pig for yourself – or sell the meat to another customer or even a restaurant.

domesticated pigs on rural village farm
Feeder pigs are swine raised for butchering. We encourage all homesteaders to provide their feeder pigs with the best living conditions possible – even if they are feeder pigs! Comfort your feeder pigs with plenty of space, shelter, nourishing food, water, and attention! Treat them well.

What’s the Difference Between Feeder Pigs and Butcher Pigs?

Feeder pigs and butcher pigs are technically the same. You might also hear the name finishing hog thrown around.

Again, these are all the same terms for the same kind of animal.

Pigs usually get butchered at around 220 to 260 pounds. Usually, finishing hog or butcher pig is a name attributed to an animal on the older or heavier side of the scale – it’s a bit closer to being ready to butcher. 

Read More – Our Favorite Pig Breeds for New Homesteads and Small Farms!

How to Raise Feeder Pigs

If you’re thinking about raising feeder pigs on your farm, here are some tips to follow to ensure that you’ll be successful. 

Best Feeder Pig Breeds

You can technically raise any pig as a feeder pig, but some are better than others in terms of rate of growth and meat quality. 

The most popular feeder pig breeds include the following:

Of course, there are plenty of other pig breeds out there for you to choose from, too, all of which offer various benefits regarding how quickly they grow and the type of meat they produce.

Some feeder pig breeds provide more bacon, while others deliver prolific amounts of hams. Consider your needs and goals when selecting your feeder pigs! 

When you buy male feeder pigs, make sure they are castrated – especially if you plan on housing them with females. Females can breed when they are as young as four months – which is before you’ll slaughter them for meat, in most cases. 

Plus, if you don’t castrate your boars, you may have to contend with an off-putting flavor in the meat, known as boar taint.

What to Feed Pigs

young pig saying hello to the camera
Feeder pigs usually have a diet of solid foods and grower pellets. Oats, wheat, and grain feeds are popular options. Most feeder pigs need plenty of amino acids! They also require adequate drinking water at all times – especially if you live in a hot climate!

A common misconception among farmers about raising pigs is that pigs can eat absolutely anything.

While it is true that pigs can eat anything, that doesn’t mean that they should. The average pig needs about two to seven pounds of feed per day, depending on its age, breed, and weight. 

The core of your pig’s diet should be a formulated pig pellet. You can supplement with table scraps, like fresh, leafy greens and fruits with bread, cheese, and milk.

Avoid refined products and sweets – and don’t ever give your pigs meat. Providing meat can increase the chances of infections like ASF from spreading in your herd and to humans – and it’s illegal in some places, too.

Regardless of what you feed your pigs, make sure they have ample access to feed. Some people set up automatic feeding bins and troughs so that their feeder pigs can help themselves whenever hunger strikes.

If you don’t do this, make sure you feed your animals at least two or three times per day. As single-stomach animals (like ourselves), they need time to digest but also need frequent meals.

Don’t feed your pigs just once per day. Once they’ve had their fill, they’ll play with the food, stand in it, and make a mess.

We also put together a handy-dandy list of our favorite pig foods below. We hope this list helps you – and your litter! 

  1. Nature's Match Purina Sow & Pig Complete Feed
  2. Nature's Match Purina Sow & Pig Complete Feed

    These all-natural pig pellets are perfect for your pigs anywhere from 25 pounds and up to market weight. They provide ample amino acids, 16% crude protein, and 1% lysine.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  3. DuMOR Hog Grower Feed
  4. DuMOR  Hog Grower Feed

    This hog grower feed from DuMOR is an excellent source of nutrients for your pigs that weigh from 40 pounds to 200 pounds. It's a complete feed that contains 3% fat and 15% crude protein.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  5. Nature's Match Purina Grower-Finisher Swine Feed
  6. Nature's Match Purina Grower-Finisher Swine Feed

    What if you decide to keep your feeder pig after all? And - what if they outgrow their starter pellets? Then get some of this Nature's Match Purina feed! It's perfect for pigs weighing from 100 lbs to 250 lbs. It contains 16% crude protein, is plant-based, and is non-medicated.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  7. Nature's Match Purina Pig Starter-Grower Feed
  8. Nature's Match Purina Pig Starter-Grower Feed

    Purina Starter Grower Feed is an easy way to nourish your pig from 25 pounds to 150 pounds. It's a pelleted feed with 18% crude protein. It's also a complete feed - no supplements are necessary.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  9. DuMOR Treats for Mini-Pigs
  10. DuMOR Treats for Mini-Pigs

    There are two things that your pigs can't resist. Cream - and berries! These delicious pig treats give them both in large quantities. These don't offer total nutrition - but they're a yummy treat for your pigs. Your pigs will love you. And thank you!

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

What’s the Best Way to Water a Pig? 

There are a few different ways you can provide your pigs with the water they need, but whatever you choose, make sure they have constant access to fresh, clean water. 

You may want to put a brick in the bottom of a bucket so your pigs can’t knock it over. An alternative is to use a nipple watering system so that your pigs can’t tip over or play with the water, making it dirty.

Watering your pigs in this way will also make sure they don’t run out of water – since you can attach a nipple drinking system to a large barrel that needs refilling just once or twice a week, depending on the size of your herd.

Here’s a video with more information on building a watering system like that.

How to make a pig waterer

What Sort of Shelter Do Feeder Pigs Need?

Feeder pigs can be kept outdoors, for the most part, year-round. However, they will need some shelter from the elements.

The pig shelter doesn’t have to come in the form of a barn – in fact, a three-sided structure will work just fine. It’s important to remember that pigs don’t have much hair on their bodies to protect them from the cold or guard against the sun.

Here’s how to build a simple pig shelter!

Sunburn is an unfortunate affliction among feeder pigs. While black- and brown-skinned pigs are less likely to become sunburned, providing shelter from the sun can help your pigs stay safe and comfortable in the heat. 

Of course, your pigs will also need a warm, dry, and clean sleeping area. Many people have the misconception of pigs being dirty, filthy animals that lay around in the filth of their own making. 

That’s not the case!

Pigs are surprisingly clean and don’t like sleeping near their manure. They’ll usually keep separate areas for sleeping and defecating – a plus side when it comes to the ease of cleaning the barn.

Despite this, pigs do need some mud. The mud doesn’t have much to do with cleanliness, but instead, the need for pigs to cool themselves off. 

Again, pigs have very little hair covering their skin!

And, they can’t sweat. 

Instead – pigs roll around in the mud to protect against extreme temperatures, cool down, and keep away pests like parasites and flies.

Read More – 35+ Hilarious Pig Names! Name Your Entire Litter!

Do You Vaccinate Feeder Pigs?

Feeder pigs don’t have to be vaccinated in most cases, especially if you are maintaining a closed herd. 

However, some vaccinations are likely wise – and recommended. The ones that most vets recommend are those for:

  • Bordetella
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Erysipelas 

When you buy feeder pigs, it’s a good idea to ask the seller which vaccinations (if any) your pigs have had. 

As always – consult with a trusted veterinarian to ensure you’re following the most up-to-date recommendations to keep yourself, your herd, and your swine consumers safe.

How Long Does It Take to Raise a Pig for Slaughter?

On average, it takes about six months for you to raise a pig from birth to slaughter. You don’t have the feeder pigs this long, of course (not unless they’re born on your farm).

Most people don’t buy their piglets until they are two or three months old – and are no longer reliant on their mother’s milk. 

If you’re thinking about raising feeder pigs, know that it is a commitment of both time and financial resources – but it’s worth it! 

Read more in Will Raising Pigs Break the Bank or Your Heart?

Follow the feeder pig insights in this guide, and you’ll be successful no matter what kind of pigs you decide to raise.

Feeder Pig FAQs

adorable piglets on farm
Do you have a marketing plan to promote your feeder pigs to local restaurants, markets, or consumers? If so – then having a reputation for treating your pigs with respect – and providing the best possible environment to all of your farm animals will serve your business well. Big time. And one hundredfold!

We know that every pig in your litter has oodles of personality. And spunk!

(Even feeder pigs!)

We also realize that pigs are quirky – and complex creatures – and they require tons of research.

That’s why we’re sharing our top feeder pig FAQs. We hope these answers help you raise feeder pigs without second-guessing!

Conclusion

We love raising pigs! Feeder pigs, butcher pigs, pet pigs, and more!

We also believe that all pigs deserve to live comfortable lives, even if destined for the slaughterhouse.

If you have more questions about feeder pigs or butcher pigs? Then don’t hesitate to ask!

Thanks for reading.

Have a beautiful day!

Read More – Building an Epic Pig Hut Shelter! Step-by-Step!

Author

  • Rebekah Pierce

    Rebekah Pierce started a small farm with her husband in 2016 in upstate New York, near her native Adirondack Mountains. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in special education, she has been writing professionally since 2017, but only recently left the world of teaching to pursue writing and farming full time. She now writes full-time in the education, business, finance, and of course, homesteading and farming niches.

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