Bone Eaters


I’ve often been asked if pigs can eat meat. The question comes both from, will they naturally pursue chickens and can one feed them the slaughter remains of chickens – something many people have after putting the poultry in the freezer.

The simple answer is ‘yes’ but I don’t feed chicken to our pigs but it is because I do feed them to the dogs. The pigs would probably like the bones – In the wild they would eat mice, birds, etc – but the dogs rank and get first pick. There is never any left over for the pigs to have.

The bones, raw or cooked, have never hurt our dogs. The thing about dogs and bones is a myth, at least for ours. Perhaps there are some delicate toy dogs that have been bred to the point they can no longer handle a bone diet but ours crack through big and little bones from all species. I was told this myth as a child, that chicken bones would kill a dog. Later someone said it to me about pork bones. I observed the reality that the dogs eat bones when ever they can – raw, boiled, baked, fried, canned, etc. What goes in the front end as sharp crunchy bones comes out the back end as paste (doggie doo-doo). They have very powerful jaws and stomach acids.

A veterinarian I asked about this said that he has seen one case in his long career where a dog had a problem with a bone. It was a beagle and yes, a pork chop bone. The first problem he said was the dog didn’t chew. Normally that would be okay because of the dog’s strong digestive juices. His guess was simple chance combined with inbreeding may have created that situation. So it can happen – it’s just unlikely. I don’t worry about it with our dogs. Of course, your dog may be different so you’ll have to make your own choices.

At our place the dogs get first dibs on animal protein like meat and bones, etc – after us. Then chickens get it next (slaughter offal) from when I do a pig. Thus there is never any for the pigs even if I did want to feed them bones or the like.

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Additionally I prefer raising vegetarian pigs. These are big animals. I would rather they didn’t get into the habit of eating meat although they probably snack on the occasional mouse or snake out in the field. Since we do pasture the pigs, sheep and poultry together it seems best to not have them be thinking of chickens as dinner.

Of course, a most of the best bones make a side trip to the soup pot before getting to the dogs. We people types in the household get first dibs and we like bone broth which makes a fine soup stock.

Wednesday – Friday Outdoors: 77°F/47°F Mostly Sunny, Light rain
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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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8 Responses to Bone Eaters

  1. Scully says:

    With chicken bones I have always been told that they are fine for dogs as long as the chicken is raw and not cooked. That the cooking breaks down the bones making them brittle and therefore likely to have sharp edges when broken.

    Last night we had yummy Sugar Mountain Farm pork chops. mmmmmmmm

    Sarah told me she saw you and Holly at the SoRo market. As members we’ll do our part to suggest they carry your delicious pork!

  2. pablo says:

    And so I’ve learned something today.

  3. Hi Rick, It was fun to run into Sarah, fortunately only figuratively as we had our new van and were just getting used to maneuvering it! :) We did finally figure out where the sugar shack she mentioned is – in all the years we’ve lived around here I had never gone on that section of road until the next day. And of course, since she had mentioned it I was looking and there it was.

    Cheers,

    -Walter

  4. Henwhisperer says:

    Around here, the pigs get first dibs and today was no different. I slaughtered 3 of the meat birds and gave the pigs everything that we weren’t going to use; feathers, guts, feet, heads. This made the pigs “jump for joy” and later they could be seen snacking on a yellow chicken leg like a kid would do with a lollipop. They will consume every last bit, which makes me realize that one should never fall down around pigs.

  5. Gravity says:

    When I was a girl, my dog (a mix of some sort of large terrier, some hound and a whole bunch of I-don’t-know-what) choked on a pork chop bone.
    He had wolfed it down without chewing it up enough and it had lodged crossways in his throat.

    That said, my mom was able to dislodge the piece of bone using just her fingers, and Barney went on to live just fine.

    The current drive to make our animals (like they did to us) move away from eating their natural food of meat, organs, bones and blood to eating corn and wheat with the odd toxic chemical mixed in puzzles me.
    In the 1920s and 30s people fed their dogs and cats scraps. Butchers would sell the “yucky parts” at a discounted price to be used as animal food.

    Now we’re not supposed to feed our dogs rawhide or bones? I suppose that’s so we’d feed them Meaty Bonz or Snausages.

  6. Glow Girls says:

    hmmm, I always heard chicken bones were bad and my mom freaks out about all kinds of bones if the dog (or cat!) get them. Interesting, esp about the vet. lizie

  7. Sandy Brewer says:

    Hey Sugar Mountain folks,
    I was just looking at your blog again this morning and wanted say …wel I know I am not the first to tell you this….that your blog is really great. your info is good solid stuff and there is so much dodo out there. I found you last year and saved your site but couldn’t find the file. So I was delighted this morning when I found you again. Thank you for your articles. They are so important for all of us who are starting up farms again. Sandy & Meryl
    Flying Shoe Farm…New Brunswick.

  8. Delores says:

    Dad drummed it into our heads on an almost daily basis to be careful when working around the pigs. “Never fall down in front of a pig” because they’ll eat ANYTHING.

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