Cherry Blossoms in Upper South Field
Leslie asked in a comment:
“Can or should pigs eat meat? I never have fed mine meat, but someone keeps telling me it is fine for them to eat meat. Just checking with the pros, to be sure.”
It’s a good question with many complications:
“Can pigs eat meat?”
Answer: Yes, they’re omnivores. They love meat.
“Do pigs eat meat?”
Answer: Most likely. If they come across a grub, a snake, a mouse, a baby bird in the field they’ll snarf it down. Waste not want not. Pigs are practical about these things.
“Is meat good food for pigs?”
Answer: Yes, meat is excellent food. Even deer, cows and horses eat meat given the opportunity. Beware of Bambi.[1, 2, 3]
“Can you legally feed meat to pigs?”
Answer: It gets more complicated… and interesting.
If you’re raising the pigs for your own consumption then yes, you can feed them your kitchen scraps, meat and pretty much everything according to my understanding for every local in the United States of America – I don’t know about other countries.
If you are selling the pork and you live in a state where feeding meat is allowed when selling pork then yes but it is probably required that you cook the meat.
If you’re in a state that prohibits the feeding of meat, even cooked, then the answer is no. See here and then see here for more from the USDA. Also do a search on you’re state since the laws vary state to state (allow, allow boiled, don’t allow). Here’s a search pattern – just change the state to yours.
“Why would I worry about my pigs eating meat?”
Answer: Because the government worries about it and with some good reason. The issue which the government worries about is that feeding post consumer food wastes to pigs can spread diseases to the pigs which can then be spread back to humans or can harm the pig herds. Foot and Mouth Disease is an example of this – there are others. These have been eradicated in our country from the pig herds. As long as the government doesn’t introduce the disease like the British government did to it’s farmers in the last decade we should be okay.†
Another issue with post-consumer wastes such as food wastes from restaurants, cafeterias and caterers is that cutlery, broken glass and other trash get put in the buckets. These could harm the pigs causing tears and blockage in their intestines – this is called hardware disease. The government does not worry about this but you should.
Avoid these issues by not feeding post consumer wastes to pigs. Instead put those things to chickens who are good at picking out the dangerous stuff or the compost pile instead.
“Will feeding meat to pigs create a behavioral problem?
Answer: It won’t turn the pigs into wild, psychotic killers but they could learn to hunt slow poultry if you feed them chicken slaughter scraps. I would rather not teach them that poultry are food because chickens, ducks and geese are part of our support staff. See the note about the Electric Chicken in the comments on the Line Level post.
The short answer is I would suggest not feeding meat to pigs.
Feeding Meat 2009-12-10
Outdoors: 66°F/38°F Mostly Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F
Daily Spark: Once Wednesday caught her suitor’s eye he was hopelessly hooked.
†Last time it happened the disease escaped from British government laboratories – it was not farmers who caused the problem but the government who then killed billions of farm animals.
You mention feeding the meat scraps to chickens. If you are selling the eggs I know most areas don’t allow the sale of eggs if they are fed meat scraps due to disease fears from undercooked eggs. The truth is virtually all the disease comes from confinement raising chickens but most of the regulations are aimed at small farmers. The joke is it used to be common practice to feed dead chickens to live ones but it was causing so much disease it triggered these laws. Not what small farmers were doing but factory farms. It’s unfortunate because the extra protein and calcium are good for chickens but corporate irresponsibility ruined it for everyone.
We don’t sell eggs and in our state the chickens are allowed to eat meat and in our case the meat is coming from our own pigs so it is a non-issue.
I know a few backyard growers who feed poultry to chickens but they don’t know any better, until they do. Then they stop. We have tossed the occasional scrap of cooked pork to our personal flock, and our personal pigs probably snarfed up some leftover chicken bits even though we generally avoided it.
The kids tend to lean towards feeding the pigs organic marshmallows, because watching 300+ pound hogs literally jump in the air, squeal and snort with glee when they see kids coming down the hill is worth it. So is knowing that even the most adventurous pig will go back into his field, so long as you toss marshmallows in the middle. That is especially handy when a tree busts a line and 3000 pounds of bacon finds its way to your patio.
I’ve heard many people talk about feeding marshmallows to pigs and how much the pigs like them but I’ve never actually tried it. We have marshmallow plants (Althaea officinalis)in our fields but those do not seem to elicit the same response. The pigs eat them some but prefer clover and soft grasses. Now burdock and thistles they’ll leap for. Prickly tongues.