Understand pig nutritional requirements

Each food type has different levels of nutrients. You need to understand what foods contain what nutrients so you can make a balanced diet for pigs.

Most piggeries feed pigs a mixture of:

  • grains include barley, wheat and sorghum
  • proteins include soya bean meal, fish meal, canola
  • supplements include vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Commercial piggeries either purchase feed from suppliers or create their own feed by milling grains such as wheat, barley and sorghum and mixing them with protein meals and other dietary supplements.

The ratios and nature of the supplements is carefully managed to meet the dietary requirements of pigs at different stages of growth.

Sub-standard feed can be produced by mixing errors or by including too much of an ingredient that contains anti-nutritional factors. Sub-standard feed can lower production and may cause health problems. Rats can also contaminate feed and transfer disease carrying organisms.


Everything a pig does uses energy. If energy supply (food) is limited, a pig's body will use energy for basic survival functions and this can limit reproduction and growth. If there is too much energy, a pig's body will store extra energy in its body as fat.

Learn how to determine pig feed levels based on feed energy.

Amino acids

Amino acids are the chemical building blocks of protein. There are about 20 different types of amino acids in nature but you only need to feed 9 types to pigs.


Minerals are essential compounds that your pigs use in their bone structure and to regulate many biochemical processes.

The main minerals in pig diets are sodium, calcium and phosphorus.


Vitamins help regulate many biochemical processes in your pig's body.

Pig feed ingredients usually have most vitamins, but adding a vitamin supplement is a cheap way to prevent vitamin deficiencies.

Avoid mould, poisons and other toxins

Mould can affect grains and other feed, producing toxins that when eaten by pigs can reduce productivity, and cause severe illness and death.

While pig farmers may be able to reduce costs by purchasing weather damaged grains that may contain mould or grain that may contain weed seeds, the potential for lost production or even stock deaths has to be assessed. Laboratories can test for mould and weed seed contamination.

Find out more about weed seeds, moulds and other poisons that can affect pigs.

Swill feeding is banned

Swill feeding is banned in Australia because it can transmit major diseases.