Do Pigs Eat Meat? | All You Need to Know!

What do you know about pigs’ diet? There’s a healthy feeding program that includes grower feed or commercial starters when they’re young.

As they grow, by-product feeds like nuts, milk products, cull peas, and distiller products can be added. Clean water is also a part of a pig’s diet.

Do pigs eat meat? Pigs, just like humans, are omnivores, so they can eat meat. However, it’s not advised to let them eat it because illnesses and diseases like African swine fever can arise. This practice can cause fatality to the pigs, so it’s prohibited in many places.

Because of this warning, you mustn’t feed pigs scrap or food waste as it can contain meat. Instead of nourishing your pigs, it will only lead them to illness and worse, death.

Is Meat Safe for Pigs?

Is Meat Safe for Pigs

Meat is not safe for pigs, especially those that are not fully cooked. Even though pigs can digest meat since they’re monogastric like humans, meat consumption can cause diseases and even lead to fatality in these animals. 

Thus, food waste or scraps that can contain meat or meat products are not advised to include in a pig’s diet. It aims to stop diseases like foot and mouth disease, African swine fever, swine vesicular disease, and hog cholera that put pigs’ lives in line.

In 2001, the major outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the UK was the result of feeding pigs with waste that consists of meat that was imported illegally.

You can’t guess the contents of food waste, and it’s the reason why the African swine flu spread in Russia, Europe, and some parts of Asia.

Can Pigs Eat Raw Meat?

Pigs can eat almost everything that is given to them, like raw meat. But this will put them in danger. Pathogens like salmonella, toxoplasma, trichinella, and campylobacter can enter their bodies aside from viral diseases.

Is It Illegal to Feed Pigs Meat?

Meat or meat products can be carelessly given to pigs through food waste. But this is a common practice in rural areas of the United States.

Knowing the danger that it poses to pigs, there are state, federal, and local laws that make this feeding method illegal. Unfortunately, some states don’t regulate this issue.

Australia learned a lot from other countries that experienced an outbreak of disease among pigs on which the pig industry lost a lot. So, the country mandated that it’s illegal to feed pigs with mammal carcasses, food waste, and scraps.

How Should Meat Be Served to Pigs?

Despite the prohibition of feeding pigs with food waste that can contain meat, there is 1980 Swine Health Protection Act. It allows giving food waste to pigs as long as it’s heated. The exact instruction is to boil it at 100 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

In the pasture-based production of pigs, these animals can forage their food, including small mammals like mice. This means that they can have meat intake.

But nutritionists suggest that only 10% of their diet should be from foraging. When you allow pigs to be self-feeders, they become excessively fat.

Some may think to serve meat to young pigs as they need protein for growth and development. The proper way to do it is by following the feeding program.

Legumes like whole soybeans, alfalfa, linseed, sunflower, and clover are good sources of protein for growing pigs. Fish meal, whey, meat and bone meal, and plasma protein are safe and effective options.

What Kinds of Meat Are Prohibited for Pigs?

What Kinds of Meat Are Prohibited for Pigs

All kinds of meat are prohibited for pigs as they’re not included in their suggested diet program. You can’t be so sure whether it can cause diseases or not. Even other food stuff that got in contact with meat shouldn’t be fed to pigs.

The Pig Digestive System

The Pig Digestive System

As mentioned, pigs are monogastric like humans, and this means having one main stomach that requires enzymes for digestion. The pig digestive system has 5 parts which are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

  • Mouth – The food enters the mouth, so it will be delivered to the digestive tract. Mechanical breaking down of food occurs in this part. The food turns into small pieces as the pig chews and grinds it with its teeth.

    Saliva softens and moistens the food particles, and it has enzymes that can digest starch. Then the tongue sends the food to the esophagus.
  • Esophagus – It’s a tube-like passageway of food from the mouth to the stomach. The process involves muscle contraction to send the food to the stomach.

    Swallowing is the beginning of the necessary contraction. To prevent the food from returning to the mouth, there’s a cardiac valve.
  • Stomach – This is a reaction chamber where food bonds with chemicals. There are cells in the stomach that release enzymes and hydrochloric acid. These substances break down protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Some food particles are absorbed by the stomach and sent to the bloodstream. Those that don’t proceed to the bloodstream go to the small intestine via the pyloric valve.

  • Small intestine – It looks like a tube that spirals in a small section. There are finger-like projections called villi which enhance its ability to absorb. It has walls that secrete enzymes that absorb digested food. Secretions from the pancreas and liver are also received by the small intestine.
  • Large intestine – This is the major part of the pig’s digestive system. It’s shorter than the small intestine but wider. The role of the large intestine is to absorb water and hold waste material that turns into feces later on.

Digestion can also happen in the large intestine with the help of mucus that works as a lubricant for the smooth passage of what’s left from the food particles.

Muscle contraction is still applied as they travel through this intestine. The exit part of the large intestine is called the rectum, and the undigested food comes out of the pig’s body through the anus.

Meat Nutrition Value for Pigs

Meat Nutrition Value for Pigs

It’s better to opt for a feed called ‘meat and bone meal’. It has a remarkable amount of crude protein and crude fat. There are small portions of phosphorus and calcium.

With these contents, the results of the feed are more on creating the right ratio of muscle to fat rather than the formation of bone tissue. Furthermore, meat and bone meal doesn’t harm a pig’s performance.

What Can Pigs Eat Other Than Meat?

What Can Pigs Eat Other than Meat

Pigs won’t say no to meat, but here are the foods that can meet their body’s needs without any negative effects.

  • Energy – barley, corn, oats, and wheat
  • Protein source – legumes like alfalfa and soybean meal

What Is Toxic to Pigs?

Fish and meat, and other foods that are mingled with them are toxic to pigs. It won’t only cause diseases but death as well. Other toxic things to pigs are mycotoxins that are in the molds that may form in their feeds, medicine, alcohol, coal tar, and salt.

Some plants are toxic to pigs too. The extremely toxic plants for them are acorns, bracken, cocklebur, hemlock, ivy, foxglove, laburnum, henbane, elder, ragwort, and deadly nightshade.

Moreover, Stinkweed, Jamestown weed, Devil’s weed, Hell’s Bells, Pricklyburr, Devil’s Cucumber, or Devil’s Trumpet are poisonous to pigs.

What Kills Pigs?

Different kinds of mycotoxins can kill pigs, namely aflatoxin, trichothecene, and zearalenone.

They are born from molds that develop after the pigs’ feed is exposed to moisture. They can cause jaundice, liver damage, cancer, and internal bleeding.

Viral diseases like African swine flu and foot and mouth disease are the reasons that many pigs perished around the world. The pig industry in many Asian countries has suffered from it, so they need to modernize and improvise the disease control strategies as well as the production system.

Do Pigs Bite?

Pigs seem quiet and calm, but they become aggressive when disturbed. A 49-year-old male was found dead in a pigsty that he owned. Based on the medical records, the cause of death is internal bleeding.

He was severely injured in his upper extremities, and it was because of the bite by pigs. These animals can also kick and trample a person.


Without the provision, pigs can eat meat as they’re omnivores. But it’s not advisable to let them eat meat as viral diseases like African swine flu and foot and mouth disease are regarded to be from the meat included in food waste or scraps.

They cause a massive loss in the pig industry around the world. It’s important to take note that any kinds of meat are not included in the special feeding program for pigs. 

List of Sources

The Digestive Tract of the Pig

Death Caused by a Domestic Pig Attack

Feeding Food Scraps to Pigs?

Feedstuffs for Pigs

Pig Feed: What You Can and Can’t Feed Pigs (Swill)

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