What are the weekly nutritional needs for market hogs?
A good guideline for age weight daily consumption feed is as follows:
8 weeks @ 40 pounds: 1-2 pounds pelleted starter-grower, 17-18% crude protein
12 weeks @ 75 pounds: 2.5-3 pounds grind and mix, 15% protein
16 weeks @ 125 pounds: 4-5 pounds grind and mix, 15% protein
To market 230 pounds: 6-7 pounds grind and mix, 14-15% protein
Market hogs require a good, balanced feed for optimal health and performance, with pasture and woodland providing supplementary nutrition. The Niche Pork Production Handbook includes sections on feed budgets, nutrition, and managing feed costs. All of these topics are important for success. In Reducing the Cost of Pig Diets, the authors note that actual data from nine niche hog operations showed a 4:1 feed conversion ratio: that is, it took four pounds of feed to get one pound of gain. Although this may give a starting point for figuring how much feed you will need, feeding your own pigs in your own management system will give you much better information.
As hogs get older and heavier, feed conversion drops (it takes more feed to get a pound of gain). As shown above, young pigs need more protein. If older pigs are fed protein at this level, it is a wasteful expense. Adapting the ration to the stage of growth will save money and result in better gains. For raising a few pigs (the test batch), it will work to buy 50-pound bags of feed from your local cooperative. It will be more expensive, but also fresher. Once you get past the test batch, though, feed becomes much more of an issue.
For young pigs (under 100 pounds), don’t plan on the forage providing much nutrition. The pigs cannot digest it well. As they adapt to forage, they will begin to eat more of the pasture. They must be rotated to protect the pasture and to reduce internal parasite infestation. For the best meat quality, pigs need full feed (all they can eat); they will grow faster and the meat will be more tender. Don’t restrict feed for growing hogs. Self-feeders work well because hogs will not overeat. Allow a self-feeder space for every three to five hogs, so that all pigs will get their share.
Learn all about hog production in the new ATTRA publication Hogs: Pastured or Forested Production. It covers marketing, breeds, processing, health, handling, and more.
You’ll find a host of additional useful resources in the Livestock and Pasture: Hogs section of the ATTRA website.