How to Feed Weaner Pigs

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Weaning is a stressful transition for most piglets.
Weaning is a stressful transition for most piglets. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The term “weaner pig” generally refers to piglets that have been separated from their mothers and weighing up to 40 pounds, above which they are considered adult pigs. Weaning is a stressful time for piglets, particularly because they must adapt to a new type of food and feeding schedule. By making this transition as easy and trouble-free as possible, you can avoid complications in your weaner pigs such as decreased growth rate and illness.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering system
  • Digestible food
  • Solid food

Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Newly weaned pigs are especially prone to becoming dehydrated, so make sure your weaner pigs consistently have access to water. Weaner pigs can usually thrive on water supplied in traditional hog watering systems or water buckets, but you may need to use nipples with particularly young piglets.

Give weaner pigs access to food at all times. Getting a weaned pig to eat solid food shortly after separating it from its mother can be a difficult task. Piglets are used to suckling milk whenever they feel hungry and may have trouble adjusting to a set feeding schedule. Maximize the pig’s access to food to increase the chance it will eat and get the nutrition it needs.

Create a highly digestible diet for the pigs. One of the biggest challenges for newly weaned pigs is adjusting to the drastic diet change -- from small, easily digestible milk meals to infrequent, difficult to digest solid food. Make this transition easier and keep your weaner pigs healthy by providing them with digestible food such as creep feed, which is made in pellets or crumbs for easy eating and digesting.

Switch your pigs to solid food after they are 3 weeks old. At this point, the pig’s digestive system has grown and altered to allow for digestion of solid foods like traditional pig feed. To cause as little stomach upset as possible, make the change slowly. Mix in solid food a little at a time, gradually replacing cooked food completely.

Implement a feeding schedule. After the pig is 3 weeks old, its digestive tract is ready to handle a mature pig’s feeding schedule. Shift your pigs to a regular schedule gradually, first establishing short periods where the pigs do not have access to food, then lengthening those periods until you’ve reached your desired feeding schedule.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your weaner pigs have trouble eating enough and appear to be losing weight and becoming lethargic, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. The transition from suckling to weaning is tough on most pigs and can be dangerous if not carried out properly. These warning signs could be a precursor to illness or even death in your newly weaned pig.

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