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Feeding pigs, antibiotics in feed, nutrition and rations

Most pigs in the UK are almost completely dependent upon processed foods that have been prepared from a range of ingredients. For this reason there is a great deal of research that goes into the production of wholesome balanced foodstuffs that the pigs like and grow well on.

a feed siloPigs are fed concentrated rations predominantly made up of cereals and vegetable proteins (eg soya bean). Meat and bone meal is not allowed to be fed to pigs in the UK by law and antibiotics are also prohibited except for some very specific circumstances, and then only under strict veterinary supervision. Most pig food is supplied in bulk.

pig feedConcentrated feed for pigs. The food is mixed in a large mill and turned into pellets and delivered by lorry to the farm. Although the pellets look unappetising they are nonetheless nutritious and like our breakfast cereal. Pelleting the food reduces the amount of dust at feeding time which could be harmful to both the farmer and his pigs.

a dry sowPigs like eating and are happiest doing it off the floor! This is not very efficient however if a group of pigs are together as bullying and waste result.

feeding timeSows at feeding time. The sows move into their stalls and are shut in for the duration of the meal. This ensures the correct ration and level of feed for all the animals on an individual basis. After feeding the sows are released to return to their yard. Feeding usually takes place twice a day and offers the stockman a good chance to identify reluctant feeders that may have become sick.

piglet feedPig feed can be delivered in bags which is usually the best way when smaller quantities of specialist feed are required. This feed is for freshly weaned piglets and contains a high level of energy and protein that must be kept fresh and palatable if it is not to be rejected by the pigs.

piglet feedPiglet feed in the hand. Smaller and more palatable for the young animal. These pellets are about 3mm in diameter in comparison with pellets for an adult animal which may be 12mm or more, in diameter.

piglets having a feedThese weaned pigs are in a traditional yard with a large trough that is long enough to give every pig plenty of room at feeding time. Pigs at this stage are often fed adlib (as much as they want to eat). These pigs are 12 weeks old.

feed trough An alternative method of feeding is with an automatic feeder and hopper. This helps to reduce contamination and waste of the food. Feed is available continuously to the pigs but the hoppers are always emptied weekly to ensure that there is no build up of stale food.

Statistics for Pigs and Pigmeat

Pigs and Pigmeat 
Total marketing pigs
12 488 10 565 10 295 9 003 8 833 8 709 8 727 9 076 8 997 8 557 (f)
Pigs value of production
(£ millions)
800 748 687 671 680 677 685 736 865 968 978
Pork - home fed as % new supply
92 73 74 71 73 70 68 69
Bacon & Ham - home fed as % new supply
45 43 43 43 42 44 45 42
Pig meat - home fed as % new supply
70% 58% 58% 49% 49% 48% 48% 49% 52% 50% 52%

June Census statistics for Pigs and Pigmeat

Pigs and Pigmeat
Sows kept for pig breeding
279,782 281,237 262,516 283,458 366,302 291,441 536,009 727,612 685,721 646,887 502,697 427,000
Other pigs
1,741,640 1,739,082 1,551,861 1,820,841 2,789,117 1,804,846 3,603,377 5,439,294 5,792,473 5,661,437 4,939,771
Total pigs
2,021,422 2,020,319 1,814,377 2,104,299 3,155,419 2,096,287 4,139,386 6,166,926 6,476,211 6,308,324 5,442,468 4,460,000