Hero Image

Nutrition and Performance

Pig Nutrition 101                                                                                                                                                   

Pigs, like humans, are monogastrics, meaning they possess a one chamber acid producing stomach.  This is in contrast to ruminants (i.e. goats, sheep, and cattle) who produce a four chamber stomach.  Although ruminants digestive track is more adapted to fiber digestion than pigs, pasture and hay can still be a part of the pig diet. In fact, recent research has demonstrated that mature pigs utilize forages better than previously assumed. However, unlike ruminants where the majority of fiber digestion occurs in their stomach (i.e. the rumen) pig fiber digestion occurs in the large intestine. Although pigs can utilize fiber, additional nutrients from cereal grains, by-products, and vitamin and vitamin and mineral supplements are essential.  To learn more about swine nutrition and what nutrients are required please click on the resources below.  

Water Quantity and Quality                                                                                                                                                                

Water is a vital nutrient, yet it is often overlooked. On average, pigs require 0.5 gallons a day for newly weaned pigs to over 1.5 gallons a day for grow-finish pigs (using nipple drinkers in warm conditions). Grow-finish pigs using bowl/cup drinkers usual require slightly less water, averaging 1.0 gallon a day (The Pig Site). Limitation of water intake reduces animal performance quicker and more dramatically than any other nutrient deficiency. Therefore, ensuring that cattle are receiving enough water is essential for maintaining the health and vitality for any pig operation.

When water quality is compromised animals could drink less water, thus negatively affecting their health and performance.  Substances that can contaminate water supplies include, but are not limited to, nitrates, bacteria, organic materials, and suspended solids. These contaminations can cause the water to have an objectionable taste, odor, or color.  To learn more about water quality and how to help ensure water quality on your operation see the water quality fact sheets below.

For California water quality testing see links below.

      ♦ Well Water Testing


Myotoxins in Feed and Swine Performance                                                                                                                                 

Mycotoxins are toxins produced by fungi on or in grain or feedstuffs when conditions are favorable for their development. Although most myotoxins are harmless to pigs (over 400 have been identified), several myotoxin species can be harmful to pig health and performance (i.e. .  For more information on testing and managing myotoxins in feeds, see the resources below. 


Pork Carcass Composition and Meat Quality 101                                                                                        

Studies have shown organic swine to produce overall lower carcass weights, lower dressing percentage with greater (Hansson et al. 2000) . However, carcass quality is highly dependent on diet, breed, and management. To learn more on how to improve meat quality in your swine operation view the resources below. 


Return to the California Niche Pork Production Main page