What’s in Pig Food?

Although we are not actively breeding hogs at this time, my job, merchant services, allows me to stay in touch with what is happening in the swine industry. I visit a lot of feed and supply stores and it has come to my attention that many of the products available for swine feed shouldn’t be used. I don’t blame the shop owners for carrying a product that their distributor puts in the market, I do however, blame the feed industry for keeping your swine sick and inevitably, making your family suffer.

If you are wondering just what in the hell I’m talking about, keep reading, I’ll not only tell you, but show you the labels!

When we were actively breeding show pigs or market hogs, we were able to go right to the mill and get fresh ground feed for our pigs. Knight’s Farm Fresh Feed had three different blends; pig starter, pig grower, and pig finisher. The names of these are sort of an industry standard and you can use them at pretty much, any feed store to get the right feed for your pig, depending on the age and weight of the animal. The problem isn’t in the name of the feed, it’s what the manufacturer mixes into the feed.

The majority of swine feed starts with ground corn, wheat (middling, flour), and soy(typically meal). These are the protein sources your pig needs to build muscle, and pigs have a whole bunch of muscle. After that, it can get real confusing as to what, exactly, you are feeding your pig and ultimately, your family! Let’s take a look at a couple of products to see what is in them. I chose Purina Mills and Flint River Mills because these are readily available in my market area and it’s what sells at my local feed stores.

Here is an analysis from Purina Mills

  Nature’s Match™ Grower-Finisher


  Crude Protein (Min)


  Lysine (Min)


  Crude Fat (Min)


  Crude Fiber (Max)


  Calcium (Ca) (Min)


  Calcium (Ca) (Max)


  Phosphorus (P) (Min)


  Salt (NaCl) (Min)


  Salt (NaCl) (Max)


  Selenium (Se) (Min)

 0.30 ppm

  Zinc (Zn), ppm, (Min)


  Phytase (A. Oryzae), FYT/lb, (Min)


Ground Corn, Wheat Flour, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Cane Molasses, Soybean Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Lignin Sulfonate, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine, Chromium Tripicolinate, Copper Sulfate, Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Maltodextrins, Dried Yucca Shidigera Extract, Brewers Dried Yeast, Selenium Yeast, Wheat Middlings, Calcium Chloride, Lecithin, Glyceryl Monostearate, Iron Oxide, Olive Oil, Calcium Stearate, Inositol, Bried Bacillus Licheniformis Fermentation Product Sodium Sulfate, Dextrin, Cellulose, Dried Aspergillus, Oryzae Fermentation Extract, Vegetable Oil, Kaolin, Starch, Roughage Products, Condensed Fermented Corn Extractive, DL-Methionine, Vitamin A Acetate, Cholecalciferol, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Nicotinic Acid, DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Zinc Sulfate, Riboflavin, Menadione Dimethylpyrimidinol Bisulfate, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Saccharin, Bacillus Subtilis, Ferrous Sulfate, Mineral Oil, Copper Chloride, Silicon Dioxide, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Selenite.


Ok, not bad. No left over chicken parts or cow parts that have been ground up. It has the top 3 protein sources as the first ingredients with a little molasses to sweeten the pot. Then you get to the minerals that have to be added, because most folks don’t turn the pigs out and let them be pigs. They even threw in some Roughage Products? Whatever the hell that is. I’ll find out and get back to you on that one, or, if you know, leave a comment.

Overall, this isn’t a bad feed product, despite Purina having tons of recalls on many of it’s pet food products.

Now let’s look at FRM(Flint River Mills)

A high energy growing feed.  Use after 5 weeks of age for growing pigs weighing 44 to 110 pounds.
To reduce the incidence of cervical lymphadenitis (jowl abscesses) caused by group Eischerichia streptococci susceptible to Chlortetracycline.
Chlortetracycline 100 gm/ton
Crude Protein, Min. 16.00%
Lysine, Min. 0.75%
Crude Fat, Min. 3.00%
Crude Fiber, Max. 4.50%
Calcium, Min. 0.65%
Calcium, Max. 1.15%
Phosphorus, Min. 0.60%
Salt, Min. 0.30%
Salt, Max. 0.60%
Selenium, Min. 0.3 ppm
Zinc, Min. 150 ppm
Corn Meal, Soybean Meal, Poultry By Product Meal, Wheat Middlings, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Distillers Dried Grains, Dried Whey Product, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, D-Pantothenic Acid, Niacin, Salt, Cane Molasses, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Ground Limestone, Sodium Bentonite, Manganous Oxide, Magnesium Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Cobalt Carbonate, Ferrous Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Zinc Oxide and Calcium Iodate.

The brand name says it all, “Pig Grower Pellets Medicated”! The protein content in both products is identical, but the source of protein is not the same. Starts with corn, a little soy, and some ground up, left over, chicken bones. Just for good measure? Or an inexpensive way to get rid of chicken parts? Don’t get me wrong, I know pigs will eat just about anything. I have seen some young growers eat live baby chickens that wondered in the pen and the bone meal part isn’t as disturbing as the medicated part.

I also noticed that this particular mill only makes medicated feed. Why? How hard is it to skip the meds dude?

These products are being sold as show pig feed. So, the 4-H and FFA students feed their pigs out completely on a medicated product that someone is going to purchase for food. And, we all know that taking antibiotics for extended periods will cause a resistance to build in the bacteria that they are trying to kill. While there may be a need for antibiotics in large commercial facilities, there shouldn’t be a need for a student to feed an animal nothing but Medicated Feed.

Early on, in our own feeding program, I would take whatever the feed store told me the animal should be eating. I know there are a lot of people that want to raise their own pig and will feed whatever the feed dealer tells them. That’s why I try to educate the dealers on the products they carry. All meds have a withdrawal time. Some are 10-14 days, some are 30= days. That means the animal needs to be fed a diet that is not medicated for a specific length of time to remove the chemicals from it’s body, otherwise, you get to eat those antibiotics. Sounds tasty right?

I try to talk with the store owners and staff, when I can, to educate them on the products they carry. Most are receptive because they specialize in a different type of livestock. But, there is always someone who knows everything and simply doesn’t care that you may be poisoning your livestock and your family.

The bottom line is: Do Your Homework, Read the label, and by all means, Ask Questions!

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