what pigs eat

Monday, September 10:

This is to answer the question, “What do you feed the homestead pig?”

Corn stalks.  There is a big stack of these in a spare stall, and we throw in six or seven every day or two.  They must be getting eaten, because anyone who has cleaned a stall where they were not getting eaten knows just how miserable and tangled the bedding gets, and the bedding in the pig pen is loose and duffy, with only a few fragments of cornstalk in it.

Windfall apples.  Our farm has five apple trees within forty yards of the pig sty.  Piglets who run from a human being at the fence will poke their noses through the gaps in the wire when offered a slice of apple taken off with someone’s Uncle Henry.  In the season there is always a bucket or two of windfall apples beside the pig pen, and passers-by hand-feed them to the babies, or tip a dozen over the fence if in a hurry.  Apples are good pig food, at least so say the pigs.

Swill, slops, garbage, whatever name you give it, waste food from cooking and the table is good pig calories.  We boil it in a big kettle to increase its appeal – pigs and chickens prefer cooked scraps to a jumble of vegetable waste and leftovers – and the pigs eat it enthusiastically.

Skim milk, buttermilk, whey – dairy waste of all kinds.  Particularly good is to keep a bucket of skim milk by the wood furnace where it will clabber overnight into a thick yogurt full of beneficial lactobacilli and nourishment.

Bakery waste.  Some kind soul in the city brings bags of waste from a gourmet bakery and gives them to the sisters at the monastery; what cannot be utilized there often ends up at our farm, where the pigs love it soaked in milk or warm water.  Chickens love it too.

Cooking water.  When we steam or boil anything – except pork – the water is saved and added to the swill bucket at the foot of the basement stairs.  Pasta water is starchy and full of calories, but the water from boiling corn or steaming green beans is not to be despised, being full of flavor as well as – so nutritionists who want us to eat our vegs raw will tell us – all the vitamins leached from the vegetables.

Hay.  Yes, hay.  Pigs like grass and will eat a good deal of the waste hay from the cows’ manger.

Weeds pulled from the pasture in a spare moment.  Wheelbarrow loads of weeds and vines and half-spoiled vegs from the garden.

That’s all that comes to mind at the moment, but it gives you the idea.

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