Feeding pigs can be an expensive endeavor depending on the amount of property you have at your disposal. If you have a farm situated on a large piece of acreage with pasture potential, turning pigs out on that pasture can aid you in greatly reducing feeding costs. However, in this day and age, more people are turning to pigs as a means to raise their own food, and they are using smaller parcels of land to do so.
Keeping pigs on minimal property is very easy to do, although it can be expensive. With less foraging availability, it becomes necessary for pigs' nutritional needs to be supplemented by other means. For some, this means commercial feed, which can be costly and hard to come by especially if you prefer organic feeds. Since much of the reason people opt to raise pigs is to keep from consuming things such as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's), avoiding commercial feeds is also part of their plan. Unless feed is certified organic, chances are it will be loaded with corn and soy that are GMO in nature, and corn is not an advantageous feed choice regardless as it contributes to a gain of fat as opposed to muscle/meat.
Instead of pouring money into commercial feeds, be they organic or not, there are other healthier means of feeding pigs that are economical at the same time. It is no secret that pigs are not picky eaters and will gladly consume whatever you put in front of them, so the key is to provide them with healthy food items at a reduced cost to you. To do this, feed leftovers from your own kitchen in addition to sourcing free food.
Food waste happens every day. Unused food is thrown away in copious amounts, food that is still has potential for use, especially in the stomach of a pig. It is best for all involved to keep this food in a useful rotation and that is an avenue you should pursue whenever possible. You (and your pigs!) can do your part by contacting local businesses and inquiring about taking leftover food off their hands, then bringing home that which is slightly past its prime such as stale bread and ripe vegetables for your pigs to consume.
The types of businesses that might have food to pass on to you at a reduced cost or even for free are:
1. Local grocers may be more than willing to let you take old produce off their hands. Big box stores are not likely to help, but small neighborhood grocers are worth asking. Even if they do not have whole produce to give, they can give you scraps, so keep that in mind when asking. If they make and sell their own vegetable salads, you can take the scrap peelings from those vegetables (carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, etc.) and give them to your pigs.
2. If you have a local business that distributes milk or makes cheese, they have byproducts that pigs love, such as leftover whey, which is loaded with protein. Plus whey is a by-product so finding a use for it over disposing of it is good for all involved.
Photo: Simple Green Frugal Co-op
3. Bakeries, which likely have loaves of bread and rolls that are not necessarily fresh enough to sell and might be stale, can provide foods that are still plenty appetizing to a pig.
Photo: The Adventure is Afoot
In addition to saving money by sourcing free or reduced cost food items, the meat you harvest from your pigs will taste better if they are fed a natural diet as opposed to a commercially prepared one. There will be communication efforts and travel expenses involved in collecting local food items for your pigs, but this endeavor will be worth it in the end. As long as you are a reliable consumer and collect food on schedule as promised, it is very well possible that you can set up a mutually beneficial agreement with local businesses to feed your pigs and keep your bank account happy at the same time.