Guide to Proper Feeding of Hog/Swine, Part 1

Cost of feed represents the highest cost in pig production. About 70 to 80 percent of the total cost of production is spent on feeds if pure commercial feeds are used. Commercial feeds are used to produce good quality fatteners at the shortest possible time. Thus, close attention on proper feeding should be observed, particularly on the amount, type of feed given and the methods used to attain maximum growth and high feed efficiency. However, proper feeding should be coupled with proper health care and management along with good environment to achieve the target of producing quality finishers.

Type of Feed

There are three types of feed available in the market. Each type differ in the proportion of nutrients in the feed. The change in nutrient proportion is important to address the needs of the pig at different stages of growth. The shift from one ration to another should be done gradually in order not to upset the normal feeding behavior of the pigs. Always allow a transition period of at least one week.

  1. Starter Feed – A starter feed is given to 10 to 20 kgs weaners until the pigs are about three months old and weigh 30 to 35 kgs. A starter feed contains 18 percent crude protein (CP) and 3,250 kilocalories (Kca/j) of digestible energy (DE).
  2. Grower Feed – Next to starter feed is the grower feed. This is given until the pigs reach a weight of 60 kgs. Grower ration contains 16 percent CP and 3,200 Kcal DE.
  3. Finisher Feed – At 60 kgs, the pigs’ ration is shifted to finisher feed. It is given to finish pig up to 80 to 90 kgs ready for the market. The ration contains 14 percent CP with 3,200 Kcal DE.

Feeding Methods

The growth performance of the pigs is not only affected by the quantity and quality of feed given but also by the methods of feeding. The three basic feeding methods for finishers are restricted feeding, ad libitum, and combination of ad libitum and restricted. The level of feeding can vary from restricted feeding (about 80% satisfaction) to ad libitum level (100% satisfaction).

A. Restricted Feeding

In restricted feeding, the amount of feed given is controlled or limited to a certain amount just to satisfy the appetite of the pig.


  • better feed conversion ratio (FCR) (lower feed cost and better performance)
  • good carcass quality
  • better health control
  • less digestive problems


  • lower Average Daily Gain
  • unequal growth especially if feed trough is not long enough to accommodate all pigs
  • more laborious
  • less chance of coping up with higher market price

Restricted feeding is done through the use of a long feeding trough where all pigs eat at the same time. However, the length of the trough should be long enough to accommodate each fattener during feeding time.

A good criterion for restricted feeding is that the trough should be empty after 15 or 20 minutes if given as a slop. For dry mash or pelletized feeds, it is normally consumed in 20 to 30 minutes.

The level of feeding is based on the growth rate of the pigs (refer to table on right).

B. Ad Libitum Feeding

Ad libitum feeding is feeding without restrictions and feed is mode available anytime. This feeding method should be practiced if pigs finished have high growth potentials and they are in good health.

Dry feed should always be used for this feeding method. Fresh feed improves the feed intake and feed efficiency, thus self-feeders should be emptied and cleaned at least once a week to prevent microbial spoilage. Pigs find infested feed unpalatable thus, wastage of feed is high. Continuous supply of fresh and clean water is important in ad libitum feeding because water intake increases when this method is practiced.


  • higher ADG is achieved
  • less feed competition
  • less laborious


  • thicker backfat
  • higher feed conversion ration (higher feed cost)
  • more digestive problems in younger pigs
  • less control on health problems

C. Combination of Ad Libitum and Restricted Feeding

Pigs are fed ad libitum until they reach the weight of 50 kgs and fed restricted until they are marketed. With this feeding method, the growth potential of the animal can be maximized during its first 50 kgs of growth. Restriction is practiced to reduce backfat thickness with a corresponding increase in lean cut yield.


  • higher ADG with good carcass qualify
  • lower feed cost
  • better use of good feed (better FCR)


  • higher possibility of digestive problems if shifting is not properly done
  • less control of health problems and feed intake at the start

source: DA-ATI, ITCPH-Lipa


  1. By Neil Delacruz


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