Breeder's Guide: Nutrition and Supplements for Pigs | UNAHCO

Breeder's Guide: Nutrition and Supplements for Pigs

News & Events

Breeder’s Guide: Nutrition and Supplements for Pigs

News & Events

Breeder’s Guide: Nutrition and Supplements for Pigs


Breeder pigs need various essential nutrients and supplements to meet their daily requirements for growth, maintenance, lactation, reproduction, and other functions. To narrow it all down, they need six general classes of nutrients: water, carbohydrates, fats, proteins or amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. 

To find out what goes into the pig’s body when given these nutrients, check out this easy supplementation guide for breeders:


Right before weaning, water should become easily accessible to your pigs. The amount required varies with age, environmental temperature, the status of lactation, and many other factors. However, growing pigs must consume around 2-3 kilograms of water for every kilogram of dry feeds. Meanwhile, lactating sows should consume more because of the high water content their milk produces. Dehydration can lead to poor milk production and death.

In addition to that, one must also take note of the water quality as it should be free of microbial contamination and excessive minerals. When consumed by pigs, it can cause diarrhea or temporary water refusal.


The pigs’ energy requirements are directly influenced by their weight, their genetic capacity for lean tissue growth or milk production, and the environmental temperature at which they live in. The amount of feed allowed to consumed by growing pigs is mainly controlled by the energy content of their diet. So if the energy density of their diet is increased, voluntary feed consumption decreases. Also, it’s important to note that excessive fiber consumption without proportionate increases in fat will result in decreased gain and efficiency. 


Just like in humans, amino acids function similarly to pigs. They are required for maintenance, muscle growth, fetus development, supporting tissues in gestating sows, and milk production in lactating sows.  

There are a total of 22 amino acids, 12 of which can be synthesized by pigs, while the other 10 must be provided in the regular diet for growth. The 10 dietary supplemental amino acids for swine are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Thankfully, one can find these amino acids through modern feed formulations so supplementing them won’t be much of a problem.


These nutritional elements have a lot of vital functions in pigs. Some of the most important are: 

Calcium and Phosphorus – Primarily aids in skeletal development, but are also essential for all stages of growth, gestation, and lactation.

Iron and Copper – Helps prevent nutritional anemia.

Iodine – To help the thyroid gland function well, thus positively affecting the cell activity and metabolic rate.

Manganese – Essential for normal reproduction and growth.

Zinc – Helps increase pig performance during the postweaning period. Also reduces the incidence and severity of postweaning diarrhea. 

Chromium – Improves carcass leanness in finishing pigs and improved reproductive performance in gestating sows.


Similar to minerals, these micronutrients serve many purposes in the body. Some of the most important are: 

Vitamin A – Essential for vision, reproduction, growth, and maintenance of epithelial tissue, and mucous secretions.

Vitamin D – Necessary for proper bone development and ossification.

Riboflavin – Normal swine diets are normally deficient in this vitamin which is a component for two important enzyme systems involved with carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.

Biotin – For improved reproductive performance and decreased footpad lesions in adult pigs. 

For more breeder guides on nutrition and supplementation, click here.


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