What Are Feeder Pigs? Understanding Feeder Pigs and How To Raise Them

What are feeder pigs? Feeder pigs play a crucial role in the meat production industry, providing consumers with high-quality pork. If you’re interested in understanding feeder pigs and how to raise them, you’ve come to the right place.

We will delve into the definition of feeder pigs, their purpose, the process of raising them, and key considerations for successful pig farming.

What Are Feeder Pigs?

Feeder pigs are young pigs that are specifically raised for meat production. You purchase them as piglets, usually around 8 weeks old, and raise them for 4 to 6 months until they reach an appropriate size and weight for slaughter.

Feeder pigs are raised with the primary objective of producing high-quality pork for consumption.

They are not typically raised for breeding purposes or long-term investment in the pig population. Instead, they are intended to be sold for slaughter and provide meat for various purposes, including direct-market sales, home consumption, or commercial distribution.

The feeding period for feeder pigs varies, but it generally lasts around 5 to 6 months. During this time, they are provided with a balanced diet to support their growth and development.

Feeder pigs are usually fed a combination of grains, protein sources, vitamins, and minerals to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

The choice of breed depends on various factors such as market demand, desired meat quality, and availability. Common pig breeds used for feeder pig production include Yorkshire, Duroc, Hampshire, and Berkshire, among others.

Feeder pigs serve as a critical link in the pork production chain. They efficiently convert feed into meat and play a significant role in meeting the demands of the meat industry.

Raising Feeder Pigs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Raising feeder pigs involves several steps and considerations to ensure their proper growth, health, and readiness for slaughter. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to raise feeder pigs:

Determine Your Purpose

Clarify your purpose for raising feeder pigs. Are you raising them for personal consumption, direct-market sales, or as part of a farming operation? Understanding your goals will help you plan and make informed decisions.

Select Suitable Piglets

Purchase piglets that are around eight weeks old and healthy. Consider factors such as breed, availability, and desired meat quality. Popular feeder pig breeds include Yorkshire, Duroc, Hampshire, and Berkshire.

Provide Proper Housing and Space

Prepare a suitable housing environment for your feeder pigs. Provide clean, well-ventilated shelters that protect them from extreme weather conditions. Ensure adequate space for the pigs to move around comfortably and engage in natural behaviors.

Design a Balanced Diet

Develop a balanced feeding program for your feeder pigs. Consult a veterinarian or an animal nutritionist to create a diet that meets their nutritional needs. A typical diet for feeder pigs includes a combination of grains, protein sources, vitamins, and minerals.

Monitor Feeding and Watering

Ensure a steady supply of clean water and monitor the feeding process. Feeder pigs typically consume 2-3 kg (4.4-6.6 lb) of feed daily. Regularly check the feeders and adjust the amount of feed as needed to support their growth.

Practice Good Health Management

Implement a health management program to prevent and control diseases. Vaccinate the pigs according to recommended schedules and consult with a veterinarian for routine check-ups. Maintain cleanliness in the pig’s living area and practice biosecurity measures to minimize the risk of disease transmission.

Monitor Growth and Development

Regularly monitor the growth and development of your feeder pigs. Keep track of their weight gain and observe their overall health. This information will help you determine when they are ready for slaughter, typically around 4-6 months of age, or when they reach appropriate market weight.

Arrange Slaughter and Processing

Once the feeder pigs have reached the desired size and weight, make arrangements for slaughter and processing. Ensure compliance with local regulations and engage with reputable slaughterhouses or processors to handle the butchering and meat preparation.

Evaluate and Learn

After the process is complete, evaluate your raising experience. Assess the outcomes, including the meat quality, the feeding program’s efficiency, and any challenges faced. Use this knowledge to improve future operations and refine your approach to raising feeder pigs.

Feeder Pig Breeds

What are feeder pigs? Feeder pigs can come from various pig breeds, and the choice of breed depends on factors such as meat quality, growth rate, and availability. Here are some common feeder pig breeds:


Yorkshire pigs, or Large Whites, are popular for commercial pork production. They are known for their excellent meat quality, fast growth rate, and high feed efficiency. Yorkshire feeder pigs are commonly raised due to their ability to efficiently convert feed into lean meat.


Duroc pigs are prized for their exceptional meat quality, marbling, and flavor. They have a reddish-brown color, and their meat is well-known for its tenderness and juiciness.

Duroc feeder pigs are favored in both commercial and small-scale operations.


Hampshire pigs are easily recognized by their black color with a white belt or “saddle” across their shoulders and front legs.

They are renowned for their lean meat and efficient growth. Hampshire feeder pigs are valued for their carcass quality and are raised for meat production.


Berkshire pigs (Kurobuta) are highly regarded for their marbled meat, tenderness, and rich flavor. They have a black coat with white markings on their face, feet, and tail.

Small-scale and specialty pork producers seek after Berkshire feeder pigs due to the high-quality meat they produce.


Landrace pigs are known for their maternal instincts, large litters, and excellent mothering ability. They have white coats, long bodies, and drooping ears.

While Landrace pigs are primarily used as breeding stock for crossbreeding, they can also be raised as feeder pigs, especially for commercial operations.


Many feeder pigs are crossbreeds, resulting from mating different pig breeds. Crossbreeding often combines desirable traits from different breeds, such as growth rate, feed efficiency, meat quality, and disease resistance.

Crossbred feeder pigs can offer a good balance of traits and are raised in diverse farming systems.

Challenges and Considerations

Raising feeder pigs requires careful attention to health management, nutrition, housing, socialization, market factors, and compliance with regulations.

Health and Disease Management

Maintaining the health of feeder pigs is crucial to their growth and overall success. Pig farmers must implement effective biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases.

Regular health checks, vaccination protocols, and proper hygiene practices are essential in minimizing the risk of diseases among feeder pigs.

Feeding and Nutrition

Providing proper nutrition to feeder pigs is vital for their growth and development. Farmers should formulate balanced diets that meet feeder pigs’ specific nutritional requirements at different growth stages. Ensuring access to clean and fresh water is also vital for their overall well-being.

Housing and Environment

Creating appropriate housing conditions is essential for the welfare and productivity of feeder pigs. Adequate space, proper ventilation, and temperature control are crucial factors to consider. Comfortable bedding and enrichment materials can help reduce stress and promote natural behaviors.

Socialization and Aggression

When introduced to a new group, feeder pigs may exhibit aggressive behaviors and establish a social hierarchy. Gradual introductions and providing adequate space can help minimize aggression and promote harmonious socialization among the pigs.

Handling and Transportation

Feeder pigs may experience stress during handling and transportation, negatively impacting their health and growth. Proper handling techniques, including calm and gentle approaches, are essential to minimize stress and prevent injuries during these processes.

Market Considerations

Pig farmers raising feeder pigs need to consider market demand and pricing fluctuations. They should clearly understand the market trends, supply and demand dynamics, and the target market for their pigs. Timely marketing and proper negotiation skills are crucial for maximizing profitability.

Regulatory Compliance

Pig farmers must comply with various regulations related to pig farming, including zoning laws, waste management, and animal welfare standards. 

Familiarizing themselves with the relevant rules and ensuring compliance is vital to avoid legal issues and maintaining a sustainable operation.

Financial Management

Raising feeder pigs involves financial considerations, including investment in infrastructure, feed costs, veterinary care, and other operational expenses. 

Effective financial planning and budgeting are necessary to ensure profitability and the long-term viability of the pig farming enterprise.

what are feeder pigs

So, What Are Feeder Pigs?

Feeder pigs are a vital component of the meat production industry, providing a steady supply of high-quality pork. Continuous learning, dedication, and proper management practices are crucial to ensuring the well-being of your feeder pigs and the success of your pig farming operation.