by Kaylin Beach, Museum Interpreter and Volunteer Coordinator
First, there is no difference between a Pig and a Hog. Just two different names describing the same animal. ‘Pig’ tends to refer to the animals most folks keep as pets or as livestock, and ‘Hog’ tends to refer to animals that are more feral (wild in nature). The names can be used interchangeably. I will use the term ‘Hog’ during this article to refer to both.
Second, hogs, like the heritage breed Ossabaw Hogs here at the Accokeek Foundation, are opportunistic feeders. This means they will eat ANYTHING.
However, just because they WILL, doesn’t mean they SHOULD!
Hogs should receive a balanced diet. Pasture-raised hogs, like the ones raised here on the National Colonial Farm, will acquire some of their diet from what they find in the fields. This diet should be supplemented with grain and can include table scraps/leftover crops. Careful research should be done to discover what foods will keep the hogs healthy, and what may upset that delicate balance. A good rule of thumb is to watch what your hogs eat the most, and then research how that food interacts with their health.
Avoid Feeding Hogs:
- Raw meat
- Raw eggs (can be a sometimes snack)
- The roots and leaves of tomatoes, turnips, cabbage, mustard, and broccoli
- The leaves and seeds of apples, pears, apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, and nectarines
- Lots of salt or sugar
The Accokeek Foundations chickens have been laying between 24-32 eggs a day in the last month or so, and we cannot eat that many eggs. Knowing that hogs LOVE eggs, Farmer Maryn decided to let the dirtiest and cracked eggs go to the pigs. BUT WAIT! Raw eggs are just a sometimes snack for hogs – I wonder why?
If you aren’t familiar with Biotin, it’s a really great vitamin, also known as Vitamin H, and most humans are trying to acquire more of it in their diets. It is attributed to supporting the health of your body, so the hogs need it.
While eggs are also very high in biotin, a necessary vitamin in pigs, raw egg whites contain Avidin, a protein that binds to Biotin which results in a Biotin deficiency. So raw eggs fed in large quantities can result in the deficiency which can lead to dermatitis and hoof problems. Cooking the egg denatures Avidin allowing Biotin to be absorbed.
A ration of balancing cooked and raw eggs seems to be the best option, as the former offers a Biotin rich food source and the latter inhibits large amounts of biotin from being absorbed.
Knowing this information, Farmer Maryn decided that the eggs should not go to waste, but feeding the hogs raw eggs every day was not the healthiest way to decrease the farm’s surplus egg population. Instead, she found a big pot, cracked the eggs, composted the shells, and whipped up a ‘mess of eggs’ for our eager hogs.
After a few minutes, those raw eggs were thoroughly cooked, negating any possible harm to the biotin intake of those hungry hogs (cooked eggs no longer carry any Biotin or the Avidin that may upset the biotin intake). Eggcellent! The happy medium between our egg challenges and their health concerns yielded a golden-yellow goodness that would make any Hog proud!
YUM! The piglets were ecstatic with their mid-afternoon egg casserole. In a blink of an eye, they had engulfed the eggs and now wore a yellowish beard.
Hogs are messy eaters – it’s not a good meal if they can’t wear it!