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Why on earth won't my pigs eat apples?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 12
Location: Southeast Michigan Zone 6a
chicken pig trees
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Hi all

My spouse and I just got our first pigs -- 2 mangalitsa (13 weeks old), and 2 mulefoot (7 weeks old). We are having some fencing installed so we can start pasturing them (husband just doesn't believe that an electric fence alone is enough, and he may well be right), so for the time being they are in a pig pen with deep litter.

The day we got them, we gave them a bucket full of apples from one of our trees, which they gobbled down with gusto. I have always understood that pigs will eat as many apples as they can get their mouths on. The next day, we started offering them pumpkins and winter squash, which we also have in great abundance. And they LOVE pumpkins, even more than their pig feed. Which is great -- they are free for us and the seeds are a good source of lysine for them. The thing is, since then, they have turned up their snouts to all apples offered since, even ones from the same tree that they gobbled up the day they got here. Different varieties, cut up into quarters, fermented -- they don't care. I haven't tried cooking them, and would like to avoid going that route since they will become pasture pigs that should be foraging on their own, and because a week ago they liked apples. They'll even eat acorns we collect (we are planning on running them in our oak forest) -- but not apples!

Fortunately, we have access to large amounts of free pumpkins. Unfortunately, I've already put a lot of effort into collecting and storing apples for them in anticipation of the winter months. Does anyone have any thoughts on how I might get them to start accepting apples again? I was really hoping to use them as a carb source to help fatten them up later on in the cold months.

Thanks!
 
pollinator
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I've no pig experience but my experience with children says they WILL eat those apples-if they are hungry enough.
 
gardener
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Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Hi Kim,  William is right, what a pig doesn't like they will eat last.  Sometimes piggys are stubborn... (Pig headed) most years my piggys will knock you down in their excitement to have an apple... this year for some unknown piggy reason...they are turning their noses up at the Macintosh apples , however if you offer them a partially eaten honey crisp they will gobble it rite up! They must have a sweet tooth... Come winter they may change their piggys minds about those apples. And if they just won't eat them, then put them in your compost pile and chalk it up to a learning experience.  
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last years piggys , begging for their apples
 
Kim Williams-Guillen
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Location: Southeast Michigan Zone 6a
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William Bronson wrote: I've no pig experience but my experience with children says they WILL eat those apples-if they are hungry enough.



Ahahahaha! Hopefully your kids don't also knock you over when you offer them a treat of peanut butter.
 
Kim Williams-Guillen
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Location: Southeast Michigan Zone 6a
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thomas rubino wrote:Hi Kim,  William is right, what a pig doesn't like they will eat last.  Sometimes piggys are stubborn... (Pig headed) most years my piggys will knock you down in their excitement to have an apple... this year for some unknown piggy reason...they are turning their noses up at the Macintosh apples , however if you offer them a partially eaten honey crisp they will gobble it rite up! They must have a sweet tooth... Come winter they may change their piggys minds about those apples. And if they just won't eat them, then put them in your compost pile and chalk it up to a learning experience.  



Thanks Thomas -- I've been enjoying reading your other posts in the pig forum! Very helpful stuff as we get started. I put a few apples through the shredder and the pigs ate some of it. Some. So much for their reputation of eating anything, lol!
 
thomas rubino
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Lol Kim;  You must have gourmet piggys...  very taste discriminatory....  They normally do eat anything.  This year mine were bonkers over comfrey leaves. ... Go Figure ! silly pigs. I'm not familiar with mulefoot piggys , but I have a neighbor who is successfully raising and marketing his mangalitsa piglets & meat. They seem to have no problems with a NW Montana winter. Here is a link to kalispell MT craigs list ,post id:( 6296006264 ) with their ad. Personally I would rather bring in piglets in the spring and drive them off to the butcher in the late summer....   Good Luck & have FUN with your new piggys      
 
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We have found that our AGH seem to like apples unless there is other food available that they like more than apples. For ours tomatoes are the first thing to go, then squashes (any of them), avocadoes, then when everything but the kale is gone, they turn to the apples.
There is one exception to this order of eating and that happens if we have scored a bunch of caramel apples being tossed by the grocery store, those go first with everything else being ignored until all the caramel apples are gone.

Right now we have the acorns falling all over the place and they are focused on eating every one they can sniff up.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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I wonder if they had more protein in their diet, if they'd eat more fruit? It seems to work that way with my chickens, but it's hard to tell for sure.
 
William Bronson
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Kim- not peanut butter, but ironically,bacon!
Yes, they will arm wrestle me for bacon,but who can blame them?
I'm sure your piggies just realized they had options they prefered.
My chooks are picky, so I just don't feed them an alternative until they eat whatever it is they are turning up their beaks at.
No pudding till ye' eats yer meats!
 
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Animals get hungry for things they need.  Maybe they need something else right now.  

I think even domesticated creatures often know instinctively what they need to eat, and it can change depending on seasons, nutritional content, vitamin needs, etc.  

People have these instincts, too, when they're not blunted by junk food and ignoring one's body's signals.  

Maybe they just really need pumpkins, acorns, etc right now.  Those are really nutrient-dense foods that could be just what they're craving to plump up to survive the coming colder weather.  Especially anything oily; makes sense they'd want to fill up on that, I think.




 
Kim Williams-Guillen
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Ken W Wilson wrote:I wonder if they had more protein in their diet, if they'd eat more fruit? It seems to work that way with my chickens, but it's hard to tell for sure.



You and Lorie may be right -- these are growing pigs and so they may just need their protein! (Not that I've seen growing kids turn down sweets.) I'm sure as winter sets in and produce gets scarce, they will reevaluate their priorities!
 
Kim Williams-Guillen
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Hi All -- for the sake of anyone who might have a similar problem and come across this thread in the future -- the pigs eventually got their act together and now eat apples up! They especially love the fermented apples that I put up at the end of the summer, when we were drowing in apples but didn't yet have any pigs to eat them. yay!
 
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Can you share a bit about fermenting apples?  How did you do that?  I usually think about salt brines for fruit or veggie fermentation, but I'm thinking you don't want your pigs eating a lot of salt. . .
 
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yep, the overripe fruits, that makes sense, most people actually eat unripe fruits, but they dont realise it, but I can confirm that as a former fruitarian, the more ripe the fruit, the better: more taste, more calories, and much easier to digest. The pigs definitely knows that instinctively.
 
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