What We Feed Our Pigs

As of 2015, we no longer use commercial feed for our pigs. We supplement what they find on pasture with our own grain/legume mix plus eggs and other weekly and seasonal treats.

Daily Rations include:

Barley. We buy barley from a neighbor and grind it ourselves. It is not organic, but it is nutritionally rich, local and grown dryland by farmers whose families have been in this area since the late 1800s. We like supporting our neighbors and using feed well-adapted to this region and grown without irrigation.

Field Peas. We purchase field peas, grind or soak them ourselves and add them to the barley. Sometimes we can get organic, sometimes not. Most come from Wallowa County, or at least a regional supplier.

Fertrell’s Swine Grower. To ensure a good balance of micronutrients, we add small quantities of Fertrell’s Swine Supplement to their daily feed. It’s made up of various organic and natural ingredients, including kelp and alfalfa meal, and readily available through our suppliers.

Other Treats:

Pasture Goodies. We allow our pigs to express their natural behaviors when feeding. That means an omnivorous diet. They do eat a lot of grass as well as broadleaf weeds, particularly in spring. But they especially enjoy earthworms, mole crickets and anything else that wanders by their noses.

Eggs. Our chickens and geese provide more eggs than we can use, so we feed excess to the pigs. We soft boil the eggs first, since that unlocks the nutrients best.

Okara. Since one of us is lactose intolerant, we make our own soymilk (using organic soybeans). The meal leftover, okara, is high in protein and easily digested. We haven’t found too many ways we like using it ourselves, so we feed it to the pigs.

Whey. If we (or our neighbors) make cheese, we give the whey to the pigs.

Fruits and vegetables. In the fall, we give the pigs windfall apples, extra squash, corn stalks and other garden offerings.


We have never given hormones or antibiotics to our pigs. We do start them off with a worm treatment (ivermectin), which is standard (or at least allowed) for most pork labeled “natural” in natural food stores (e.g., Whole Foods, New Seasons, Food Co-ops).  From there, we monitor. We have been experimenting with natural worm treatments (our own garlic or pine needles) but still want to do more research to make sure that is sufficient. To be safe, we often give at least one more dose of ivermectin later in the season (following all recommendations for withholding periods before slaughter). Again, this appears to be standard for most “natural” pork.