Make sure your pigs get proper minerals.
Although minerals comprise only 1 1/2 to 2 percent of a swine ration--30 to 40 pounds per ton or 1 1/2 to two pounds per hundredweight-they're a very important part of that ration.
The most important minerals for pigs are phosphorus, calcium, salt, iodine and zinc. Dicalcium phosphate or steamed bone meal are commonly fed to provide phosphate, while limestone provides calcium and trace mineralized salt provides the other requirements.
The exact amount of minerals added will depend on how much is available in feeds used. If analysis shows that feeds provide half the required amount of minerals, you can reduce feed costs by adding only what is needed to bring the total up to the minimum required level.
Minerals should not be added haphazardly. Adding minerals without reason may do more harm than good. For example, feed intake and weight gains may be depressed by increasing the calcium level over 0.8 percent or by decreasing the phosphorus level below 0.4 percent
Phosphorus is a costly nutrient, and is likely to be deficient in many swine rations. On the other hand calcium is cheap, and is liable to be present in excess amounts. In tests, best results occur when equal amounts of calcium and phosphorus are available to hogs. The ration should not contain more than 1.5 percent calcium to one percent phosphorus.
Over 70 percent of the minerals in a pig's body are calcium and phosphorus, and the two are closely associated. Approximately 99 percent of the calcium and 80 percent of the phosphorus in the body are found in the bones and teeth. Pigs deficient in these minerals may be afflicted with rickets, stiffness, enlarged joints, slow growth and possibly some paralysis.
Smaller pigs and reproducing sows and gilts require marginally higher amounts of these two minerals.
The customary method of providing calcium and phosphorus is through incorporating dicalcium phosphate or steamed bone meal and limestone into a ground and mixed ration. But many homesteads with a pig or two, not using purchased feeds, won't find this practical. In this case, it's especially important to provide feeds from soils well-supplied with phosphorus, especially in areas where soils are deficient in that mineral. Not only will feeds of normal phosphorus content be produced, but yields will increase greatly.
However, a large part of the phosphorus in seeds and grains (and their by-products) is in the form phytin, an organic phosphorus compound, and this is not well assimilated by some animals--especially poultry, but including pigs. But the assimilation of phytin phosphorus is improved when the ration has a plentiful amount of vitamin D. It's also increased when the ration includes roughages, which contain an enzyme which splits off the phosphorus from the phytin. Alfalfa makes particularly good roughage for swine.
The homestead hog, with access to clean soil and a variety of feeds from fertile ground, won't normally exhibit mineral deficiencies, but the intelligent homesteader should be aware of the requirements.
A good boar is worth more than some think
It pays to select a boar carefully, for he contributes 50% of his genes to the first generation, 75% to the second generation and 87% to the third. The fourth generation reflects 93.8% of the combined genetic power of the last four boars.