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How to Formulate Swine Rations Using Local Ingredients for High Production

The purpose of this brochure is to address the practice followed by too many Ukrainian hog raisers of feeding only grain to their pigs during all stages of the animal's life cycle without the necessary added supplements. However, because it is possible to use ingredients available in Western Ukraine and feed profitably, this brochure aims to:

  1. Explain why grains alone are not sufficient for profitable pig raising;
  2. Present some sample rations for growth, finishing, gestation and lactation;
  3. Explain some basic swine nutrition principles that can be used to balance rations on one's own in order to maximize animal performance and profitability.


To formulate a ration you need to:

  1. Determine the nutrient requirements of the animals you are feeding;
  2. Determine the nutrient content of the available ingredients that you will be using;
  3. Combine the ingredients in such a way as to satisfy the nutrient requirements for each stage of the life cycle of the animals you are feeding.

Note: Although it is a common practice in Ukraine, adding water and/or cooking swine feed is NOT recommended.

First, let's take a look at the nutrient requirements for swine to grow quickly and healthily. Note how the nutritional requirements change as the pig grows. This is why it is necessary to change the rations as pigs put on weight. This brochure includes sample rations for each of these stages. Following this table is a chart of the various nutritional values of various foodstuffs.

(1) Suggested Nutrient Requirements for Swine (% of ration fed on a 90% dry matter basis)
NutrientBody Weight of Market Pigs in KilogramsBreeding Herd
Crude Protein2220181614131217
Phosphorus, total0.650.600.500.470.450.400.600.60
Phosphorus, available0.400.320.
There are other amino acids that are required, but these are the ones most likely to be deficient.

Trace Minerals, Parts Per Million. It is recommended that the sulfate form of the trace minerals be fed, except for iodine. Manganese oxide and zinc oxide can also be used, as they are available sources of these two trace minerals for the animal. I prefer to use the sulfate forms of the trace minerals.

Vitamin A, IU/kg22001800130013001300130044002200
Vitamin D, IU/kg220220150150150150330330
Vitamin E, mg/kg1611111111114444
Vitamin K, mg/kg0.500.500.500.500.500.500.500.50
Riboflavin, mg/kg4.
Niacin, mg/kg1614141410101111
Pantoth. Acid, mg/kg111198771111
Vitamin B12, mcg/kg1816119661616
Choline, mg/kg55044033033033033013201000

(2) Selected Nutrient Levels (%) in Various Feedstuffs (as fed on a 90% dry matter basis)
Percent of Nutrient
Crude Protein Lysine Methionine + Cystine Tryptophan Calcium Phosphorus
Total Available
Barley, grain110.500.400.150.060.400.13
Barley, grain, Western100.370.380.140.040.350.12
Beet Pulp*, dried80.
Canola meal352.21.100.400.601.100.27
Corn, grain80.250.360.
Fish Meal, average605.22.300.675.503.303.30
Linseed meal, expeller321.11.060.470.350.750.25
Milk, whole, dried252.21.000.400.900.720.72
Meat & Bone meal452.20.800.1811.005.905.90
Oats, grain110.40.400.180.100.350.14
Soybean meal, expeller422.71.000.580.200.600.20
Sunflower meal, dehulled421.72.200.500.401.000.25
  Partially dehulled**341.41.200.350.301.250.27
Wheat, grain, hard130.40.530.180.050.410.12
Wheat, grain, soft10.50.30.340.120.050.300.11
Wheat bran *
* Beet pulp and wheat bran are low in energy for pigs, containing about 70% of the energy value of corn. I've shown the nutrient values so we could look at the mineral levels.
** Sunflower meal containing all the hulls has about 80% to 85% of the values shown for partially de-hulled sunflower meal.

To convince yourself that grain alone is not adequate for raising pigs during any stage of their life-cycle, please compare the nutrient requirements for pigs to the nutrients supplied by barley, corn and wheat. For example, look at the tables to see what nutrient levels barley provides versus what a 5-10 kilogram pig needs: 11% crude protein (versus 22% required), 0.50% lysine (versus 1.5%), 0.40% methionine and cystine (versus 0.90%), 0.15% tryptophan (versus 0.26%), 0.06% calcium (versus 0.80%), and so on. As you can see, barley, like all cereal grains, is deficient in almost all nutrients required by the pig except for energy! That is why grains need to be supplemented with protein, vitamins and minerals in order for pigs to grow and perform well.


The following rations are all balanced to ensure that the nutritional requirements of pigs are satisfied at the given stage in their life cycle. Some are based on barley, others on corn, while a few are based on soft wheat. Which ration is most appropriate for you depends on the foodstuffs you have available and their relative cost, all of which may change over time. For this reason it is necessary to monitor periodically the cost of your various foodstuffs to ensure that you are supplying the necessary nutrients for your pigs as cheaply as possible.

(3a) Rations that Meet the Requirements for Rapid Gain of Growing-Finishing Pigs
Pig Weight20-35 kg35-55 kg 55-80 kg80-market weight
Protein18% Protein16% Protein 14% Protein13% Protein
Grain baseBarleyCornBarleyCornWht,SoftBarleyCornBarleyCorn
Barley72.85-0-79.0-0- 82.3-0-86.5-0-
Corn-0-66.75-0-71.8 -0-74.25-0-77.5
Wheat, soft-0--0--0--0-77.75-0--0--0--0-
Soybean Meal2430182519-0--0--0--0-
Canola Meal-0--0--0--0--0-15231120
Premix, Vit-Min111111111
Ration totals100100100100100100100100100
Note: Starter, grower and finisher rations, as well as water, should always be available to pigs in order to maximize their feed intake and rate of gain.

In Western Ukraine, canola meal is a desirable protein supplement for animals when used as directed. It is not recommended for young pigs weighing less than 20 to 30 kg. I used soybean meal to formulate the 18% and 16% swine starter and early grower rations but used canola meal as the sole protein source in the 14% and 13% finisher rations and in the breeding rations - gestation and lactation. A combination of soybean meal and canola meal is recommended for growing pigs but may not be possible economically. If soybean meal is not available, it is better to use canola meal than not to satisfy the protein requirements. Animal performance should be monitored and rations adjusted accordingly.

(3b) Rations That Meet The Requirements For Gestating And Lactating Sows
Ration TypeGestation - >12% ProteinLactation - >17% Protein
Grain baseBarleyCornWheat-HardWheat SoftBarleyCornWheat HardWheat Soft
Barley86.2   68.2   
Corn 76.2   61.2  
Wheat, hard  86.2   75.9 
Wheat, soft   82.2   68.05
Canola meal1020101428352028
Lysine      0.250.15
Dical Phosph.1.351.351.351.351.351.351.351.35
Vit-Min premix1.
Ration Totals100100100100100100100100

Gestation Rations should be fed in limited quantities to keep the sow from getting fat. If the sow is gaining weight before breeding, which is normal after nursing pigs, she will ovulate more eggs. After conceiving, more embryos will become live pigs if she isn't over-fed energy. Since her feed is being limited, the ration fiber level may need to be raised to keep the digestive system working. Fiber could be added with oats or wheat bran. Adding some good alfalfa hay is a good idea and is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Adding extra bran for a few days before and after farrowing will reduce constipation problems. Pregnant sows should get exercise right up to farrowing. In order to meet the lysine requirements, more canola meal was fed in the above rations than is required to meet the 12% protein requirement for gestation. Of the above gestation rations, I would use the one formulated with barley since it takes less canola meal to meet the protein and lysine requirements and supplies more fiber.

Lactation is a high nutrient requirement time for the sow. Therefore, lactation rations should be fed in unlimited quantities except for the first week after farrowing. Limiting feed intake the first week will keep the sow from producing so much milk that she causes diarrhea in the baby pigs. As always, unlimited water should be available to the lactating sow. Milk is mostly water.


While the rations shown above should be adequate in many instances, there may be times when you do not have all of the necessary foodstuffs to prepare them, or when the relative costs of various ingredients would make it possible to formulate a different, cheaper, nutritionally-balanced ration. In addition, it is important to monitor performance to see how pigs respond to changes in their diet to make sure your rations are producing the expected results. If they are not, it is worth rechecking both the nutritional content of their rations on paper and examining the procedure for mixing the rations. It is of course necessary to track each pig's growth rate to determine how it is performing.

A very helpful tool for determining what ratio of two ingredients is needed to supply the nutrient level of a given substance is called a "Pearson Square". While there are more than two ingredients in most rations (as you can see in the sample rations given above), often, only two ingredients will be used in large quantities. Once you balance the two largest ingredients for protein content, you can add small amounts of various amino acid, mineral and vitamin sources to the ration to fulfill the remaining nutritional needs. If you're using only grain and a concentrate, you can use the Pearson Square to balance them with each other. Here's how it works:

The two foodstuffs you choose to mix Level of nutrient Nutrient level wanted in mix Subtract diagonally Percent of ingredient Test solution for chosen nutrient Protein
Barley-Protein11% 42-16 = 2626/31 = 84%x 11%= 9 %
Soybean Meal, expeller42% 16-11 = 55/31 = 16%x 42%= 7%
  Totals= 31= 100% = 16%

This table shows how you can determine the amount of barley and soybean meal, for example, to mix together so that the resulting mixture will contain 16% protein.

  1. We first determine the difference between the percentage of protein in barley (11%) and the desired protein level in the ration (16%), and obtain 5 (16 - 11 = 5). We write the result below.
  2. Next, we determine the difference between the same desired protein percentage (16%) and the percentage of protein in soybean meal (42%), resulting in 26 (42 - 16 = 26). We write this in the upper right.
  3. Now we add both results together and receive 31 (26 + 5 = 31).
  4. Finally, we divide 26 and 5 each by 31 to determine how much barley and soybean mill to include in the ration respectively: (26/31 = 84% barley; 5/31 = 16% soybean meal)

Now, we need to see if the above ration with 16% protein gives us enough lysine. The lysine content of barley is 0.5%. The lysine level in soybean meal is 2.7%, so:

Multiplying: 84% barley, grain x 0.5% lysine = 0.42 percent lysine from barley
16% soybean meal x 2.7% lysine = 0.43 percent lysine from soybean meal
Ration lysine content = 0.85 percent

The requirements for protein and lysine for a 35 to 55 kg growing pig are 16% protein and 0.82% lysine, so the above ration meets the requirements. Make the above calculations for each nutrient and multiply ingredients in a trial and error method. It is more realistic to buy a vitamin and mineral premix and mix it with grain and protein or buy a hog concentrate that, in addition to vitamins and minerals, includes protein and then add only grain. Properly formulated rations will bring pigs to market weight in five or six months rather than nine to twelve months and will be more profitable.

This brochure has been compiled from a 15-page article written on the same topic. You may obtain the complete original article by contacting Land O'Lakes, Inc. in L'viv or the author, Roy Chapin, Ph.D. Animal Nutritionist, at E-mail: <[email protected]>.

© Roy Chapin, 2024
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