Food,  Health

How to Fatten Pigs and People

photo credit 1 and photo credit 2

We raise pigs. We currently have 24 pigs on pasture. Needless to say, fattening pigs is on our mind. Our last pigs, American Guinea Hogs, ate way too much feed for the amount of meat we got off of them (1,000 lbs of feed each–roughly $500, and they only produced 50 lbs of meat!!). We are studying how to fatten our pigs in a healthy way that isn’t too fast, but is fast enough to still make them profitable (who wants to pay $30 for 2 pork chops?!). 🙂 In the midst of all of this studying, I’ve realized that the way commercial hog growers fatten pigs is not really that different from how most Americans live. Read below to see what I mean.

How to fatten pigs and people

Feed them Skim Milk

Skim milk has been used as a method of fattening pigs for a very long time. According to a report called Fattening Pigs for Market by Oregon State Agricultural College from 1930, skim milk  is “not only the very best supplement for growing pigs, but is of almost equal value for fattening purposes.”

This is also true for children. A study found that kids who drank 1% or skim milk had higher BMI (body mass index = more fat on their bodies) than children who drank whole milk. Word to the wise: do not move your kids to 2%, 1% or skim milk in their growing years. It is detrimental to their health. It is also detrimental for adults to drink low fat and skim milks.

Including the fat with the milk will curb your cravings for sweets. The fat in the milk minimizes the impact of the sugar in the milk when it hits your body. The higher the fat content in the milk, the better your body is able to handle the milk. The best milk to purchase is whole, unprocessed, non-homogenized, unpasteurized milk.

Are you eating low fat sour cream, yogurt, and other dairy products, believing that you are making a healthy choice? Eating low fat dairy products leads to a higher risk of obesity and heart disease. One report (which quotes many studies) says that we should not be avoiding the saturated fat and cholesterol in milk, and that components in whole milk likely protect against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Feed them Corn

“Yellow corn continues to be the basic feed grain for hogs and most other livestock species.” –Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs

Corn is a cheap feed for pigs, and it fattens them quickly. Studies show that corn fattens pigs much quicker than barley. Corn is an incredibly efficient feed for pigs and used widely by commercial hog growers as well as most small farmers, because a pig only needs to consume 3.66 lbs of corn to produce a pound of weight gain (opposed to 4.06 lbs of beans or 4.63 lbs of wheat).

Corn is being consumed regularly by humans in many forms, including high fructose corn syrup, which has been implicated in the obesity epidemic. You can look at the history of nutrition in America and see that the rise in obesity has paralleled the rise in the use of high fructose corn syrup. Even if you don’t eat corn syrup, you’re likely eating corn. Corn is hidden in so many processed foods. An obvious source of corn is corn oil, and long term ingestion of corn oil makes rats consume excessive calories. Before I ate healthy, I used to have a theory that eating fast food (like Taco Bell) made me crave more food. It is absolutely true. There are certain foods (like corn) that create more cravings. The hidden sources of corn includes a long list of sweeteners, preservatives and chemical ingredients that are a part of many every day foods. To truly avoid corn in your diet, you would have to avoid all packaged processed foods, all bottled juices, all candy bars, all salad dressings and canned foods, etc. You would have to stick to a diet of completely unprocessed pure grains, meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables and fruits, from local sources. If you do not eat this way and you truly believe that you don’t eat much corn, you are fooling yourself. Corn is hiding in everything. Even if you eat a diet of primarily fruits and veggies, if they weren’t grown by a local, trusted farmer, they’re likely coated with a wax made from corn.

Some of the names that corn is disguised under include: acetic acid, alpha tocopherol, artificial flavors or sweeteners, ascorbic acid, calcium sterate, caramel color, cellulose, citric acid, dextrin, dextrose, ethyl acetate, food starch, fructose, glucosamine, glycerides, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, lecithin, linoleic acid, lysine, magnesium citrate, malic acid, maltitol, maltodextrin, methyl cellulose, modified food starch, mono- and di-glycerides, monosodium glutimate, natural flavorings, olestra, olean, propylene glycol, saccharin, iodized salt, simethicone, sodium erythorbate, sorbate, sorbic acid, sorbitol, splenda, stearic acid, sucralose, sucrose, tocopherol, unmodified starch, vanilla, vanillin, vitamin c, vitamin e, xanthan gum, xylitol, yeast. Source: Corn Allergen List

Feed them Sugar

Pigs who were fed molasses and cane juice products the night before slaughter had a 34% larger liver than pigs who were fed a traditional grain-based diet. A larger liver = a sicker liver. Adding sugar to a pig’s diet increases their rate of carcass growth. Weanling pigs have a greater growth performance when they eat milk chocolate products leftover from the candy making industry. Go figure. Pigs who have diets that are sweetened end up eating more. In fact, simply giving the pigs a sweetener increased their chewing behavior. Ever feel the need to chew something, even though you’re not hungry? You’ve probably been eating too much sugar.

I don’t think that you need me to link to a bunch of studies that prove that sugar makes people fat. It’s a no brainer, really. What you probably don’t realize is how much sugar you eat, if you’re eating packaged, processed foods or if you are dining out. Please read my post, The Myth of Moderation: Sugar, to see how much sugar is hidden in the average American’s daily meal plan. Sugar is hiding in tomato sauce, salad dressing, taco seasoning mix, salsa, yogurt, and more. There are many foods that contain sugar that absolutely do not need it. The best way to avoid this is to make your own food. Start making your own ketchup, spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, and seasoning mixes.

Keep them Sedentary, Out of the Sun, and in a Confined Space

Pigs that are grown in confinement (most of the pigs that are raised for meat in the US) grow at a faster rate than pigs that are raised on pasture. People who live a sedentary life are also prone to obesity. People who work in offices are more likely to gain weight. People who lack Vitamin D (which is primarily acquired from exposure to the sun) are more likely to be obese. If you’re stuck working a corporate job and you feel like you live in a cubicle, just make sure you’re taking breaks and taking a walk in the sun. Getting to work before the sun rises and leaving after it sets, without any exposure during the day is detrimental to your health. Also, consider a treadmill desk to get some daily movement!


The moral of the story?

Don’t eat like a pig! Literally! 🙂 Truly, if you want to live a healthy life, eat real fat, avoid low-fat dairy products, limit your consumption of corn, avoid all packaged and processed foods, limit your consumption of sugar, and get out in the sun and move!



  • Molly Freibott

    I had a great time with this! I’ve been a Personal Trainer and Nutritional coach for a long time and this is the best visual I’ve seen in a while! Great job!

    • Sydney J. Bush

      What causes atherosclerosis and what cures it are proved in my 16 years of research following my discovery of the new science of Nutritional CardioRetinometry® which provides the proof that double Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling and cardiologist Dr Matthias Rath failed to find. I missed Dr. Pauling by five years. for the proof of how arterial disease is not only stopped but reversed – see

  • Guest

    I’d love it if you would post the second link to the article about how components in whole milk (which you imply is saturated fat and cholesterol) protect against atherosclerosis. Your link does not work, and searching legitimate research databases only provides studies that argue against this point (which is the bulk of the literature, with a lot of gold-standard, well designed studies). You have not provided any good research to back up your point on whole milk. The bulk of the existing research, using again, well-desgined studies, shows that whole milk after the age of 2 is NOT necessary for proper growth and development, and only adds empty calories and additional saturated fat (and yes, it is empty calories because skim milk provides the same vitamin and mineral content). In addition, the first article you provide is only correlational, so is not a good article to back up your assertion, and does not prove any causation between skim/low-fat milk and overweight/obesity. Find an experimental study that’s well designed, and then we’ll talk. Find 9 or 10 more that have shown similar results, and then you have a case. Until then, you are just spitting misinformation.

    • Guest 2

      Sadly, the skim milk that is so “healthful” is full of oxidized cholesterol, the type that David Kritchevsky fed his vegetarian rabbits. This study is part of what led us down this path that dietary cholesterol (no differentiation made between oxidized and non-oxidized) is bad for people (lipid hypothesis). It is a dairy standard, and thus the industry is not required by law to disclose it (I work in the dairy industry) to add dried milk to skim to make it seem less watery. Any food can be considered empty calories if the other nutrients are disregarded as important.

      There are host of scientists outside the “politically correct” nutrition field (AHA, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) that have been studying and pointing to another side of the story. A story outside the reaches of those who dictate to the above mentioned entities, namely the food processing industry that fund these so-called “gold standard” studies, to preserve the status quo. Dr. Fred Kummerow, Dr. Chris Masterjohn, Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, Dr. Mary Enig, just to name a few, have published studies/books exposing the possibilities of other explanations of how cholesterol functions in the body that lie outside of the mainstream lipid hypothesis. (Just ask Dr. Enig about the pressure she felt when Frito Lay visited her research lab as she was about to expose the fact that the oils/fats the industry uses are actually harmful.)They would argue that a good source of saturated fat (from exclusively grass-fed cows) is actually necessary to utilize vitamins and minerals. Here is a place to start, “The Fallacies of the Lipid Hypothesis” Dr.Uffe Ravnskov:

      From the abstract:
      “Most researchers to-day consider that a high intake of saturated fat and elevated LDL cholesterol are the most important causes of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. The lipid hypothesis has dominated cardiovascular research and prevention for almost half a century although the number of contradictory studies may exceed those that are supportive. The harmful influence of a campaign that ignores much of the science extends to medical research, health care, food production and human life. There is an urgent need to draw attention to the most striking contradictions, many of which may be unknown to most doctors and researchers.”

      The misinformation lies on the other side…or any other side than what you believe in.

        • An

          Yes—but only if you have carefully vetted the farmer you get it from. There is one we know of that is highly inspected, and voluntarily has EVERY single milk batch tested for harmful bacteria. Beneficial enzymes, etc., have been found in raw milk, and many who are allergic to milk find they can drink raw milk. Very strange, but true.

    • TheSpiritualPhysicist

      you could just imagine … what protects our cells is fat! … protein provides flexibility and power and calcium provides hardness … the fact that grass fed raw milk is packed with a myriad of delicate vitamins and minerals and enzymes is simply proof enough. What other foods do we eat that contain all of these things … well, wheat grass, spirulina! and then theres cows milk raw grass fed. We all need to come of the – fat = fat / carbs = carbs way of thinking … raw cows milk comes in many varieties of good and bad also. How about the fact that higher fat diets are much more satiating … how about looking up some research on pigs that show that pigs supplemented with buttermilk gained the least weight! Cholesterol when eaten doesn’t make blood cholesterol either … anyway stop asking others to do you’re own research … people are free to be as clever as they wish … nothing like a good peer reviewed study to slow down progress to natural and whole being healthier that ANY processed junk! this is a no brainer …

    • Alex

      Adding more fat to the diet including saturated fats is healthy… time to get on board with the latest. Do not fear fats, eat them, enjoy them, allow your family to thrive with them. My low carb, high fat real foods diet allowed 130 lbs to fall off and stay off. It has been 7 years and I have never felt better.. oh, and no grains, whole or otherwise, either. Bliss!

  • Freshly Grown

    LOVE this post so much! Been wanting to write something similar, especially on fattening animals using skim milk, we talked a lot about this in my Holistic Nutrition program. What the masses don’t know! Frustrating that we have been sold a pack of industry lies, so many of us still believe low-fat = healthy, I lived twenty years of my life with this belief and lived it out. I wouldn’t touch butter, would barely touch olive oil and always ate the leanest cuts of meat which are void of collage, the saturated fats we do need, Omega-3s and so on and so forth. So glad you are getting the message out there!! It needs to be read/heard!! -Rama, Freshly Grown

  • malia

    milk is made to fatten a calf of a cow not a baby. Period. No wonder kids on milk have allergies and are often overweight. We are the only species that drinks mils from other animals and post weaning -not a vegetarian here but milk is gross

    • Brenda

      Malia, “we are the only species that drinks milks from other animals post weaning”–not true. We had a pig try to nurse on our cow. Even pigs know that cow milk is good stuff! Regular milk doesn’t fatten people. Skim milk (altered milk) does. My kids are on raw milk (we have jersey cows) and they aren’t overweight at all. They’re very healthy kids. On raw milk = our daughter’s asthma calms down. Off raw milk = she has very bad asthma & eczema. Pasteurized milk is a whole different story….Raw milk is awesome stuff for human consumption!! 🙂

  • Haeckler

    If you kept your guinea hogs as fat as the one in the picture no wonder you felt you were losing money on them! IMHO making them fat while growing is a waste of feed, let them have as much grass as they want to eat and a reasonable amount of grain if you don’t have enough whey or other foods to keep them growing. My pigs are lean but growing height and length very well on pasture and soaked oats. If I want fat on them, I’ll feed them more the month or two before slaughter.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure you already know this, but check out Sugar Mountain Farm’s blog. Massive amounts of great information on raising pigs on pasture. My pigs are free range and get my leftover skim milk from my Jersey’s. I drink the cream, they get the skim 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure you already know this, but check out Sugar Mountain Farm’s blog. Massive amounts of great information on raising pigs on pasture. My pigs are free range and get my leftover skim milk from my Jersey’s. I drink the cream, they get the skim 🙂

  • deedwan

    Good article! One important point missing though: Don’t eat pork either! It is not meant to be consumed, it is unclean.

  • qammm

    I like your blog post although the blog post does not really try to explain why pigs get fat when fed milk, corn or sugar. Actually I am not a pig specialist but I heard a lot of times that the pig body chemistry works quite similarly to human body chemistry. So I will try to explain why people get fat when fed milk, corn, sugar.

    The central mechanism to understand is insulin. Quoting
    “Insulin is a peptide hormone, produced by beta cells of the pancreas, and is central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, skeletal muscles, and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood. In the liver and skeletal muscles, glucose is stored as glycogen, and in fat cells (adipocytes) it is stored as triglycerides.

    Insulin stops the use of fat as an energy source by inhibiting the release of glucagon. … Porcine insulin is especially close to the human version.”

    That means whenever you consume a meal that produces a high insulin response your body stops burning fat immediately and in addition stores all the fat in the meal you just consumed in the form of fat. That is what makes pigs and people fat (in addition to another phenomenom which makes you hungry again much quicker).

    You can index food by the insulin reaction it causes. This index is called insulin index. Different food has a different index value. See e. g. Unfortunately there are no really detailled insulin index tables as there are for the glycemic index. The glycemic index measures how fast your blood sugar will rise after consuming a specific food. In most cases however high glycemic index will also mean high insulin index and you can substitute the missing insulin index data by using the glycemic index data with one exception: milk. Milk although having a low glycemic index (caused by milk sugar/lactose) has a high insulin index! See e. g.‎

    Corn and Sugar have high glycemic (and thus insulin) index.
    Milk protein causes an abnormal high insulin index.

    There are a lot of diets that can be explained by optimizing mostly this insulin effect: Atkins, Low Carb, Sears/Zone, Paleo. Although I am not an expert in any of them. All I can say is that by only taking care for what I ate I lost 60 pounds over the course of 1.5 years (I used a similar german diet called “Schlank im Schlaf”). The interesting thing to me is: When I am eating food with a low insulin effect I stay satisfied for much longer. When I eat food with high insulin effect I get hungry again in 1-2 hours. It feels almost like drinking salt water against thirst…

  • Cassendre Xavier

    Fats are good, but they do not have to be dairy fats. I enjoy lowfat or fat-free dairy products, and choose to consume other fats such as extra virgin coconut and olive oils, walnuts, avocados, and other plant-based fats.

  • pictsidhe

    Ha! Brilliant comparison! I don’t agree with everything you say, but we’re not far apart. I actually came here researching pigs eating habits!

  • Amy Johnson

    I really love your article! I am just coming off Whole30, and while I do not want to be 100% Paleo, I also know that carbs and dairy are a bit problematic for me, because sometimes self control can be an issue! But, I remember hearing this theory in a YouTube video about skim milk which has literally been my go to all of my life. I honestly cannot stand whole milk now, because it is so thick! Any suggestions on how I can ease myself into it?
    Also, my fiancé did not believe me, or did not want to, when I kept telling him that corn was a grain and was probably one of the least healthiest “vegetables.” It’s his top three vegetables he will eat! What is your opinion on masa harina though? It has been soaked in an acid! While you would not want to eat a epic ton of it, could it be considered healthier than just eating plain corn off a cob? Thanks so much!

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