Pigs are omnivores which means that they can enjoy eating a variety of different things. And with Kudzu being so abundant in the USA then it’s only natural that you might be wondering if your pigs can eat it. But before letting your pig eat something new then it’s a good idea to check its safety first.
Kudzu is perfectly safe for pigs to eat, and most pigs find kudzu palatable and appealing. Kudzu contains crude protein and lots of digestible nutrition. In moderation, kudzu is a healthy addition to a pig’s diet, though it should not be a long-term feed replacement.
So if you’re thinking about feeding your pigs some kudzu, then take a look at our helpful guide. We’ll tell you all about kudzu and how it can benefit your pigs.
What is Kudzu?
Kudzu is a perennial legume that grows back each year. It’s a quick-growing, trailing, or climbing vine and it’s also known as the “porch vine” or the “vine that ate the south”. Because when it’s left unattended, kudzu will grow profusely and cover everything in its path.
Kudzu is an invasive plant that’s native to Asia. It was introduced to the USA in 1876. with the idea that it would help to prevent soil erosion and improve soil quality. But since it was introduced, it’s become an incredibly invasive species. This is partly due to the fact that here in the USA kudzu has no natural predators.
As well as this, Kudzu can grow up to a foot a day and it will literally grow over whole houses, plants, roads, and trees. And because it grows so quickly keeping it under control can be an impossible task. But one way you can keep kudzu in check is by letting farm animals graze on it.
Do Pigs Eat Kudzu?
Pigs do eat kudzu and in most cases, they find it very appealing. Pigs are a good choice when it comes to controlling kudzu because they will naturally dig up the kudzu roots with their snouts. This will kill the plant and prevent it from growing again the following year.
Nutritionally speaking, kudzu is pretty good for pigs to eat. It contains 15 to 18 percent crude protein and it’s made up of 60 percent total digestible nutrition (TDN). Kudzu is a good maintenance food for pigs, but it won’t fatten them up.
And it’s for this reason that you should only feed your pigs some kudzu on a short-term basis. And for pigs with extra nutritional requirements such as milking sows, you should always supplement kudzu with grain rations.
How do I Feed Pigs Kudzu?
If you want to feed your pig’s kudzu then you can offer it to them in a few different ways. In some states, farmers grow and bale kudzu. So you can feed your pig’s dried kudzu forage in the form of hay.
Pigs will enjoy eating fresh kudzu too. So this means that they will happily eat any invasive patches of kudzu you might have around your homestead. And they’ll also enjoy having access to a kudzu pasture.
Is Kudzu Poisonous to Pigs?
Kudzu isn’t poisonous to pigs, however, in the wild, poison ivy will often grow among kudzu. Poison ivy is toxic to pigs, so if your pig is grazing on wild kudzu, make sure that there’s no poison ivy growing among it.
Other poisonous plants to look out for if your pigs are grazing wild kudzu are bracken, ragwort, or deadly nightshade. These are also all highly toxic to pigs and can be poisonous in even small amounts.
Sometimes wild kudzu may have been treated with pesticides or herbicides and these can be poisonous to pigs too. So you must make sure that the kudzu hasn’t been treated with chemicals before you let your pigs eat it.
What Animals Can Eat Kudzu?
Most farm animals can eat kudzu as part of their forage rations. Sheep, chickens, goats, cows, llamas, and alpacas all find kudzu appealing. Even humans can enjoy eating tender, fresh kudzu leaves.
And when it comes to keeping kudzu under control with farm animals, it’s worth noting that some animals are more effective at eliminating it than others.
Cows and pigs do the best job at keeping kudzu under control. This is because cows will over-graze it and trample it under their weight. While pigs, on the other hand, will dig up the kudzu by its roots. Thus killing the plant and preventing it from regrowing.
Goats are also a popular option for kudzu control, even being popularized as such on various news channels.
Here are articles I’ve written about animals that can (or can’t) eat kudzu.
Can I Grow Kudzu on my Homestead?
Because kudzu is so invasive, it’s illegal to grow it in some states in the USA. And if you live in a state where it is legal to plant kudzu, you must make great efforts to keep it under control.
Even though kudzu is a terribly invasive species, it does have some benefits for a farm or homestead. It can help eroded soil to recover and it can also improve nitrogen levels in the earth. Kudzu is a hardy, staple crop that grows well in most soil conditions, particularly in dry environments because it’s drought resistant.
In some states, kudzu is a popular, cultivated pasture plant. Because as well as being resilient, it has a high yield of up to two tons per acre.
If you want to cultivate kudzu, depending on the condition of your soil, it can take two to five years for it to become fully established. You should cut it once or twice a year during the summer once it’s reached knee height.
Instead of cutting it, you can also let your pigs or other farm animals out to graze on your kudzu field. However, to prevent pigs from damaging your kudzu plants, you should only let them have access to it for short periods of time.
As a backyard homesteader, I have yet to find anyone who purposely grows kudzu. Most people I know are just trying to keep it from taking over everything.
Fun Facts About Kudzu
Kudzu is a plant that certainly doesn’t go unnoticed and it has quite a long and colorful history. To learn more about kudzu and its interesting story then take a look at our fun facts about kudzu below.
- Overall, Kudzu currently covers around seven million acres of land throughout the USA. And the southeast is the most heavily affected part of the country.
- Each year, kudzu covers around one hundred and fifty thousand acres of fresh ground in the USA. As well as this, it’s resistant to most herbicides so this is why it’s so hard to keep this invasive plant under control.
- Kudzu has beautiful, purple flowers that can grow to 12 inches in length. And these pretty flowers can be made into a delicious kudzu jelly.
- Kudzu roots can be up to two meters long and this is why they’re so good for preventing soil erosion.
- In traditional Chinese medicine, Kudzu is used to treat headaches, migraines, and high cholesterol. It’s also used as a hangover remedy because it’s thought to detoxify the liver.
- The fibers of Kuzu stems are strong and robust and they’re also known as ko-hemp. These tough stems can be used for weaving baskets or lampshades.
- Kudzu is also known as Japanese Arrowroot and it wasn’t declared a weed until 1970. And in 1997 it was labeled as a noxious weed by the US government.
When I lived in South Carolina some years ago, it was trying to take over everything. My sisters still live out there, and they assure me it hasn’t changed much in the decades since I left.
What Else Can Pigs Eat?
Pigs are omnivores, which means that they can eat a huge range of different things. They enjoy eating grains and grass, such as kudzu, as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. And it’s good for pigs to have a diverse diet that includes all of these things.
Pigs enjoy gazing and looking for tasty truffles so if you can then turn them out at pasture for a few hours a day. If you don’t have pasture then you can supplement their diet with hay, alfalfa, or kudzu.
On top of this, it’s good to feed your pigs a range of tasty fruits and vegetables. Not only are they a rewarding treat but they also provide essential vitamins and minerals. It’s worth reaching out to local growers to see if they will give you their unsellable produce for your pigs.
Here’s a list of tasty treats that can be added to your pigs’ diet:
Your pigs can also eat a range of citrus fruits but these should be fed in moderation. And if you’re feeding your pigs any kind of pitted fruits then you must remove the large pits first. This is because they contain large amounts of cyanide which is highly toxic to pigs. They’re also the perfect size and shape for getting lodged in your pig’s windpipe.
Things You Shouldn’t Feed Pigs
The main thing you should avoid when it comes to feeding your pigs is animal products. These have the potential to cause fatal and highly contagious diseases such as swine fever and foot and mouth disease. So you shouldn’t feed your pigs animal products under any circumstances.
Another thing that you should avoid feeding to your pigs is moldy, slimy, or rotten vegetables. This is because they contain mycotoxins and bacteria that can be harmful to pigs.
Pigs have quite a diverse diet and there’s not a lot that they can’t eat. However, you should avoid feeding your pigs any of the foods listed below as these are highly toxic.
- Foods high in salt or sugar
- Food made for other types of animals such as dogs and cats
- Raw eggs
- Brassicas – Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale
- Nightshade Vegetables – Tomatoes, Eggplant, Potatoes, Peppers
- Processed foods
If you think your pig has eaten any of the toxic foods listed above, you should call your vet immediately.
Pig Feeding Tips
When it comes to feeding your pigs any kind of new food, including kudzu, then you should introduce it slowly. When you introduce new foods slowly you reduce the risk of overwhelming your pigs’ digestive system and causing stomach upset. It also gives you the chance to make sure that your pig isn’t allergic to the new food.
So this means that you should only feed your pigs a small amount of kudzu at first and monitor them for the next 24 hours. If your pig doesn’t show signs of digestive discomfort then you can gradually increase its kudzu rations. However, if your pigs have any kind of bad reaction to kudzu then you should stop feeding them immediately.
Just like humans, pigs are omnivores with one stomach. So this means that you should feed them two to three times a day. And you shouldn’t overfeed your pigs, especially with grains and concentrated foods because this can lead to digestive complaints such as bloat or stomach torsions.
To keep your pigs healthy then you should make sure that they have fresh water available at all times. If your pig becomes dehydrated then it may start suffering from salt poisoning. This is an illness caused by a severe imbalance in your pigs’ salt levels and in severe cases, it can be fatal.
And pigs like knocking food and water buckets over so ideally you should have them securely attached to the wall or ground. And it’s important to clean your pigs’ water regularly to prevent algae from forming because green algae are toxic to pigs.
Overall, kudzu is a healthy forage that your pigs will enjoy. So this is great news when it comes to keeping kudzu under control through grazing. Not only will pigs eat kudzu, but they’ll also pull it up by the roots too. And remember, when it comes to feeding pigs kudzu, it’s important to introduce it slowly into your pigs’ diet. And make sure that there are no poisonous plants hiding among the kudzu before you feed it to pigs.
While we can’t keep pigs and kudzu isn’t a huge problem here in Utah, it’s still something I remember from living in South Carolina. And it’s fun to show my kids the kudzu when we go visit my sisters in the Carolinas.
And it is something that I’ve been asked about by a reader, so I got this article written as an answer to both them and others who would ask this question.
So if you’ve got a homesteading question you want to be answered better (or just at all), I’d love to hear what it is. You can use my contact me page to get ahold of me. I’ll do my best to get you a factual, awesome answer – and to post it here on the website, too, so that others can get the best, most accurate, and most up-to-date homesteading information possible.
Or if you don’t have a question right now? That’s fine, too. Stay a while, read another article, and/or check us out on YouTube. We love making new friends!
Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- Everest, John. “ACES Publications : KUDZU IN ALABAMA : ANR-0065.” Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Aug. 1999, web.archive.org/web/20120616073734/http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0065.
- “Kudzu: Its Value and Use in Alabama.” Auburn University Archives, Dec. 1939, aurora.auburn.edu/bitstream/handle/11200/1887/1079CIRC.pdf?sequence=1.
- “Pig Feed: What You Can and Can’t Feed Pigs (Swill) | Agriculture and Food.” Government of Western Australia, www.agric.wa.gov.au/livestock-biosecurity/pig-feed-what-you-can-and-can%E2%80%99t-feed-pigs-swill. Accessed 6 Sept. 2021.
- “Pigs for Kudzu Control.” Homesteading Today Forum, 7 Aug. 2013, www.homesteadingtoday.com/threads/pigs-for-kudzu-control.492078.
- “Salt Poisoning (Water Deprivation; Sodium Ion Toxicosis) | Iowa State University.” Iowa State University, vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/FSVD/swine/index-diseases/salt-poisoning#:%7E:text=Salt%20poisoning%20can%20occur%20in,in%20the%20feed%20is%20excessive. Accessed 6 Sept. 2021.
- “Targeted Grazing – Kudzu.” University of Idaho, www.webpages.uidaho.edu/rx-grazing/Forbs/Kudzu.htm. Accessed 6 Sept. 2021.
- The Open Sanctuary Project, Inc. “Things That Are Toxic To Pigs.” The Open Sanctuary Project, 1 Sept. 2021, opensanctuary.org/article/things-that-are-toxic-to-pigs.