Importance of Vitamins in Pig Feeds

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To make your pigs grow healthy and faster, carbs and protein are not the only feed ingredients responsible for weight gain.

Vitamin and Minerals also help in the absorption and utilization of the feed nutrients so the pigs can have healthy growth.

Vitamins can be defined as organic compounds, which function in small amounts (mg or g) and are essential to the normal functioning of the animal body.

Vitamins cannot be synthesized in adequate amounts by body tissues but when lacking, it provokes deficiency disease.


What Vitamins do Pigs Need?

Pig vitamin and mineral supplements are normally required in the diet of pigs.

In fact, farmers are advised to give a multivitamin injection to pigs to boost their growth when necessary.

In our last publication on pigs’ diet, we discussed the mineral requirements in feed formulation, today, our focus is on vitamins.

There are four fat-soluble vitamins and ten water-soluble vitamins that can be offered to swine.


The fat-soluble vitamins are the following.

  • Vitamin A

Pig’s deficiency in Vitamin A leads to night blindness, birth of blind piglets, lacrimation of eyes, nasal discharges, and rough and dry hair coats.

Vitamin A is also involved in Pig reproduction, therefore, lack of vitamin A will lead to a decrease in ovarian and testicular size and increase embryo mortality.

  • Vitamin D

Through its relationship with calcium and phosphorus metabolism, deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to rickets and osteomalacia.

If pigs have access to sunlight, vitamin D may be synthesized in adequate amounts in their skin.

  • Vitamin E

Vitamin E interacts closely with selenium, and the main deficiency symptoms are listed under selenium.

A deficiency in Vitamin E will also lead to reproduction disturbances and reduced milk production.

  • Vitamin K

Deficiency of vitamin K does not often occur, but when it does will cause a decrease in the clotting time of the blood, nasal bleeding, and subcutaneous hemorrhages.


The water-soluble vitamins are the following

  • Thiamin

Deficiency in Thiamin causes nervous disorders, cardiac lesions, and high piglet mortality at birth.

  • Riboflavin

Typical symptoms of riboflavin deficiency are a rough hair coat, loss of hair, and dermatitis.

There has been renewed interest in the importance of riboflavin for sows.

Deficiency in sows leads to resorption of the fetus, premature farrowing, anoestrus in gilts.

  • Niacin

Lack of niacin causes dermatitis of the skin, diarrhea, and anemia in swine.

  • Vitamin B6

A slight deficiency in Vitamin B6 will cause vomiting and diarrhea, but more severe deprivation leads to disordered movements. Lacrimation and blindness.

Pantothenic acid. Deficiency causes scurfy skin and leads to locomotion disturbances known as ‘goose-stepping’.

  • Biotin

Lack of biotin leads to a rough hair coat in pigs, cracks in the feet and lameness, and depressed reproductive efficiency.

  • Folic Acid

Because a deficiency of folic acid cause lesions in the pig’s mouth and buccal cavity, this renders the pig more susceptible to infection.

  • Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin in relation to the pig’s general health.

A lack of Vitamin B12 will result in diarrhea, vomiting, rough coat, lack of coordination in the hind legs, and reduced reproductive performance in pigs.

  • Chlorine

A deficiency of chlorine causes splay legs in young pigs and reduces piglet survival.

It is also involved in reducing swine reproductive performance.

  • Vitamin C

Although Vitamin C deficiency is not common in pigs because of biosynthesis from glucose, however, a lack of vitamin C in their diet will lead to weakness and hemorrhaging throughout the body.

Vitamin C is often fed in extra amounts to improve the immune response of the pigs and their resistance to infections.

Importance of Vitamins in Pig Feeds

Availability of Vitamins in Pigs’ diet

The availability of vitamins to the pig can vary and can be influenced by a number of factors.

The B vitamin, niacin, for example, is present in relatively large quantities in cereal grains but is bound in a form, which makes it unavailable to the pigs.

Certain antagonists may also occur in the feed, which interferes with the utilization of the vitamin.


Losses in storage

As a generalization, it can be stated that the vitamin potency of feeds will tend to decline during storage.

The rate of decline will depend on the conditions of storage, for example,

  • The intensity of light
  • Ambient temperature
  • Acidity
  • The presence of more absence of interference substances, and the physical form of the diet.

Because storage conditions in non-tropical areas are often far from ideal, it is very important that the periods of storage of mixed foods are minimized.

Moreover, a synthetic antioxidant (eg methylene blue or ethoxyquin) should always be included when vitamin supplements are compounded, in order to increase the stability of the vitamins.



As in the case of minerals, the function and effectiveness of a vitamin may be influenced by interaction with other vitamins and minerals in feedstuffs.