Can Pigs Eat Banana Peels?

Good nutrition is fundamental to a pig’s growth rate, reproductive success, health and longevity. The supply of balanced feed is under threat due to the increasing price of feedstuff. This has led to the usage of unconventional feedstuff as farmers seek means of maintaining animal health and productivity. Various agricultural research studies are therefore directed towards finding out whether pigs can eat banana peels among other feedstuffs for production purposes. Results indicate that pigs can feed on banana peels, however in limited rations. Excessive usage of banana peels is said to cause a number of health related issues. Nonetheless, the benefits of banana peels to livestock production outweigh the negatives hence are recommended for swine dietary plans.

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Nutritional Value

Pigs can eat banana peels as supplementary feed needed to reach maximum productivity. Banana peels constitute about 30% of fresh banana weight. They can be fed to livestock as fresh green, ripe or dried. Banana peels are made of carbohydrates, protein, sugar and vitamins, particularly A, B1, B2, and C along with other nutrients. They also consists of potassium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus and iron. Minerals present in trace amounts include calcium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride and selenium. Lignin content found in banana peels increase with ripening, from approximately 7% to 15%. Studies reveal that ripe banana peels contain higher levels of nutrients and minerals in comparison to green peels.  Pigs can eat banana peels that are dried in rations of up to about 20% without depressing growth. Inclusion rates beyond 30% in the diet adversely affects weight gain and feed conversion efficiency. When provided in the correct rations, banana peels can be an important staple feed for small-holder farmers in banana producing areas. However, note that complementary supplements remain a necessity as banana peels are lacking in some nutrients.

Pigs can eat banana peels only if rations do not exceed 20% of the overall dietary plan. Banana peels contain anti-nutritional factors such as tannins, oxalate and phytate amongst others. These hinder efficient uptake on nutrients and minerals leading to depressive growth, reduced feed efficiency. Tannins are also responsible for the astringent taste of immature fruits, which adversely affect their palatability in pigs. Note that there is no palatability problem with peels of the mature or ripened fruit. This is because ripening causes migration of tannins to the pulp or they get degraded by polyphenol oxidases and peroxidases.

Physical Development

The growth and development of pigs relies on the nutritional value of the feed provided. Pigs given poor quality feedstuff develop at a slower rate in comparison to livestock on a balanced dietary plan. To add on, they require an increased financial investment due to the prolonged growing period. In severe cases, they become susceptible to disease and infection which may prevent full term development. As such, pigs can eat banana peels as a means to gain important nutrients and minerals for physiological development. Banana peels are essential in providing pigs with energy needed for daily sustenance. According to research, livestock feed should contain sufficient energy for faster growth and improved weight gain which translates to increased profitability. Energy is also important for muscle movement, heat production, and feed digestion as well as to metabolise nutrients. Furthermore, pigs can feed on banana peels to absorb calcium needed for growth and development. Calcium is also important for teeth, bone and muscle development as well as well as in activating enzymes. Deficiencies are known to cause slow growth, bone fracture and poor quality colostrum which negatively impacts on the development of young piglets. Also, pigs can eat banana peels in order to gain important minerals which are needed for almost every metabolic process in the body. Deficiencies of minerals can result in ill-thrift, poor growth and fertility, and bone breakages, depending on the specific deficiency. The trace elements found in banana peels play an important role in ensuring that livestock reach their full potential. Care should be taken to provide animals with proper rations as banana peels consist of anti-nutritional agents which could induce adverse effects including depressive growth and reduced feed efficiency.

Health Maintenance

The maintenance of healthy livestock is at the core of every agricultural venture. Animals in poor health do not only demand heavy financial investment in treatment and veterinary fees, but also cause tremendous losses. This is because they are less productive and often produce below standard meat quality that is sold at very low prices. As such, pigs can eat banana peels as a means to maintain good health allowing for increased productivity and profitability. Banana peels are made up of vitamins that play a pivotal role in boosting the immune system. Livestock are therefore able to effectively fight rampant diseases and infections. To add on, banana peels contain essential minerals for blood synthesis, hormone structure, normal reproduction and vitamin synthesis as well as enzyme formation. Although pigs can feed on bananas without experiencing any adverse effects on maintenance, reproduction and protection, this is only possible when they are provided in the right quantities. Excess banana peels can be harmful to livestock health. Cases of declined productivity have been reported when feed exceeds the recommended amount.

Antioxidant Agent

Oxidation is a process whereby polyunsaturated fatty acid react with reactive oxygen species leading to a series of secondary reactions which in turn lead to degradation of lipids and development of oxidative rancidity. Pigs, like all other types of livestock, are susceptible to oxidative reactions. In fact, oxidation is among the leading causes of poor quality produce. According to research, oxidation is recognised as the biggest threat to productivity. For many years, oxidative reactions have been managed though the use of synthetic antioxidants such as antibiotics. These have however been banned in some countries hence the need for natural alternatives. Owing to the negative impact of oxidation on livestock performance, growth and quality of the produce, farmers are actively seeking for means to control this issue. As such, pigs can feed on banana peels because they are a source of antioxidants that help to fight free radicals. Banana peels contain trace minerals including selenium which is an important constituent of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase; it offers defence against exudative diathesis.