Field peas (Pisum sativum L.) have a nutrient profile intermediate between corn and soybean meal. The digestibility of most nutrients in field peas is similar to that in soybean meal, and the concentration of digestible energy in field peas is similar to that in corn.
Although the digestibility of most nutrients may be improved by thermal treatment, field peas are usually fed to swine without prior heat treatment. Pigs tolerate field peas well and the palatability of diets containing field peas is not different from diets containing only corn and soybean meal.
Recent research with U.S.-grown field peas indicates that field peas may be included in diets fed to nursery pigs from 2 weeks post-weaning at an inclusion level of 15 to 20%. At this concentration, no negative effects on pig performance have been reported. It is possible that higher inclusion levels may be used, but research to confirm this hypothesis remains to be conducted.
In diets fed to growing and finishing pigs, field peas may be included at levels sufficient to replace all protein supplied by soybean meal in the diets. Field peas do not influence feed intake, average daily gain, or the gain to feed ratio.
Lower carcass drip losses and a more desirable color of the longissimus muscle have been reported for pigs fed diets containing field peas, but other carcass characteristics have not been influenced by field peas. Likewise, the palatability of pork chops and ground pork patties is not changed by the inclusion of field peas in the diets.
Limited research has been conducted in the U.S. with field peas in diets fed to sows. However, based on data from studies conducted in Europe, field peas may be included in diets fed to gestating and lactating sows at levels of up to 20%.
Based on the current body of research, it is recommended that, if field peas are competitively priced, they may be included in diets fed to all categories of swine. The price that can be paid for field peas depends on the price of both corn and soybean meal.
SDSU Cooperative Extension Service
Stein, Hans H., "Field Peas in Diets Fed to Swine" (2006). SDSU Extension Special Series. 1.