Pig farming is one of the best income generating projects that a farmer can practice. Pigs are strong and resilient animals and feeding them is economical compared to other livestock. Here is some overview on pig farming in Africa:
- Choosing the Right Breed of Pigs
Generally, pig farmers are advised to stick to breeds that are widely accepted by the buyers of meat such as Large White, Duroc etc. Consult meat processors to find out what breeds are better for commercial production.
While farmers can maintain exotic breeds that mature faster, it is important to also maintain some local breeds that are more hardy and able to survive in the local environment. Local breeds are much cheaper to maintain, especially for small scale farmers.
Therefore crossbreeding is an ideal situation for both commercial and small scale farming.
- Stocking Up
It is not necessary to breed your own pigs. You can just as well use artificial insemination on your sows or even quicker – buy the piglets!
A sow can raise probably about 20 piglets in a single year, and you can have one boar to serve up to 12 sows. Remember to take care of the sow while she is lactating by providing enough food and water and also ensuring that the pen is made in such a way that she cannot smother her piglets.
A sow for breeding has to be 5-6 months old. She cannot be less than 100 kg. After the sow has raised piglets 6 to 8 times, she can be culled.
The main idea of running a successful pig farming project is ensuring that the pigs grow big in a short time, and that the feed is converted to muscle. It is also advisable to make sure that the pigs do not have too much fat because then the quality of meat produced will be too low.
Many farmers raise free range pigs perhaps due to lack of resources. Pigs that scavenge tend to get a more balanced diet but they gain weight at a slower rate which is not good for the farmer. Where possible it is good to feed the animals in-house so that they add weight faster and avoid diseases as well as worm infestation. Other pigs are either tethered or confined in a pig pen. Free range pigs eat grass, cereals or feed from dumpsters. Most farmers in East Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and other parts of Africa practice it due to resource constraints.
Intensive farmers have to provide all the nutrients that the pig needs using feed concentrates that are fully balanced.
Build a pig pen in such a way that it is easy to clean. The floor should stay dry, there should be bedding and fresh air should flow through.
The fence around the pen has to be 4 feet high at the very least. This will make sure the pigs cannot jump out of the pen and run away when they are restless!
The site chosen for the pig pen should not be on a steep slope. The pig pen should be built in a way that allows easy drainage. Using concrete slabs is a great idea because they are easy to clean. The floor of the pen should be padded with straw – especially the areas where the pigs will sleep. Use strong building materials. Pigs like digging around and they can destroy a weak structure.