Sometime in 2011, Juda Mwabili ventured into pig farming after buying two piglets, a male and a female, of the Landrace breed for Sh5,000 each.
Nearly a year later, the sow calved down to eight piglets, putting his farm at Kajiweni in Mombasa County on a growth path.
It did not take long before the animal once again delivered, this time round 14 piglets.
And as his brood increased rapidly, Mwabili started to sell the animals to sustain the business and reduce chances of inbreeding.
“In April 2014, I sold four boars which weighed about 200kg each earning Sh200,000,” he told Seeds of Gold on his half-acre farm. “From the earnings, I bought a dairy cow at Sh100,000 to diversify my business.”
And as luck would have it, the cow calved down to two calves, enabling him to get 22 litres of milk every day.
Sometime in 2015, Mwambili sold 45 piglets to a customer and made a total of Sh320,000, the highest income the farm had ever offered him.
“The huge profit made a big difference in my life. For the first time, I realised farming pays handsomely,” he said, noting he spent at least Sh2,000 per day on pig feeds that included wheat bran and maize germ.
From the income, he used Sh200,000 to buy two heifers to boost his milk out as demand had risen. “Later from my earnings from pigs, I constructed a biogas unit at a cost of Sh200,000 enabling my family to use clean fuel.
I also built an underground water tank that stores up to 54,000 litres of water at a cost of Sh500,000 and added six dairy cows at a cost of Sh620,000,” says Mwambili, who at one time kept up to 170 pigs.
In November last year, however, the farmer suffered a major setback when African swine fever attacked his pigs.
“The disease came from my neighbour’s farm as he used to slaughter animals bought from different sources.
That time he had brought in 45 of them,” he says, adding his animals started to bled from the nose and rectum and had difficulties in breathing and suffered from diarrhoea
Swine fever is transmitted mainly through direct contact with already infected pigs, their body fluids or their droppings.
Sadly, the disease has no treatment or vaccine and can wipe out an entire pig farm in weeks. A farmer should watch out for biting flies, ticks, and limit the number of vehicles and people visiting the farm since they are carriers of the disease.
“In total, I lost 60 pigs worth over Sh400,000 and remained with only five. In the village, the fever wiped out more than 700 animals in a short period,” he says, noting he learnt that the outbreak was African swine fever after the Mombasa County veterinary department did an analysis on the carcasses.
Mwambili has now fenced his farm to restrict movement and enhanced bio-security to protect his animals.
His three sows recently calve down and he now has 42 animals, many of them piglets.
Malindi sub county veterinary officer Godrick Mwaringa says swine fever is a contagious disease.
“Farmers should make sure visitors and farm workers disinfect their shoes before entering the farm.
Vehicles should also pass through a disinfectant to curb the spread of the disease, he says, adding one should further maintain high standards of hygiene on the farm.
- Check out hygiene in your pigsty, stocking density and feeding to curb the disease.
- Also, be on the lookout for outbreaks since clinical signs can always be seen.
- In some cases, the disease may be in mild strain that infected pigs possibly do not show typical signs making it unrecognisable for some time.