Holding a black basin in his left hand, Wilson Owino scoops some feeds from a container and puts them in a feeding trough as his five piglets furiously devour them.
The farmer, who is based in Siaya, started the venture as a hobby but has seen it grow over the years into an agribusiness. "The farm is about four years old,’’ says Owino, who is based in Ukwala.
He started pig rearing with some Sh10,000 on his eighth-acre farm, with Sh4,000 being spent on four piglets, three gilts and a young boar, and the rest on the pigsties. The animals have grown to 39 pigs, thanks to their prolific breeding.
“I now have 11 boars, nine of which are castrated, three gilts, seven sows and the rest are piglets,” he says.
The number of his pigs could have been higher, but he lost some 20 piglets to dysentery, which he later controlled.
According to him, pig farming comes with various challenges that include getting a consistent market for his produce as well as lack of quality, affordable feeds.
“With pigs, you really have to keep the boars in check to avoid inbreeding. I ensure the serving boars are kept away from sows and those that are meant for sale are castrated,” says Owino, who interacts with other farmers for knowledge and attends farm fields. The farmer makes his own feeds by mixing various feed ingredients.
MORE BARGAINING POWER
“I use maize germ, rice germ, wheat pollard, sunflower cake, cotton seed cake, ‘omena’, and multivitamins,’’ he says, adding that he also gives them collard greens (sukumawiki), which he says helps them in digestion.
Owino, who currently has two employees on his farm, sells pigs alive from about a month in the nearby town and to farmers.
A one-month-old piglet goes for Sh5,000, two months at Sh7,000, while at three months to six months one goes for Sh10,000 to Sh15,000.
He advises those who would like to venture into pig farming to form a co-operative for more bargaining power.
The farmer hopes to venture into value addition on pig products, by becoming a processor of bacon and sausages.
Gordon Oluoch, a veterinary officer in Nairobi, says swine dysentery is a bacterial disease that can kill pigs in a few days.
“It’s caused by the bacteria Brachyspira hyodysenteriae. It causes diarrhoea and weight loss in pigs. The disease can be spread easily on the farm due to poor hygiene,’’ he says.
He advises farmers to report to the authorities immediately when they notice diarrhoea, blood spots and mucus in the animals’ droppings.