If you met the vivacious Nancy Roxie on the streets, the last thing that would come to mind would be pigs.
But it is in the activities of this very animal’s life that she has invested in for the last three years since she took up pig farming.
Roxie has the wisdom to realise that one can divvy their life up into sectors, and be both cool city slicker and a hog farmer.
Starting almost by default, pig farming had never crossed her mind and that of her husband until 2013 when they met a friend who introduced them to a man re-locating to the US, wanting to sell his pigs.
The couple, whose youthful appearance belies the fact that they are in their early 40s, bought the 150 pigs, but did not have a place to keep the animals.
“While looking for a place, we saw a sign on the road, advertising land for sale. By coincidence, this person selling the land already had a pigsty. He had burnt his fingers trying to rear pigs and now just wanted to dispose of the land.”
They bought the 150 pigs for Sh1 million and spent another Sh12 million to buy three-and-a-quarter acres in Juja, Kalimoni, where the farm is.
This was just the beginning. Training for farm employees, renovating the structure, purchasing feeds, setting up water supply and electricity among other things saw the couple invest Sh25 million in total, with all the money coming from their savings and a bank loan.
Roxie now runs the entity named Juja Pig Farm full-time, along with her two employees.
She also runs other family business, all after quitting her job as a marketer with a state corporation for 10 years. Her husband works outside the country.
“It’s been a tough but sweet journey. Pigs are capital intensive, especially in terms of feeds. They eat a lot, twice a day, and the food has to be quality; it cannot be left-overs. If you don’t feed it, you will see it clearly, it will be very thin and miserable. Groups like Farmers Choice want quality."
Roxie is not exaggerating when she talks about how pricey feeding hogs can be. Every week, she spends between Sh100,000 and Sh200,000 on feeds for her 300 pigs.
“About 80 per cent of the investment goes to feeding the animal. For one to break even, you need to do big numbers. I feed them on commercial feeds and a 70kg bag sells for Sh1,950,” she adds.
FEEDS OFFERS MAIN EXPENSE
Roxie avers that their profits are currently about Sh100,000 a month on average, the cost of feeds being the main expense.
A pig weighing 80kg and above will fetch Sh18,000 from Farmers Choice, which is her biggest market.
The couple sells 25 pigs a month, but their target is to sell 50.
Apart from selling pigs to the market, they also sell to farmers wanting to rear them, at between Sh20,000 and Sh35,000 depending on the breed.
Apart from regular returns, the fact that their sows give birth thrice a year with each litter carrying up to 10 piglets, makes the investment worth it.
They are yet to fully break even on their investment but Roxie is optimistic.
“It’s a long-term investment and we haven’t seen big returns yet because we were focusing on laying the infrastructure first. The next stage is production. It requires a lot of patience. We’re not in a hurry. Eventually, we also hope to do value addition.”
In the three-years she has been doing this, she has read a lot and visited successful pig farmers.
“There are three things you must consider when getting into this line: quality foods, quality breeds and good management. Rearing pigs is good business as long as you don’t try to take shortcuts. You need to deworm them regularly, feed them quality feeds and have clean water at all times,” says Roxie.
She adds that to set up a farm, one should be armed with at least Sh2 million at the minimum if they aim to do it professionally.
Having begun with Large White breed, the couple realised that it was not fattening faster.
They added 10 Duroc sows and imported four Camborough pigs from Uganda.
They also got crossbreeds of Large White and Hampshire Boar.
“We’re trying to see which of the breeds can give best returns in terms of gaining weight and growing faster. We want each pig to take six months (selling age) and attain 90-104kg. If you want to laugh all the way to the bank, you have to target weight growth.”
REARS POULTRY, DAIRY GOATS AND PLANTS VEGETABLES
Roxie believes that pig farming is lucrative because pork consumption has increased over the years.
While it was viewed as only for the elite, the fact that local butchers have been stocking them over the years has widened the market.
She nevertheless believes it is possible to reduce the prices of pig feeds by having the government zero-rate them.
Apart from pigs, Roxie also rears ducks and chickens, dairy goats, and plants vegetables, all which complement the pig farming.
Her plan is to set up a maternity wing for her pigs, in addition to seeking to turn the animal’s manure into biogas.
“I don’t want anything from the pigs to be wasted. We also want to automate the feeding and cleaning processes.”
Even with this success, Roxie’s gripe is that the government does not pay any attention to the pig farming.
“Pig farmers are on their own. There’s no government agency that comes out to support us or help farmers. There’s no the dairy board equivalent for pigs. We should have an outfit where pig farmers can be helped to process up to one million sausages a day, because from value addition, a farmer will get more returns.”
Roxie attended Chwele High School in Bungoma, up to 1989 and studied marketing at college in Nairobi.
Apart from running the pig farm, she and her husband have two other farms, one in Kitale and another in Narok where they plant bamboo and other crops, not to mention the other businesses she runs and duties as a mother.
“Be very honest, focused and stick to it.
Whatever you are doing, be passionate about it and also let it be fun. Also, make sure you get the right people,” says Roxie, revealing the secret to her success.
What experts say
A good pigsty should have:
- A pigsty should be constructed in units and must be well ventilated, with troughs or nipple drinkers for fresh water 24/7.
- It should also have a maternity wing or multiplication or farrowing house where the sow stays with its piglets for either one-and-a-half months or two months before weaning.
- In this wing, there is a creep (small shelter for piglets) to keep them warm and safe from being crushed by their mother and also their special feed.