Piggy banks are small banks that are often used by children. Quote and quote “small banks”. That’s our focus today. Pigs as “living piggy banks”.
The livestock revolution has been projected as a period whereby the demand for animal products will skyrocket to match increasing human population. This presents an excellent opportunity for developing countries to increase their livestock production muscle.
Pig farming anyone?
This type of animal husbandry in Kenya has been slowly gaining momentum especially with small-scale farmers. Unfortunately, most of these farmers are doing so with profit margins ticking in their minds but not knowledge on the choice of pig breeds, feeds, pig management or available markets for the animals and related products.
To start off pig farming, one needs to first select the right breed to ensure maximum returns. Consideration of the farmer’s environs, feed availability and financial ability is crucial. There are several pig breeds found in Kenya — the Large White, Landrace and Duroc — just to mention a few.
The Large White is a popular breed. Its characteristic high fertility evidenced by a litter size of 12 piglets, long and large body size to pack more flesh and a fairly hardy nature have resulted in its wide distribution across the country.
The average live weight of this breed is 450kg and 350kg for boars and sows respectively. The Landrace’s litter size is slightly lower as well as its live weight. A mature boar weighs 400kg while a sow weighs 330kg. The Duroc is much smaller compared to the previously mentioned breeds with a mature boar and sow weighing 300kg to 250kg respectively.
However, despite their small size, they are hardy animals and exhibit docile behaviour, making them ideal candidates for small-scale farmers.
One other interesting breed is the Camborough which rivals the Large White. This breed grows relatively fast and a four-month-old boar can weigh up to 120kg.
In terms of prolificacy, the litter size is an averaged 14 piglets and the sows exhibit good mothering abilities. This South African pig is also known to be relatively disease-resistant, making it an ideal candidate in the African settings where infectious diseases are the norm. In Kenya, a good pig breed is retailing at about Sh30,000.
KEEP THEM CLEAN
However, contrary to the misconceived perception that pigs love dirt and thus should be allowed to wallow in despicable conditions as well as eat kitchen leftovers, these animals require clean living conditions.
Poor management results in low returns and constant pig deaths. To tap into maximum returns, small holder farmers need to invest in good housing structures.
The pigsty may be constructed from locally available materials, must be well-ventilated, have dry floors (preferably rough cemented floors) and shades. It is recommended that piglets and mature pigs are kept separately to prevent unhealthy competition for food.