Stephens Munala’s pig farm is just a kilometre from Mumboha Secondary School in Ebusikhale village in Luanda, Vihiga County.
It is not difficult to trace it, thanks to the boda boda riders.
Munala, a businessman keeps 25 mature Large White pigs in a 10 by 10ft pigsty.
Currently, he has no piglets having sold 20 two-and-a-half-month-olds to a local youth group at Sh5,000 each recently.
“I want to clear this stock and bring in a new set of pigs,” says Munala, as he feeds the animals that are hardy, offer large litters, produce more milk and are good mothers.
The 30-year-old, who houses the pigs according to their ages, credits the venture to his love for the animals and desire to diversify his income. He started keeping the animals in 2010 after visiting a pig farm in Kiambu, where the farmer reared 100 pigs on a tiny land.
Back to Luanda, Munala purchased five pregnant sows from Agricultural Development Centre farm in Nakuru at Sh30,000 each, exclusive of transport costs.
“I put them in a small building in my backyard. In a month’s time they had furrowed and I had 60 piglets necessitating me to construct a pen for them,” says the farmer, who keeps the animals of part of his one-acre family land.
CLIPS THE TEETH
Munala clips the teeth of the piglets soon after they are born so that when they suckle, they don’t bite the mother.
In addition, the farmer administers iron injection on day three and 21 respectively to boost their immunity.
A shortage of iron results in lower levels of haemoglobin in the red cells (anaemia), a lowered capacity for the carriage of oxygen around the body and an increased susceptibility to diseases.
At the pigsty, the farmer has a tracker pasted on every pen, which he uses to monitor them. It captures date of arrival, their age, vaccines, treatment and the date to leave the pen for sale.
And as rains pound the country bringing in a cold weather, Munala has a warning to pig farmers.
“When it cold, you have to observe them closely. When it so cold, they are prone to pneumonia, thus, they need a clean and dry pigsty.”
Munala’s piglets developed hernia recently when he was about to castrate them.
“We found out there were growths on the genital organs. A veterinary officer said it is genetic condition. He did an operation on five, but only two survived.”
The disease is caused by both genetic and environmental conditions that include poor housing conditions, with hygiene becoming a problem for many farmers during this rainy season.
Prof Matthews Dida, a lecturer at Maseno University’s Department of Agriculture, says there are two main types of hernia – umbilical and scrotal.
Umbilical hernia occurs due to weakened supportive muscles around the umbilical stump or navel area of the pig. This causes the umbilical opening not to close properly and intestines protrude through the intestinal wall to form a “ball-like”structure.
Scrotal hernia occur in males, with the pigs ending up with protruding genitals. It is majorly linked to genetic or environmental factors, which can stimulate the incidence of physical defects.
“If it is recurrent, then the farmer should get another batch of new breeding stock. Scrotal hernias can sometimes be repaired if found in early stages,” says Prof Dida.
He adds that a farmer should evaluate his management and hygiene procedures to minimise environmental causes.
Despite the challenges, Munala says with pig farming, you cannot go wrong.
“Pigs are not prone to diseases and thrive on small pieces of land.”He sells piglets to farmers and mature animals to butchery operators in Luanda, Vihiga at between Sh18,000 to Sh25,000 depending on their weight.
DEMAND FOR PORK
“When I started, there were two butcheries in Luanda, right now they are about 10 which shows demand for pork has risen,” says the father of three.
To know how much to sell pigs, he advises one should calculate the input cost from the time the pigs are born.
“If a sow gives birth to 10 piglets, they will approximately consume 10 to 15 70kg bags of feeds each by the time they mature. Each bag costs Sh2,300.”
The farmer introduces feeds to piglets when they are two months. At day 21, they are given pellets so that they don’t suckle a lot.
“I supplement commercial feeds with cabbage leaves and kitchen waste. In a week I buy two to three bags of commercial feeds summing up to Sh5,000.”