Pigs are non-ruminant animals and they belong to the family called sudae. There are two main species of pigs – Sus sacrofa and Sus vittatus.
Breeds of Pig
- Large White.
- Large Black.
- Duroc Jersey.
- Poland China.
- West African Dwarf pig.
- American Landrace.
- Chester White.
- Belgium Pie Train.
All the breed types are grouped into three classes:
- Meat type.
- Lard type.
- The Bacon type.
Pigs are reared mainly for meat, pig skin, bristle and manure.
Terminologies Used in Pig
- Boar – A mature male pig.
- Sow – A mature female pig.
- Gilt – A female pig that is matured to reproduce or has reproduced once.
- Piglet – The young or baby pig.
- Weaners – Young pigs just separated from the mother.
- Fatteners – Old pigs reared for the market.
- Barrow – A castrated male pig.
- Farrowing – The act of parturition in pig.
- In sow – Pregnant sow.
- Dry Sow – Sow that is not pregnant.
- Pork – The meat of pig.
- Bacon – Salted pig meat
- Lard – Pig meat with fat.
Characteristics of Pig
- Pigs are very prolific animals. At 8 9 months of age, a gilt is matured and can farrow twice a year, producing 8-10 piglets per litter.
- It has a short gestation period of 114 days i.e. three months, three weeks and three days.
- They mature very early. A piglet gets to 60-90kg market weight in 6 – 9 months.
- Pigs are good converters of feed into meat. They can easily convert industrial, agricultural and compounded feed into meat more cheaply and rapidly than most other domestic animals.
- Pigs have an excellent dressing percentage, i.e. the proportion of flesh to bone is high.
- Pigs require a very little investment in terms of building and equipment.
- Pigs are polyestrus animals. This means that pigs can be bred at any time of the year.
- The salvage value of pig is high. That is, the price at which an old pig can be sold off is high.
- The initial investment in getting into the enterprise is small and returns come very quickly.
- Pork is a good source of protein. It is high in energy, attractive, nutritious, tasty and tender.
Systems of Rearing Pigs
There are three systems of rearing pigs. These are Extensive, Semi-intensive and Intensive systems.
- Extensive system: In this system, the pigs are allowed to roam about and fend for themselves. This system has little or no capital investment and the cost of production is low. However disease incidence of worm infesta-tions are very high. The animals are exposed to adverse weather conditions.
- Semi-intensive system: In this system, housing is provided for the animals and they are allowed to move out to feed on natural vegetation. Paddocks are provided around the house which is fenced. Wallows and shades are also provided. The animals are allowed to move about, thereby exercising themselves to prevent fat built-up in the body. The system needs less capital investment but the labour requirement, disease incidence and parasite infestations are slightly high. Concentrate feeds are also provided.
- Intensive system: All the pigs are confined within a building and are not allowed to move out. The pigs are raised inside the pens on either concrete or iron slated floor. Feeds, water and medications are supplied daily in adequate quantity and good sanitation is maintained. The system saves labour, provides conditions for good management standards and easy control of internal parasites. There is also protection from extremes of climate, predators and thieves. The feed efficiency is high, thus the growth rate is also very high. The system requires high capital investment in terms of building and feeding.
- Pig houses are sheds which provide shelter against harsh weather as well as provide proper hygienic conditions required to maintain healthy growth of the animals.
- Pig house should be constructed along the direction of the wind but should be far from residential areas.
- Pig house should have low walls made with bricks, stones or concrete cement with low walls to allow free flow of air.
- The floor should be hard, impervious to water but easy to clean. It should be cement concrete, iron or concrete slabs.
- The floor should slope towards the drains with a gradient of 1:40, to ease cleaning. The surface of the floor should be slightly rough to prevent pigs from slippering.
- The roof should be made from either asbestos, galvanised iron or aluminium sheets.
- All pens, except farrowing pens, are constructed the sameway, with the provision of feeders and drinkers.
- Farrowing pens in addition to the feeders and drinkers should have rail guards so as to prevent the sow from lying over the piglets.
- The farrowing pens should also have creep area where the food of the piglets are kept. Such partition prevents the sow from eating up the nutritious food for the piglets.
- Feed cost represents 70-80% of total cost of producing swine.
- Feeds given to all categories of pigs should be balanced in nutrients, i.e ., it should contain all nutrients required for growth and production.
- Breeder’s mash (15% protein) should be fed to breeders to prevent body fat deposition but keep them thrifty.
- Flushing of the breeder should be done 7 to 10 days before breeding and maintained until the animals are bred. Flushing is the process by which the feed intake of the gilt or sow is increased so that it can produce more eggs or ova and consequently more number of fertilised eggs or ova and large litters or piglets.
- Pregnant or in-sows should not be overfed during gestation period to prevent fat deposition which leads to small litter size and difficulty in parturition.
- Laxatic diet, rich in high fibres grasses) should be given to in-sows to aid easy parturition and lactation.
- The young piglets should be given creep feed (22%) protein as from two weeks of age to promote rapid growth of the piglets.
- As soon as the piglets are weaned, they should be given weaners’ mash which contains about 18% protein for about 14 weeks at an average rate of 1kg for a pig per day.
- The pigs are also fed on fatteners mash (14% protein) during the fattening stage when pigs do not require high proteinous feed. The pigs are fed at an average rate of 2kg per pig in a day till they reach market weight of 60-90kg at seven months of age.
- Pigs being omnivorous animals can feed on kitchen wastes, grasses, remains of hotel food and other byproducts of brewery and dry wastes.
Common sanitary measures to be adopted in pig farm include:
- Clean pig pens regularly by scrubbing the floors.
- Disinfect the pig house at regular intervals to make it germ-free.
- Clean the feeders and watering troughs to prevent contamination.
- Isolate any sick animal for treatment.
- Remove and bury dead animals.
- Deworm the pigs with drugs and vaccinate them against diseases.
Common Diseases of Pigs
Common diseases of pigs include: brucellosis, anthrax, bovine mastitis, hog cholera or swine fever, pleuropneumonia, enteritis or swine dysentery and transmissible gastroenteritis.
1) Brucellosis or Contagious abortion: This disease is caused by a bacterium called Brucella abortus.
Symptoms include: high fever, diarrhoea and dysentery, posterior paralysis and premature abortions. The disease is transmitted through contaminated feed, water and infected animals.
Control measures include: isolation of infected animals, proper sanitation and regular vaccination.
2) Anthrax: This disease is caused by a bacterium and transmitted through contaminated feed, water, equipment and infected animals.
Symptoms include: high fever, depression, blood oozing from nose, mouth, anus, or carcass, lack of appetite and sudden death.
Control is by proper sanitation, vaccination and isolation of infected animals.
3) Enteritis or Swine dysentery: This is a bacterial disease that causes serious digestive tract disorder.
Symptoms include high temperature, loss of appetite, frequent passage of watery, foul smelling faeces (which may be bloody) and loss of weight.
Control measures include the administration of sulphur drugs and antibiotics such as terramycin and aureomycin.
4) Hog cholera or Swine fever: This disease is caused by a virus. It affects pigs of all ages.
Symptoms include: high body temperature, diarrhoea and vomitting.
The only control measure is to kill affected animals and bury them.
5) Transmissible gastro-enteritis: This disease is caused by a bacterium and attacks piglets mostly.
Symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting and sudden death. The faeces of affected piglets are usually white or green in colour. Antibiotics and sulphonamide drugs are used to cure the disease.
Management of Pig
The management of pig from breeding to market size can be grouped into three phases. These are:
a) Breeding to farrowing or birth: Breeders (gilts and boars) are housed in the breeders’ house, made of concrete floor, low wall and galvanised iron roofing sheets. Boar and gilt should be at least eight months before they are bred. The gilt must have, at least, twelve well spaced functional treats and good temperament and should not be obese. Two weeks before mating, the gilt must be dewormed and sprayed with insecticide to remove internal and external parasites.
Flushing should be done 7 to 10 days before breeding and maintained until the animals are bred. Flushing is the process by which the feed intake of the gilt or sow is increased so that it can produce more eggs or ova and therefore, more number of fertilised eggs or ova and large litters or piglets. The gilt or sow is mated on the second day of heat and second mating is done 24 hours later. The gilt or sow should be well fed during gestation period but not overfed because there is the tendency for fat deposition which leads to small litter size, insufficient milk production and difficulty in parturition.
They should be fed on Breeder’s mash. Breeders should be given sufficient exercise to prevent the deposition of fats. Sows and gilts should be given laxative diet, rich in high fibre (grasses) to aid easy parturition and lactation. Three to four days before farrowing, the sow or gilt should be taken to the farrowing house where they will give birth to piglets. Farrowing crates, rail guards, beddings, feeding and watering troughs and heating device should be provided in the farrowing house. An attendant must be present to give a helping hand during farrowing, in case of any difficulty.
b) Birth of Piglet to Weaning
- When piglets are born, the mucus membrane is wiped from their nose to prevent suffocation.
- The naval cord is cut and dipped in iodine solution to prevent infection.
- Heat is provided for the piglets to prevent them from chill.
- The needle teeth of the piglets are clipped or cut off to prevent injury to the mother’s teat and piglets during fighting.
- The piglets are given first dose of iron dextran injection at two or three days of birth and the second dose two to three weeks later to prevent pig anaemia.
- All male piglets, not required for breeding, are castrated at about two weeks after farrowing.
- Creep feeding also starts at about two weeks after farrowing. Creep feed is high in protein (22%) and other nutrients. It supplements milk intake from the sow and also aids the growth of the piglets and their early weaning.
- The piglets are ear-notched for the sake of easy identification.
- They are finally weaned (i.e. separated from their mother) at 42 days or six weeks of age.
c) Weaning to Finishing (Market Size)
- Weaners are transferred to the growing or fattener’s house.
- The pigs are first fed on weaner’s mash and later changed to fattener’s mash few weeks later.
- The health care requirements of the pigs include administration of vaccines and drugs to prevent various diseases of pig.
- Parasitic infection should also be prevented through regular deworming and spraying of pigs with insecticides.
- The pigs should be given exercise to prevent fat build-up in the body.
- Wallows where pigs can cool down their body temperature should be provided because they are nonsweating animals.
- Pigs, now fattener’s, reach market age when they are about five to six months old, depending on the level of nutrition and management.