Business

Invaluable lessons on pig keeping from a college farm

Invaluable lessons on pig keeping from a college farm
  • The farm hosts tremendously clean, expansive pigsties made of wood, iron sheets and concrete floor, making it a model in the region. Before one enters it, they must disinfect their feet in a footbath.
  • The pig section is subdivided into various units; with the boars, dry sows, those farrowing and being fattened sitting in separate pens.
  • At the farrowing pen, there is a heat source (electricity powered) to help keep the temperatures at 37oC since piglets are farrowed with little fur and they stay so for four weeks. Low temperature expose them to pneumonia.
  • Beside the Kapseret farm, the institution has another six-acre farm at Chepkanga, along Eldoret-Iten Road, where they also host pigs.

The Eldoret Technical Training Institute’s pig farm is located at Kapsaret, some 4km off the Eldoret-Kapsabet Road.

The farm hosts tremendously clean, expansive pigsties made of wood, iron sheets and concrete floor, making it a model in the region. Before one enters it, they must disinfect their feet in a footbath.

“We carry plenty of bacteria on our feet thus we must protect the animals by disinfecting our shoes,” says Victor Ruto, the farm manager.

According to him, many people believe that pigs are hardy animals that thrive in dirty environment.

“This is wrong, in fact pigs like a clean environment and any outbreak of disease can wipe out an entire herd.”

Ruto says the 10-acre demonstration farm was started in 2013 with 200 pigs for the purpose of training learners.

“While the training has been enhanced, overtime, we turned the farm commercial and started selling pigs in 2016 to Farmer’s Choice,” he notes.

The pig section is subdivided into various units; with the boars, dry sows, those farrowing and being fattened sitting in separate pens.

The fattening section is further divided into two units. One hosts the pigs ready for the market and the rest that are fed before being sold.

Inside the pens there are hanging metallic chains to control cannibalism, which can be rife in pigs.

“Pigs are curious animals; they always want to bite anything. The chain helps to keep them busy and also ensure that their sharp teeth are blunt,” Ruto explains.

At the farrowing pen, there is a heat source (electricity powered) to help keep the temperatures at 37oC since piglets are farrowed with little fur and they stay so for four weeks. Low temperature expose them to pneumonia.

Once farrowed, piglets are provided with iron supplements on the third day to boost their blood.

“We normally inject them with iron supplements here but small-scale farmers can smear the iron on udder of the sows,” explains Ruto.

On day 10, the third section of piglets’ tail is cut off and teeth clipping is done to prevent cannibalism.

VACCINATE THE PIGS

“Pigs are curious and will start eating the tails of others. We clip the teeth so that they don’t bite their mother when suckling. If the biting happens, the mother will not allow them to suckle and they will end up starving to death,” observes Ruto.

On the same day, the male piglets are also castrated to get rid of a foul-smell causing hormone.

“If the pig is sick, we don’t do castration or cut the tail until day 21. There is a hormone produced in the testicles which has a foul smell. If you don’ castrate the animal, the pork ends up with the smell and most consumers don’t like it.”

Beside the Kapseret farm, the institution has another six-acre farm at Chepkanga, along Eldoret-Iten Road, where they also host pigs.

“We have 1,200 pigs in total on the farms and also keep some 80 dairy cows. From 30 lactating cows, we milk 200 litres which students consume and the surplus is sold.”

The college has specialised in rearing four pig breeds namely the Hampshire, Large white, Duroc jersey and Landrace.

“We also use artificial insemination in enhancing our breeds. For long, we were using the boars in breeding but we have now improved. We get semen from Farmer’s Choice at Sh1,500 per straw. The pigs are usually served on the eighth month.”

A served sow goes at between Sh30,000 and Sh35,000 to farmers who want to start pig rearing. Farmer’s Choice, on the other hand, buys the animals at an average of Sh20,000 when they have attained between 70 and 90kg.

George Omondi, the dean of students at the institution notes that they vaccinate the pigs once in a lifetime against the African swine fever.

“We formulate our own feeds to help lower the cost of production. We use soya beans, fish meal (omena) and maize germ. We feed the animals based on the body weight requirements. Those in the fattening stage are fed twice in a day (4kg),” he explains.

A 70kg bag of the pig feed in the market goes for between Sh2,000 and Sh3,000, with the college making a great saving by making own feeds.