Choosing the right pig breed for your farm

Choosing the right kind of pig for your level of management is very important.

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They are: 

  • Unimproved breeds, like local and indigenous breeds, which are pigs raised in villages in developing countries around the world.
  • Improved breeds, which are pigs used in modern, intensive, and commercial production systems.

Each type has its own set of characteristics:

Unimproved breeds:

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  • are black-skinned, small- to medium-sized pigs,with long black or spotted coats, a
  • re hardy and resistant to disease,
  • require little management,
  • have low requirements in terms of feed and water,
  • tolerate a wide range of temperatures,
  • have relatively low productivity, producing litters of five to eight piglets, but more if well fed and managed,
  • are good mothers,
  • produce a lot of fat when well fed.

Improved breeds:

  • are usually large, white-skinned pigs with fine, sparse white hair,
  • are not as resistant to disease as unimproved breeds,
  • require good management to obtain good results,
  • need good quality feed and lots of water,
  • don’t cope well with high temperatures,
  • have high productivity, with litters of 10 or more piglets,
  • sometimes need assistance in rearing their piglets,
  • have little fat in relation to the amount of meat produced.

Pigs obtained from crossing unimproved pigs with modern pigs often combine the hardiness of the unimproved breeds with increased productivity.

Unimproved black-skinned pigs are a good option if:

  • you’re a beginner, with little or no experience with pigs,
  • you’re not sure you can provide the quality of housing and feed modern pigs need,
  • you’re sure your market accepts or even prefers this type of pig.

If you’ve been farming successfully with this type of pig for some time and are ready to upgrade to a higher level of management, using a modern boar or artificial insemination on your  sows can quickly improve productivity. You don’t need to replace all your pigs with a different type of pig.

Source: Pigs For Profit, a manual for emerging pig farmers by Dr Jim Robinson and Dr Mary-Louise Penrith, sponsored by the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO). Contact Qeda Nyoka SAPPO  project manager for emerging
pig producers on 012 361 3920.