Farming with pigs on a small scale

Farming with pigs on a small scale can be economically viable, but invest in proper infrastructure and good feed from the start. It’s not easy to farm with pigs, but the industry offers a lot of support to emerging farmers.

Farming with pigs on a small scale

The first step would be to contact the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo). Its advisors help emerging farmers to set up small or commercial pig farms.A farmer with limited resources should start with only one or two pigs and raise them the right way, rather than with more pigs and raise them the wrong way.

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If you can’t afford to feed pigs, don’t keep pigs
Feed is the largest cost in pig production and can make up 60% to 80% of the total production cost. Correctly fed pigs breed properly, use feed efficiently, produce good quality pork and give the farmer maximum profit. Correct feeding means the right feed mixture and the right amount. Incorrectly fed pigs will get sick more easily, will grow slower and will produce poorer carcasses.

If food is not fit for people, it’s not fit for pigs
Don’t feed leftover food and waste products from bakeries and other food-processing industries to pigs. It may seem like a good idea for an emerging farmer because it’s cheaper than buying commercial pig feed, but these waste products may contain too much salt and other additives that can be harmful to pigs.

Call Sappo for feed advice
Feed specialists from Sappo and feed companies can advise farmers how to develop a good pig-feeding programme. The basic ingredients of feed are digestible energy (grain/starch), protein, minerals and vitamins. As the pigs get older and grow, their capacity for eating increases so you have to fill them up with starches/grains, while they need less protein in their diet.

Feed young pigs a creep ration when they start eating, at about three weeks, and gradually move to a weaner pig ration until they are about 10 weeks old and weigh between 25kg and 30kg. During this stage they must eat as much as possible to grow quickly.

Growing pigs – 10 weeks old up to slaughter – must receive a grower ration until they are slaughtered at a liveweight of approximately 60kg to 90 kg.

Provide fresh, clean water

Fresh, clean water must always be available. Keep feed and water as far apart as possible to keep the feed dry.The pork industry is proud of the quality of the product it supplies to the market. So make sure you address all welfare issues and laws.Sappo can also provide information on marketing your pigs.

Sources: Dr Elsje Pieterse and the Agricultural Research Council.
Contact Dr Elsje Pieterse at
[email protected].
Contact Sappo on 012 361 3920 or
[email protected].
This article was originally published in the 9 April 2010 issue of Farmer’s Weekly.