How to improve production of scavenging pigs

Pig farming in Kenya can yield a rapid rate of return on capital employed if only pig farmers make little attempt to obtain maximum productivity. Often pig farmers let pigs to roam freely scavenging for their food and occasionally supplementing them with kitchen waste or farm by-products. Local breeds are kept where shelter or veterinary arrangements are rarely considered.

To help improve the productivity and health of these scavenging pigs, simple management practices can be employed.


Make sure that the available feedstuff is properly distributed. The best of the feedstuff should be given to the pregnant and the nursing sows who supply your future breeding stock, and also to the piglets that have just been weaned so that they get off to a good start in life. You can also raise the quality of the feed by adding feed supplements to the basic ration.

Enclosing the animals

Keep the pigs in fenced paddocks with shade to protect them from direct sun, which can cause sunburn, and sometimes sunstroke particularly with white skinned pig. Provide adequate supply of fresh drinking water in the paddock and supplementary feed secure from neighboring pigs. This makes it possible to control disease and parasites thereby reducing the often very high mortality rate. It also improves the poor reproductive and growth performance and inferior quality of meat. The paddock can be sub-divided into 4 – 6 smaller areas so that pigs can be moved from one enclosure to another at two week intervals.

You can make further improvements by sorting out the pigs into the different classes. Because rapid growth is important, enclose all the fatteners while the breeding stock can be left outside. Pregnant sows should be separated from the others just before farrowing and brought inside to deliver. With proper housing a greater number of piglets can be produced.

Provide wallows

Provide wallowing or sprinklers to alleviate heat stress. Being unable to sweat sufficiently pigs have a natural instinct to wallow to increase the evaporative cooling from the skin.

Breed selected sows to selected sires

Choose the right boars to breed the right sows. Select the stronger piglets for breeding. The remaining piglets can be fattened for sale or for slaughter. Separating out the best sows for breeding and providing good housing and proper attention will improve the performance of the herd. It is worthwhile to invest in a good boar to produce strong healthy litters. Buying a boar is a serious investment, and is a project that a group of farmers may wish to undertake together. It is also very useful to exchange boars with other farmers in order to avoid the problems of inbreeding.

Worm control

Pigs kept outside will always be infested with worms. The problem of worm infestation in outdoor pigs can be reduced by regularly changing the grazing area. Give the animals a fresh piece of ground about every 14 days. In dry periods the animals can stay longer in the same field because the worms do not develop so quickly.

After a period of grazing the field should be left empty for a while to allow the larvae to die. In the wet season it is better to leave a field for about 2.5 to 3 months before re-using it; in the dry season when the larvae and eggs die more quickly, the field can be used again after 2 months. With this system, changing the enclosure every two weeks requires at least four different fields, which is expensive. If there is a shortage of land, in some areas a simple pigsty can be made to keep the pigs in during the wet season. By letting the pigs out in the dry season only, less land will be required.

To prevent young piglets from being infected directly after birth, the breeding sows should be dewormed about 1 week before delivery. After deworming, the sows should be washed to ensure that there are no worm eggs clinging to them. They should then be kept inside for delivery. To prevent re-contamination, the pen should be properly cleaned every day. All this being done, the young piglets stand a good chance of being born into a worm-free environment.

Part confinement

You can keep only part of the herd in confinement. The order of priority of confinement for the different classes of pig should be:

  • Growing/finishing pigs (25 – 90kg or more liveweight) for higher daily gain, better feed conversion and parasite control.
  • Farrowing and lactating sows, to reduce pre-weaning mortality and for higher quality weaners
  • Gestating sows, to allow individual feeding and better control of stock

You can construct simple semi-covered pens of rough timber with a thatch roof and floor of concrete. An earth floor can be used, but is more difficult to keep clean and sanitary. Several pens in a row can be arranged as required although cleaning can be very difficult in this arrangement.

While such improvements have the advantage of low investment in buildings they should only be regarded as first steps in raising the general level of pig production in your farm. The raising of pigs in confinement is usually advisable in circumstances where

  • Good management is available
  • High quality pigs are introduced
  • Farrowing occur at regular intervals throughout the year
  • Land is scarce or not accessible all the year
  • Balanced rations are available
  • Labour is expensive
  • Parasite and disease control is necessary
  • The target is commercial production
  • Herd size is reasonably large



0 # carlton 2012-04-30 12:29
Thanks for this..quite insightful
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