July1 , 2022

Beginner’s Guide to Pig Farming

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 Beginner’s Guide to Pig Farming

Starting a pig farm or piggery is a good decision you’ve made or you’re about to make. No doubt, pig farming is a profitable and low-cost enterprise. However, intending pig farmers like you would need to have basic knowledge about pigs and pig farming business. You should know things like:

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How to Construct a Pig House or Pen

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Before going fully into how to construct a pig house, it is important to list the advantages of keeping pigs indoor or in a house. These include:

The animals will be able to conserve energy because they won’t scavenge for food.

They get maximum protection from rain and sun.

High piglet survival and very low mortality rate.

Good hygiene and health management are easier.

Feeding routines can be more carefully controlled and adjusted for different classes of pigs.

Heat control, weaning and other management practices can be done appropriately and timely.

It makes record keeping easier.

Manure can be collected quickly and easier for biogas production.

It is worth mentioning that the merits listed above will only work if standards are maintained. Undoubtedly, it is easy for infectious diseases to spread quickly when many pigs are kept together in a small pen or space. Hence, hygiene and sanitation must be of high priority. Additionally, the living condition of a pig house must be excellent in order to make the animals perform excellently.

Read also: Nutritional requirements of pigs part 1

Ideal Climatic Conditions for Pigs

The climate (especially temperature) to which pigs are exposed is of great importance. Pigs are very sensitive to any changes in ambient temperature. They can neither withstand draught or heavy rainfall. They are not a friend of intense sunlight because it makes their skin dry out.

Temperate must be considered when building a house of pigs. The house should be constructed in such a way that temperatures in the day are low and the animals are kept warm in night or during cool periods.

A healthy adult pig should have a body temperature that ranges between 38oC and 39oC. The normal body temperature of piglets is between 39-40oC. Anything above 40oC is a sign of illness.

When the body temperature of a pig is high, they consume less feed or food and this affects growth and reproductive performances. Because pigs generally lack a sweat gland, they can’t sweat in order to cool their body. Therefore, a pig farmer should ensure the temperature in the pig house is below 35oC.

The following are the ideal temperatures for pigs (of different ages) for optimum feed conversion and growth.

1 day old piglets — 35°C

1 day-1week old piglets — 30°C

1-6 weeks old piglets — 24-30°C

Pigs from 20-60kg — 20-26°C

Pigs from 60-90 kg — 18-22°C

Adult Pigs 18-22°C

Read also: Nutritional requirements for pigs part 2

Requirements for a Good Pig House

The climate and number of pigs to be kept determine how pig houses and pens are constructed. Before choosing where the pig houses will be constructed and what materials to use, the local conditions of the area must be considered. Know whether the area is waterlogged, noisy, exposed to wind, etc.

If the area is damp, hot or humid, shade and breeze should be taken into consideration. The pig house in this kind of area should be open and airy. The walls of the pens should be low and allow free passage of air for good ventilation.

Other important conditions that the proposed pen for a pig must meet include:

The pen must not be free of draught

Rain and sunlight should not have access into the pen

The ambient temperature shouldn’t vary much

The pen must be easy to clean

The floor of the pen must be non-slippery and sloping

It should allow easy management of pigs

There should be provision for collecting and storing litter, manure and waste water for future use.

Siting of a Pig House

You must choose your pig farm site carefully when you want to build your pig house.

Hints:

If you’re in a hot region, ensure that the house is constructed in an east-west orientation. It is advised to have a few trees on the site. Trees can serve as shade and they can help in screening and absorbing heat.

The site must be blessed with enough water supplies so that the pigs can have access to clean water for drinking, wallowing and for cleaning purpose.

The Roof

The roof should be constructed using a roofing material that insulates excellently against cold and heat, and it should be durable. If there are no alternatives, you can use corrugated aluminum or iron sheets, but ensure that trees are surrounding the pens.

The roof must be sloppy. Depending on the design, the longest slope should be facing the prevailing rain and wind direction. Nevertheless, the recommended orientation of the roof is east to west.

You can also build something similar to the picture below. It is called an open roof ridge. This particular design helps pig farmers to reduce the temperature.

Read also: 10 facts about pigs you should know before you start your pig farm

The Floors and Bedding

When constructing the floor of the pen, ensure that the floor is slightly elevated above the surroundings. It should also have a slight slope in order to prevent flooding of the pen with wastewater and easy run-off. The recommended slope is 3 cm/m.

A drain should be built so that faecal manure and wastewater can be collected easily into a sewage pit. This faecal manure can be used as an organic fertilizer or to produce methane gas (biogas).

The floor should be concreted, hard but not too smooth to make floor cleaning easy. Don’t use woods to make the floors as it woods can rot quickly and the pigs can chew them up. In fact, woods can be so slippery and harbor pathogens, microbes or parasites.

The floor should be at least 10cm thick and the sand, stones and cement ratio should be 2:3:1; that is 2 parts of sand, 3 parts of stones and 1 part of cement should be mixed together. As earlier mentioned, the concrete should not be so rough to discourage the pigs from scratching their body on it. Nevertheless, a too smooth concrete floor must be avoided so that the pigs won’t get injured due to slipping. In case you have a too smooth floor, spread some quantities of soil on the floor surface.

The Walls

How the walls of a pig house should be constructed depends on the climate of the area. In countries in the tropics like Nigeria, the walls of a pig house should be low and left opened so as to give room for adequate ventilation. A wall height of about 1.2 metres is recommended while the distance between the wall and the roof should be 1 metres. The 1.2 metres is recommended as it is high enough for any pig to climb over and also adequate to protect the pigs from strong winds and rain. The space between the wall and the roof can be covered with wire netting. This wood lining will prevent the pig from digging into the mud wall. Bamboo poles or boards can also be used to construct the wall.

Brick and cement walls are stronger and last longer even though they are costlier. Cement and brick walls are easy to clean and maintained, and they make a pig house look great.

The feed trough should be inside the pen and can be made of cement, wood or iron. Ensure that the feed trough is long enough for all the pigs in the pen to feed on it all at once. Fatteners need a feeding space of 30 cm each while sows need a feeding space of 40 – 50 cm each. You can also use self-feeder for a group of 10 pigs.

The water trough shouldn’t be so wide else the pigs will bathe in the trough. You can prevent this by fixing an iron bar across the water trough.

Avoid keeping pigs of different sizes or ages in the same pen. The stronger ones may bully or bite the weaker pigs when there is inadequate feed to eat. So the stronger pigs get fatter while the weaker pigs get leaner.

Also, install showers or sprinklers in all the pens to cool down the pigs when the temperature is high. If these are not provided, the pigs will urinate and defecate in their resting places in order to cool down their body.

Size of Pig Pens and Runs

I will like to reiterate here that pigs are one of the cleanest animals in the world. They hate drinking dirty water, defaecating where they feed or urinating in the feeding area. The reason why some pigs demonstrate some dirty, unhealthy habits is because the space of their pen is inadequate. If there is run (dung area) in a pig pen, the pigs will always go outside to defaecate. You should also ensure that the main pain (covered area) is not too big.

Pigs need a clean feeding area with a water and feeding trough; a resting area with adequate ventilation; and excreting area (run) where they will always excrete. If these three areas are available in the pen, you will see the pigs exhibiting hygienic behavior naturally.

A 2 x 2.5 m pen can accommodate a sow with her piglets. The run of this pen should not be less than 1.5 x 2 m.

A 2 x 2 m pen can accommodate 8 – 10 weaners.

A 3 x 3 m pen can accommodate 10 fatteners (depending on their weight and size at slaughter). Each fattener should have a space of 1 m2.

A 2 x 2.5 m pen is ideal for two sows while a 2.5 x 2.5 m pen is suitable for three sows.

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