Swine Raising in the Philippines: A Viable and Popular Source of Income
It's interesting, fun and a learning experience to raise a few pigs. Raising a few pigs may also provide some income on a small scale for families who live on a bigger lot.
Pigs grow fast. They grow from about three pounds at birth to market weight (225 pounds) in about 6 months. It takes some 10 months from the time the sow conceives until her pigs reach market weight.
They can be sold alive at a livestock market or perhaps processed into pork for home use at a local livestock slaughtering facility. The most important products from hogs are hams, roasts or lechon, chops, bacon, and sausage.
Raising pigs is a very popular enterprise in the Philippines because there is a proliferation of backyard producers which dominate the swine industry and a healthy viable commercial sector. Despite the crises facing the swine industry (such as the spread of foot-and-mouth disease), still many people are venturing in this enterprise.
Swine or Pig Breeds
Due to many imported breeds in the country today, determining the best breed suitable to our conditions is difficult. Here is a guide to help in selecting the breed to raise depending on the purpose, money, and experience.
1. Large White
Large white breeds are entirely white with medium, erect ears. These sows are excellent milkers, wean large litters, have superior mothering ability, and farrow. They adapt well to confinement but not to rugged conditions.
This breed is white, short-legged, and has medium to large drooping ears. Sows have excellent mothering ability and litter size. They are heavy milkers thus they produce pigs with superior growth rate and feed utilization efficiency. When crossed with other breeds, they produce pigs of highly acceptable carcass quality. However, they can't adapt to rugged conditions because of their weak feet and legs. Such defects should be corrected by proper selection and breeding.
The Duroc color is of varying shades of red. The sows are prolific and are good mothers. They produce pigs that are superior in growth rate and in feed conversion, and their performance under rugged conditions is better than any of the white breeds.
They are black with a white belt around the shoulder; short-legged; lack body thickness. The sows are noted for weaning a high percentage of the pigs farrowed and are adaptable to very rugged conditions. The growth rate, however, has generally been average or below.
These are black with four white feet. Some have white in the face and tail. Ears are erect and inclined forward as the animal grows older. This breed is meaty and adaptable to rugged conditions. The length, depth and balance of their body are good but they lack good growth and are not efficient in converting feed to gain weight. The sows are not as prolific as the other breeds.
This is a meaty type of pig with black and white spots on its body. The hams, shoulders and loins are well-shaped. The ears are erect. Its carcass has a high lean meat percentage, but poor body constitution. Its efficiency in converting feed to gain weight is not good and it is something of a slow grower. Pietrain is only worthwhile in crosses but not as a pure breed because it is highly susceptible to stress.
Breed Selection Guide
Here are some guidelines for selecting breeder sows on the basis of physical appearance:
- Young female swine should have a minimum of six pairs of well-developed and properly spaced functioning teats. If not, they are likely to have poor milking capacity.
- Teats that are inverted do not secrete milk, so choose pigs whose teats are not inverted.
- Long-bodied sows are desirable because of the more space created for udder development.
- Body width should be uniform from front to rear.
- When selecting a breeding animal, see to it that it has a well-developed ham, loin and shoulder.
- The feet and legs should be well placed. Medium-short feet and short upright pasterns are preferable.
- Select the biggest among the litter.
- Having a litter of 8 or more good-sized piglets with high survivability indicates a good female breeder.
- Do not select young female swine that fail to secrete milk.
- Select vigorous pigs from a healthy litter in a herd raised under good swine sanitation. Do not keep gilts or boars nor breed from litters that have physical abnormalities for these may be inherited.
- In selecting a gilt or sow, these pointers should be considered: clearly visible and well-developed primary sex organs, equal-sized testicles, pigs that have been proven and tested with traits that can overcome the defects of the herd. Ignore any minor defects present in the pigs, provided that they are not present among the sows.
Housing of Swine or Pigs
Generally, pigs should be four to six months old at the time of selection. To ensure maximum performance of the pigs, pig houses must be constructed properly. A poorly-built pig house may create problems such as disease.
- Use cheap and locally available materials—bamboo and nipa—for a small operation or backyard operation.
- Construct pig houses on a slightly sloping, well-drained area so that it will not become too muddy and inconvenient to work in.
- Supplement the sow's milk with a good creep (pre-weaning) ration If the milk supply is inadequate to feed her piglets. There are many available brands to choose from.
- When the pigs are about 1 week of age, start feeding them with a good pre-starter ration.
- Different rations are given at different stages of growth but a shift in ration should be done gradually so as not to upset the pigs' normal feeding behavior. Always allow a transition period of at least 1 week before making changes.
- A starter ration is given to pigs from weaning until two months of age and weighing about 10 to 25 kilograms.
- The grower ration is next given to pigs when they are 30 to 35 kg or two months old until they are about 15 to 20 weeks old.
- A finisher ration is given when pigs reach 60 kg or are about 20 weeks old.
- When formulating a simplified ration, always remember that it should always contain sufficient protein, and adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.
- Discards from slaughterhouses, as well as cassava, sweet potato, corn, and corn by-products, which are abundant in some parts of the Philippines, may be used, provided they are properly cooked and dried.
- Commercial operations practice dry feeding because of the economy in labor and in feeding equipment. Backyard producers can practice wet feeding.
- Clean drinking water must be provided at all times.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2009 Beth Arch