Backyard Hog Raising Tips
In almost every rural household in the Philippines, hog raising is a very popular enterprise such that there is a proliferation of backyard producers, which dominates the swine industry.
Other than providing a secondary source of income for small families, hog raising is a fast growing home based business in the Philippines which has the potential for high profits in a relatively short period of time.
Selection Criteria for Hogs
When selecting breeder sows on the basis of physical appearance, consider the following:
- The gilt should have well-developed udder with a minimum of six pairs of properly spaced function teats. A sow with poor udder development is likely to have poor milking capacity.
- Choose those which do not have inverted teats for such teats are inherited and do not secrete milk.
- A long body is more desirable in sows because it provides more space for udder development.
- The body should have uniform width from front to rear.
- Good development of the ham, loin and shoulder is required of a breeding animal.
- Must have sound and well-placed feet and legs. Animals with medium short feet and short upright pasterns are preferable.
- Make it a point to select the biggest animals within a litter.
- Female breeders should come from a litter of eight or more good-sized piglets with high survivability.
- Do not keep gilts that come from sows in which agalactia (failure to secrete milk) have been observed.
- Select vigorous and hardy pigs from a healthy litter in a herd raised under good swine sanitation. Do not keep gilts or boars or breed from litters that have physical abnormalities. These may be inherited.
Most of the factors discussed in connection with a selection of gilt or sow also apply in the selection of a boar. However, the following pointers should also be considered:
- Masculinity, both in appearance and action, should predominate in the make-up of any boar.
- The primary sex organs should be clearly visible and be well developed. Select only those boars whose testicles are of equal size.
However, it is best to select a boar that has been proven and tested to overcome the defects of the herd. Minor defects in the boar may be ignored provided that they are not present among the sows.
Generally, boars should be four to six months old at the time of selection.
Hog houses must be constructed properly to ensure maximum performance of the pigs. A good hog house may not improve the health conditions of the animals but a poor one will certainly increase disease problems easily.
For a small or backyard operations, cheap and locally available materials may be used such as bamboo and nipa.
Hog houses should be constructed on a slightly sloping and well-drained area so that it will not become too muddy and convenient to work in.
Permanent hog houses should have concrete floors for easy cleaning and to minimize the occurrence of parasites and diseases. Concrete floors must not be too rough to cause foot and leg problems nor too smooth to be slippery when wet.
Facilities and Equipment
Provide the pig house with the proper equipment such as feeders and drinking troughs. Feeders and water troughs are best made of concrete although other materials may be used. Some people use discarded automobile or truck tires cut in halves.
In bigger operations, farrowing stalls are important to reduce piglet mortality due to crushing of piglets.
Heat lamps or electric brooders are needed for survival of newborn pigs. In places where the use of heat lamps is not possible, a box lined with old sacks or thickly bedded straw, rice hull or saw dust can keep the pigs warm and comfortable.
Marketing is the last job done on growing-finishing pigs. Choosing a market is one of the important decisions a hog producer must make before sale of slaughter hogs. The market selected may affect income and profitability.
Prices vary among markets. Marketing costs, such as selling charges, transportation, also vary. Shrinkage or the difference between the original weight of livestock and that after it has been prepared for market, will also affect the price. Consequently, hog producers need to be aware of alternative markets and to choose the one which yields the greatest net return.
Hogs are marketed when they reach at least 80 kg, which would usually take around five to six months to achieve. Marketable hogs may be sold to middlemen who usually act as buying or selling agents, direct to meat processors without the intervention of a middleman, or in auction markets where animals are sold to the buyers who offer the highest acceptable price per kilo liveweight or per head.
When a large number of hogs will be marketed, the producer must observe proper shipment and transport handling to minimize losses due to shrinkage, bruises, injuries and possible deaths. Here are some tips:
- When transporting hogs, separate the large animals from small pigs by a partition.
- Provide loading facilities for easier and proper loading of pigs.
- If necessary provide beddings of sand or saw dust. When the weather is hot, wet down the beddings before loading to keep the pigs cool and comfortable.
- Do not overload or under-load the truck.
- Do not excite or over-heat hogs. Give the hogs enough rest and leave them undisturbed until they are butchered.
- Do not overfeed hogs before transport to avoid suffocation or vomiting.
Risks and Rewards
Swine production has many advantages:
- Swine convert feed to meat more efficiently than cattle or chicken do
- Swine are prolific, commonly producing two litters per year and from six to twelve pigs per litter.
- Swine excel in yield of useable carcass compared to other animals that produce red meat. Dressing yield is from 65 to 80 percent for swine.
- Hogs can convert some wastes and by-products into meat. Examples are garden waste and some types of garbage. (Garbage such as food and garden scraps should be cooked before being fed to hogs to help prevent the spread of disease.)
- Very little labor is required.
- It is possible to get by with a small investment for buildings and equipment.
- Returns come quickly. A gilt (young female swine) may be bred at eight months, and the pigs are ready for slaughter six months after farrowing.
- Hogs are an excellent source of home-processed meats. This is due to their ease of dressing and to the superior curing and keeping qualities of pork.
But then there are also drawbacks:
- A hog’s diet must rely more heavily on concentrates, which are expensive, than on roughage, which is cheaper.
- Production requires fairly careful management to achieve good results.
- Swine are very susceptible to numerous diseases and parasites.
author: Miko Santos of www.sunstar.com.ph
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