They also have a very high feed to meat conversion ratio meaning that for every kilogram of food they eat, they gain more flesh than sheep, goats and cattle.
Pigs multiply really fast. A sow usually furrows between 8 and 14 piglets at a time. Their gestation period is four months meaning that they can give birth two times in a year. This translates to an average of 22 piglets in a year. The piglets attain an optimum market size of 70kg in six to seven months. No other domesticated animal except chicken and rabbits can multiply this fast.
There is a ready market in Kenya for pork and its various products. According to some farmers, demand currently exceeds supply. This is despite religious and cultural influences in some parts of the country prohibiting production and consumption of pork. Demand for pork is highest during tourism peak months of December to January and from June to August.
With a demand of 500 pigs per day, Farmers Choice remains the largest commercial pig buyer in Kenya. Other major buyers include Olive Enterprises, Ndumboini Farm Slaughter House in Kiambu, Kabati Slaughter House in Murang’a and Kitengela Pig Slaughter House.
Farmers can also sell the pigs to local butchers.
When slaughtered, a 60 kg carcass sells at an average of Sh14,000 while one weighing 70kgs sells at an average of Sh16,000.
The basic requirements when starting up pig farming are land in a quiet place, adequate water supply, feeds, good transport system and suitable pig breeds.
It is advisable to start small with an experimenting stock of a few pigs and learn the pros and cons of the trade first.
This is helpful in avoiding huge losses since only a small portion of your capital is put at risk. You can gradually increase the herd based on the experience acquired.
Success in pig farming in Kenya is largely determined by the breed a farmer invests in since each has its advantages and disadvantages.
There are several local and exotic breeds available in the country. The most common ones being reared are Landrace, Yorkshire, Middlewhite and Duroc.
The best pig feed is rice bran which can be mixed with pollard, molasses, maize germ and mineral supplements.
This can be complemented by kitchen waste, leftover food, agricultural waste and forage to help reduce on cost of feeds.
Along with feeds, pigs require clean and fresh drinking water for optimum growth.
Several agencies educate farmers on best practices when it comes to rearing pigs. Farmers Choice Ltd and the Department of Livestock located at Hill Plaza in Nairobi offer professional advice and free educational materials on pig rearing and marketing.