On the outskirts of the bustling Kakamega town, some 25km away, sits Samuel Sumba’s three-acre farm, just opposite Ingotse High School.
Benard Nyaramba, the farm manager, ushers us into the farm. Minutes later, we arrive at a structure made of concrete and iron sheet.
This is their pigsty measuring 25 by 15ft and it hosts over 100 animals of the Landrace and Large White breeds, all at different stages of growth.
“The number has reduced because two weeks ago we sold 90 pigs aged four to six months and weighing 50 to 60kg at Sh15,000 each to a group in Busia,” says Nyaramba.
The farm, according to him, has specialised in raising young animals for sale to farmers, although they also sell in-calf sows and pigs for meat.
It all starts with selecting the animals to breed. Some of the things they consider are the genetic potential of the animal, growth rate, the ability to raise healthy and large number of piglets. “This starts when they are three months old. We isolate them looking at their posture, health status and stability.”
Selected gilts are housed in groups in the breeder shed. Once they hit six to seven months and weight 70 to 80kg, they are mated.
After mating, the sow is returned to a pen and then served again 12 to 18 hours later.
“A follow up should be done on the sows after 18 to 23 days after mating to see if they are pregnant. The first month of pregnancy is critical to the animal, therefore, any form of stress should avoided. Poor nutrition has direct impact on development of embryo,” says Nyaramba, noting pregnant sows feed more efficiently than dry sows. Pigs have a gestation period of about four months.
“Most of our gilts have a history of calving 14 to 16 piglets,” says Nyaramba, noting they also sell in-calf sows at between Sh30,000 and Sh40,000.
The farm sells the piglets from three to six months, going between Sh10,000 to Sh15,000.
Aside from breeding, they sell animals for meat to Farmers Choice, their biggest market when the pigs weight of 70 to 90kg.
A pig weighing approximately 80kg fetches Sh18,000. The farm sells at least 25 pigs after every two weeks.
So how did the lucrative business start? Samuel Sumba, the owner, notes a friend introduced him to the business sometime in October, 2010 in Bukura.
“I bought three pregnant sows at Sh10,000 each. I didn’t even have a house for them, so I placed them in a temporary structure just next to my house,” says Sumba.
Later with a capital of Sh220,000, they built six roomed structure for the animals that had offered him 45 piglets.
“Most of the pig-rearing skills I have learned online and through farm visits, but the farm manager is an animal health specialist, thus, he helps me take care of the farm because I am based in Nairobi.”
FEEDING AND MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
When the pigs are born, the farmer clips the teeth so that when they suckle, they don’t bite their mother’s teats. In addition, the farmer administers iron injection on day 3, 14 and 21 respectively to boost their immunity. The farm castrates the male piglets at day 21.
The farmer spend close to Sh120,000 on feeds alone every month.
“We buy 40 50kg bags at Sh1,900 of commercial feeds for the pigs. Though we are slowly shifting to making our feeds from maize germ, rice bran, cotton seed cake, omena (fishmeal), lime, milk powder and sunflower cake,” says the farm manager, adding the animals require plenty of water.
Diseases are some of their main challenges, including boils that recently attacked some animals.
Prof Matthews Dida, a lecturer at Maseno University’s Department of Agriculture, says boils are pockets of pus that contain dead cells material and large number of bacteria.
“It is bacterial infection which normally enters the body through damage to the skin or via external orifices. They commonly arise from fight when the animals are grouped together at weaning. It can be deadly disease if not treated on time,” says Prof Dida, adding the infection can be prevented by good hygiene.
–Seeds of Gold