By Eric Nyikwagh
Many of Nigeria’s livestock farmers are of the older generation, but one interesting phenomenon becoming more apparent is the entry of young persons, who are keen to acquire the skills for running profitable ventures. They are learning the practicals, trying new business approaches, and launching out in new markets.
Like the internet wave of the early nineties, agriculture is the new cool kid on the block. Remember the good ‘old days of cash crops? We have come full circle. Let’s welcome back our prodigal cool kid with open hands. We should embrace the benefits of piggery farming.
One area of agriculture that is rather ignored is Pig Farming. Now, here’s the catch to that ignorance. Pigs, as livestock, are hands down, the most profitable and prolific of its kind.
Pigs produce more meat from lower amount of feed of any livestock. They give birth quite fast, with as many as 24 piglets in a year for good breeds. That could be less significant if not for the fact that they are also so resilient; they have one of the least mortality rates among livestock. That is an almost 90% production to supply value, as the demand exceeds supply. It is unheard of any livestock. Think about it. Not fish, poultry, snail or any significant animal protein source generates that amount of special demand.
Piggery business is still in its formative stage in Nigeria. Unfortunately, owing to cultural and religious concerns and influences, pig farming is limited to production of pork, unlike in the Western nations where it is part and parcel of differentiated products.
Pork is in huge demand, adding that a lot of people especially restaurant owners approach pig farmers for different pig parts. Though farmers have made a success of it, I still feel the piggery industry has not gotten the attention it truly deserves.
Shortage of breeding stock is one of the challenges faced by the pig farming industry. Piggery farming has proved to be lucrative, but it comes with several challenges. Successful piggery farming is underpinned by having sufficient scale and market knowledge to produce healthy piglets cost-effectively, while still managing risks.
To achieve a good litter, he said one needs good selection of healthy and stress-free breeds. He explained that a pig’s gestation period is approximately five months. This means that if one weans after one month, the mother should move back to production cycle soon enough and, therefore, help one achieve two litters a year.
I advise farmers, who want to be successful commercial producers to go for further intensive mentorship from established producers and diversify the products they make from pigs.