General Introduction to Pig Management

The origin of the pig is difficult to understand, it is possible that it is mainly derived from the European wild boar. Pigs were thought to have been domesticated as early as 200BC. Since then man has developed the pig as a meat animal

World Pig Population

The estimated world pig population of 826 million (FAO, 1988) means that there is approximately one pig for every six people in the world. A comparison of the meat produced by pigs with other domestic species has revealed that more pig meat is produced than any other meat despite the fact that pigs are numerically fewer than other domestic species.

Distribution and Consumption

The distribution of pigs around the world is not the same. Almost half the world’s pig population is in Asia, 30 percent in Europe, and the former USSR.

The population of pigs in large parts of the tropical and sub-tropical developing regions for example Africa and Latin America is relatively small.

It is important to note that most of the world’s pigs’ population is located in China.

There are marked differences in the consumption patterns of pig meat throughout the world. In some parts of Europe, annual per capita consumption of pig meat is over 50kg and represents some 60 percent of the total meat consumed.

In developing countries and particularly in Africa, estimated annual per capita consumption ranges from 1 to 3 kg, and forms less than 10 percent of the total meat diet.

The reasons for the uneven distribution of pigs throughout the tropical and sub-tropical world are many. In Asia and parts of China, pork is the predominant component of the diet.

While in areas where the Islamic religion prevails, e.g. the Middle East, Pakistan, and parts of Africa, Muslims are forbidden to eat any pig meat, similarly, believers in the Jewish faith are instructed not to eat pork meat, and many Zionist sects obey the same rules.

Social factors also play an important role in the pig population for example in some pacific islands, pigs are highly regarded as a source of wealth and associated with marriage customs.

Read Also: Pig Housing: General Considerations and Design

Taxonomy (Biological Classification)

Below is the taxonomy of the pig:

Kingdom        –           Animalia

Phylum          –        Chordata (Animas with backbones)

Class  –          Mammalia (Warm-blooded animals that suckle their young)

Order  –                       Artiodactyy (Even toed hoof)

Family –           Suidae (non-ruminant or single stomach system)

Genus –                      Sus (Restricted wild European boars from which domestic      pigs are bred)

Specie            –          Sus Scrofa and sus Vitatus

Advantages of Pig Farming

They have the potential to be highly prolific. Because they are cable of producing large litters after a relatively short gestation period and have a short generation interval and grow fast.

Their productivity in terms of yield of meat per tonne of live weight of breeding females per year is in the region of six times that of cattle.

Their body size makes them more flexible for Marketing and consumption compared to cattle.

Pigs’ meat is suitable for processing and some of the processed products have a longer shelf life than fresh meat, and can thus be distributed to a broader section of the population.

Pigs are efficient feed converters to meat twice as efficiently as ruminants. (i.e. they have high feed efficiency)

Pig production provides a quick turn-over on investment compared with cattle.

Curative and preventive drugs are available for most swine diseases.

Pigs also give useful by-products like their feces can be used as a good source of manure.

Pigs can be reared almost anywhere given suitable housing and management although their management in extreme temperatures can be expensive.

They produce meat without contributing to the deterioration of the natural grazing lands. This is important considering the steady desertification, soil erosion, and loss of productive land in some areas of the tropics.

Disadvantages of Pig Farming

There is poor product acceptance in areas where the Islamic religion prevails, e.g. the Middle East, Pakistan, and parts of Africa, Muslims are forbidden to eat any pig meat, similarly, believers in the Jewish faith are instructed not to eat pork meat, and many Zionist sects obey the same rules.

In other words, there is a strong taboo against eating poultry products, thereby negatively affecting the market for the products.

While Social factors play an important role in their acceptance, the pig has historically been considered an unclean animal, wallowing in filth, an object of dislike, and a risk to human health.

The digestive tract of pigs and Birds is relatively short compared to other farm animals and can only utilize high-quality concentrate feeds (E.g. staple grains and oilseeds). These are also used as feed for humans making them in direct competition with man.

They cannot provide a source of drought power for farming operations.

They are raised close to human habitation and thereby making their waste product a pollution problem.

Terminology

Boar   –  mature uncastrated male.

Barrow: – mature castrated male before puberty.

Hog:   – castrated male.

Stag:  – adult male castrated later in life.

Shoat:   –   swine of both sex weighing 30-80kg

Gilt      – young female swine before farrowing.

Sow:  – adult or mature female after one or two pregnancies

Barrener: – sterile female

Farrow:         – giving birth to young ones.

Herd:  – group of swine

Litters: – young ones (piglets).

Read Also: Pig Diseases and Control/Prevention Methods

Topic: The Different Breeds of Pigs

There are over 90 recognized breeds and an estimated 230 varieties of pigs in the world. They can be broadly classified into indigenous or unimproved types or the more modern exotic types which have been selected and developed for specific commercial purposes.

1. Indigenous breeds (unimproved)

These are mostly found in developing countries and have evolved in variety of shapes and sizes in order to survive in a range of different environments.

Generally, they are smaller and shorter in legs than the exotic types (mature weight of females 40- 120 kg), with the typical unimproved conformation of a large head, well-developed forequarters, and relatively light hindquarters.

This renders them more mobile and better able to forage and root for themselves. They are early sexually maturing and females may show the first oestrus as early as three months of age.

There are many variations of coat color, but black and brown are most common and white is infrequent. The degree of hairiness also varies, and both hairless and relatively long-haired types are found. Within the major regions of the tropics, the main breeds and types are as follows:

Africa

Pigs are not characterized into specific breeds in most African Countries. They are known as ‘indigenous,’ ‘local’ or unimproved pigs.

In some parts of Africa, more specific use is made of pigs for meat production, and the Makosi in the Cameroons and the Ashanti Dwarf in Ghana are examples of indigenous breeds. Their characteristics include;

Small with mature female size of 40-60kg, and are mainly black in color with prick ears.

The unimproved pigs of East, Central, and Southern Africa are mostly descended from stock introduced by early European travelers, and therefore not truly indigenous, they are relatively widespread.

The productivity of these unimproved breeds in Africa is influenced by their environment and some typical reproductive performance figures are shown in Table 1.2

The trials indicated that although litter sizes tended to be smaller, the total live weight of the litter as a proportion of the weight of the sow at farrowing was of the same order as exotic sows (11 percent).

Read Also: The Recommended Protein Source ingredients for Pigs

Table: The reproductive performance of unimproved breeds of pigs in Africa

 NigeriaZimbabweSouth AfricaGhana (Ashanti) (Dwarf)
Litter-size at birth6.57.97.26.3
Litter-size at weaning5.57.5
Pre-weaning mortality15.05.0
(%)9.08.08.08.0
Average weaning age7.69.07.0
(wks)    
Average weaning mass    
(kg)    

2. Exotic Breeds in the Tropics

The following are the exotic breeds of pigs in the tropics;

General Introduction to Pig Management

2a) Duroc

This has dropped ears and is deep red or rusty color. It is a fast-growing large breed.

The Duroc produces a very good carcass and is said to be an excellent meat producer.

Also, it has the ability to grow to heavier weights without depositing too much fat.

The duroc is a hardy animal that survives well in tropical climates. It is generally used for cross-breeding.

General Introduction to Pig Management
Image:  A Duroc sow

2b) Large white (Yorkshire)

This breed was first developed in Yorkshire, England. It has erect ears and is white in color, and females are prolific. It is renowned for its strength of the leg.

The breed can be used for both pork and bacon production. It is a fairly hardy animal but will suffer from sunburn if it is not kept in a building out of the sun.

General Introduction to Pig Management
Image: A large white (Yorkshire) boar

2c) Landrace

It is characterized by its forward-pointing lop ears and possesses a long, smooth body with light shoulders and well-developed hams.

It is white in color, and this swine is good for bacon production, but has a higher level of susceptibility to stress and requires a high level of management.

General Introduction to Pig Management
Image: A landrace boar

2d) Hampshire

This swine is black with a distinct white saddle that encircles the forequarter. They are prolific, good mothers, and have the good milking ability. It has more meat than the large white and landrace. It is probably best kept for cross-breeding.

General Introduction to Pig Management
Image:  A Hampshire boar

2e) Tamworth

This hardy animal is a reddish color and with erect ears. It is an efficient converter of feed. The breed is relatively slow-maturing. In the past, it has been very popular for cross-breeding purposes in tropical regions.

Other exotic breeds include the Chester White, the large black, the middle white, etc.

In conclusion, the estimated world pig population of 826 million (FAO, 1988) means that there is approximately one pig for every six people in the world.

A comparison of the meat produced by pigs with other domestic species has revealed that more pig meat is produced than any other meat despite the fact that pigs are numerically fewer than other domestic species.

The distribution of pigs around the world is not the same. Almost half the world’s pig population is in Asia, 30 percent in Europe, and the former USSR. The population of pigs in large parts of the tropical and sub-tropical developing regions for example Africa and Latin America is relatively small.

Advantages of pig farming include the potential to be highly prolific, body size making them more flexible for Marketing and consumption compared to cattle, Pigs meat is suitable for processing and processed products have a longer shelf life than fresh meat, efficient feed converters, useful by-product, etc. at the same time, their disadvantages include poor product acceptance, social and religious factors, pollution ,etc.

There are over 90 recognized breeds and an estimated 230 varieties of pigs in the world. They can be broadly classified into indigenous or unimproved types or the more modern exotic types which have been selected and developed for specific commercial purposes.

Bakosi in the Cameroons and the Ashanti Dwarf in Ghana are examples of indigenous breeds. While the exotic breeds include: Duroc, Large white (Yorkshire), Landrace, Hampshire, and Tamworth.

Read Also: Pig Breeds: Origin, Indigenous and Exotic Breeds of Pigs

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Writer (With over 12 years of professional experience in the agricultural industry) - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Visit My Websites On: Agric4profits.com - It's All About Agriculture, The Way Forward! Agric4profit.com - The Most Reliable Global Agricultural Forum! Agric4profit.com.ng - The Most Reliable Nigeria's Agricultural Job Board! TheAgriPedia.com - For Everything Premium Agriculture! WealthinWastes.com - For Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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