Pig Production Systems (System of Pig Production)

The system of pig production is diverse there is the traditional method of rearing in large parts of the tropics which is the simplest and cheapest. The intensive system on the other hand entails considerable capital and specialized management skills.

The integrated systems involve the production of pigs with other enterprises like fish farming, production of algae, methane gas generation, ducks, and vegetable production. Such types of operations enhance the efficiency of resource use and increase output for the overall operation.

Regardless of the system of production, anyone considering pig production on a large scale should investigate the marketing and processing facilities available and obtain expert advice.

1. Small-scale Systems

Pig kept as scavengers

The traditional method of rearing pigs in many areas of the tropics is where pigs are kept as scavengers, with no housing or medical care.

It is simple and cheap, usually few pigs are allowed to wander freely and pick up food where ever they can.

Supplementary food will be given where available in the form of kitchen wastes, rice bran, by-products of beer-making, maize stalks, etc.

These supplementary foods generally consist of low nutritional value and indigenous breeds of pigs predominate in the scavenging system.

They are well adapted to the local environment and their relatively small size and mobility render them best able to cope with the conditions.

Read Also: Main Principles of Pig Production for Maximum Production

Advantages of small-scale systems

  • It is cheap and simple involving small or no amount of capital.
  • The pig plays an important socio-economic role as a form of bank, and pigs are sold at times of cash shortages or unexpected needs in the family.

Disadvantages of small-scale systems

  • Pigs raised in this system are susceptible to infestation with parasites and carry the heavy burden of intestinal roundworms and tapeworms.
  • Productivity is normally low because of the seasonal supply of food resulting in irregular breeding of sows.
  • There are high rates of piglet mortality and low growth rates.
  • There is a hazard of the scavenging system to humans because pigs have access to sources of parasites, e.g. human excreta, which can then be transmitted back to the man when he eats the meat.

2. Semi-Intensive Production

This system is also known as the ‘backyard’ system, here pigs are confined to a house and are fed by the farmer. The house is in the form of pens made from simple construction using bamboo and elevated.

Feeding is based on kitchen waste, vegetables, and by-product foods and management is generally minimal.

Advantages of semi-intensive

  • More attention is given to the pigs than to the scavenging system.
  • Generally, herd sizes and productivity tend to be higher in these systems than in the scavenging systems.

Disadvantages of semi-intensive

  • Productivity is relatively low compared to intensive production.
  • Mortality can be high.

Read Also: Pig Diseases and Control/Prevention Methods

3. Intensive Production

This is an improvement from small-scale production to commercial production of pigs.

Units may comprise up to 50 head, and the producer will grow and /or purchases food specifically high pig enterprise.

In this system the housing is more sophisticated made up of the concrete hard floor, adequate shelter, shed and pen space, and appropriate feed and watering facilities.

Advantages of intensive pig production

  • There is improvement in the management and protection against infectious diseases and parasites by the farmer through the use of veterinary drugs and vaccines.
  • The system is characterized by rising high-performance breeds for example exotic or crossbreeds with indigenous breeds.
  • Markets are well established through arrangements with local butchers on regular bases or in the large-scale commercial sector, to bring in a regular income for the enterprise.
  • No risks of trouble from predators and thieves.


  • It is capital intensive
  • A high level of management skills is needed.
  • Increase chances of nutrient deficiency especially when pigs are not well fed.

4. Large-scale Systems

4a) Intensive

This is an intensive system of rearing and is the most common method of large-scale production.

It is capital intensive and involves sow herds from 40 up to 1000 head. High-performance breeds of pigs are used and are provided with optimum conditions of housing, feeding, and management in order to ensure maximum output.

Housing is designed for different classes of stock and environmental conditions. This system is usually incorporated with grain production and stock feed manufacturing operations on the one hand and marketing on the other.

The pigs will invariably be marketed through a processor in order to maximize returns on the carcass.

Advantages of large-scale systems

  • No risks of trouble from predators and thieves.
  • With the proper condition, there is less risk of parasitic infection.
  • Generates revenue for the nation and a source of employment for the people.


  • A high level of managerial skill is needed.
  • Increase chances of nutrient deficiency especially when pigs are not well fed.
  • Difficulties in keeping the floor clean especially during the rainy season when humidity is very high.
  • It involves high capital investment.

Read Also: Principles of Pig Production for Optimum Performance

4b) Extensive systems

There is a trend in Europe and America towards the less intensive system of pig production, particularly for sows.

This system is often known as the ‘outdoor’ system. In this system, sows are kept in paddocks and provided individual huts for farrowing and shelter. Weaner pigs are generally raised under more intensive conditions.

Production of these types exists in the tropics and there is greater potential in the systems.

Advantages of the extensive system

Less capital is required for the establishment compared to the intensive systems.

Sows can gain access to foods such as pastures, crop residues, cassava roots, and sweet potatoes.

Disadvantages of the extensive systems

In the tropics shade and wallows must be provided, and there must be a tight control of parasites and adequate fencing to prevent contact with endemic diseases e.g. African swine fever.

4c) Integrated Systems

This is the practice of integration of pig production with other enterprises and has been practiced in tropical countries. Various combinations are used for e.g. fish farming, production of algae, methane gas generation, ducks, and vegetable production.

This type of combination along with pig production enhances the efficiency of resource use and increases output for the overall enterprise.

Advantages of integrated systems

  • By fertilizing fish ponds with pig manure and effluent, algae are generated which can then be utilized by fish. If sufficient water is available for suitable fish ponds, pig sties can either be constructed above the ponds.
  • Manure from the pigs can be channeled into the ponds to supply nutrients to the fish ponds thereby generating more revenue for the farmer.
  • Alternatively, the nutrient-rich water from the pigs can be used for irrigating vegetables
  • Ponds can also be dried in rotation and vegetables grown in dry pond beds for family and commercial purposes.
  • The pig effluent can be used to produce algae which are then harvested and dried and fed back to pigs or other livestock.
  • The anaerobic fermentation of pig effluent can be used in the production of methane gas. Relatively simple digesters can produce a steady source of methane which can be used as a means of energy for domestic and agricultural use.

Disadvantages of the integrated systems

  • It is capital intensive.
  • It requires a high level of managerial skills.

Read Also: General Introduction to Pig Management

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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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