Pig farming in Kenya has become a very lucrative agribusiness with Farmers Choice, Kenya’s biggest pork processor willing to help farmers in the rearing of pigs and all the necessary steps needed to bring a hog to market.
My uncle is a commercial pig farmer in Kenya and I had an opportunity to observe some of his stock and his agribusiness at work.
Here are a few Key things you have to consider when starting or contemplating pig farming in Kenya.
As a pig farmer, one has to decide on the specialized path to follow, for example one can rear pigs for piglets or for selling pork, for sausage as well as bacon and other options. In this particular example we will assume that one is rearing pigs for Farmers Choice consumption.
15,000 Kenya Shillings
This is the amount Farmers choice will pay for a standard 55-90 Kg carcass with the fluctuated weight payment depending on the final weight. But the 15,000 Kenya shillings is a good starting point.
The complete requirements for pig farming in Kenya are as follows:
Required Pig Standards (Specifications)
We supply pork and pork products to local, regional and international markets hence standardization of slaughter pigs is paramount.
Some of the expected standards:-
- Pigs coming in for slaughter must be healthy.
- Pigs must be fit for human consumption on post mortem meat inspection.
- Pigs must come from disease free zones as per livestock movement policy.
- Farmers delivering pigs must possess relevant animal movement documents e.g. valid animal movement permit from their local District Veterinary Officer (DVO).
- Animals must be heavy enough so that the meat yield is optimal, best weight recommended is 90 to100 kg live weight. Such a pig would kill at about 56 kg to 85 kg Cold Dressed carcass Weight (CDW) on average. Heavier pigs are also accepted
- New farmers are expected to have been visited by our field officers before animals are declared fit for slaughter.
- Animals are expected to be housed properly so that what they are fed on is closely controlled.
- Males must be castrated for our market; this eliminates the male taint in meat.
Pigs are bought depending on the carcass quality as shown below:-
- Class 1 export standard 60-75 kg cold dressed carcass weight CDW 8 -0 mm fat depth, well formed eye at the loin.
- Class2 standard pig all fat levels 56-75 kgcdw.
- Class 3 production (manufacturing) all fat levels 76-85 kgcdw.
- Class 4 production porkers all fat levels 50-55 kgcdw.
- Class 5 production porkers all fat levels 40-49 kgcdw.
- Class 6 production (manufacturing) all fat levels 86-100 kgcdw.
- Class 7 production heavy hogs all fat levels 101-120 kgcdw.
- Class 8 production heavy hogs all fat levels above120 kgcdw.
- Class 9 production (sows) curled all fat levels, all weights.
- Pigs below 40 kgcdw are not accepted.
- Entire boars are not accepted under any circumstances.
- All pigs must be delivered to slaughter house before 6.00pm in accordance with animal movement policy, the company reserves the right of not accepting pigs after the set time.
With these set conditions in place, we will now take a look at the investments and yield for standard commercial pig farming in Kenya.
Let us assume for example you have 100,000 Kenya Shillings to invest in pig farming. We will look at the timeline of ROI (Return on Investment) which runs from the pen building and piglet acquisition to harvesting.
Investment essentials for Pig farming in Kenya
To start pig farming, initial investment is directed towards the breed, housing, and feeds.
Feeding accounts for 60 to 70 per cent of the total cost, so expenditure is going to be high that first year.
Before investing one should draw out a typical agribusiness plan that should cover all the necessary cash flow projections for the first year at least. Understanding the local market factors of supply and demand will be key to the pig farmer.
It is recommended that one should buy a two-month-old piglet initially; these should be bought from trustworthy farmers.
Proper selection is partly ensured by counting the number of teats on a sow this is an indicator of the number of piglets it can deliver.
It is also important how one transports the pigs or piglets since they can die due to stress.
Pig rearing can be a stressful venture so one should go in knowing what to expect and not readily cut corners.
Essential Breeds for Successful pig farming in Kenya
There are several breeds but the most common in Kenya include
There are 3 breeds commonly used;
- the DanBred Landrace,
- the DanBred Yorkshire and
- The DanBred Duroc.
With this three-breed cross, there is full use of hybrid vigor/heterosis as well as optimum production results, a high lean meat percentage and good meat quality.
The Danbred Landrace (LL) is a strong pig with a long back, long nose, good legs, good milking and mothering ability. It has characteristic drooping ears. The breed is known for the good quality of its meat.
The landrace is used in crossbreeding programs to produce Landrace/Yorkshire crosses for commercial farms for production of slaughter baconers.
The DanBred Yorkshire/Large White (YY) is also a strong pig with good daily weight gain, low feed conversion ratio, a high lean meat percentage, good longevity and good mothering capabilities. It is muscular and has characteristic upright ears. Like the Landrace it is used as pure breeds (YY) or 2 way crosses (LY) as mother breeds to produce crosses for commercial farms.
NB: Landrace/Yorkshire sows have very high fertility, good teats, high life expectancy and are very friendly.
The Duroc (D) is used as a terminal sire i.e. it is crossed with the landrace/Yorkshire crosses to produce pigs only for slaughter. It is a strong pig with good feed conversion rates and a high lean meat percentage.
Additional Handy tips
- Farmers are advised to develop a recyclable system in which they can use the pig waste for fertilizer purposes on vegetable crops as well as biogas.
- Veterinarian help is a must as soon as a farmer notices one of the pigs is sick as it could spread to the whole stock quickly and lead to complete harvest loss.
- Market research is also crucial for pig farming in Kenya. Other experienced farmers in the locality as well as market would be a wealth of information for those farmers just starting out. Companies like Farmers choice can also be very helpful for the pig agribusiness farmer.
Feeding habits for pig farming in Kenya
A pigs nutritional needs will vary with age, weight, and stage of production.
Three types of feeds are available with differing protein content.
A pig on average eats two to three kilos a day.
The feeds should include all the pig’s nutritional requirements.
Dietary needs should include maize bran, fish meal, cassava, cotton-seed cake, pre-mixed vitamins and water.
Digestibility is a factor that a farmer should keep in mind during feeding. So, a farmer can cook the food or chop it up or as in my uncle’s plan, get leftovers from local hotels.
For things like grass, leaves like potato vines and peels, and other leafy foods, it is best to sundry for a day to get rid of toxins before they are fed to the pigs.
Genetics also determine a pig’s daily feed conversion ratio and average daily weight gain.
If the genetics are not right, the level of conversion will fail leading to poor farm efficiency. On minimum, a pig should put on 0.6 kgs per day. Genetics also affect litter size, fat levels in porkers, adaptability, mother-ability and other aspects.
Housing requirements for pig farming in Kenya
The housing unit should take into account drainage and separate feeding and watering areas.
Methods of housing include structures with a concrete slanting floor or applying Indigenous Micro-Organism (IMO).
Using IMO would require digging about a meter deep in the floor area and fill it with saw dust, coffee husks or rice husks. Compared to concrete floors, IMO is cleaner, cheaper and environment friendly.
When planning for housing, consider setting aside pens (enclosures) for weaned piglets, pregnant sows nearing delivery, sows that have delivered, sick pigs and boars.
There is no need to adopt expensive plans when operating on a limited budget since this may affect feeding and health leading to poor productivity. Well-constructed temporary houses can fully accommodate the pigs.
Proper housing limits spread of African swine fever and other diseases.
Diseases that affect pig farming in Kenya
The most dangerous disease affecting pigs in Kenya is the African Swine Fever (ASF). This is because the disease has no vaccine or cure and can wipe out a complete stock. ASF is an acute contagious viral disease affects both domestic and wild pigs.
The virus is spread via blood, feces, saliva, urine and vomit of sick animals, which then can contaminate food, farm equipment, vehicles and other objects in the environment.”
Pigs can also pick up the virus when they eat infected food. It is spread from pig to pig by direct or indirect contact via contaminated items. Contaminated items can include vehicles used to transport infected animals, farm tools, feeding troughs, boots and veterinary equipment. It is thus very advisable for pig farmers to limit pig interaction with the outside world, using clothing and boots especially for feeding pens and troughs should be used only in the pig houses alone and removed when moving in and out of the pens.
Further still, to avoid infections such as these, some framers do not bring in any pork or bacon from anywhere else unless it is from their farm.
The virus is present in the meat, bones, blood, skin and all other body parts of infected pigs with the highest concentration in the blood.
Therefore, meat and other body parts can transmit the disease. It is for this reason that farmers should avoid careless disposal after slaughtering sick pigs.
Insufficient knowledge, low health-management skills and poor husbandry practices were identified as the principal factors contributing to the problem of pig stock infestation. It is important to give the pig vaccinations to ensure they will be disease resistant.
Marketing tactics for commercial pig farming in Kenya
A piglet bought at two months old is ready for sale within six months. Profits per pig range from KShs 20,000 to KShs 30,000.
In order for farmers to increase their chances of making more profits, it is advisable for them to get into groups and sell in bulk.
Farming in groups gives farmers strong bargaining power. For instance, 50 farmers with three pigs each to sell will have a total of 150 pigs which increases their bargaining power than one selling three pigs to a buyer that wants 150 pigs.
Farmers Choice helps farmers with transportation costs by getting pigs from a central but local location which cuts down on those and other costs. Farmers can also attain a lot through groups by starting savings and loans schemes, which enable farmers to access funds easily and repay the money with interest.
A farmer can do simple processing after inspection by a district veterinary doctor and then slaughter the pig or sell it. Mostly pig processors will not buy an animal until it’s been inspected and cleared by a veterinary.
Breakdown on 100, 000 KShs investment on Pig Farming in Kenya
- 2 month piglets @ KShs 2000 each
- Housing @ KShs 25,000
- Feeds @ KShs 50,000
- Vaccines and other incidentals @ KShs 10,000