Researchers have cautioned pig farmers against the use of kitchen left over as cheap feeds to their pigs warning apart from lacking the vital nutrients for the animals, they are the main carriers and sources of the dreaded African swine fever.
The revelation came in during the national pig farmers training workshop at Matugaa that was organised by Pig Production and marketing Uganda (PPM). The training pooled together over 300 pig farmers in Uganda and majority of them were concerned on how to break even in pig rearing given the ever sky rocketing commercial feeds.
During the workshop, most farmers revealed that they opt for alternative feeds like kitchen leftovers which they source from hotels and schools in order to minimize on the expenses accruing from the commercial feeds. However the farmers were shocked when they were advised that the cheap feed alternatives are the main source of their ill production accounting for the low weight gains and increased disease out breaks which sometimes wipe out the whole herd.
According to Peter Luyiga an animal nutritionist from Nutri Nova an animal supplement company; farmers who are embracing commercial pig farming must be ready to undertake the best husbandry methods in order to reap big from their ventures. “When a famer wants to go commercial, then he/ she should be ready to spend on quality pig feeds. The average pig feeds in the market per kilo costs about Ush1000. In order to save more, one can buy the feeds and supplements separately then mix them which is a cheaper alternative,” explained Peter.
PPM director, Chris Mulindwa observed that most farmers supplying them with the pigs weigh below the expected average weight. “On average, most of the farmers supply us mature pigs that have not attained slaughter weight despite them being older than ten months. The worst case scenario was a farmer who supplied us with over 10 pigs but their average weight being about 22 kilos,” added Mulindwa. Among other causes responsible for the pathetic low weight is lack of proper feeds.
A well maintained pig should attain a slaughter weight of above 70 kilos at between five to six months. According to Peter, this is only attainable if a commercial pig farmer embraces the nutritious commercial feeds and observes all the required husbandry methods of pig rearing.
Kees Van a pig researcher from ILRI further warned the farmers against the kitchen leftovers noting that they act as disease carriers and may endanger their valuable investment with diseases like African swine fever and foot and mouth which are lethal. The leftovers that are sourced from hotels or schools can are cheap but lethal to the pigs. For instance, if restaurant purchased pork that is already infected with swine fever, then automatically your pigs contract the disease when feed on these food leftovers.
There are many farmers in Uganda who have lost their pigs ASF which has now become endemic in the country. Its wide spread due to the fact the piggery sector is poorly monitored by policy makers as many of these cases are not reported to the concerned authorities and therefore undermining its’ containment. This makes piggery a very risky investment because the viral fever is lethal and can wipe all herds’ within24-48 hours hence according to the experts at the workshop, the farmers have a role to play in the commercialization of the sector by embracing sanity and best practices which include ditching the cheap leftover feeds.
According to a study titled Prevalence of African swine fever virus in apparently healthy domestic pigs in Uganda, prevalence of ASFV in slaughter pigs was 52.96 percent. The study also found out a high sero-prevalence of ASFV in apparently healthy slaughter pigs and also a high proportion of ASFV sero-positive pigs in surveyed districts in Uganda.