Solution turns sawdust into pig feed

A solution that recycles pigs’ faecal waste and turns sawdust into a rich source of carbohydrates for pigs to consume is assisting pig farmers in Uganda cut on feed cost by upto 30 percent coming at a time when the price of feeds has faced north in recent years.

The solution commonly known as IMO which is derived from its formulation indigenous micro-organisms has been in use for the last 2 years. The magic solution is made from simple micro organisms which occur naturally in the environment made by culturing. “These can be viruses, bacteria, fungi or any other organisms. It is a composition that can be made and cultured in the laboratory depending on the type. The beneficial micro-organisms are then mixed with carbohydrates and rock salt,” explained Dr. Richard Kirigwanja a veterinary doctor in Uganda and one of the brains behind the innovation.

According to the proponents of the solution, the farmers using IMO to rear the pigs conduct organic piggery system which they allude to further reduce on the construction cost of the animal unit as it does not require concrete or expensive material. Under this model, farmers construct the piggery unit by digging a few feet, two to three to be precise, down the ditch which is filled with sawdust and put the animals. Concrete floor is not recommended to allow the urine and any soluble litter sinks down the ground keeping the litter friable while the roof must be leak proof. The saw dust can last for a production cycle of 8 to 9 months and later used as fully decomposed manure for fertilizing crops.

IMO is inexpensive with 500grams retailing at about Ugx20,000. The solution is not used direct in the pig sty as some specific methods of preparation are advised. “The solution in its original form is very concentrated and therefore the farmers have to dilute it and mix it with water and other food particles like maize brand and allow it to ferment a process that will multiply the indigenous micro organism,” noted Dr. Kirigwanja. Two table spoons of the solution is mixed in 200litres of water in which 1kilogram of maize brand is added and then stir thoroughly. The mixture is left to ferment for two days after which it is deemed ready to serve to the pigs.

Unlike other solutions the best way of serving the solution to the pigs is through sprinkling over the animal fecal matter, feeds and saw dust. Dr. Kirigwanja explained that the cost of feed to the pigs while using the solution is reduced by over 30 percent. “The saw dust is source of carbohydrates, locked in sawdust called cellulose and no enzyme in mono gastric animals can break it down. The micro organisms in IMO break down the cellulose locked up in the sawdust and avail nutrients to the animals so the animal will feed on part of the saw dust. Additionally, the fecal matter of the animals is a rich source of protein not digested by the animal. So the micro organisms go ahead and break down the protein locked in the fecal matter and the animals goes back to feed on it and therefore, this cycled feeding caters for 30percent leaving a farmer to only provide 70percent of the feeds,” he explained.

Bad smell that is common with many farmers is also curbed using this organic solution. According to Dr. Kirigwanja, when IMO is sprayed on the saw dust in the sty, micro organism begin the breakdown of the saw dust into nutrients and feces, a lot of heat is produced raising the temperature of the litter to about 600C. “This temperature is good enough to kill disease causing organisms and during this fermentation the smell is minimized or eliminated and therefore no flies will be attracted to the place.  In addition, the heat generated reduces the fat layers among the pigs consequently weighing heavier compared to those under the conventional method.” This arises because the temperatures in the sty are warm hence the pigs need not to put on a thick fat layer to protect themselves against heat loss.

Since its inception and commercialization in the market, IMO has gained a household name among pig farmers in Uganda especially in the central region. “We have tried our best to sensitize farmers and deliver the products deep in the villages where we feel that most of the smallholder farmers are located. There are also nongovernmental organizations that have helped farmers acquire and adopt the product.” With also a combined advantage of enhancing the animal’s health, the solution is said to also reduce the expenditure on medication. “We also have an advantage from this kind of technology of not treating the animals. Micro Organisms are used to feed the animals to de- worm the animal and boost the immune system for faster growth making it a superior method of animal rearing in Uganda” added Dr. Kirigwanja

While using the product, the farmers enjoy reduced labour costs with its’ application schedules that only coincides with normal feeding schedules. Pigs are allowed to roam their pens where the floors are made of soil and other organic matter like sawdust, sprayed with IMO. There is no need to clean up the pens of excretions and urines. “The IMO do the “cleansing” converting these wastes into un harmful ones through this natural way of decomposition,” noted Dr. Kirigwanja.