Piglets eating from sweet potato vines. Pig feeds are expensive, taking up to 80 per cent of a farmer’s production costs.
With pig farming becoming popular due to increased pork consumption in most of Kenya’s urban areas agriprenuers can earn even more by making pig feeds given a bag of pig feed today costs not less than Sh3,000 in the market and the fact that feeds take up to 80 per cent of pig production costs. What they (agriprenuers) need is to know the rations of mixing the different ingredients.
Some farmers apart from rearing pigs also consider pig feeds business to diversify their farming activities and take advantage of the good market prices.
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“I have been rearing pigs for two years but because of the feeds challenge I always witnessed, I decided to make my own feeds for my pigs and most of the time sell surplus to other farmers,” said Simon Moabe, Kuria West farmer, Migori County.
To begin with, farmers can use available crop feeds like potato vines, cassava leave, yams among others to make the feeds. This method is known as silage preparation and preservation fronted by scientists from International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
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-Sweet potato vines for example are very nutritious pig feed if well prepared and preserved. To help reduce production costs of pigs and pig products here is how one can prepare them:
-Cut 60-100kg of sweet potato vines and spread them dry in the sun for about 30 minutes.
-Chop the vines into tiny pieces and mix them with 10 kg of maize germ or pig growers mash.
-Sprinkle ½ kg of mineral salt and mix thoroughly.
-Put the mixture into an airtight 250-litre plastic tank. Compress the vines firmly to remove any air spaces as you do when preparing silage.
-Add some little EM1 solution to improve the quality of the silage.
-Cover the tank airtight. Let it stay for 14 days (two weeks).
-Open the tank to check if the silage is ready- if the silage has a sweet smell and has turned yellow in colour, then it is ready feeding.
-You can feed the sweet potato silage to pigs from four months age which are sows, gilts and boars at any time before or after feeding their usual daily rations.
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Pig feed is sold in different forms described as pellets, pencils, rolls, cakes, nuts and so on. They are just but descriptions of how the mix has been shaped, and nothing to do with the nutrient content.
Sukumawiki (kales), vegetables, cabbages, lucerne, amaranth (terere), avocadoes, pawpaws or even bananas can also be used as supplementary feeds and can also be prepared the same way.
Agro experts advice that pig feeds should be of high quality to ensure the pigs grow to the desired weight for the market.