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    Weaning weight amongst pigs is an important aspect for an impressive market weight. This sentiment was shared by Pig Industry Enhancement project (PIEP) Manager Herny Jian, who said farmers should take good care of the sow during pregnancy. He also emphasized that even during the lactating period, they should so that they were able to take good care of the piglets and feed them well. This was during an experiment at Mpisi Pig breeding station, to determine the performance of the offspring produced by the Mpisi pig breeding stock; the breeds sold to farmers can reach an average weight of 90 kg at 20 weeks of age. The experiment was conducted by the Assistant technician of Mpisi farm, Lu Ming-feng from Taiwan ICDF, who used 12 weeks old pigs and raised them to 20 weeks. The mother pig was the Eswatini-Taiwan Landrace-Yorkshire breed (LY) and the sire or father pig was from a semen which contains the Eswatini-Taiwan Duroc (D) blood resulting in the offspring being a Landrace Yorkshire Duroc (LYD) breed. The minimum weaning weight of the pigs was seven kilograms and maximum 11 kilograms. Jian added that farmers should aim for the minimum weaning weight to be at least seven kilograms per piglet, thereafter, manage them well till they are ready for slaughter to get impressive results” he said. “There are many factors which contribute to an impressive slaughter weight but all of them are centered on good management practices. Once you miss the focal point in pig farming, a lot will be affected which can lead to low or no profits” he added. The LYD experiment porkers had some dark spots on the body before slaughter, which was the result of the duroc blood. Adding, Jian said many farmers feared that after slaughter, the carcass would also contain black spots yet that was not the case. He said after the pigs had reached a very impressive market weight, which was 90 kilograms on average and taken to the abattoir for slaughter, the carcass was white with no trace of the black spots. Spots Jian said this could help relieve stress from farmers, knowing that even if the pig had dark spots, once it was slaughtered correctly it would be plain white. “The problem could arise if the farmer did not practice proper hygiene slaughter. We believe that the experiment could boost the farmers’ confidence that their carcasses could not be rejected in the market because they had black spots before slaughter”. “The experiment clearly proved that the black spots are an indicator of the Duroc blood, which is from the semen. Duroc breeds have good quality meat and are fast growing among other qualities which was what we opted as a project when selling semen with Duroc blood to farmers, hence the 90kg weight at 20 weeks of age. Pig Artificial Insemination (AI) plus value addition equals limitless profits”, said Jian.



    AFTER devastating hailstorms in the country, pig experts were surprised to find farmers hard at work and determined, tending to their pigs as if nothing had happened. Their resilience and dedication impressed the seasoned experts during the visitation by Industry Enhancement Project manager Henry Jian from Taiwan ICDF, and Nhlakanipho Dlamini the pig extension Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture to assess their activity in the pig industry this year. Farmer Samaria Mahlalela who has been in the industry for quite some time, was flagged to be doing very well. During the site visit, she took the initiative of encouraging other farmers who were affected by the storm and those who wished to establish their own pig enterprises. "Make it a habit to do things on your own at the farm. Be financially wise or stable to avoid being cheated of pig food," she said. Mahlalela stated that it was quite common that most farmers would mix the pig feed with other materials like bran/ chop so that the feed quantity increased, lasted longer not knowing that they were actually affecting the slaughter weight because the pigs would have more back fat than the flesh. "Consumers are most interested in the flesh, and that means a loss in the business. Farmers should have a strong financial muscle to avoid shortcuts in the enterprise." she narrated. Mahlalela highlighted that 2023 had been a tough year for many farmers including herself. "I did not give up, and I urge farmers affected by the hailstorm not to give up but instead, gain courage and start over, it is not too late, they can still catch up to their desired production level" mentioned Mahlalela. She said aspiring pig farmers should first love the pigs, have passion about pig farming before they begin the pig farming journey. "If you do something that you love, you will give it your best, no one will be supervising or instructing you to do something because it will just naturally come from within. Farmers should be hands on, most things that need to be done on the farm should be attended to by the business owner so everything goes smoothly. As Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "If you want a thing done well, do it your-self'. Nhlakanipho Dlamini, Pig Extension Officer of the Manzini region said the storms caused a lot of damage in the industry. He highlighted that in Mahlalela's farm, the hail perforated the piggery roofing but fortunately no pig died. "For some other farmers their piggery structures were demolished, so they had to start over and build up a new structure," added Dlamini.  



    Samuel Shongwe, one of the successful pig farmers in the Lubombo region with 10 productive sows says the festive season found him ready to supply pork this festive season. Shongwe mentioned his preparedness for the festive season rush after a visit done by the Pig Industry Enhancement Project team with the aim of tracking his progress and production. This follows Shongwe having used semen from Mpisi and carrying out the artificial insemination (A.I.) procedure for four years now. He cited that he did not regret the decision he made to use Mpisi semen because it has provided noble results for him. “My sows produce 12 piglets on average per farrow and the birth, weaning and market weight is very impressive. My selling price per kilogram is E48.00 and the carcass weight gives me confidence to reveal the selling price. Shongwe further revealed that his success was attributed to the classes that he attended hosted by the extension officer; Nomkhosi Mbhamali through the Taiwan ICDF and the ministry of agriculture. “Through these classes, I was able to gain knowledge from the training and also interact with other farmers, discussing better ways to drive the pig business,” he said. Shongwe encouraged farmers to follow the necessary management practices that are most likely emphasized by the officers. He also urged those that are employed to look after the pigs in the owner’s absence to please take good care of the pigs, especially the piglets because one piglet is revenue. “Employers or pig owners should explain in detail to their employees what is expected to be done in the pig farms so that they are able to take good care of the pigs, if not then necessary steps can be taken to rectify that”, said Shongwe. He highlighted that following all the instructions that were given to him by the extension officer and other farmers in the industry had enhanced his ability to meet the demands of his customers this festive season. “What I can say is farmers should design and follow a breeding schedule so that when the festive season comes, they are well prepared to supply good quality pork to their customers” said the pig farmer. Lubombo extension officer, Nomkhosi Mbhamali the attested to Songwe’s sentiments, further acknowledging him for being cooperative in the industry. PIEP manager, Henry Jian commented saying Shongwe’s porkers looked good for the market, adding that their body condition was appealing to the eye.



    LIVESTOCK and crop farmers have been warned to take care of the products as temperatures increase, provide good shelter, deworming, and lots of water to provide sweat glands. Ministry of Agriculture Extension Officer Sibusiso Sikhondze said high temperatures can result in heat stress, heat stroke and dehydration on both animals and humans. He advised that lactating animals needed water the most since they would be producing milk for the young ones and as it is known that water covers roughly 70 % of the milk concentration. Sikhondze added that it also contributed to the final body weight because if an animal is not taken good care of, it will not be able to yield well since most of the energy it will gain will be used for its survival. “Taking good care of the pigs helps to reduce production costs for buying antibiotics to cure certain illnesses that may affect the pigs,” he said. Meanwhile, Pig Industry Enhancement Project (PIEP) Manager Henry Jian under the Taiwan ICDF echoed Sikhondze. He advised pig farmers to take good care of their livestock and pigs in the season while the temperatures are rising in the country. The pig experts were visiting pig farmers in the region yesterday. They were making a follow-up on their production and existence in the industry, more especially those in the medium scale of production, with 10 sowsCA and above. Jian observed that most of the pigs were affected by the heat such that their skin condition was not good. He said most of the pigs had pink skin color which showed the results of sunburn. He also advised farmers to provide good shelter for their pigs such that the heat rays do not enter much and cause any harm to the pigs. He added that deworming them using dipping chemicals like pig pour on or injections with 1 percent ivermectin like Ivomec is also necessary as it is one of the good management practices in pig production. Water Adding, he said water is also crucial because pigs do not have sweat glands which allows them to dissipate heat hence drinking lots of water helps them to cope in this season and the productivity is not affected or disturbed. “Farmers who can provide mist in the pig house should do so to facilitate the cooling effect in the pens. Jian added that farmers should consider what the extension officers advise them to do and what is being taught during the trainings classes that are conducted every now and then by the project. This will help is taking the necessary precautions whilst in the industry because as they say prevention is better than cure, the expenses go higher when buying antibiotics than when buying deworming and vaccinating medication. Following the good management practices will play a huge roll in the success of the pig business and pig industry of the country at large,” added Jian.