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Swine are highly efficient converters of food to muscle mass (feed to gain ratio of approx 3.5:1). They are also prolific, able to produce two litters of up to 14 piglets twice a year.

Swine carry diseases which can be spread to humans. They should therefore be raised in confinement, their pens cleaned often, and the manure composted to kill parasites. If raised on a pasture setting, they should be given enough area so that the manure can dry in the sun (sloppy muddy pig pens are a disease hazard). Pigs should not be allowed to wander around villages, or kept in an area where their manure can be washed into the water supply.

Swine have a mono-gastric digestive system, very similar to the human digestive system. Thus, pigs are in direct competition with humans for the same food sources. In a development setting, if food shortages are a problem, pigs are not an appropriate choice of livestock. Pigs are appropriate where food surpluses are spoiling, or where there is an edible byproduct from processing of a crop.

Pigs require a high percentage of protein: Pig feed should contain 13% protein (by weight). For pregnant or nursing mothers, or growing piglets (up to 3 months), this percentage should be increased to 20%. A rule of thumb for protein calculation is that a ration that is 1 part beans to 2 parts cereal grains is approximately 13% protein.

Signs of protein deficiency: animals who are deficient in protein will not gain weight properly. They will have drawn in rib cages. If deficiency occurs during growth the animal will have a large head and a small body frame.

Calculating a feed ration -
(__% protein in cereal) subtracted from (__% protein in end ration)= parts of protein ration
(__% protein in Protein ration) minus (__%protein in end ration)= parts of cereal ration
Example: you are using a corn that is 8% protien, and soy beans which are 30% protien, and you are mixing a 13% protein ration for normal growth in pigs-
8%(corn) subtracted from 13%(overall) = 5 parts soybeans
30%(soybeans) minus 13% (overall)= 17 parts corn
This means for every 5 cups of soybeans, you need 17 cups of corn. (you could approximate this to 1 cup of soybeans to 3 cups of corn).
The protein percentage of the cereal grain and protein mix you are using must be looked up.

Terms and Statistics -
Adult Female: Sow
Adult Male: Boar
Immature Female: Gilt
Castrated Male: Barrow
Young: Piglet
Giving Birth: Farrowing
Gestation Period: 3 months 3 weeks 3 days
Estrous Cycle: 21 days
Signs of heat(nearing ovulation)- sow stands still when pressure is applied to her loin

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Profitable Pork: Alternative Strategies for Hog Producers

Farmers who want to successfully produce pork on a small scale can preserve their independence in the face of the consolidating hog industry. "Profitable Pork: Alternative Strategies for Hog Producers" showcases examples of alternative ways to raise pork profitably. In designing hog systems that work on their farms - in deep-straw bedding, in hoop structures and on pasture - producers have been able to save on fixed costs, find greater flexibility, identify unique marketing channels and enjoy a better quality of life. The 16-page bulletin features profiles about successful hog producers as well as the latest research on everything from greater profits to better-tasting pork raised in alternative hog systems.

Biodigesters and Dream Farms

For some different thoughts on raising pigs, Podcast on raising pigs, by Paul Wheaton and Jocelyn Campbell