Pigs grow fast. They grow from about 3 pounds at birth to market weight at 225 pounds in about 6 months. It takes some 10 months from the time the sow conceives until her pigs reach market weight.
They can be sold alive at a livestock market or perhaps processed into pork for home use at a local livestock slaughtering facility. The most important products from hogs are hams, roasts or lechon, chops, bacon, and sausage.
Hog raising is a very popular enterprise in the Philippines because there is a proliferation of backyard producers which dominate the swine industry and a healthy viable commercial sector. Despite the crises facing the swine industry (such as the spread of foot-and-mouth disease), still many people are venturing in this enterprise.
Swine or Pig Breeds
Due to many imported breeds in the country today, determining the best breed suitable to our conditions is difficult. Here is a guide to help in selecting the breed to raise depending on the purpose, money, and experience.
1. Large White
Large white breeds are entirely white with medium, erect ears. These sows are excellent milkers, wean large litters, have superior mothering ability, and farrow. They adapt well to confinement but not to rugged conditions.
White, short-legged and has medium to large drooping ears. Sows have excellent mothering ability and litter size. They are heavy milkers thus they produce pigs with superior growth rate and feed utilization efficiency. When crossed with other breeds, they produce pigs of highly acceptable carcass quality. However, they can't adapt to rugged conditions because of their weak feet and legs. Such defects should be corrected by proper selection and breeding.
The Duroc color is of varying shades of red. The sows are prolific and are good mothers. They produce pigs that are superior in growth rate and in feed conversion, and their performance under rugged conditions is better than any of the white breeds.
They are black with a white belt around the shoulder; short-legged; lack body thickness. The sows are noted for weaning a high percentage of the pigs farrowed and are adaptable to very rugged conditions. The growth rate, however, has generally been average or below.
They are black with four white feet and some has white in the face and tail; ears are erect and inclined forward as the animal grows older; meaty; and adaptable to rugged conditions. The length, depth and balance of their body are good but they lack good growth and are not efficient in converting feed to gain weight. The sows are not as prolific as the other breeds.
This is a meaty type of pig with black and white spots on its body; hams, shoulders and loins are well-shaped; and ears are erect. Its carcass has a high lean meat percentage, but poor body constitution. Its efficiency in converting feed to gain weight is not good and a little bit slow grower. Pietrain is only worthwhile in crosses but not as pure breeds because it is highly-susceptible to stress.
Breed Selection Guide
Guidelines in selecting breeder sows on the basis of physical appearance:
- Young female swine should have a minimum of 6 pairs of well-developed and properly spaced function teats. If not, they are likely to have poor milking capacity
- Teats that are inverted do not secrete milk, so choose pigs whose teats are not inverted
- Long-bodied sows are desirable because of the more space created for udder development
- Body width is uniform from front to rear
- When selecting breeding-animal, see to it that it has well-developed ham, loin and shoulder
- Well-placed feet and legs. Medium short feet and short upright pasterns are preferable
- Select the biggest among the litter
- Having a litter of 8 or more good-sized piglets with high survivability is a good female breeder
- Do not select young female swine that fail to secrete milk
- Select vigorous pigs from a healthy litter in a herd raised under good swine sanitation. Do not keep gilts or boars nor breed from litters that have physical abnormalities for these may be inherited
- In selecting gilt or sow, these pointers should be considered: clearly visible and well-developed primary sex organs, equal-sized testicles, pigs that have been proven and tested with traits that can overcome the defects of the herd, and ignore the minor defects in the pig that are present, provided that they are not present among the sows
Housing of Swine or Pigs
Generally, pigs should be four to six months old at the time of selection. To ensure maximum performance of the pigs, pig houses must be constructed properly. A poorly-built pig house may create problems such as disease problem.
- Use cheap and locally available materials - bamboo and nipa - for a small operation or backyard operation.
- Construct pig houses on a slightly sloping and well-drained area so that it will not become too muddy and convenient to work in.
- Supplement the sow with good creep ration If the milk supply is inadequate to feed her piglets.There are many available brands to choose from.
- When the pigs are about 1 week of age, start feeding them with a good pre-starter ration.
- Different rations are given at different stages of growth but a shift in ration should be done gradually so as not to upset the pigs' normal feeding behavior. Always allow a transition period of at least 1 week before making changes.
- A starter ration is given to pigs from weaning until two months of age and weighing about 10 to 25 kilograms.
- The grower ration is next given to pigs when they are 30 to 35 kg or two months old until they are about 15 to 20 weeks old.
- A finisher ration is given when pigs reach 60 kg or are about 20 weeks old.
- When formulating a simplified ration, always remember that it should always contain sufficient protein, and adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.
- Discard from slaughterhouses as well as cassava, sweet potato, corn, and corn by-products, which are abundant in some parts of the Philippines, may be used, provided they are properly cooked and dried.
- In commercial operations due to economy in labor and in feeding equipment, dry feeding is practiced. For backyard producers, wet feeding can be done.
- Clean drinking water must be provided at all times.