Raising pigs is profitable

By Henrylito D. Tacio
Sunday, August 25, 2013

PORK, the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig, is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide. It is eaten both freshly cooked and preserved. Curing extends the shelf life of the pork products. Hams, smoked pork, gammon, bacon and sausage are examples of preserved pork.

In the Philippines, like in other Asian countries, the pork is preferred over beef for economic and aesthetic reasons; the pig is easy to feed and is not used for labor. The colors of the meat and the fat of pork are regarded as more appetizing, while the taste and smell are described as sweeter and cleaner. It is also considered easier to digest. In rural provinces, “lechon” (roasted pig) is a popular tradition shared to celebrate important occasion and to form bonding.

Despite being almost exclusively without government subsidy, the swine industry is the second leading contributor to Philippine agriculture – after rice. “The strong growth in demand for pork has the potential to increase income opportunities and alleviate poverty among rural and agricultural households in the Philippines, where rural poverty remains high,” notes a position paper.

About 71 percent of the swine population is raised in backyard farms while 29 percent are in commercial farms. “In almost every rural household in the Philippines, swine raising is a very popular enterprise,” said Roy C. Alimoane, the director of the Davao-based Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) Foundation Inc.

After all, no other backyard animal has the same versatility as the swine. In the past, a farm family almost always invested their wealth in a pig. After all, out from pigs you can get pork, bacon, and sausage. They also acted as refuse bin, eating all the scraps and family’s leftovers. When asked if the head of the family has any money, the usual reply is: “I don’t have. All my money is in the pig.”

When people stopped raising pigs, they made a replica where they could “put their money in.” In the time, the practice of saving money in a pig came into existence and was called as “piggy bank.”

There are several breeds of swine available in the market today that can be raised in the backyard or commercially. If you intend to sell pigs within the reach of the buying public, then crossbreeds should be produced or perhaps, grades (using local or native pigs) ranging from 50-90 purity.

“Pure breeds usually command a high price in the local market circles for reason of carrying desirable characters having high commercial value,” wrote Benjamin J. Samala in “Profitable Swine Management Practices.”

“Characters like rapid and economical gains or growth rate, early maturity, carcass quality, litter size etc., have been fixed in the various breeds of pigs. Local or native pigs do not carry or possess of such good characters, hence their commercial values are much lower by way of comparison with the improved pigs,” Samala wrote.

Among the common pure breeds raised in the country are: Large White (Yorkshire), Landrace, Duroc, and Pietrain. Large White is known for its good mothering ability and large litter size. Landrace is also noted for its mothering ability and prolificacy.

Duroc is considered a superior breed in terms of growth and feed efficiency. Pietrain is known for its good muscle development in the ham, loin, and shoulder with very thin backfat.

On the other hand, farmers raising tilapia can optimize production in their fishponds by incorporating pigs. “The raising of pigs can profitably be blended with fish culture by constructing animal housing units on the pond embankment or over the pond in such a way that the wastes are directly drained into the pond,” Alimoane said.

By the way, swine is not only for eating and a possible solution to financial woes. In fact, pigs are very important in medicine. Their heart valves, especially treated and preserved, can be surgically implanted into humans to replace heart valves weakened by disease and injury. Pig pancreas glands are an important source of insulin hormone used in the treatment of diabetes.

Raising swine is a profitable venture. After all, there is a growing domestic market, increasing demand to meet increasing per capita consumption of a continuously growing human population.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 26, 2013.