Tips on starting a swine business

Pigs in their wallowing pond (Rico Ecunar)

By James Tababa

Swine production is one of the main livestock businesses here in the Philippines. Even though there are several cases of African Swine Fever that threatens the Philippine swine industry, it is still a profitable business because of the high demand of Filipinos for pork. 

Rico Ecunar is the owner of Pork and Green, a sustainable swine production enterprise in Candelaria, Zambales. He is also one of the provincial beneficiaries of Kabataang Agribiz Competitive Grant Assistance Program, a program under the Department of Agriculture which provides financial assistance to start-up agricultural business enterprises. 

According to Ecunar, the capital investment in swine production is significant. It is unwise to venture into the swine business when not prepared. Here are his tips:

READ: Young agriprenuer turns conventional swine production into a sustainable enterprise

Study the industry. Research all the aspects of the swine business. There are informative, educational videos that can be found online. Take seminars if necessary. Check for programs that the local government offers. The Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Training Institute (ATI), Department of Trade and Industry, and The Municipal Veterinary office provide a variety of programs – financial, technology transfer, and marketing. These are free most of the time.

Hauling of sold pigs. Traders are always on the look for pigs of ideal weight and meat quality. (Rico Ecunar)

Secure your market. Before starting the business, check for potential markets. Are there nearby markets or slaughterhouses where you can sell the product? Check the requirements necessary for you to sell pork. Most public markets require meat certification from National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).

Farm biosecurity is essential. Check for diseases present in your area. Ask the Municipal Veterinarian Office or Agriculture Office for necessary vaccines like hog cholera vaccines. Leftover food from the kitchen should not be fed to the pigs because it might cause disease spread. Use net protection around pig pens to avoid contact with birds and rodents, which are also carriers of diseases. Do not let non-farm personnel enter the production area to prevent pigs contracting diseases from outside sources. Follow  basic biosafety protocols, including the use of a footbath and washing of hands.

A pig pen constructed using low-cost materials. Bamboo, a locally available affordable construction material, is used to construct the pigpen. Net surrounds the pigpen to prevent rodents from entering. (Rico Ecunar)

Use low-cost materials for housing. Concrete housing and the establishment of production areas for the swine business are expensive. Bamboo and coconut lumber are examples of low-cost materials that are usually accessible to most rural areas.

Produce alternative feeds. Commercial feeds are getting expensive. Do not entirely rely on commercial feeds. Be sustainable and utilize barren lands. Supplementary forage feeds show a significant increase in weight and good quality types of meat. Azolla, duckweed, mulberry, and sorghum are examples of alternative feeds that can be grown in the backyard.

Propagated mulberry from cuttings. Mulberry is a good source of additional feed for the pigs because it can be easily propagated through cuttings. (Rico Ecunar)

Create a roadmap of plans and goals. Make plans for the following years. A roadmap is a timeline of your goals and achievements. Have a projection on how to maintain or expand your business projections for a specific time. Creating a roadmap is important to establish the targets of your business. A roadmap will help by being a metric of achievement. Study your market, and study why or why not you are hitting the established goals. This will give you an idea on where to improve.

Photos courtesy of Rico Ecunar

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