By Leah Gitau
Over the years, there has been a misconception about pigs. people believe that pigs are dirty animals and hence the environment in which they live should also be dirty. This is a wrong perspective because pigs are actually clean animals. It all depends on how well you take care of them. World animal protection has an ongoing campaign dubbed ‘raise pigs right’ that aims to encourage farmers globally to raise pigs right, by getting them out of confined cages and barren environments, and rearing them in high standard animal welfare.
What does good pig welfare/environment entail?
- Provision of good housing/ proper ventilated houses
- Pigsty’s with straw to play
- Open spaces in the pigsty’s
- Group housing
- Balanced feed/ clean water
- The five animal freedoms i.e.. Freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from pain and injury, freedom from discomfort, freedom to express natural behavior, freedom from fear and distress.
Pigs are clean animals
‘’A pig is not actually a dirty animal. When it bathes in mud, it is usually expressing its natural behavior, as opposed to that guy who refuses to shower’.’’ These were remarks made by the Africa country Director Tennyson Williams during one of their animal welfare roundtable conferences that focused on pigs. Pigs do not have sweat glands and as a result, they tend to bathe in mud to cool their bodies. And hence, people do not sweat like pigs, because pigs do not sweat.
Pig production globally
Second to chickens, pigs are raised in millions. They are the second most produced terrestrial animals globally. There are 1 million pigs worldwide with china being the largest with 500 million pigs. United states- 60 million pigs, Europe- 150 million pigs, Africa- 1 million pigs.
In Kenya, we have about 500,000 pigs. in terms of consumption, pork is the most consumed so we need to produce more, especially the African continent, which holds 1% of the pork produced globally. Among the 500k pigs that Kenya boasts of, farmers choice produces 50% of these pigs and the rest are produced by farmers in Kenya. 30% of the pork we consume in Kenya comes from farmers choice and 70% is produced by Kenyan farmers. Farmers choice company is even planning to go down to 20% to allow for room for more farmers to venture into the pig production business.
Why the emphasis on pigs?
Recently, there has been emphasis on pig production and how to raise them right. Some of the reasons that make pigs stand out include;
- Pigs multiply very fast and due to the growing population in Kenya, there is need to produce more pork so as to cub the food decrease menace. An increase in population calls for an increase in food production.
- Pigs can eat any type of feed and convert it into quality pork
- Pigs are still the same animals who can bring the small-scale farmers out of poverty.
- Pigs were used as warriors by alexander the great during his conquest to scare away Indian elephants
- How sausages are packaged is depicted by how piglets breastfeed