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Production constraints of smallholder pig farms in agro-ecological zones of Mpumalanga, South Africa

Munzhelele, Priscilla, Oguttu, James, Fasanmi, Olubunmi G., Fasina, Folorunso O.
Tropical animal health and production 2017 v.49 no.1 pp. 63-69
Africans, agroecological zones, boars, breeds, crushing, diarrhea, farm records, farmers, farms, herds, livestock and meat industry, livestock production, malnutrition, mortality, piglets, purchasing, risk behavior, sows, vaccination, South Africa
South African pig sector is a contributor to the agricultural industry. A study was conducted to identify the production constraints and compare the management practices in smallholder pig farms in Mpumalanga, South Africa. A total of 220 selected smallholder pig farmers were interviewed. Smallholder pig farming was predominated by male (64 %), age above 50 years (54 %), black Africans (98.6 %), and three quarters of the smallholder farmers were poor to just below average. Majority (80 %) have no pig husbandry training, while only 33 % received assistance from government’s Agricultural Department. In terms of stock, mixed breeds (89 %) from exotic pigs were mostly kept and majority (87 %) of the farmers kept ≤10 sows in their herds. Many farmers (75 %) engaged in risky behavior of buying auctioned-sourced boars, free-range boars, and untested boars from neighbors and relatives. Few (17 %) farmers practiced vaccination and only 10 % kept farm records. Majority of the responses on pre-weaning mortality (50 %) and post-weaning mortality (90 %) were within acceptable range of 1–10 and 1–5 % mortality rates, respectively. The lead causes of mortality were weak piglets and crushing (46 %), diarrhea (27 %), poor management knowledge (19 %), and malnutrition (16 %). Agricultural training and government incentives will facilitate improved productivity in smallholder pig farming.