Farmers’ Diaries: Buti Malinga

Buti Malinga, Bronkhorstfontein, Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng

The current situation with African swine fever has pig farmers worried. It’s even worse for us smaller guys, as a positive case can lead us to closing shop. There are strict government regulations to cull all infected animals, with no guarantee of compensation. For us, coming back from such a disaster could be impossible considering the costs of starting a piggery.

We are currently on high alert and try to avoid any unnecessary visits to the farm. We try to practise normal biosecurity processes, from using foot baths to showering before and after every shift. The only visits we allow are the vet visits, as the vet helps to keep our herd healthy.

This is an exceedingly difficult time for us – these vet visits cost anything from R8 000 to R10 000, depending on the vet. We try to keep vet visits down to once every three months to contain costs. Because of the funding challenges, we have asked government for help so that we can improve our biosecurity and infrastructure.

We need proper fencing to minimise the risks from other carriers, such as warthogs, who may get near the pens. The pigs eat more in winter than they do in summer. During the cold winter months, pigs need a higher caloric intake to keep themselves warm and maintain steady growth.

They use more energy just to stay warm, so we adjust the feed slightly to provide more energy in their diet. Also, we must now provide extra heating, particularly for the younger pigs. Meanwhile, the low winter pork prices are putting pressure on our cash flow.

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