African Farming went to find out what our farmers are busy with at the start of autumn.
Fortune Poto, Bela-Bela, Limpopo
We have 25 pregnant sows now and are getting ready to mate another group. We are currently selecting boars and have chosen four for training and testing. We will choose two from this group. We have selected and synchronised 10 sows to bring them on heat for the young boars to mate.
From there, we will check whether they’ve managed to impregnate their allocated sows. We look at the way they mount, their posture and how they stand. We will check their litters and how well their offspring grow and feed. Then we select the boars based on these results.
To bring the sows on heat for this purpose, we do ad-lib (continuous) feeding for five days. We usually feed the pigs about 2kg a day, split into 1kg in the morning and 1kg in the afternoon. On ad-lib feeding the ration is increased to 4kg to 6kg a day, fed throughout the day. But we make sure not to feed more than 8kg a day as this would cause the pigs to become overweight.
Accumulated fat may end up spreading to the udder; fatty udder affects a sow’s ability to provide enough milk to the piglets. Before we start ad-lib feeding, the breeding sows are vaccinated with Farrowsure Gold B, a dead (inactivated) vaccine that helps prevent reproductive failure caused by various pathogens.
We’ve just renovated and expanded our sow units by building six extra pens. We’ve upgraded our flooring to improve drainage so that we can recycle the slurry water onto our newly planted 1ha maize field. We’ve recently bought an adjacent piece of land on which we plan to grow maize in order to reduce our feeding costs.