Pig production on a steady rise
Pig production is becoming increasingly important for the livelihood of the smallholder farmer. In Uganda pork is contributing to 3.4 kg of the total meat consumption of 12.1 kg per capita and year making pork the second largest source of animal protein in the country, showing the importance of pig production to food and nutritional security. However, local pig farmers are faced with significant constrains to production such as diseases, lack of nutrition, poor husbandry and lack of knowledge and capital. Information and education on appropriate and sustainable management is urgently needed to improve pig production and secure peoples’ livelihoods and nutrition.
Herd Health Management – improving health, welfare and productivity
Herd Health Management (HHM) is a holistic and gradual approach considering several different parts of the production in order to improve welfare, health and productivity of a particular farm. The motivation of the HHM approach is to identify important production constraints and focus areas where the health and productivity of the farm could be improved.
In a recent study at SLU, the HHM approach was implemented on 20 smallholder pig farms in Uganda with the overall goal to identify key constraints to pig productivity. Four major, intertwined, areas of constraints were identified:
- Feed – low quantities and suboptimal feed formulation
- Reproduction – poor knowledge and management
- Diseases – most commonly parasites (internal and external) and diarrhoea (most importantly after weaning)
- Biosecurity – largely unpractised, often due to lack of knowledge
Training in pig reproductive management and parasite control
Based on the study mentioned above, two interactive, two-day training courses in parasite control and reproductive management, respectively, in pig production were held in Masaka and Kampala districts in Uganda with the participation of animal health care professionals, farmers and traders. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic presentations were pre-recorded by SLU-experts and trainings had to be held remotely with accompanying challenges. Pre-recorded presentations and films were combined with group work and on-line discussions with lecturers at SLU to exchange knowledge and to increase the awareness of these important components of pig heard health. Emphasised in both trainings was the importance of a holistic view on animal health and that “prevention is better than cure” for a productive and sustainable pig farming.
Some reflections from course participants:
“The training was so nice and the comparison of knowledge from global north and south encourages knowledge transfer.”
“I have learnt a lot, I’m going to start my pig project and I’m going to help my mum with her project.”
“The training was really educative and implementation of what was discussed may bring about change in the piggery enterprise.”
“Such refresher trainings are very essential to we veterinarians in the field and they help us to know new interventions in the sector.”
Challenges and lessons learned
On-line trainings with pre-recorded training material can be challenging due to poor internet connection and the lack of face-to-face interaction between lecturers and participants. We tried to solve the latter problem by scheduling an hour at the end of each day for discussions with all lecturers joining the course live. These discussions were greatly appreciated by both participants and lectures and provided a good opportunity for knowledge exchange.
We have learnt that, although challenging, this training format is plausible and the overall comments from participants were very positive. The success has triggered us to develop and conduct similar trainings in the near future. Most importantly though, once prepared, we will make all training materials available on the internet so it can be used by a wider audience like Massive Open On-line Courses. This will allow more animal health care professionals and farmers to increase their knowledge about herd health management to bring about a change of practice for the sake of a profitable and sustainable livestock production.
Written by: Johanna Grundin and Ulf Magnusson, Department of Clinical Sciences, SLU.
Ouma et al. 2015
Muhanguzi et al. 2012
Båge et al., 2020