Ex-marketer unlocks secret of success in pig farming

By Harriet James
Tuesday, June 8th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
Albert Mathangani shows off one of his pigs. Photo/PD/HARRIET JAMES

Swines rearing, like any other livestock rearing venture is profitable as long as you get the right breed, practice good management and can find market for your produce. This is what Albert Muthangani found out before he took a stab at it six years ago, and he has no regrets.

Harriet James @harriet86jim

Six years ago, Albert Mathangani, left his job as a sales person in one of the top companies in Nairobi to venture into agribusiness and in particular, pig farming. 

He was inspired by his friend who advised him that it was a lucrative business, which doesn’t require much labour or work, but had lots of gains. 

He unsuccessfully began with planting onions in Ruai, Nairobi county in 2016, but a year later, he moved to Karatina, Nyeri county to help his parents at their farm, Waihiga Farm.

 “I wanted to take up another project that would challenge me and give me extra income.

My parents and I brainstormed on projects to undertake, and we finally settled on pig farming,” Albert recounts. 

They began by identifying space in the farm after which they constructed a pig sty.As Albert sourced for pigs to buy, he discovered that despite the fact that the business had lots of gains, not many people kept pigs while those who ventured into it had only one or two pigs. 

“I discovered that the demand for pigs was high as there were many butcheries and individuals who were interested in buying, but there were few suppliers,” he says. 

Lucrative agribusiness venture

Over the years, pig farming in Kenya has evolved into one of the most significant agribusiness ventures that have taken the country by storm.

This is because pork has become a delicacy among many Kenyans and currently accounts for at least 38 per cent of meat production in the world.

In addition, pigs naturally have a high feed conversion rate that assists them in producing more live weight gain from the feeds. 

Pigs are second to the broiler chicken as they grow at a very fast rate, unlike other domesticated animals.

In just eight or nine months your piglets will reach maturity and can be sold. In addition, pigs are highly fertile beings and their gestation period is roughly about 115 days. 

The female pig, known as the sow, will give birth twice in one year and reproduce around eight to 10 piglets per birth.

This is why a farmer can begin with just two of the animals and end up with several animals in a short period.

Latest data by Knoema, a premier global data platform, production of pig meat for Kenya increased from 2.9 billion kilogrammes in 1970 to 14.4 billion kilogrammes in 2019 growing at an average annual rate of 4.66 per cent. Profits per a grown pig will range from Sh20,000 to Sh30,000.

In addition, compared to livestock rearing, keeping pigs is a relatively easier undertaking. One can opt either to keep them for domestic consumption or commercial purposes.

Albert rears the large white and landrace varieties. He began with one boar, one piglet and three sows.

Presently, they have over 50 pigs and piglets in the farm and are looking to build another structure since they have filled the first one.

“We built a stone building with a high roof, which took around one year to be constructed.

The reason for building a stone sty is because we wanted a structure that wouldn’t need a lot, if any, repairs.

Plus it’s much warmer for the pigs, easy to clean and helps us with water catchment hence the tall roof design.

During the rainy season, we are able to fetch water, which helps with day to day needs in the farm,” explains Albert. 

The large white breed is mainly kept due to its ability to cross breed and the landrace, its known for its long body length, high percentage of carcass weight in the ham and loin, as well as its ideal amount of finish. “Pigs are awesome animals.

They just need to be fed on good nutritional feeds, clean water and clean the pigsty daily,” says Albert. 

Expensive to keep

The most challenging bit about keeping pigs is the cost of maintenance. The cost of feed is roughly around Sh2,200 to Sh2,500 per a 70 kilogrammes bag. 

Albert notes that while most farmers have space to keep pigs and are more than willing to do so, they simply don’t have the finances to mantain them. If the feeds were affordable then they would definitely do it large scale, instead of having a few.

Currently the price of pig meat and its other products are high and not affordable for everyone.

“If we are able to increase supply then prices will come down, but we shall still not be able to satisfy demand.

Demand for pork will still be high 10 years to come since the meat, which is white meat is supreme to other meat (red meat), because of its benefits. Pork is also richer in vitamin B1,B2,E and D, according to research,” he notes 

He also admits to making a few mistakes, which resulted in him losing a few piglets, but now he is wiser.

“I would ignore signs of infection on the piglets, but now if I see a sickly one, I call the vet or take it to the government lab for diagnosis.

I would also  sell my pigs for much less than their worth to brokers, now I sell directly to wholesellers on mutual terms and conditions,” he says.