Farmers train to care for their pigs
Piggery farmers were invited by ASCC Land Grant/ CNR Extension Services to attend a workshop on pig production and health management that was slated for three days last week, and held at the Land Grant conference room and piggery. According to those who attended, it was very beneficial and improved the local mindset of our farmers in terms of managing their livestock on a daily basis.
“It never occurred to me that I have to feed my pigs two or three times a day,” said one farmer, who chose to remain anonymous. “All we knew from the beginning of time, is that we feed the pigs in the evenings with popo and that’s it!”
Seiuli Otto Hansell of the ASCC CNR Extension program began the workshop with a description of the kinds of pigs currently available in American Samoa saying, “What we have now are not pure bred, they are hybrids and are more like the English kind, which were introduced for better meat, better ham production and also intended to be less wild.”
Since we are taking care of mostly English types of pigs, we have to give our livestock more nutritional care and health management, he noted.
“These types of pigs are more resistant to common and local diseases if we feed them good nutritional meals twice or three times a day. We also have to spend more time managing the farm and our livestock daily,” explained Hansell.
All health issues surrounding the care of pigs — from pig feed to skincare to respiratory and heart diseases — were covered in the workshop and one farmer commented, “I didn’t know, I have to really take care of my pigs, like I take care of my family.”
“If you are interested in managing a good farm, and reaping good harvests from it, you have to take care of your pigs more than you take care of your family. It is food to others and we should be even more careful to avoid unhealthy issues,” was the advice by Tunaimati’a Alfred Peters of CNR.
The nutrition and health part of the workshop informed the farmers of what to look for in their animals — to be sure they are not getting sick — and discussed proper treatment if they do get sick, to assure healthy livestock.
“Commonly, a balanced diet and enough meals usually keep your pigs well, but do not forget their regular antibiotics and protein feeds. The vitamins from greens are also essential for all livestock and that could be an afternoon meal at all times,” urged Hansell to the farmers.
The recommended greens were lopa leaves anytime, manihot leaves twice a week, old cabbage leaves ‘of any kind’ at all times are also great; plus, mangos, banana green peels, guava, vi and all local fruits are great for the pigs, according to workshop instructors.
The coconut meat is famous for the Samoan pigs, and it is also good for balanced nutrition, as lipid feed requirements for the pigs, according to the instructors.
Instruction regarding pre-farrowing (pregnancy) was also a new subject of training for the local farmers. “You have to feed them while you rub their backs for some time to develop a friendly relationship, that way the animal is familiar with you and will not attack you in the farrowing times.”
Farmers were persuaded that it is important to be close to their animals, especially during times when the pigs deliver their litters (called farrowing) to prevent loss of the piglets through still birth, suffocation or excessive bleeding from their umbilical chords.
They were advised to help the farrowed pigs when the piglets are born — the farmers can wipe off the mucus from skin and nostrils if necessary to help the piglet breathe. Afterward, they can assist the piglets by rubbing them to add warmth to their tiny bodies, and place them near the mother to find teats for their supply of colostrum, because colostrum, the first milk of every sow, helps the piglet grow healthier.
The farmers learned that piglet identification is also a must, so the animals have a good genealogy, or generation history. This prevents inbreeding, which promotes other offspring deficiencies.
Cross fostering is a great practice to keep having great animal selection, but our island is small, and many of our animals are being affected by inbreeding according to the workshop instructors.
The last part of the session covered the castration of the young male piglets and farmers were challenged once more to another newer duty, which if followed, allows for much better production and management of their livestock