Pig husbandry is a profitable occupation, especially for small and marginal farmers. It requires minimum capital investment and labour. The return over the investment is quick and high. Within a very short period piglings achieve marketable maturity.
Swine includes all domestic animals such as pigs and hogs. The term 'hogs' is used synonymously for swine. Domestication of hogs provided man with a more uniform supply of meat. Swine belong to the family Suidae which includes both the domesticated and tile wild hogs.
India has about 10 million pigs and swine fanning in India contributes about 6.7% of the total meat production in the country. Among the states, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of pigs followed by Bihar, Andhra pradesh and Tamil Nadu. At present, there are no Indian breeds of pigs. However, the type of pigs which are found throughout the country may be divided into four types, viz. wild pigs, domesticated or indigenous pigs, exotic breeds of pigs and upgraded stock of pigs such as Large-White Yorkshire, Middle-White Yorkshire, Landreace, etc.
The indigenous (desi) pig has been the basis of pig production all these years. They are small in size and the small sized animals do not have any defmite characteristics. They grow slowly, produce small litters and the meat type is of inferior quality.
However, improved breeds are now being used for grading up the indigenous population so that the crossbred pigs would, increasingly form the basis for pig production in rural areas.
In India, pig fanning is a subsidiary occupation especially among the socio-economically poor people. Of all the meat producing animals, the pig has an important role because of the short generation interval, efficiency of feed conversion, faster growth rate and higher dressing percentage. Five sows and one boar can produce 80 to 100 young ones in a year that can be sold when they weigh around 65 kg. The dressing percentage in pigs is 65 to 70 which means more meat is produced per animal.
In India, pig production has an important role to serve as an effective instrument of social change in weaker sections of rural community. The pigs are probably the most accommodative among animals. They can be managed in many different ways and sold off at different stages of growth. Pigs can be reared economically with minimum expenditure on building and equipments. The quantity of meat available per unit live weight of pig is higher than that with other kinds of livestock.
In the rural sector, pig husbandry is merely at subsistence or sub-subsistence level. Rural families maintain a few pigs feeding on domestic wastes, swills and whatever the animals pick on free range including farm refuse and night soil. Pig rearing has been continued in this traditional manner for ages and it might be difficult to effect a change in the existing traditional system of rearing. Pig raising fits in very well with mixed farming and can easily be complimentary to intensive crop enterprise. Modem pig breeds can effectively help in improving tile animal protein requirements of large segment of rural population.
The entire traditional subsistence pig farming in India has to be changed into commercial pig production. Extensive hybridization of indigenous stock with fast growing exotic breeds without providing clean environment, health and sound management will lead to disastrous results in rural pig rearing under primitive methods. This is because the exotic pigs in spite of possessing favourable genes for rapid growth are unable to express their production potential under poor environmental condition. Further, the upgraded stock also gets susceptible to diseases when they start scavenging like any other indigenous stock. Pork can be commercialised only when there is favourable marketing and feed supply.
Despite the fact that the cost of good quality pork is far cheaper than that of mutton, the religious restrictions. and rearing of pigs under unhygienic surroundings still stand in the way of consumption of pork. Apart from traditional cultural practices, prevailing in different parts of the country, insufficient capital for implementing innovations in pig husbandry, lack of appropriate technology, poor educational background of the pig farm operators and inadequate means of disseminating worthwhile changes in pig husbandry are the various problems that inhibit efficient pig production. The impetus to increase pig production in India, to a large extent, depends on the acceptance of pork as a decent quality food capable of overcoming deficiency of animal protein in the diet of common man, and on the establishment of economic superiority of pigs in rural farms which practice mixed farming.
The most suitable strategy for successful commercial pig production is to choose areas near population centres or cities from where improved production techniques and better breeding stock can be gradually disseminated to the pig farmers living in remote rural areas. Piggery farms in public sector should arrange to supply weaned piglets (two montils old) to the farmers who must be provided with basic input of feed and health through institutional credits. The pig should be procured from the farmers after attaining the weight between 60 and 70kg by the cooperative or government agencies and arrangement should be made for profitable marketing in population centres or cities, where there is a greater demand for pork. The pig rearers should be paid adequately.