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Raising pigs as a small entrepreneurial agricultural activity

Posted by Tonya Harrison on
Raising pigs as a small entrepreneurial agricultural activity

This is an article dedicated to small Italian agricultural entrepreneurs who intend to start a small semi-wild pig farm that can guarantee quality products and respect for animal welfare.

Among the many Italian peasant traditions, probably that of pig breeding is one of the most important and characteristic.

The breeding of the pig, its killing, the processing of meat, everything was done with extreme care and respect for the animal that represented one of the fundamental food sources for the peasant economy of the time.

Since ancient times the relationship between man and pig has been very close, the domestication of the domestic pig has in fact occurred millennia ago and has continued uninterruptedly up to the present day.

Unfortunately, however, this link has now broken due to globalization and the mass economy that has commoditized animal life, disintegrated traditions and turned everything into mere profit, which in pig breeding resulted in absolutely non-respectful conditions. animal welfare.

Images coming from intensive farms need no comment, they are immoral, unjust, wrong, absolutely useless and to be condemned without ifs and buts.

But what to do then?

Many people have decided to say goodbye to meat consumption, many others are not interested in it completely, while others still seek a compromise between these two different and opposite opinions.

Aware that meat consumption will continue anyway, I decided to make my contribution in the third way, the one I think represents the balance between the desires of human society and animal welfare.

To do this, I write this and other articles to encourage small-scale agricultural production that can intercept the needs of all the actors involved.

In fact, society needs to overcome the model offered by mass production and rediscover the ancient rural world made up of traditions, sustainability and respect.

Here then is the resurgence of a myriad of small farms that respect theenvironment and the right of animals to a dignified life.

It is up to us consumers to support these new rural realities always and in any case because at stake there are many values ​​to defend.

The domestic pig: general outline

The domestic pig ( Sus scrofa domesticus ) is a mammal belonging to the Suidae family, a group that contains as many as 16 species still alive, including the wild boar and the warthog.

They are rather robust animals, with thick skin and few hairs, small head if related to the massive body and short legs.

The pigs are descendants of the wild boar ( Sus Scrofa ) who underwent the process of domestication by man many years ago.

Pig breeding is in fact a very ancient practice, even depictions of graffiti in the Altamira cave  dated around 40,000 BC have been discovered .

From 5000 BC onwards, the period under which the domestication of pigs, the domestic pig has become one of the most important animals for human consumption.

Its biological characteristics make it a very resistant animal that can live in different environments, from cold to warmer climates, the pig adapts easily to the environment.

However, the process that led the wild boar to become a domestic animal is incomplete, if the pigs are released into the environment they have the capacity to become wild.

The domestic pig is a very prolific animal; in fact, up to 12 babies can be born in each litter, and all of them are suckled by their mother, who has a very developed breast system. His diet is very varied, similar to the human one, another characteristic that has favored the development of the breeding of the species.

Why raise pigs

I clarified at the beginning of the article why it is important to raise pigs in Italy.

The reason in fact is not only economic for the agricultural entrepreneur, but above all for the nature of the animal that unfortunately is bred in shameful conditions by the industrial apparatus.

The demand for pork will not cease soon, but what we have to do is remove important slices of the market from the industrial pig and encourage artisanal production in the wild and semi-wild state where the animal’s minimum rights are respected.

In addition to the ethical aspect, pig breeding is an excellent investment for the agricultural entrepreneur because he can exploit land that would not be usable by other crops.

Ideally, in fact, the pig can occupy mountainous areas covered by woods or pastures, areas that can also be planted with orchards so as to differentiate the pig’s diet and reduce production costs.

How much does it cost to raise a pig

Let’s clarify some concepts immediately, you probably don’t become rich by raising pigs, now in Italy between taxes, bureaucracy and food scams the life of the agricultural entrepreneur is not easy, however with the right precautions it is still possible to work as breeders.

The advice remains the same, to earn in agriculture you have to focus on quality, product traceability and care of the corporate image.

Many agricultural producers completely ignore the importance of storytelling, corporate communication, branding strategy and other important concepts for the development of a strong and recognizable brand.

That is why if you want to start a farm I suggest you read my ebook Azienda Agricola 2.0 where you find vital information to be successful in business.

Determining the cost for pig breeding is a very difficult, if not impossible, task, because it will depend on many factors that cannot be valid for all situations.

The first point to consider is the breed bred , in fact each animal has its specific index of food conversion that relates the food ingested with the increase in mass.

Some selected breeds grow much faster than the rustic breeds, however the latter are much more resistant than those to the others. Rustic breeds are also much more resistant, adaptable to the surrounding environment and more requested by the local market, making them actually more convenient.

Another aspect to consider to analyze the costs is the number of pigs bred : the larger the breeding, the less the cost of food that can be purchased in large lots will affect per unit cost.

Also important is the type of farming associated with the size and quality of the land.

High extensions of land cultivated with fruit, cereals and vegetables will reduce the cost of maintenance per unit as food production will be internal to the company with the achievement of cost reductions.

In addition to food, health costs such as visits by the veterinarian and any treatment and vaccines to which animals are subjected must be considered.

Here then is the concept of rusticity, low-growth autochthonous breeds are the same that will need less care because they are healthier than others.

It is also very important to consider the type of breeding to be started.

When we talk about pig farming, there are in fact two types of category, that of light pork and heavy pork.

The light pig is that animal which at the height of about 120 kilos will be destined to be eaten fresh, while the heavy one is bred up to a high weight of over 160 kg and slaughtered not before having reached 9 months of age (3 months more than the community pig).

Obviously the transformation into cured meats increases the costs, but also the profits being sold at a higher price compared to fresh meat.

An estimate prepared by the CRPA has calculated a cost per kilo of approximately 2.50 euros in intensive conditions, this number tends to decrease for extensive plants where the need for food drops due to the presence of the same in the environment (acorns, etc.).

How to start a pig farm in the wild

The first tip for the aspiring breeder is to start his own business in an amateur way and then specialize and increase production if necessary.

The reasons are not only practical and economic, but also moral.

Managing live animals for work involves a whole series of beautiful sacrifices on paper, but potentially difficult in reality.

The breeder does not know Sunday, August and Christmas, I hope you know this. Animals must be kept and checked 365 days a year.

A good choice could be to start the business in company with a friend or colleague to dampen the personal and financial commitment in the company and manage the work.

In addition to personal reasons, it is important to start small because during the first cycles we learn those fundamental notions for production.

There is no book or course that can in fact replace direct experience.

Having said that, we will move on to the practical part that will start from the choice of the suitable terrain.

If possible, an oak wood is the best choice for the presence of acorns, the favorite food par excellence.

The acorn is the main food for pigs , not by chance that in Spain the most sought-after breeds are fed exclusively on acorns making the hams reach impressive costs.

The oak forest can be associated with pastures and orchards where the pig is free to roam and search for food.

An exemplary case is the semi-wild breeding of the Porc farm at the time which with the direct testimony of the founders shows us that all these notions are applicable to reality.

In planning, pay attention to the structures and related costs. Every animal needs minimal surface and shelter for the night, moreover the ground will have to be fenced to avoid robbery and attacks by predators like wolves.

Bureaucracy for pig farms

In Italy, domestic pig breeding is subjected to a strict series of rules, many of which are created at European level, which have the duty to guarantee the traceability, healthiness, safety and hygiene of production, as well as the welfare of the animals raised. , both during actual breeding and during transport and slaughter.

This is a rather remarkable regulatory apparatus where the penalties are high and the controls are strict and repeated over time to guarantee the consumer.

Unfortunately this does not always happen, the scandalous cases happen, but we must take note of the rules and implement them.

If you want to start in an amateur way (as recommended by me and many others), you need to know that you don’t need particular permits, you will only have to report to the authorities the beginning of the family activity.

Those who intend to raise pigs on their own land must register with the Animal Service of the competent local ASL within 20 days of the arrival of the animals, which must not be more than 4 pigs per year.

Always from the competent ASL you will receive the list of obligations to perform and health checks before slaughter that can take place both at home and in specialized structures.

Breeding pigs: final considerations

In this short article I hope I have put you on the right path to your dream.

Like all life projects, nothing is easy, but neither is it impossible.

In your path you will always find people who will tell you to give up, to let go, but in reality they are not talking to you, but to themselves because they have not had the courage to pursue their dreams.

Fighting for one’s dreams is difficult, one risks failing, and the human mind is afraid of failure. Leaving your comfort zone and abandoning all certainties is a process that only a few have the courage to go through.

It’s up to you to decide which side to take.

I want to greet you with this video which I hope you enjoy.