The pig nursery is complete! The piglets and sows now have a clean and cool area to thrive and grow as they provide local farmers with yet another resource to wisely invest in their futures.
For the time being, five driven and excited farmers have been chosen to participate in the project. They will begin with raising 25 piglets from the best stock in a high-tech pig pen, using technical assistance to feed and care for the pigs as they grow. When they are of age, the pigs will be sold back to Amigos, who will sell them to a commercial pork company. This process ensures a steady business for the farmers, quality pork for consumers, and future investment capital to create a sustainable project for all involved.
In the first cycle of the project, the 25 pigs will create $600 in pure profit for the farmers. The next cycle of 50 pigs will produce double the profit, steadily increasing farmers’ income. As more pigs are produced, the opportunity grows for the project to reach more farmers.
The nursery at the Amigos Farm currently has 140 piglets, and we are waiting for the next 17 pregnant sows to give birth. On average, sows produce 12 piglets, but lately sows have been having up to 18 piglets in a litter. We expect to have over 200 piglets by mid-August!
On average, 96 piglets are being born each month, and as the number of sows continues to increase, so will our number of piglets! Housing the piglets and sows in the new nursery has reduced the new piglet mortality rate from 33% to 10%. This incredible improvement is due to better sanitation, decreased infections, and better living conditions. Providing ample living space helps the piglets avoid being crushed by the large mothers. Warming lamps encourage the babies to sleep in a safer area at night, close to the mother but not underneath her.
There are four male ‘breeders’ that help diversify the pig production. The use of these breeders and artificial insemination produces major benefits. In traditional breeding, the sows can be hurt because the males are so large, but using artificial insemination, the sows are not injured. The fertilization rate has increased drastically, from 40% to 85%! Amigos is a model cross-cultural development organization, and we are excited about the opportunity to teach other farmers about artificial insemination. Usually, a training like this would cost $80, but Amigos offers it for only $25.
Soy, bran, corn, peanuts, molasses, and salt are combined in a variety of different formulas to produce five different types of feed. Each type of feed is specifically designed based on their stage in life. The feed concentrates are natural and produced by the farmers in the project. We are in the process of obtaining new machines in order to combine these raw materials, produce feed in bulk, and sell it for profit. Now, about 66,000 pounds of feed is being produced at the farm.
Juney, a veterinarian, and Uriel, an agricultural engineer, are leading the charge in searching for ways to use the pig feces from the nursery for bio fermentation. This process will produce gas to burn instead of releasing it into the environment in the form of CO2.
The older pigs are now residing in giant pens filled with rice husks. This absorbent material absorbs the pig waste and keeps the pigs dry and disease free. It also eliminates odor and lasts 6 months before needing a change. The old husks are removed and used as fertilizer for the farmers’ plants and for plants in the 1 Manzana Project, completing a cycle that uses everything in a healthy and environmentally friendly manner.