11. Alternatives to imported compound feeds for growing pigs in solomon islands.
Trop. Agric. (Trinidad), 69, 2, 1992, pp. 141-143
The developing island nations of the Pacific region are often at a disadvantage as locally available feed resources are limited and technical expertise to facilitate their use may be lacking. Importation of feeds into these countries greatly increases the pig farmer's cash outlay and, in many cases, can render intensive pig-keeping a rather marginal activity.
The small-scale pig farmer has markedly different requirements from those of the intensive pig producer. As an alternative to the use of compound feeds, it may be possible to supply locally-produced protein concentrates to pig farmers operating under village conditions. These can supplement the low nutrient-dense energy feeds (e.g. root crops, fresh coconuts) that are widely available and allow levels of production not greatly below those of intensive pig producers. Such systems, based on sweet potato and cassava as the principal energy source have been evaluated experimentally with encouraging results.
Therefore an experiment was carried out to consider the use of locally available raw materials in the diets of fast-growing pigs either as a complete compound feed or as a protein concentrate to supplement low nutrient-dense energy feeds.
Three dietary treatments were tested in the experiment. An imported pig-grower diet was compared with an equivalent compound diet of local origin and a semi-intensive system in which low nutrient-dense energy feeds (cassava and coconut) were supplemented with a 50% crude protein concentrate designed to be fed at approximately 20% of dry matter intake.
An imported compound pig grower diet resulted in slower growth (P=0.075) and poorer feed conversion ratio (P=0.001) than a similar diet compounded from locally available raw materials. The economic advantages of the local compound feed were marked (P<0.001) with cost per kg of liveweight gain being little over one third (SI$1.36 vs SI$3.11) of that observed with the imported feed. An alternative system employing a combination of a locally-produced protein concentrate and fresh cassava and coconut resulted in slightly poorer growth rates than the compound feeds but was still competitive in economic terms. The use of concentrate, cassava and coconut did, however, result in fatter carcasses in terms of back-fat measured at the mid-back (P=0.005) and the loin (P=0.007).
The true value of any livestock feed is only revealed when the economic advantages associated with its use are taken into account. A feed which results in fast and efficient growth but at excessive cost may be just as unsuitable as a cheaper feed which satisfies few of the animal's requirements and results in poor growth rates. The most suitable feed will invariably lie between these two extremes.
From these results it seems likely that pig production using imported feed might become uneconomic if high labour and service costs are incurred.
The locally-produced compound diet which combined fast, efficient growth with low cost therefore resulted in the highest returns.
The costings discussed above are based on pigs produced for commercial sale. The economics of pig sales in or between villages are likely to differ somewhat because of generally lower and more variable prices.
Under these conditions, the benefits of intensification by improved nutrition using purchased feedstuffs may not always materialize. Before recommending the use of purchased feeds to any farmer with a pig project, extension workers should consider what reliable markets are available for animal products.
Concluding, it can be said that raw materials are available in Solomon Islands which ought to allow local production of compound pig feeds with several potential advantages: feed costs are dramatically reduced when local ingredients are used; the quality of local feed ingredients is more easily assured than that of imported feeds as more local control is possible and import substitution is of general benefit to Solomon Islands' economic development.
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