ECHOcommunity Conversations

Pig feed options in the tropics

My name is Billy Arthur and I am the new Tropical lowlands intern here at ECHO Florida and I’m looking to see what kinds of sustainable pig feed options being used in the tropics. Here on the farm I’m looking to start a small trial of the viability of different silage options for pig feed, so if any of y’all have any experience with that I would love to hear what is working out on the field.

I’m also interested to see if anybody is using pigs in different or unique ways that we might be able to try out here on the farm.


Welcome to ECHO Billy.

In Cuba a saw them feeding the pigs with acorns and molasses which is very interesting to say the least.

However when I ate the meat, it was very tasty.

If come across anything else, I will be sure to let you know.

Be blessed,

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Hi Billy. I would like to work with you as you find and share solutions. We are just getting started with our farm in the tropics ( Bataan Philippines, MountainAir.Farm) and we have a few pigs. Currently a high percentage of their feed is bought on the local market of which a high percentage is corn and soy and since they are likely loaded with glyphosate… I want to eliminate both. Buying feed also makes for expensive meat. My biggest objective is to raise healthy meat for our consumption… first with standard local hogs, then later with Berkshire hogs. Here are some things we are doing or have plans to do:

  • When we have shredded coconut meat (copra) that has been juiced to remove the milk, this… along with the coconut water, is fed to the pigs. I will see if we can also buy this cheaply at the local market.
  • We have several rice millers close by, I will inquire about buying rice bran. In the coming years, I am also planning to grow rice… so this could be a byproduct.
  • I am planning to start growing malungay (moringa) this season to be used as feed for the pigs, goats and chickens. I can’t find much about this online.
  • I am planning to start growing lab lab this season to be used as feed for the pigs, goats and chickens.

We are also planning to attend the conference next fall in Florida… so maybe will see you there.

Ronny Mauldin

For some older research I did see:

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Hello Billy, the Beersheba farm has very good pig raising system. They are in Senegal. They are using a korean method for pig raising.
You can contact Noah Elhardt

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Thanks for asking the question, Billy. Please help me watch for great additions to our ECHOcommunity collection to benefit other network members. I really appreciate the recommendations made through Conversations.

Hello Ronny,

Thanks for your information! I have some coconut growing in my area of the farm, maybe I can find some kind of information on incorporating copra meal for pig feed.

Do you have access to banana stalks as well? One of the resources that I am going to try to do more research on is different types of banana stalk silage. The one that we currently have been using has rice bran mixed in with it to up the protein content of the silage.

We have a few bananas on the farm that were there when we bought it… I will look more into using it for silage. I plan to have both mid-size bananas and plantain for family consumption. Just asked my wife about this and she said only certain kinds of bananas can be used for pig silage… so I will research more.

Found this article on raising pigs with Moringa (Malungay is local name)

Says you can use up to 100% moringa and that it takes 30 trees for one pig. These trees grow fast, can be closely spaced since the foliage is being cropped. Under/around the trees, I plan to grow Lab Lab.
This sounds like the fastest way to for me to grow my own pig food. This can also be fed to goats and chickens… and even Billy… ha.

My guess is that if you feed the pigs this way, you will get healthier meat… and feed goats with this and get healthier milk.

This is going to become a high priority project for me.



Hi Billy,

We’re feeding our pigs out here with our own on-farm banana stem silage, it’s definitely cheaper to make per kg of feed. We still have to mix in corn meal, rice bran, fish meal, and some other things to bump up the protein, but definitely cheaper than commercial feed. The challenge is not necessarily whether or not you can bring a pig up to market weight using the banana silage, but rather, can you do it in a timely enough manner to be profitable. I encourage you to look at the economic side, not just the weight gain alone. Let me know if you have any questions or need any help setting up a small research experiment.



Hi. I have a question about pig feed. Is plantain stems can be used as silage for pig feed? If yes, how do prepare the silage?
I am Weslet Vildort. I am a member of Planting Life Haiti Foundation. As a field operation manager, I am looking for ways to improve food production in Haiti, especially in Désarmes, which is a small area in the Artibonite province. Brian lived there. We have about 4 ha with plantains. We are working on a small pig farm project as a way to provide more organic matter to build vegetable gardens. I would love to know how we can prepare the silage with plantain stems. That way, cost of feeds would go down and and we will have access to the organic matter faster.
I would be please to hear from you all. Thank you for helping us to find ways to increase food production and eventually we can fight against food insecurity.
Weslet Vildort


HI Weslet,

It’s great to hear from you.

I found this paper in which plantains are mentioned briefly. I would think that they can be used similarly to bananas stocks. Feedipedia does have them listed, but only as fresh stock (not fermented). Does anyone else have experience using plantain for wet silage?

I have tried many different mixtures and recipes for our banana stock silage over the years. For a baseline feed, we found success with the following procedure (from Natural Farming resources provided by Rick Burnette).
1.Remove leaves and roots from banana stock and any outer leaves that are brown from drying out or rotting. (These are not good ingredients for the feed as the leaves do not break down quickly and the dead or dying material spoil the feed.)
2. Chop the banana stock up as small as possible. We use a banana chopper. Machetes work well, but take time.
3. In a clean area (for example, on a tarp), mix together 10 kg banana stock, 0.4 kg molasses (or any sugar-supply), and 0.01 kg of salt. This is the same as 4% of the weight of the banana stock in molasses and 1% of the banana stock weight in salt. The salt helps pull the water out of the banana stock to make an anaerobic environment and the molasses provides a starter food for the bacteria who help break down the banana stock so that pigs can digest it easily. You can also add a little EM or IMO at this stage to help the silage be ready faster.
4. Pack a sealed container with the mixture, making sure to press it down well as you fill the container. There should be a covering of water over the top of the mixture in the container by the end.
5. Seal it with a bag filled with water (to keep out oxygen) or a plastic bag with a rock on the top to keep all banana stock submerged.

Depending on temperature and how much sugar you put in, the silage will be ready in 5-9 days. Again, depending on temperature and how well you keep oxygen away from the silage, it can last anywhere from 1-3 weeks from my experience.

There are many different recipes out there and I would be happy to hear others. We also add rice bran to ours now (at the mixing stage) and are looking into what other ingredients to add to boost protein content.


Thank you very much for the answer. I will see how I can transform the plantain stocks into feeds. That can change the income of the pig program. Thank you again for your willingness to share your knowledge findings.


Hello Billy, Here is some of our data base information for Pigs in the tropics. Hope this helps.
Howard Story
Permaculture Institute AsiaNon conventional Feeding of Pigs.pdf (1.5 MB)

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Hello Billy, Here is some of our data base information for Pigs in the tropics. Hope this helps.
Howard Story
Permaculture Institute Asia
Alternative Feeds for Pigs.pdf (7.9 KB)

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Hello Billy, Here is some of our data base information for Pigs in the tropics. Hope this helps.
Howard Story
Permaculture Institute Asia
Non_Conventional_feed_resources_for_Pigs.pdf (904.4 KB)

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Moringa is perhaps the most neglected plant for animal feed, it can provide a large portion of protein requirements for chickens and pigs and sheep and goats. It is a complete protein- and ideal for humans as well. Grow the trees big before trimming and only trim the outer branches using a tree trimming pole, (the kind with a pull rope) and it will produce heavily. Plant more than you think you need, one tree per pig, and it will be ready for trimming in a year. Drought resistant, salt resistant, can thrive in limestone soils and acid soils both, but not sure about cold resistant.

We grow the trees really big- and start trimming when 20 cm diameter, but others seem to plant close and trim much earlier, so the trees stay small.

Below is the info ECHO sent me years ago regarding pig and poultry production. It would be helpful if ECHO personnel could identify exactly what medicines backyard pig farmers in extreme poverty should have available

Technical details on poultry production can be found in the paper by JP Bishop (see “Chickens: Backyard Production in the Human Tropics”, available from ECHO, 17430 Durrance Road, N. Ft. Myers, FL, 8pp). In particular, the following four preventive practices, given every three months, will eliminate most health problems in poultry flocks:

  1. Vaccination for Newcastle disease
  2. Deworming for roundworms and tapeworms
  3. Dusting under wings for irritating external parasites such as lice
  4. Treatment for chronic respiratory disease to increase production.


Rick Burnette and Jamlong Pawkham

Introduction People in the uplands of the Golden Triangle of upper Southeast Asia have always raised pigs for food, income and religious ceremonies as well. When the hills and valleys of the region were less populated, there were numerous wild vegetables and greens with which to feed village pigs. Most farm families grew adequate amounts of rice, corn and sorghum with which to feed their pigs as well.

However, overpopulation has made natural feeds more difficult to find. There is also less land available on which to grow pig feed, or even food for humans. Also, more swine diseases are found in the region. However, pigs continue to be an important commodity for the farmers in the region, although raising them has become more difficult in many ways.

As a result, upland pig farmers must pay more attention to adequate housing, feeds and health care, in addition to other aspects of managing backyard pig production systems. This publication’s objective is to provide basic information needed for upland farm families to successfully raise pigs for food and profit.

Advantages and disadvantages of Backyard Pig Production The advantages of village backyard production of pigs in the Golden Triangle region include:  production of natural fertilizer (manure)  production of meat and extra income for the family  require small areas for production  pigs are adaptable to a wide variety of locally available feeds  can produce large litters of offspring (compared to large livestock such as cows or buffaloes)  quick to breed  can be raised for market in a relatively short amount of time

However, there are problems associated with raising pigs in village backyards as well, including:  pigs can be dirty and smelly  some societies and individuals are prohibited from raising or eating pork  prone to disease and parasites  may compete with people for food or space to grow food

Housing for Backyard Pig Production Pigs raised in upland villages often have inadequate shelter. For various reasons, many pigs are allowed to run free with the risk of being injured, killed or stolen. Unrestrained
pigs increase poor sanitation in villages, contribute to the loss of personal property and damage home gardens.

Housing for backyard pig production should provide adequate comfort for pigs as well as to maximize pig production. Such housing should offer:

 adequate protection from the elements (rain, sun, wind, etc.)  adequate dryness for good sanitation and health  appropriate areas to provide food and water  adequate space for each pig  effective means of removing waste

To facilitate the cleaning of pigpens as well as to enable drainage of wastes away from pens, backyard pigpens should be located on a slight slope and near an adequate source of water.

A solid floor constructed of cement is safe for pig’s feet (no dangerous cracks) and can help facilitate cleaning and prevent pigs from digging up the base of the pen. An adequate space for housing either one boar or a sow or to raise litters of small pigs is approximately 9 square meters.

Additionally, a pigpen should have good roofing that will provide animals protection from rain, direct sunlight and the cold. Adequate walls are needed to protect and confine animals, as well as to block cold winds.

In pigpens, separate troughs are needed to provide food and water. These troughs, ideally made of wood or concrete, should be watertight in order to prevent liquids from leaking on the pen floor. Troughs should also be heavy enough to prevent pigs from tipping them over.

Feeds and Feeding Successful production of pigs depends heavily upon good diets. Often the primary feed for village pigs is boiled banana stalks, the leaves of wild Elephant’s Ear (Colocasia sp.) or Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia paprifera) with perhaps a little rice bran. Although the food value of these wild feeds varies, by themselves such feeds are not adequate for productive growth and development in pigs.

Farmers must pay attention to the types of foods they are offering to their pigs. Some knowledge of the major food groups will be very helpful in enabling farmers to mix feed that will maximize village pig production. The major groups of essential nutrients for pigs (and other animals) are:  Energy foods (carbohydrates and fats)  Proteins  Minerals  Vitamins
 Water

Concerning carbohydrates, some energy food sources available in most villages in the Golden Triangle region include:  rice and rice bran - good food source  corn - excellent if ground or crushed  sorghum - a good to excellent food source, almost as much feeding value as corn  cassava root - good if dried and cooked correctly, otherwise poisonous  sweet potato roots - good if not the sole carbohydrate source  taro roots - good if not the sole carbohydrate source  ripe fruits (papaya, banana, etc.) - satisfactory for up to 1/3 of diet  cull vegetables - satisfactory; should be used to extend the diet only  banana stalks - satisfactory; should be used to extend the diet only  kitchen waste - satisfactory if cooked for at least 30 minutes  young, green forages (wild greens, etc.) - satisfactory; a good source of vitamins for animals raised in pens

Regarding protein in the pig’s diet, some locally available protein food sources include:  Rice bean, black bean, lablab bean, mung bean (protein approximately 23%) - good protein source; should be cooked (steamed, boiled or roasted)  Soybean - an excellent protein source (protein 40-44%); must be cooked  Pigeon pea - a good protein source (protein 20%); should be cooked  Young, green forages such as tree leaves (Moringa, Paper Mulberry, Leucaena, etc.), sweet potato stems and leaves and wild greens are often a good source of protein; can contain up to 20-23% protein  kitchen waste - satisfactory protein source

Some locally available mineral sources include:  Table salt - include as .05% of total diet (about 1 tablespoon mixed into each batch of feed prepared in a standard 20-liter vegetable oil used by many hilltribe farmers).  Mollusk Shells - Varieties found along streams can be gathered, boiled and ground into powder to be mixed into feeds at .05% (about 1-2 tablespoons per each batch of feed prepared in a standard 20-liter vegetable oil container).

It must not be forgotten that water is a major nutrient as well. However, village pigs generally do not consume enough water since almost all the water that many pigs receive is what is provided once or twice a day in the cooked feed. For the health of the pig, as well as to maximize pig production, water should be made available to pigs at all times.

The following includes some suggested balanced rations for the backyard production of pigs using locally available food sources. The suggested rations are in 12 kg portions, approximately the amount of raw ingredients that can be prepared in the 20-liter vegetable oil tins that are commonly used for cooking pig feed in the Golden Triangle region. Daily rations prepared in tins are usually halved between morning and evening
feedings. Even though fuel wood is increasingly difficult to find, many upland farmers still prefer cooking as an efficient way of preparing pig feed, particularly any ration that includes kitchen wastes and hard, less-digestible grains such as corn and dried beans.

Ration 1 - (Ingredients should be cooked together. However, greens may also be fed fresh) Ingredients % of Ration Amt./12 kg Portion  Cracked or ground corn 60-75 7.2-9.0 kg  dried beans 25-30 3.0-3.6 kg  greens/leaves of high protein 10-15 1.2-1.8 kg plants (moringa, beans, etc.)  salt .05 1 tablespoon

Ration 2 - (Ingredients should be cooked together. However, it is advisable to also include fresh greens for additional vitamins and nutrients) Ingredients % of Ration Amt./12 kg Portion  banana stalks and/or papaya 75 9.0 kg fruit and/or taro root  dried beans 15 1.8 kg  rice bran 10 1.2 kg  salt .05 1 tablespoon

Ration 3 – (Ingredients should be cooked together. However, greens may also be fed fresh) Ingredients % of Ration Amount/12 kg Portion  rice bran 33 3.96 kg  greens/bean vines or banana 33 3.96 kg stalks  dried beans 33 3.96 kg  salt .05 1 tablespoon  ground mollusk shells .05 1 tablespoon

Ration 4 – (ingredients should be cooked together) Ingredients % of Ration Amount/12 kg Portion  potato, sweet potato or taro root 70 8.4 kg  dried beans 30 3.6 kg  salt .05 1 tablespoon  ground mollusk shells .05 1 tablespoon

Ration 5 – (ingredients should be cooked together) Ingredients % of Ration Amount/12 kg Portion  cracked or ground corn 60-75 7.2-9.0 kg  dried beans 25-40 3.0-4.8 kg  salt .05 1 tablespoon  ground mollusk shells .05 1 tablespoon

Ration 6 – (ingredients should be cooked together) Ingredients % of Ration Amount/12 kg Portion  cracked or ground corn 50 6.0 kg  rice bran 20 2.4 kg  dried beans 30 3.6 kg  salt .05 1 tablespoon  ground mollusk shells .05 1 tablespoon

Premixing Feeds For convenience, the ingredients of some of the previously listed rations (particularly Ration 6 which is the best balanced) can be prepared and premixed proportionately in fairly large quantities (e.g. 100 kg batches). The corn should be ground finely, but cooking will not be necessary for either the ground corn or rice bran. However, to make beans digestible for pigs, it will be very important to roast, boil or steam the beans (allow the beans to dry thoroughly before grinding them finely). Additionally, if mollusk shells are included in the ration, they must be boiled to sterilize the shells, allowed to dry thoroughly and ground finely as well. As stated before, only .05% each of mollusk shells and salt will be needed in mixed feeds. All ingredients should be dried and mixed thoroughly before being stored in waterproof containers safely away from animals and pests. The premixed feeds can be fed dry to the pigs

Amounts of dry, mixed feeds or cooked rations to provide to pigs each day The following are suggested amounts of feed to provide pigs in backyard production systems:  Small pigs up to 2 months of age – a 2 kg batch of dry, mixed rations will feed approximately 5-6 pigs of this age per day; one vegetable oil can full of cooked rations will feed approximately 8-10 pigs.  Young pigs from 2-3 months of age – a 2 kg batch of dry, mixed rations will feed 3 pigs of this age per day; one vegetable oil can full of cooked rations will feed approximately 3-5 pigs.  Young pigs from 3-4 months of age - a 3 kg batch of dry, mixed rations will feed 2 pigs of this age per day; one vegetable can full of cooked rations will feed approximately 2-3 pigs.  Pigs older than 4-5 months – one 2.5 to 3 kg batch of dry, mixed rations will feed one pig of this age per day; one vegetable can full of cooked rations will feed approximately 1-2 pigs.

Pig Health Inexpensive Disease Control Apart from administering medicines, inexpensive control of pig diseases in the tropics includes:  Quarantine of infected animals and premises where disease occurs  Proper disposal of severely infected and exposed pigs by slaughter and burial or burning  Maintaining cleanliness of pens, equipment, including regular disinfection

Common pig diseases and their treatments

Diseases Treatment Respiratory Infections Administer appropriate antibiotics (e.g., Penomycin – (pneumonia) injected according to directions). Younger pigs are at greater risk and require immediate care.

Diarrhea/Dysentery Administer appropriate antibiotic (e.g., Sulfamet – mix (scours) with water) according to directions.

Infected wounds Wounds should be treated immediately to prevent debilitating and/or life-threatening infections. One antibiotic is Negasunt that can be applied to directly to the wound according to directions.

Basic program for the prevention/treatment of common pig diseases

 Diseases    Treatment Cholera Begin administering Cholera vaccine (e.g., injection of PORKIRIN) when pigs are two-months old and repeat vaccinations every six months thereafter. 

Internal Parasites Apply an appropriate medication such as Pisoy along with food according to directions beginning when pigs are threemonths old and repeat every six months.

Other Pig Health Concerns

Medications Method of Treatment Iron Injections Injected when baby pigs are three days old and then again at 10 days (e.g., IRONDEX) to prevent anemia

Vitamin Injections Injected when baby pigs are one week old to help them gain strength. Also injected into mother pigs just after they have given birth.


Pig Breeding and Other Basic Management Male pigs reach puberty at approximately 5 months but it is not recommended that they be used for breeding until the age of 7 months.

Females reach puberty at about 7 months. Thereafter, they will show symptoms of being in heat every 21 days, staying in heat about 3 days at a time. The signs of a female in heat include:  Restlessness  Swelling of the sexual organs  Accepting the boar

While a female is in heat, it is best to breed the female 2 times, approximately 10-12 hours apart. The cooler hours of the day (early morning or early evening) are recommended for breeding.

The gestation period (pregnancy) lasts for 114 days (approximately 4 months) with 1-3 day variation. It is very important for farmers to keep good records of the dates that female pigs were bred in order to calculate the days that the pigs will give birth. In preparation for the birth of the piglets, and in order to reduce the risk of infection and the loss of young pigs, it is very important to clean and disinfect the pigpen (use a 1:10 bleach solution) thoroughly just prior to the female giving birth.

Farrowing (labor) may last approximately 4 hours. About one to two days before farrowing, females may exhibit the following characteristics:  Milk appears in teats  Nervousness  Restlessness  Attempt to make a bed out of dried vegetation

It is recommended that farmers be present to assist the female and young pigs during farrowing. Farmers should always wash and disinfect their hands before handling newborn pigs.

For newborn pigs the following management practices are advised:  Continue to maintain the cleanliness of the pigpen. Manure and other wastes should be removed daily.  Administer vitamin and iron injection within the first week as recommended.  Select young males may be castrated between the age of 1-3 weeks.  If more piglets are born than the mother can adequately nurse, begin bottle feeding a determined number of piglets with an appropriate milk replacement according to directions. These piglets must be raised separately from the other young pigs that the mother will continue to nurse. A warm place, such as a box with straw, and if possible, a heat lamp, will be needed to keep artificially nursed piglets warm, especially during the cold season.

Piglets should be weaned between the ages of 4-6 weeks of age. When only one week old, the piglets should be introduced to mixed feeds, ideally separately from the sow. To prevent iron deficiency (anemia) in small pigs between the ages of 2 to 4 weeks, it is recommended to occasionally add a shovel-full of soil into the pen. To minimize the chance of infecting pigs with parasites and diseases, be sure to obtain soil from sites not inhabited by other pigs. A daily supply of fresh greens would also be helpful. After weaning, it will be very important to feed appropriate amounts of mixed, cooked or dry feeds to young pigs separately from larger, more aggressive pigs. Also, water should be available to pigs at all times.

Upon weaning her young, depending on the health and condition of the sow, a female pig can typically be rebred anytime from 1 week to 1 month or more after weaning.

Record Keeping Farmers are very busy with numerous chores and duties and often do not have time for extra work. However, to better manage backyard pig production and potentially increase the returns from the pig operation, it is recommended that farmers keep a few basic records.

 If known, record the birth date of each breeding pig  Record the date that each sow was bred and calculate the expected farrowing date as well.  For each litter, record the number of pigs born alive, dead and the number of male and female pigs born as well.  Record the birth date of each litter of piglets to better manage the timing vaccination program and the administering of other medicines and supplements for the young pigs.  Record the dates of administering vaccines, medications for internal parasites as well as other medicines and supplements.  To check the efficiency of the backyard pig production system, record the cost of feeds, medicines, pig pen building materials and equipment over a year and compare against the income received from raising pigs over that time period.  Record the types and amounts of feeds being used over different periods of time and compare the growth and performance of pigs with the variation in feeding.

Conclusion Given adequate housing, feeding and health care in combination with good herd management related to the breeding of pigs, backyard pig production in the Golden Triangle region can boost household incomes as well as meat for the family.

For more information about backyard pig production, contact the:

Upland Holistic Development Project P.O. Box 43 Fang 50110, Chiang Mai Thailand Tel: 053-473-221 e-mail: web site:

References Cited: Eusebio, J.A., 1980. Pig Production in the Tropics. Intermediate Tropical Agriculture Series. Longman Group Limited. Essex, England.

Goodman, D.E. 1994. Raising Healthy Pigs Under Primitive Conditions. Third Edition (Revised). Christian Veterinary Missions-World Concern. Seattle, Washingon.

Holness, David H. Pigs. 1991. The Tropical Agriculturist. Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation, Wageningen, The Netherlands and Macmillan Education LTD, London.

Muys, D, Westenbrink, G and Meinderts, J. 1996. Pig Husbandry in the Tropics, Agrodok-series No. 4., Agromisa, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Have you heard of the book, “Unsere Kleine Tropen Farm” ? German author works with an NGO farm in the Philippines. I’m reading it now and he’s going into the details of raising pigs. Here’s the link for the book:

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there’s an English edition.
Here’s their ratios for Pig feed:
Mais gemahlen…37,0% Reiskleie…23,0% Kokosextraktionsschrot 19,0% Bruchreis…12,0% Fischmehl… 4,0% Sojaextr.schrot 44 RP… 4,0% Melasse… 1,0%

Translating for you it’s:
Ground maize -37%
Rice bran 23%
Kokonut shredded leftovers 19%
Broken rice hulls 12%
Fish meal 4%
Soy bran 4%
Molasses 4%

Which gives the following nutritional content:
Energie / Carbohydrate 12,1
Protein (RP) 160
Fiber 80
Kalzium 6
Phosphor 8,5

Binikowski, Jochen. Unsere kleine Tropen Farm - Ideen gegen Hunger und Armut in der Dritten Welt (German Edition) . Kindle Edition.


When I registered to Echocommunity I was interested only in attending conferences and training programs. But now I have a different perspective. I am so happy. I have learned a lot. Everybody is willy to share knowledge. Thank you Echo
Hello Billy I am very interested in your project Pig farming is very profitable but one of the challenges is feeding. In my community the feeds use are not good. We turned to have pigs with a lot of fat. I hope to learn more about pig farming from you. Especially local techiques that will reduce the fat.

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