Manila, Philippines

Ask Geri: Reader Queries on Piggery Business

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Hi Geri,
I just began investing with 12 heads. I am relying on my relatives and I also want to have knowledge about it. What will be the correct kind of feeds for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th month? 
Thank you so much in advance.  – Jed

I’ve tried this kind of business, starting with 10 piglets and also tried raising a sow. Unfortunately, I did not succeed. Maybe because I’m new in this venture? I incur losses or just break-even at best and I’m wondering why. 

May I get your thoughts on this please?   — Anonymous


Thank you for your comments. I suggest you also go through the following updates to hopefully shed some more light on your queries:

  1. Updates and Learnings on Piggery, Price and Profits 
  2. Mini-piggery Venture: SOLD!


Types of Feeds
From experience, they were given 3 types: Starter, Grower and Finisher, in that order. The timing to shift from one feed to another is not necessarily and strictly by number of months, more of an educated “guesstimate” by our relatives who were taking care of the piglets. But the shift is based on their perceived size and weight I suppose.
They’re quite familiar already so I just trusted them with the feeding and timing. The livestock farm where we bought the piglets might have been feeding the piglets some other feeds though (or purely breast milk?) from the moment the piglets were born until they were of selling age (2 months old).
Best to inquire with stores that sell feeds for more firsthand information or probably Google? 🙂
Rough Start?
First let me commend you for your bravery in getting started with a business, no matter how rough and probably discouraging your start was. In the second link I shared above, I shared how much were able to sell the piglets,  just a little over  break-even, probably like you.
I have yet to go back to the piggery business after the first try as I am still reconsidering my investment options (i.e. looking to diversify but in better yields). But given the previous results, which, admittedly, were less than spectacular, here are some questions I asked myself, which might help you in probing your own situation.
My approach was this: how can I lessen costs, or increase revenues, or preferably both?
Price of feeds were within expectations but the rate that the pigs were eating were more than expected. Also, a late realization was that some amount of feeds would have been saved if the pigpens had dedicated troughs for the feeds. The pigpens we used did not have any as such the feeds were just scattered on the floor every feeding time, and some get trampled upon by the pigs. Less waste, less cost. 
Another is on vitamins, as some of the piglets got sickly. Cost of these were not incorporated in our original projections. Some well-meaning relatives also mentioned that the piglets we got were quite expensive since they had imported / foreign lineage, and they were supposed to grow into relatively bigger and heavier pigs than the usual local ones. Not sure if they lived up to the billing though. 
Any other expenses, by relatives, by you, or overhead costs that might be killing your bottom line?
Seasonality affects the selling price of pork so you might want to check and/or adjust your rearing and selling cycle to coincide your selling during peak months. We were constraint to sell back then as our expenses were already catching up with projected revenues, and keeping them longer would have resulted to marginal returns, worse losses. Check whether your selling timing is in-sync and commensurate with your expenses (which you should monitor regularly). As mentioned above, since some piglets got sickly, their weight by the time we were supposed to sell them were below average, and coupled by lower than expected market price at that time, we were not able to maximize the revenues. Also, in hindsight, was thinking whether feeding the pigs with some farm produce (vegetables, crops etc) or lots of it could have boosted their weight at less cost compared to purely feeds.
Hope I was able to help you out. Don’t fall in love with a particular business but keep on trying and investing. Be determined but not stubborn, Cautious and wiser, but not idle.
My realization in agricultural business is that it can be risky in actuality even if in theory it looks as simple as buy, grow, sell. Lots of factors to consider such as favorable weather, market conditions, luck and connections, as well as cash flows since in agriculture, one must have ample cash flow to support the lean, dry and growing months. Mostly cash outflows. Then, when it’s time to sell, it really is time to sell whether at a loss. You can’t keep on holding on to your losses unlike in stocks where there are paper losses that may still be recovered in time. In agriculture, there are no paper losses, but actual losses. And only next cycles to try again and hopefully recover.
In agriculture, cash inflow rarely comes soon, oftentimes, albeit in lump sum, they come months or even years from the start of the investment. Frankly, it seems even tougher than investing in UITF and stock market in terms of unforeseen risks and cash flow requirements.

Goodluck in your investments.

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 Investments For Filipinos Piggery

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