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Photos by Christopher Serju

Published:Wednesday | March 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The new-born litter of 10 piglets and mother, 'Sandy'.

Raising pigs a rewarding profession

Christopher Serju

Gleaner writer

SOMERSET, St Thomas:

THE COLD night wind coming off the river was giving Marsha Graham a hard time as she struggled to keep warm, but she was determined to stay the course. Finally, some time after 10, the tired Somerset resident was able to leave the pigpen, secure in the knowledge that the 10 new-born piglets and the sow were okay. Though exhausted, Graham was happy and grateful to the friend who had stayed to help. The new additions meant that with the nine weanlings, three breeding sows, a boar and shoat (young pig that has just been weaned) her foray into pig rearing has begun to pay off - slowly but surely, she explained.

For Graham, who also raises broiler chickens in batches of 100, the pigs are a long-term investment, with the aim of building the herd to the point where she will be able to have pigs on offer for sale throughout the year.

"It takes a lot of work but, in the long run, it can pay off, but you have to spend a lot of time," she told The Gleaner. Everyday work involves feeding the animals, keeping the pens clean and ensuring that they stay healthy. The rising cost of feed is cause for concern.

financial rewards

As she recalled the discomfort of the biting breeze, despite the many layers of clothing she was wearing on the night, the piglets were born, the 30-odd year-old lamented that so many young people are unwilling to do this kind of work, but want to enjoy the financial rewards.

"A lot of them, if you ask them to come and help you, they tell you them can't bother with that, but still them want a money from you," Graham remarked. Even though she did not originally realise how much work was involved in pig rearing, she is now a happy pig farmer and welcomes the opportunity it can afford her to realise economic independence. For that, she is grateful for the European Union/Christian AID's Strengthening Capacities for Sustainable Livelihoods project under which she received two sows.

Graham recalled that it was on June 20, 2009 that she received the start-up animals and still enjoys a good relationship with one of the pigs she has named 'Sandy' Graham.

Marsha Graham stays in touch with two of her weanlings.