Steady, solid progress with free-range pigs
Farmer's Weekly|April 2, 2021
Start small and grow with the results. This is the principle followed by young pig farmer Jason Buys of Ocean View piggery in the Western Cape. Jeandré van der Walt visited him to learn more about his free-range pig operation and how he plans to grow his farming business.
Jeandré van der Walt

Jason Buys, who farms pigs on 10ha of the farm Elandsvlei near Arniston in the Western Cape, started out with three Duroc gilts almost three years ago.

“I don’t have much of a farming background, but from a young age I dreamt of becoming a pig farmer. When the opportunity presented itself in 2018, my passion for farming and animals led me to start Ocean View Piggery,” explains Buys. He rented land on Elandsvlei from Danie Terblanche, who also rents land on the farm, and bought his first gilts with a loan from his father-in-law.

“I started small, so that I could determine the possible challenges along the way, and slowly kept the ball rolling,” says Buys. He began by borrowing a boar from a friend. Later, he bought three additional gilts, seven weaner pigs and a Large White boar, and began crossbreeding the Large White and the Durocs. Today, this 26-year-old’s operation comprises 12 breeding sows and one boar, and he slaughters at least 10 pigs every two weeks at the local abattoir.

NATURAL EXISTENCE

Buys admits that he has had a bit of a “trial-anderror” journey. He recalls that, in the beginning, he used drinking troughs traditionally meant for sheep as water points for the pigs.

“It didn’t work at all. The pigs climbed inside the troughs and dirtied the water, while others broke the troughs. But because I started so small, the financial implications of this decision weren’t too bad.” Since then, he has acquired water nipples, which are far more efficient.

“From the word go, I knew I wanted my pigs to have as natural an existence as possible. I’d like my operation to be 100% free range, and I’m systematically working towards that goal.”

At Ocean View Piggery, the sows are not placed in farrowing pens, but allowed to do free-range farrowing. “The sows have incredible mothering abilities. Before giving birth, they start building nests from grass, twigs and any other material to provide secure areas for their litters,” says Buys.

In addition, he does not cut the piglets’ teeth, dock their tails or castrate the males.

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