Investigation of animal health and husbandry practices in smallholder pig production systems in Timor-Leste

Alipio De Almeida, Luisa Olmo, Richard Copland, Robyn Alders, Jenny-Ann Toribio

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    Enhanced pig productivity on smallholder farms is recognised as a necessary strategy to enhance financial and food security in Timor-Leste where poverty and malnutrition are abundant. While poor pig health is recognised as a main constraint, information on pig herd health and management have not been thoroughly quantified. This study surveyed 120 pig owners (63 were female) and 352 of their pigs in Bacau and Bobonaro municipalities in 2018 to develop baseline information. Our analysis investigated three management systems among surveyed pig owners: confined management, characterised by permanent penning and/or tethering pigs (33.6%), semi-confined management (39.7%) and free-roaming management (27.7%). Free-roaming management was only observed in non-urban villages. Most inputs were limited across all management types with heavy reliance on cooked household scraps to feed pigs (84.7%), limited use of commercial feeds (5.1%), a lack of routine pen cleaning (73.8%), a lack of vaccination against classical swine fever (72.9%), limited use of para-veterinary services when pigs were sick (71.7%), and low treatment rates for pig skin diseases (10.3%) and intestinal parasites (8.7%). A high use of uncontrolled breeding (79.1%) was identified, accompanied by a limited knowledge of oestrus (20.7%) and gestation length (24.1%). Low output was observed with animals mainly sold when money is needed or when they were old. There was poor health with high piglet mortality rate (22.4–24.4%), moderate rates of current illness (22.4%), common occurrence of mites (12.2%), and high faecal presence of A. suum (29.0%), T. suis (10.2%), and S. ransomi (22.7%). To overcome the widespread constraints to productivity affecting all management systems, and to limit the impacts of highly infectious and often fatal African swine fever which was first reported in Timor-Leste pigs in September 2019, improved animal health and veterinary support, and education on pig management and suitable available nutrition sources are needed.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalVeterinary Parasitology
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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