Genetic Resource Base, Phenotypic Characters and Herd Dynamics of Indigenous Pigs in a Semi-arid Smallholder Farming Area of Zimbabwe
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The objective of the study was to determine the genetic resource base, phenotypic characters and breeding systems of local pigs in Chirumanzu district, Zimbabwe. A survey, measurement of phenotypic traits of local pigs and a longitudinal study of pig household herds in randomly selected villages of Chinyuni ward were used as study instruments. Women owned 89.9% of the household pig herds. Local breeds contributed 92.2% of the sample population with crossbreeds and exotics (Landrace and Large white) contributing 4.5% and 1.8% respectively. The following traits were selected for; body size (94.3%), body conformation (24.4%) and short snout (5.1%) in boars, and linear type traits (58.2%), litter size (32.1%), short snouts (6.4%) and litter index (9.1%) in females. The percentages represent the number of households who selected for each trait. Litter index was 1.5 ± 0.50, litter size was 7.7 ± 1.83 and sows were culled at parity of 2 ± 1.52. Fore-quarters: hind-quarters ratio were 1.0 ± 0.02 for boars and 1.0 ± 0.01 for sows. It was found that 46.2 % of the pigs had 8 teats and, 94.9 % were lop eared. Pigs were black (56.4 %), brown (26.6 %) and 17.9 % black and brown. Village had an effect on household herd size (P = 0.002) while month (P = 0.213) and access to irrigation (P = 0.066) did not. Village had an effect on pig production potential (PPP) (P = 0.01). Access to irrigation affected PPP (P = 0.028) but had no effect on pig production efficiency (PPE) (P = 0.532). Household PPE was however affected by the interaction of village and month (P = 0.043). Local pigs in the area are a result of both natural and deliberate selection hence their phenotypic characters may differ with those of other local pigs. Pig herd size, production potential and production efficiency were dynamic and affected by many factors.