In December 2018 we launched the Uphill Farm Appeal, to fund a programme of hands-on agricultural experiences for the pupils (and staff) that would, in time, become a source of additional income for the school.
This is an ongoing project that began with vegetable growing around the school grounds in odd corners, raised beds and maize-sack grow-bag. We are now delighted to announce that the Uphill farm project has taken a new step – Uphill now has a piggery!
Raising pigs is a popular income-generating venture in rural Uganda – it is common to see free-range piglets foraging in villages and alongside rural roads. Pigs are raised for various reasons – to provide a source of meat for the family to eat or, more commonly, as a source of piglets to sell on to other small-holders.
We have been researching the options for starting a small piggery or perhaps raising chickens at Uphill for the past two years. It was important to take the time to do this – livestock operations need a lot more planning than growing vegetables!
With a detailed budget prepared for a small scale piggery, it was agreed that the ‘quiet’ time during COVID lockdown would be a good time to get started. As with all the Uphill projects, once the money had been sent over, the Uphill Build Team got to work straight away…
Stage 1 – clearing and levelling the ground (3 July 2020)Stage 2 – up goes the wooden framework.
The building in the background is the house where some of the pupils stay in term time.
Stage 3 – almost finished! Stalls built, roof on, concrete floors installedStage 4 – finishing touches – robust food and water troughsStage 5 – 3 sows arrive.
Two are already expecting litters and the third will be put to boar soon
The pigs are being fed a combination of commercially produced pig mash and fresh greens. Pigs will eat a wide range of foods – they particularly like sweet potatoes and the leaves of wild yams, and these are being planted around the piggery building.
Pigs need a lot of water, which currently has to be carried up the hill from the school – a water harvesting system is being installed at the piggery next week, along with tool and food stores and somewhere for the pig ‘caretaker’ to sleep. The manure that is generated will be put to good use in the vegetable gardens – nothing will be wasted!
‘Pig yams’ growing under Matoke trees at one of the small family piggeries we visited in 2019
UPDATE OCTOBER 2020: Uphill has piglets!
Moriela gave birth to 10 piglets in late September2 weeks on, they are growing fast!Turaco had her litter in early October – at 2am, with half the the school staff in attendance!
Iguana, seen here at the end of her pregnancy, gave birth to 6 piglets in late November, bringing the Uphill piglet total up to 25. The staff are kept very busy looking after their new charges!Even the director takes his turn in the pig care rota!
UPDATE JANUARY 2021: The Piggery Expands
With so many young pigs to raise, a second pig house was needed – and fast! The school took the decision to sell 13 piglets to raise the money needed to do this. Once weaned, it is better for piglets to be housed in pairs, rather than in large groups.
A second pig house was built in December 2020 and 12 piglets are being fattened up for pork. The market for selling young piglets is poor at present, due to the COVID situation – local families do not have the money to buy and feed young pigs so an alternative plan is being followed. Every day is a learning day at Uphill!
The two pig houses are at right angles to one anotherA water harvesting system has been installed on the first pig house but pigs are very thirsty animals and more tanks are needed to keep them clean and hydrated!
One of the 3 Uphill sows has been mated again, but the other two are enjoying a wee rest and some time outdoors in the fresh air before being put ‘to work’ once more. This is Momma Turaco…
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2021: Disaster Strikes
As if dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic wasn’t enough, in November an outbreak of African Swine Fever virus progressively infected all of the pigs in the district, including the Uphill pigs. Spread by flies and by contact with infected animals, this virus is very hard to contain and no vaccination is available to treat or prevent disease. Despite the best efforts of the Uphill piggery team, all the pigs and piglets eventually died. None of the pigs in the district survived this outbreak.