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Submitted: December 17, 2020 | Approved: January 14, 2021 | Published: January 15, 2021

How to cite this article: Islam A, Trisha AA, Sardar MSA, Akbor M, Bhuyan AA, et al. Pig raising practices by unprivileged, ethnic people in Bangladesh. Insights Vet Sci. 2021; 5: 001-007.

DOI: 10.29328/journal.ivs.1001028


Copyright License: © 2021 Islam A, et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords: Swine; Pig raisers; Poverty; Zoonotic diseases

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Pig raising practices by unprivileged, ethnic people in Bangladesh

Ausraful Islam1*, Ashika Akbar Trisha2, Md. Safiul Ahad Sardar2, Mohammady Akbor3, Abdulla Al Mamun Bhuyan4, Md. Sazzad Hossain4, Md. Ashraf Zaman Faruk4, Sheikh Muhammad Khaled Sharif5, Zannatun Nahar5 and Anisuzzaman6

1Programme for Emerging Infections, Infectious Diseases Division, ICDDR, Bangladesh
2Department of Livestock Services, Government of Bangladesh, Bangladesh
3The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
4Department of Veterinary Science, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi, Bangladesh
5Food and Agriculture Organization, Bangladesh, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Bangladesh
6Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, Bangladesh

*Address for Correspondence: Dr. Ausraful Islam, Room 3029, IPH Building, 68, Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmed Sarani, Mohakhali, Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh, Tel: +8801716193200; Email:;

We interviewed 207 pig raisers from seven different districts of Bangladesh to explore their practices related to their pig farming. We used structured questionnaires to interview the pig raisers and used descriptive statistics for analysis. Most of the pig raisers (54%) were illiterate. 50% (104) of them had a monthly income of less than 10000 BDT and 60% (124) were landless. Most of the pig raisers (92%, 191) were rearing local breed and 67% of them were practicing semi-scavenging system. As feed source 55% (114) pig owners used kitchen waste and 54% (111) used rice husk. The pig raisers mentioned different types of challenges such as social problem (16%), disease (50%), less profitable (20%) and unavailability of feed (19%). In our study, we found that 31% respondents visited veterinarians, 28% visited quack and 21% do not take any action when their pigs were sick. Only 16% pig raisers used vaccines against different infectious diseases and 36% used anthelmintics against parasitic diseases. Awareness buildup of the pig raisers may help them raising pigs in a better way which will improve the farming system and reduce the probability of disease transmission.

Pigs are highly prolific animals compared to other farm animals [1]. Genetically pigs are two times more efficient than ruminants in converting feed to meat [2]. Pork is considered as the richest animal protein source. But pig production in Bangladesh is influenced by cultural and religious beliefs or taboos. As a result, only non-Muslim minority people raise pigs in Bangladesh. The estimated pig population reared in the household of Bangladesh is 326,000 which are raised by Christians, ethnic people, lower caste Hindus/sweepers [3]. Bangladesh’s minority ethnic population is 2% of the total and they inhabit in both plain lands and hilly areas [4,5] and markedly different interms of social, cultural and development status from majority group, the “Bengali” [6,7]. At present, there are about 3.5 to 5.5 million sweepers in 63 different districts of Bangladesh are ultra-poor with limited access to health, education and employment opportunities.

In Bangladesh, pigs are mostly reared in semi-scavenging system to maximize the output by employing minimum inputs such as feed, medication, time and effort but increases the interaction among pigs, environment and humans, and favors the transmission of different zoonotic diseases through direct contact or environmental contamination [8]. In Bangladesh, pigs were detected as a host of different viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases [9-15]. Several management issues such as feeding, breeding, disease prevalence, marketing and constraints of pig production are not well reported from Bangladesh. An earlier study has reported that balanced feed was not supplied to pigs, veterinary service was not available in most cases, piglets died frequently and and pigs were suffering from different diseases [16].

We conducted this study to better understand the management system of pigs in Bangladesh. In addition, our data might be useful for future research and developing intervention in this sector.

We conducted this study in seven districts of Bangladesh: Rangamati, Dinajpur, Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Meherpur, Kishorgonj and Natore (Figure 1). We purposively selected these sites for the convenience of the study to understand pig raising practices both on hilly areas and plain lands and by pig raisers of different ethnic group. We assumed 85% pig raisers would provide houses to their pigs [17]. Considering 95% confidence interval, 85% expected prevalence and 5% precision our calculated sample size is 196 pig raisers. In Rangamati, Dinajpur and Rajshahi pig raisers were tribal people and in rest of the places pig raisers were lower caste Hindus. Rangamati located at the southern part of Bangladesh and is a hilly area. Rest of the places are plain land and geographically identical. We used structured questionnaires to interview the pig raisers. Variable investigated included demographic information of pig owners, number of pigs by households, management practices, source of feed and water, cost of feed per pig, signs of disease of pigs and other livestock owned by the pig owners. For the convenience of the analysis we grouped all the respondents’ udder two groups: tribal community and sweeper colony. Descriptive statistics such as percentages and frequency tables were prepared from the data generated. Chi-square test was used to test the significance of the associations between different parameters, and were applicable Fishers exact test was used.

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Figure 1: Study sites: showing six districts in different parts of Bangladesh.

We interviewed a total of 207 pig raisers from was from Rangamati district (64, 31%), Dinajpur district (45, 22%), Mymensingh district (32, 15%), Rajshahi district (25, 12%), Natore district (22, 11%), Kishorgonj district (11, 5%) and Meherpur district (8, 4%). We grouped the respondents from Rangamati, Dinajpur and Rajshahi under tribal community (119) and respondents from Mymensingh, Meherpur, Kishorgoj and Natroe under sweeper colony (88). Most of the pig raisers enrolled in this study were Hindus (58%) followed by Buddhist (28%), Sonaton (17%) and Christians (6%). Most of the pig raising family (54%) had 5-8 (Median 5) family members. Most of the pig raisers (54%) were illiterate and 43% had education below SSC (Secondary School Certificate; grade X) level. Among our interviewee 57% (119) were from tribal community and 43% (88) from sweeper colony. Median age of the pig raisers was 37 years. We found various types of profession among the pig raisers: 41% (85) were daily wager and 22% (41) were involved in agriculture, and 50% (104) of them had a monthly income of less than 118 USD and 36% had less than 59 USD. Most of them (60%, 124) were landless and 22% (46) of them owned land ranged from 1-20 decimal (Table 1).

Table 1: Demographic parameters of pig farmers surveyed in different districts of Bangladesh.
Parameters Numbers (207) %
Districts Rangamati  64 31
  Mymensingh 32 15
  Meherpur 8 4
  Dinajpur 45 22
  Kishorgonj 11 5
  Rajshahi 25 12
  Natore 22 11
Age 15-25 35 17
  25-35 68 33
  35-45 43 21
  45-55 39 19
  55-65 17 8
  65 > 5 2
  Median 37  
Religion Hindu 120 58
  Christians 13 6
  Buddhist    57 28
  Sonaton 17 8
Family members 1-4 77 37
  5-8 111 54
  9-16 19 9
  Median 5  
Education level  Illiterate   111 54
  Below SSC        88 43
  Below HSC        6 3
  University   2 1
Community Tribal community 119  57
  Sweeper colony 88  43
Profession Agriculture 45 22
  Daily wager 85 41
  Businessman 23 11
  Sweeper 32 15
  Private job 9 4
  Other 13 6
Monthly income Less than 59 USD* 75 36
  Less than 118 USD 104 50
  Less than 235 USD 25 12
  No answer 3 2
Size of land (decimal) 0 124 60
  1-20 46 22
  21-40 1 0.50
  41-60 1 0.50
  61 and above 35 17
*USD: United States Dollars; 1 Dollar: 85 Taka

Most of the pig raisers from both tribal community and sweeper colony (92%, 191) were rearing local breed (p < 0.001). Semi-scavenging system (p < 0.001) was practiced by the most of the respondents from both communities (139, 67%). Purpose of raising pigs differed p < 0.05) and 71% (147) pig raisers were keeping pigs for business and own consumption, and 21% only for business. Very few respondents (8, 4%) received training (p < 0.05) on pig raising. Different members of the family were involved in taking care of the pigs (p < 0.001) and in most cases (65%, 134) all family members were involved in talking care of the pigs followed by wives (22%, 45) and husbands (9%, 18). Spending time for taking care of pigs varied (p < 0.001) and 40% (83) pig raisers were spending two hours for taking care of the pigs, followed by 28% (57) for one hour and 33% (67) for three hours or more. Most (177, 86%) pig raisers mentioned that they provide houses (p < 0.002) for the pigs which were very close to their own house. Pig raisers from both community used different materials for making houses for pig (p < 0.001) and most of them (49%, 102) used bamboo to make shelter for pigs where as 16% (34) each used brick and mud respectively. In our study, 78% (161) respondents did not do anything about the pig excreta (p < 0.001), whereas 13% (26) either buried the excreta or used it as fertilizer. Most (92%, 191) of the pig raisers bought and collected feed for their pigs. Most (93%, 192) of the pig raisers were providing feed to their pigs three times a day. As feed cost, most of the pig raisers from both communities (92%, 191) pig raisers were spending 0.01-0.59 USD/pig/day and 6% (12) were spending > 0.58 USD/pig/day (p < 0.001). As feed source 55% (114) pig owners used kitchen waste (p < 0.001), 54% (111) used rice husk (p < 0.001), 54% (101) used wheat (p < 0.001), rice and maize bran (p < 0.001), 45% (94) used rice (p < 0.001), 35% (73) used arum (p < 0.001) and 28% used local wine (p < 0.001). Pig raisers used different types of water sources for their pigs (p < 0.001) and more than half of them (57%, 119) used tube well, 20% (41) used river and 18% (37) used pond. We recorded that 71% (146) farmers killed pig (p < 0.001) anytime of the year where as 19% (61) only during festival. Method of killing pig also varied (p < 0.001): 41% used spear through the heart to kill the pigs, 34% separated the head directly and 22% stroke at the head. 85% pig raisers mentioned that they comsume raw blood of pigs (Table 2).

Table 2: Different parameters of pig management in the study area. Number and proportion are presented
Parameters Tribal commnity Sweeper colony Numbers (207) % p - value
Breed Local 102 88 191 92 0.001
  Others (Land race,  Cross,  Indian) 17 0 16 8
Type of rearing Scavenging 5 8 13 6 0.001
Semi-scavenging 106 33 139 67
Intensive 8 47 55 27
Purpose of rearing Business 31 12 43 21 0.033
Own consumption 1 10 11 5
Business and own consumption 81 66 147 71
Others 4 0 4 2
Training Yes 8 0 8 4 0.022
Caretaker Husband 5 13 18 9 0.001
Wife 30 15 45 22
All family members 82 52 134 65
Others (Grand children, Children, Servent) 2 7 9 4
Time spent for taking care 1 hour 50 7 57 28 0.001
2 hours 58 25 83 40
3 hours or more 11 56 67 33
Separate house Yes 94 83 177 86 0.002
Material of pig house Brick 0 34 34 16 0.001
Mud 23 11 34 16
Bamboo 67 35 102 49
Others (brick & bamboo or brick & tin) 5 3 8 4
Disposal of pig excreata Nothing 111 50 161 78 0.001
Burry or used as fertilizer 8 18 26 13
Thrown away 0 20 20 10
Source of food   Buy  9 3 12  6 0.522
Buy and collect 108 83 191  92
Collect 2 2 4 2
Frequency of provided food  Twice a day 7 8 15 15 0.340
Thrice a day 112 80 192 93
Source of water Tube well 68 51 119  57 0.001
Pond 4 33 37  18
River 41 0 41 20
Others (lake and rice strach) 4 0 10 5
Cost of food/pig/day 0 USD/pig/day* 2 3 5 2 0.001
0.01-0.59 USD/pig/day 116 74 190 92
0.58 USD>/pig/day 1 11 12 6
Types of food provided to the pigs Kitchen waste 45 69 114 55 0.001
Local wine 53 4 57 28 0.001
Rice 47 47 94 45 0.050
Wheat, rice and maize bran 47 65 112 54 0.001
Rice husk 46 65 111 54 0.001
Bamboo shoot   42 5 47 23 0.001
Arum 55 18 73 35 0.001
Killing pigs for consumption Festival 9 52 61 19 0.001
Any time of year 110 36 146 71
How the pigs are killed Slaughter 6 1 7 3.4 0.001
Spear through the heart 9 76 85 41
Separate the head directly 59 11 70 33
Strike in the head 45 0 45 21
Consumption of pig blood Yes 51 34 85 41 0.570
Way of consumption With curry 51 33 84 41 0.195
Raw with puffed rice and or curry 0 3 3 2
*USD: United States Dollars; 1 Dollar: 85 Taka

Sources of piglets were different for both communities (p < 0.001): 33% (68) pig raisers bred their pigs and 56% respondents were collecting piglets from markets, 20% from neighbors and 17% from middlemen. In most cases (86, 42%) the price (p < 0.001) of piglets was 12-24 USD. We observed that 81% (167) pig raisers kept 1-4 boars, 56% (115) kept 1-4 sows and 26% kept 1-4 piglets. We found that 87% pig owners sell adult pigs (p < 0.001) and price (p < 0.05) varied from 59-176 USD (Table 3).

Table 3: Breeding and selling practices of pigs in the study area. Number and proportion are presented.
Parameters Tribal commnity Sweeper colony Numbers (207) % p - value
Source of piglets Neighbour 18 23 41 20 0.001
Middleman 30 6 36 17
Market 62 53 115 56
Scavenging herd 1 3 4 2
Breeding 1 2 3 1
Rangamati pig farm 8 0 8 4
Price per piglet 12 USD 51 7 58 29 0.001
12-24 USD 51 35 86 42
> 24 USD 9 36 45 23
Total 198 96
Breeding of pigs Yes 39 29 68 33 1.000
Number of boar in the farm 0 12 13 25 12 0.007
1-4 104 63 167 81
5-8 3 9 12 6
9-12 0 3 3 1
Mean 2
Number of sow in the farm 0 55 30 85 41 0.153
1-4 59 56 115 56
5-8 3 2 5 2
9-12 2 0 2 1
Mean 1
Number of piglets in the farm 0 61 72 133 64 0.001
1-4 42 12 54 26
5-8 10 1 11 5
9-12 4 2 6 3
13-16 2 1 3 1
Mean 1
Number of total pigs in the farm 1-4 83 46 129 62 0.008
5-8 19 32 51 25
9-12 9 8 17 8
13> 8 2 10 4
Mean 5
Sell adult pigs Yes 115 66 181 87 0.001
Price per adult pig 59 USD 7 7 14 7 0.010
59-118 USD 75 27 102 49
118-176 USD 11 14 25 12
176 USD > 2 3 5 2
*USD: United States Dollars; 1 Dollar: 85 Taka

The pig raisers from both communities mentioned different types of challenges such as social problem (16%, p < 0.05), disease (50%, p < 0.01), less profitable (20%, p < 0.001) and unavailability of feed (19%) (Table 4). In our study, we found that 31% respondents visited veterinarians, 28% visited quack and 21% do not take any action when their pigs were sick. Only 16% pig raisers used vaccines against different infectious diseases and 36% used anthelmintics against parasitic diseases. Pig raisers informed that most of the diseases occur during summer and rainy season (Table 5).

Table 4: Challenges of pig rearing reported by the owners in the study area. Number and proportion are presented
Parameters Tribal community Sweeper colony Numbers (207) % p - value
Social problem 12 21 33 16 0.012
Disease  48 55 103 50 0.002
Not cost effective 40 2 42 20 0.001
Food unavailable 27 12 39 19 0.109
Table 5: Disease management by the pig raisers in the study area. Number and proportion are presented.
Parameters Number %
What is done when pig is sick Quack 50  28
  Veterinarian 56     31
  Nothing 38 21
  Sale at cheap price 16    9
  Kill to eat  3 2
  Treated by the owner himself       4 2
Use of vaccine Yes 29 16
Use of anthelmintic Yes 64  36
When most of the disease occur Summer 55 31
  Throughout the year 52  29
  Rainy 44 25
  Winter 11 6
  Winter and rainy      6 3
  Summer and winter 3 2
  Summer and rainy 1

During our studies, 85% respondents reported different signs of illness among their pigs. 46% reported anorexia, 28% reported gastrointestinal disorders, 28% reported fever, 27% reported respiratory distress, 12% reported swollen jaw, 12% reported inflamed hoof, 11% reported sudden death and 5% reported joint ill (Figure 2). We found that 29% pig raisers had goats, 29% had chickens, 22% had cows, 7% had ducks and 6% had dogs (Figure 3).

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Figure 2: Different diseases reported by the owners in the study area.

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Figure 3: Other livestock owned by the study participants.

None of the respondents, unlike other countries, took pig raising as only source of their income; rather pig raising was their additional way of earning. Lack of land and poverty could be the reasons behind this. Similar practice was observed in Phillipines and Ehiopia [18,19]. More than half of the pig raisers were illiterate. Such poor literacy level limited their opportunity to obtain a job in private or government offices. As a result, all of them were involved in different low income jobs, conforming to the observations reported worldwide including Bangladesh [18,20]. Illiteracy is one of the constrains of pig industry since studies have shown that educated pig raisers can make more profit than the uneducated ones [21,22]. Two third of the pig raisers were landless. As a result, these landless pig raisers face vulnerability of livelihood and economic opportunities which force them to engage in different low income jobs, and lead very substandard life in terms of food, housing, education and health facilities and exactly similar situations have been reported from earlier studies [16,20,23], indicating there receding, traditional and stagnant livelihood .

We have seen that almost all the pig raisers were raising local breed mostly in semi-scavenging system. Indigenous pigs are more disease resistant, produce more tasty meat, and have a satisfactory survival rate [23,24]. In semi-scavenging system the owner provide a partial feed and the pigs search for the rest from the environment. This system was practiced obviously due to lower supply of inputs or to maximize the profit margin, and such type of orthodox system of pig rearing had also been reported in an earlier study from Bangladesh [8], clearly indicating no or very minimum improvement in their knowledge about modern and sophisticated pig farming. Furthermore, these types of rearing systems have significant public health importance. Poor housing with open defecation and presence of free range pigs were identified as risk factors for transmission of Taenia solium-taeniasis to pig raisers from different countries [25-28]. The family members took care of pigs probably due to their poverty, small farm size and to make more profit. Raising pigs by the family members was observed by earlier researchers from Bangladesh [8,23], suggesting that they are equally at risk to the pig-borne deadly diseases. Pigs can remain as reservoir for zoonotic influenza virus like H3N2 and H1N1 long time, which can later infect humans [29,30]. Pig houses were closely located to the houses of the owners, conforming to the pig housing reported from India and Nepal [25,26]. Pig houses were made by different locally available materials which were also observed in other countries including Bangladesh before [16,31-33]. Most of the pig raisers were not disposing off the excreta in a specific place. A previous study from Bangladesh has reported the similar observation where pig raisers were unconcerned and did not take any action for proper disposal of the waste [8]. Most of the pig raisers were providing feed to their pigs three times a day. Similar type of feeding frequency was observed in other pig raising communities [31,33]. Cost of feed and type of feed varied but more than half of the pig raisers used kitchen waste as feed. The pig raisers collected kitchen waste from different restaurants either for free or at a very minimal price, which is commonly practiced in Bangladesh and India [8,33]. They used kitchen waste probably due its availability and very low price. As pigs are omnivorous animals, they are able to consume the kitchen waste which is a mixed up of rice, fish, meat and vegetables [34]. As pigs are consuming feed which would otherwise be wasted, they are actually keeping the environment clean. The pig raisers fed local wine to pigs as they believed that local wine will significantly increase the growth rate of the pigs. Pig raisers were found to use brewer’s by-products as feed for pigs in Ethiopia [19]. Three pig raisers mentioned that they eat raw blood with puffed rice, which is potentially dangerous as a source of communicable diseases.

Only one third of the pig raisers were breeding their pigs and the rest were conllecting piglets from different sources among which market was the major one. A previous study from Bangladesh has shown that 93.33% piglets were procured from local market [31]. Pig raisers choose markets probably due to availability of more piglets, option to choose and to get better a price. On an average there were five pigs at each farm, which indicate that pig farming in Bangladesh is mostly a small family owned industry. The contributing factors for such small scale farms could be lack of space, lack of capital, lack of food, mortality of piglets and other constrains including diseases [16].

The challenges mentioned by the pig raisers were in agreement to the findings from earlier studies [8,35]. A previous study has reported social disrespect to the pig raisers by majority Muslims as pig is regarded as unholy to the Muslim community [8]. Diseases of pigs are one of the challenges faced by the pig raisers and those signs of diseases were reported earlier [16,31,36]. Pig raisers did not take necessary steps to treat their animals. In our study, we found that only one third of them seek support from the veterinarians when their pigs were sick. Also, pig raisers were not fully aware of vaccines and anthelmintics which supports results from earlier studies [16,19,31,35]. Parasites including both ecto and endo parasites negatively affect the growth and feed efficiency of pigs. Several types of parasites of pigs has been reported from Bangladesh in the past: Haematopinus suis, Boophilus microplus, Fasciolopsis buski, Gastrodiscoides hominis, Ascaris suum, Metastrongylus elongatus, Stephanurus dentatus, Physocephalus sexalatus [15,37]. These parasitic disease can be treated easily with commercially available anthelmintics which will not only accelerate the growth rate of pigs, but also will minimize the risk of pig borne zoonoses [38,39]. Pigs are also infected by Foot and Mouth Disease, hemorrhagic septicemia and anthrax, which can be controlled by vaccines available in Bangladesh at a subsidized price. Pig raisers were keeping different types of animals together which is substantiated by an earlier study from Bangladesh [8] and pose the animals to the risk of communicable diseases [40,41]. Transmission of avian influenza virus from poultry to pig has been reported earlier [42-44].

Taken together, our study revealed that pig raisers had small farms in their backyard and reared pigs in traditional ways. Many pig raisers practiced semi-scavenging system to minimize the feed cost, which on the other hand can play role for transmitting disease from pig to humans. Additionally, lack of knowledge about proper disposal of pig excreta; close contact with pigs, co-farming, unconsciousness about proper hygiene, close housing with their own dwelling places are the main factors, so far assumed, associated with the spreading of communicable diseases. Initiative from different government and non-government organization to train and aware the pig raisers will not only increase production but also will minimize the transmission different pig-borne zoonoses, and ultimately will help the receding, ethnic, resource deprived, unprivileged segment of the population to uphold their livelihood.

ICDDR, B is thankful to the Governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Sweden and the UK for providing core/unrestricted support.

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