Some insights into the phenotypic and genetic diversity of indigenous pigs in southern Africa
Indigenous pigs in southern Africa are mainly owned by economically vulnerable groups in marginal areas where they are used as a source food, income and security. A study was carried out to achieve three objectives: to describe pig production systems, get a phenotypic description of the pigs and to characterize them genetically. A survey of 199 farmers in three districts in South Africa, (Vhembe, OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo) and one district in Zimbabwe (Chirumhnazu) was carried out. Additional farmers in Malawi (Dedza, Mchinji and Salima) and Zimbabwe (Mutoko) were sampled in order to meet the other two objectives. Most of the pigs (69.7%) were owned by women, with men owning 20.5% and children the remainder. Production of the pigs was constrained by several factors including disease, inadequate feeds, poor housing and lack of knowledge. The majority of the pigs were small and black with characteristics that are probably suited for thermoregulation in arid environments. The third objective was achieved through genotyping 111 pigs using 22 microsatellites. Preliminary results indicate very little differences across populations with an overall inbreeding coefficient of the subpopulation relative to the total population (FST) of 0.071. The results indicate that the indigenous pigs in southern Africa are relatively homogenous.
Keywords: Conservation, Kolbroek, microsatellites, smallholder pig production, Windsnyer