DanBred Case: Savannah Pork

Good management, good feed, good genetics

"When we saw that our Piggery Manager, Lourens de Wet, who has been in the game for as long as he has, was absolutely blown away by our results with DanBred genetics, we knew we’d made the right choice."

In 2020, Clive Marshall, Richard Armstrong and Kelvin Saunders bought an existing defunct pig farm in Botswana, which had stood empty for several years. They had extensive experience within cattle farming – but absolutely no experience with pork production. So, this was an exciting, yet daunting, new adventure for them.

It was essential for them to choose the right genetics partner for Savannah Pork. After careful considerations – and lots of visits with potential suppliers – they chose DanBred.

Now, a few years later, they know they have made the right call, as the farm is the foremost piggery in Botswana.

Savannah Pork - Clive, Richard and Kelvin

Read more about why choosing the right genetics partner is so important…


Testimonial experiences with DanBred genetics

Since purchasing the pig farm, significant work has gone into resurrecting the facilities. We bought a shell, really, so, we started with a massive revamp of the whole facility.

We’re a closed system producing our own gilts to ensure high health and biosecurity. The first Savannah Pork-gilts are now farrowing, and all our pigs are healthy.

We’ve also built and eqipped our own boar station, with DanBred Duroc, DanBred Landrace, and DanBred Yorkshire boars, to alleviate the importation of semen, which is at risk to border closures, airline inefficiencies, strikes etc.

While the facilities were being upgraded, Clive Marshall (co-owner of Savannah Pork) embarked on the process of selecting a genetic partner. And after careful consideration, we chose DanBred as our genetics partner. We signed an exclusive DanBred GenePro agreement, and the first consignment of high-health gilts and boars were delivered to Savannah Pork in May 2021.

Everything was new to us in the pig industry, but we have a few generic animal production principles for any agricultural project that we’ve been involved in: you must have good management, good feed, and good genetics. With those in place, and some hard work, you should be able to come out on the right side of things.

So, when choosing the good genetics, it was a matter of seeing the level of service and support that we’d be offered, because we’re the first of our kind in Botswana and all genetic suppliers are based in the neighbouring South Africa. We felt, after our visits and assessments of the genetic suppliers, that, across the board, DanBred stood out! We got a really good feeling from the team, and their results were outstanding, so, it was actually an easy decision.

We’re ambitious, so, when we got involved in pig production, we wanted to take the pig industry to new levels in Botswana. Institutions such as the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and Ministry of Agriculture  (MoA) have been very excited and supportive of this project. Given that support, all we then needed was to work with experienced, likeminded people that we felt we could partner with. For us, DanBred was an obvious choice.

When we saw that our Piggery Manager, Lourens de Wet, who has been in the game for as long as he has, was absolutely blown away by our results with DanBred genetics, we knew we’d made the right choice. For him to be impressed, you know you’re on a good track. That was really nice to see, because he was absolutely stunned.

Before we took over Savannah Pork, it had stood vacant for nearly six years. And the genetic improvements since last time the pig farm was active were so considerable that we had to build a new grower house that is actually double the size of the existing grower buildings. Just because of the sheer improved efficiency in terms of liveborn piglets that we got with DanBred. To us, this is a good “problem” to have.

We are extremely proud of our current 32.04 average number of piglets per sow per year considering the short time that we have been involved in the sector. We are confident that with DanBred’s continued support we can still improve on this.

Our weaning numbers are above what others get as born alive, which is good. So, having many weaned piglets and having to expand the grower house, is something we’re just delighted to have to deal with. We know that we could just have decreased the number of sows instead. But the type of people that we are, we wanted to embrace the high efficiency and maximum benefits that DanBred genetics provide!

In March 2023, we broke our record with more than 800 finisher pigs for the month. For a 300-sow unit, we think that’s good.  

The results really speak for themselves. It helps when your genetics can do the talking.

Turns out, we had little idea what we were going into, when we bought Savannah Pork. We’ve been lucky enough to engage a very experienced Piggery and Abattoir Manager, Lourens, and his wife, Louise de Wet. They’ve played a very real part in the development of the piggery, and they’re in charge of the day to day running of the piggery.

On top of that, the guys from DanBred Africa have been fantastic, we can’t thank them enough. We’ve had great assistance from Jurgens Reynders (Managing Director in DanBred Africa) and his entire team, and they’ve bent over backwards to help us wherever they could. It’s always good to have a solid partner that you can bounce ideas off.

Lourens and Louise have taken on the task of developing the skills necessary to run a first-class piggery. With large scale pork production being an emerging industry in Botswana, the skills shortage is very evident, so, we’ve prioritised training and courses to develop these skills.

Our Operations Manager, Fraser Marshall, has been on courses in South Africa. We’re able to run our operations as a result of DanBred Africa supporting and facilitating us to go and visit other farms to learn from their knowledge and expertise. Everybody learns from somebody.

We’ve adopted the South African Pork360-framework as a sort of skeleton for our practices to ensure a high standard at Savannah Pork. So, we’ve used the Pork360-standard as our minimum standard. And we’re in the process of getting export accreditation of our slaughterhouse. When we get this accreditation, it’ll be the only export accredited pig slaughterhouse in Botswana.

We’re extremely proud of what we’ve managed to achieve in the short period we’ve been pig farmers. Our operation has evolved incredibly and it’s been an exciting project. One that would not have been possible without the support and outstanding genetics from DanBred!

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