Pigs live in clover in Speia … enjoying European funds

When being stressed, pigs eat and do not grow in flesh. That’s why at a farm established based on a grant offered by EU through UNDP music is being played for pigs, while the animals may play around and have continuous access to water and feed.

He started the business with 120 pigs and now he owns a farm with 1500 heads

“It is not everything yet European over here, but we strive to make it happen,” told us Andrei, a worker from Vitali Radulov’s farm.

Originating from Parcani, Vitali has started up a farm in Speia village on the left side of the river Nistru. The farm is actually located on a hill nearby the village within an abandoned old farm building.

The construction still looks like it used to 30 years ago, having just a new fence around. Vitali said that he has built the fence to keep the stray dogs out as they can bring different diseases, especially now when the African swine fever wanders around.

You would never guess that pigs are bred at this farm, as there is no noise and no smell that one would expect.

The pigs from Speia bone up

From the entrance hall one gets directly to the cereals’ storage. An electrical mill stands up next to the loads of wheat and barley, and the farm workers load it with cereals together with soy flour, which is rich in proteins. All of them are milled and transformed into a mixture used to feed the pigs.

Vitali states that he uses only natural products for his animals: the cereals are cropped on the nearby fields by local farmers and the soy is imported from Ukraine. The workers confirm it — the meat of the pigs bred at this farm is organic, as it is now in fashion to say, and all of them use it with no concerns.

The composition of the fodder is important, but it is also critical to mince it appropriately. If the fodder is too gross, it will affect the animals’ digestion; and if it is too fine, the pigs choke and cough. Vitali discovered that this alongside the inappropriate temperature and lack of food and water are factors that stress out the pigs.

The people from the countryside who grow pigs in their households do not have time to deal with their own stress, not even mentioning the psychological condition of the animals. Vitali Radulov has noticed that “unhappy” pigs eat but not grow in flesh as they should. In average, they “miss” to get about 20 grams in weight per day. Taking into account the number of heads and days they need to get to an optimal weight to be sold — 1500 pigs and 100 days — this would be about 3000 kilograms or about 4000 Euro.

Not to lose all this money, the farmer does his best for the animals to be always calm. He has automated the feed and water supply process, keeps a constant temperature level in the ventilated premises and washes periodically the floor, which is envisaged with special apertures.

From time to time, he even puts music on for pigs and organizes games for them. He has invented a kind of football game for the hyperactive animals. For the pigs not to fall over each other, he throws them plastic bottles filled with stones, and the pigs through them from side to side with their muzzles until they get tired and calm down.

There are two halls after the cereals’ storage — each of them having 250 square meters and hosting about 250 pigs. When we got to the farm, the young pigs, as well as those who reached the optimal age and weight were having a rest.

“Do you know the saying about the “pig’s disease” — one eats than goes to sleep? This should be the ordinary normal behavior of the animals — they should eat and drink as much as they want, and they should sleep and put on weight,” told us Vitali.

His wife is selling pig-meat at the market, and they do this mainly for advertising purposes. Most of pigs are directly delivered from the farm and the demand is high enough for them not to look for collaboration with sausage factories. Nevertheless, he hopes that he will sell his meat on the right side of the River Nistru one day; and these plans go hand in hand with his intention to increase the size of the farm up to 2500–3000 heads.

Pigs like bodybuilders — just muscles and no fat

Vitali believes that his success is partly due to the race of pigs he has chosen to breed. From the grant of 10,000 Euro initially provided by the European Union Confidence Building Measures Programme, funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP, he bought pigs with little fat from Holland. With the money he earned, he bought some other pigs of the same race, and so on and so far.

He heard about the grants from some villagers from Speia, who have obtained financing for a tractor. Vitali Radulov looked for more information, developed a business plan, got registered in the contest and has gone all the way when some of his colleagues have given up.

“I had to undertake some efforts, but it was worth it, for sure,” says the farmer. After receiving the money, he attended all the information and business training sessions organized under the project.

He continues to inform himself through experience exchange with his colleagues from the right side of the River Nistru and those from Ukraine. And he really hopes to visit the Dutch farm from which he has bought the pigs. The owners have invited him, but he has no time for this now. He spends almost all the days at his farm from Speia, being firmly convinced that a business can develop only through personal involvement.

Through the Confidence Building Measures Programme implemented by UNDP, the European Union has assisted over 70 young people from both sides of the River Nistru to start up a business and to create about 350 places of work. Grants’ beneficiaries have participated in training sessions and learned about management and promotion techniques.