Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pigs on my mind

I went to a Kuala Lumpur supermarket's non halal section and found to my horror a simple cut of pork was RM28 per kg!!

This brought to mind good and warm memories of free pork from my uncle's little backyard farm. Uncle Pang Sing had 15 pigs in his pig sty throughout his life time and Uncle Pang Ping had more or less the same number in his.

We used to enjoy feeding the pigs with the cooked feed prepared by our older cousins. Household chores were well distributed and no one ever complained about their share of work. On festive seasons we could have a wonderful meal of more than ten dishes. And a pig would have been slaughtered amongst other domesticated animals that we reared. A feast indeed.

It was very much whistle while you work kind of life by the banks of the Rejang River.

We were all barefoot livestock rearers.

Decades later life has changed tremendously. First the Nipah Virus hit Malaysia badly and pig rearers became the focal point of attack . Feed prices went sky high. Even pig farmers had to find new homes.

Today it seems that pig farmers have no where to lay their heads. They don't seem to have a soft pillow to fall on.

Here are some photos and some points to share with you.

Lovely photo of a nice pink faced pig:

Floating weed which is part of organic food for my uncle's pigs. We fished these weeds out of the water and cooked them in the cooking oil tins recycled as pots. Yam leaves and weeds called piu dieh and food scraps with rice formed good feed for our pigs.

Pictures from BengBeng showing simple home pig sty and some very clean pigs by the bank of Rejang River.

Here are some bits and pieces I have picked up interesting info about pigs and pig rearing in Malaysia from Roger Tan's blog:

Malaysian government banned the 1995 Academy Award-winning Australian film, Babe, which tells the story of a pig which wants to be a sheepdog

A Chinese saying goes, "A Chinese eats everything that has four legs, except tables; everything that flies, except airplanes; and, everything that is found on water, except boats".

At one time, the pig population in Sepang outnumbered humans.

A pig produces three times more excrement than human beings do.

These omnivorous animals are prone to heat stress, pigs have to be washed regularly to cool them down. Therefore, how we control the discharge of effluent and waste water is important.

Pigs cause noise pollution as pig squeals can reach up to 112 decibels, about the same as a Boeing 747 jet at take-off. This is harmful to human hearing.

The pig population multiplies fairly quickly. A sow can farrow a litter of up to 13 piglets after a gestation period of only 120 days.

Piglets can be sold after two months or so to restaurants for roasted suckling pigs.

Male pigs sold for meat are known as hogs, and they are usually neutered or castrated after a few weeks. The hogs are fully grown after five months and the life span of a pig is generally 10-15 years.

According to a study conducted by the Department of Veterinary Services in 2006, there are close to 900 pig farms, with a population of about 1.8 million pigs in Malaysia. This figure is small compared with countries like Thailand, which rears about 11.5 million pigs.

In fact, this RM2 billion industry is not without controversy, apart from being hit by diseases such as Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and the Nipah virus.

Two years back, pig farmers were accused of using the banned drug, beta-agonist, in their feed so that the pigs would mature faster and have a higher amount of lean meat.

This drug can cause palpitations, headaches and even death, especially in heart patients.

Modern pig farms, such as those in Denmark, have shown that this can be a profitable and environmentally safe industry. At a pig farm in Ratchaburi, 130km south of Bangkok, pig waste is dried in the sun to be sold as organic fertiliser. Pig waste can also be processed to provide methane gas, used for cooking and generating power. - Reuters picture

Roger Tan is chairman of the Environmental Law Sub-Committee (NYLC) of the Bar Council. He is also an executive committee member of the Waste Management Association of Malaysia --

And finally here is special info for those of you who might be interested in reading food labels to find out if your food is halal or not halal: kod-kod tersebut dibawah ini mengandung lemak babi.
E100, E110, E120, E140, E141, E153, E160, E210, E213, E214, E216, E234, E252, E270, E280, E300, E301, E325, E326, E327, E334, E335, E336, E337, E422, E430, E431, E432, E433, E434, E435, E436, E440, E441, E470, E471, E472, E473, E474, E475, E476, E477, E478, E481, E482, E483, E491, E492, E493, E494, E495, E542, E570, E572, E631, E635, E904, E920.

7 memories:

Amy's Sweetbite said...

cool info dude..and u have a very nice blog. very informational.. never been to sibu before

Mumble jumble said...

Very nice. makes me miss home. All the halal food here is driving me nuts.

The price you saw was supermarket price, in KL, which is the norm. You can still find cheaper pork at RM 13 to RM 15 at the market for 1kg (varies), but you'd have to wake up early in the morning, fight through the traffic jam caused by people going to work, and the aunties going to buy veges. and get to your pork.

Diseases are usually caused by reckless care taking of the animals. From what I was told, the Department of Veterinary Services would usually send out doctors and provide services free to the animal farms, this might keep such diseases at bay.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Thanks must try to visit Sibu some day.

Lots of things to see and lots of things to know. Great food if you wish to try.

Be in Sibu!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Thanks for the info regarding pork in KL.

Life in Sibu in the olden days were blissful. Nothing is better than hometown familiarity of course.

Traffic jams in the city are always a pain....well may be we should all eat less meat and be healthy. But some of our cultural dishes still have to be prepared. So that the new generation can carry on whatever we have....

abana said...

The Halal code labels, are good info for muslims readers.I think most malays may not be awared of these codes halal label.And furthermore i think most products (especially on the shelves at retails store, doesn't indicate these codes unlike in the overseas.)

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Yes these codes are valuable for all in fact as we really have to learn to respect our Muslim brethrens and Jewish friends.

I have started to become very intrigued by kosher food and ingredients recently for health and intellectual reasons.

May be you could run an article on the Halal codes too since you are in KL.

Look at the Kosher foods at higher end supermarkets. Their salts are very very good.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Dear followers

I still believe that pigs fed on vegetarian diets like those given by our forefathers in the early years of Sibu are safe.

The flesh from these pigs are better. And I further believe that cooked "feed" is more nutritional and friendly than the scientific feed from factories.

Of course this can only be done by small farmers. Centralised pig farming is not really a good idea.

The present Irish pork situation is something we have to bear in mind. We also have other incidents and tragedies too.


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