1st ever Livestock Technology Expo set on Oct. 7-10 in Bohol

More than a thousand participants are expected to attend the 1st Livestock Technology Expo to be held on October 7-10 at the Bohol Cultural Center in Tagbilaran City as part of the continuing initiatives to promote various livestock research and development outputs.

It will be the first-ever exposition of such to be held in Bohol.

With the theme, “Masaganang Paghahayupan sa Teknolohiyang Maaasahan”, the exposition will be conducted alongside two other events: the 4th National Carabao Conference and the 4th Bohol Milk festival.

The tri-fold affair will serve as a means for meaningful interaction among the participants, who include stakeholders and value chain players in the livestock industry, and will also serve as a source of dissemination of significant information, invaluable know-how, and ideas about practical technologies and improved practices on livestock production.

Concerting efforts in organizing these events are the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its livestock agencies composed of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), Agricultural Training Institute- International Training Center on Pig Husbandry (ATI-ITCPH), Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), National Dairy Authority (NDA), and National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Bohol.

Featured activities are multi-sessions in the form of plenaries and panel discussions of exemplar practices and technologies on dairy, swine, poultry, and waste management to be presented and led by various experts and resource persons.

According to Assistant Secretary for Livestock Enrico Garzon Jr., the activities are aimed at promoting the different outputs of livestock research and development and their practical application based on the needs of the farmers in their production endeavors.

He stressed that, currently, there are many concerns in the livestock sector that require much attention, thus the DA sees the expo as an opportunity to share and impart new and modern technologies which purvey effective ways in enhancing livestock production, creating linkages, and generating job opportunities.

Other activities lined-up for the event are products exhibition and technology demonstration, turnover of equipment for dairy undertakings, knowledge café, recognition of the Search for PCC’s Outstanding Farmer-and Cooperative-nominees, Established Enterprises and Partners, presentation of developed products of “Dairy Box”, and tour of enterprise models.

PCC partners with Science City of Muñoz-LGU on SDG FACES Milk Supplementation Program

Gearing towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, PCC committed milk provisions for 40 grade school children, ages 7-15 years old, of Brgy. Poblacion East, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija for 120 days.

On September 17, the launching and official signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the milk supplementation program between PCC, the local government unit (LGU) of the Science City of Muñoz and the SDG Family-based Actions for Children and their Environs in the Slums (FACES) Inner Circle representatives, took place at the city mayor’s office.

Also, present in the event are the children-beneficiaries with their mothers who are part of the SDG FACES project.

According to Jefferson Ongoco, City Development and Planning Officer, residents selected for SDG FACES are the classified “poorest of the poor” in the city. He emphasized that an important initiative of the project is to empower and capacitate women in front lining the rearing of their family.

“I urge the mothers to help us, the LGU and PCC in having the children drink milk to forward the aim in diminishing malnutrition’’ Mayor Nestor Alvarez, Science City of Muñoz, said.

The project was launched under the campaign of the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Local Government Academy where the Science City LGU is included. The primary aim is to “mobilize different sectors of society in providing critical interventions established at the household, city and national levels that will have a direct impact on the quality of life of children in the slums.”

PCC Executive Director Arnel del Barrio underscored in his short message, that PCC supports SDG FACES to combat poverty by making sure that the next generation are healthy with the help of milk.

Under the MOA, 4,800 sachets of 200 ml pasteurized toned buffalo’s milk will be provided by PCC.  The agency will also supervise, monitor and evaluate the progress of the project.

The LGU is in-charge of logical support, assistance in coordination of activities and monitoring of nutritional status of the children-beneficiaries.

On the side, the Inner Circle of SDG FACES will pick-up the ready-to-drink milk as well as ensure that the children consume the milk.

Spearheading the MOA signing are Mayor Alvarez, PCC Executive Director del Barrio, PCC Research and Development Division Chief Annabelle Sarabia and, Zaida Gallentes, president, Inner Circle of SDG FACES.

Also, in support are Ma. Theresa Sawit, PCC Head of Socio Economics and Policy Research; and Mina Abella, PCC Head of Carabao Enterprise Development Section.

Last year PCC had already partnered with the Science City of Muñoz – LGU and DepED in a milk supplementation program for 527 Grade 1 pupils in the span of 204 days.

Excellent nutrition plus good feeding system: they work wonders in abundant milk flow

There’s really no big, hidden secret if one is bent on chalking up in record books about the high milk production capacity among dairy buffaloes.

Take it up from the experts. And one of the factors is the big letter “N”, which stands for “Nutrients”.  Dairy buffaloes must partake sufficient nutrients to reach their optimum milk production capacity. What must be borne in mind always by the dairy farmer, not just an appendage, but also a part of his being is the aphorism, “They (the dairy animals) are what they eat.”

“The feedstuff that the buffaloes eat alter the nutrients in their body thus it is important to partake of feedstuff that will have a positive and beneficial impact on their body and their overall health,” the experts emphasized.

In the program “Enhancing Milk Production of Water Buffaloes Through S&T Interventions” of PCC and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), nutrition is one of the more important aspects underscored.

In the program, one of the components emphasized is the project “Development of Feeding Protocols and Practices to Support the Nutritional Requirement of Dairy Buffaloes”. The project is spearheaded by Dr. Daniel Aquino, center director of PCC at Central Luzon State University (PCC@CLSU).

According to Dr. Aquino, the three-year project is aimed at increasing milk production of dairy buffaloes, more specifically their average daily milk production from 4.5 to 7kg through the establishment of a year-round practical feeding system using nutritionally complete homegrown forages.

“Poor feeding management and nutrition will result in low body condition score, low milk production, increased susceptibility to diseases or high mortality rate, lower income, and poor profitability of the dairy farmers. It is really that important to practice proper feeding system of buffaloes,” Dr. Aquino posited.

The project is in line with the program’s goal of increasing the milk production of purebred dairy buffaloes in Nueva Ecija, as the National Impact Zone of the PCC’s Carabao Development Program, from 500,000 kg to 2,000,000 kg and of crossbred buffaloes in San Agustin, Isabela from 17,000 kg to 190,000 kg within the program implementation period.

Technology adoption

According to the research team, among the problems they gathered through survey questionnaires and interview with select dairy farmers in Nueva Ecija and San Agustin were lack of food supply, poor feeding management, dearth of forage garden and failure to follow standard feeding ration.

“The project will help find solutions to the problems identified. So we potted more than 600,000 pieces of legumes at the PCC@CLSU in Nueva Ecija as forage nursery. We distributed the legume seedlings and grasses to select farmers for homegrown forage production,” Christian Lacanilao, PCC science research assistant and one of the members of the research team, said.

The selection of farmers was based on the current number of animals raised, their interest and commitment to participate, readiness to utilize their available resources for the implementation of the project and to record and share relevant data that will be gathered from the project.

A total of 134,420 potted legume seedlings (Gliricidia sepium, Leucaena leucocephala, Desmodium rensoni, and Indigofera anil) were grown and distributed and 619,000 cuttings of Pakchong to 60 dairy farmers in rainfed and irrigated areas in Nueva Ecija. In San Agustin, Isabela, 29,250 volumes of legume seedlings were distributed to 33 dairy crossbred owners.

According to Lacanilao, the research team also planted improved grasses (4 hectares) and legumes (6 hectares) in Digdig, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija for commercial seed production. The harvested and packed seeds, and other forms of planting materials like seedlings, cuttings will be commercially available to farmers and can be bought by interested parties at the Dairy Box (a products outlet near the PCC National Headquarters), he said.

Standard ration

One of the interventions in the project is to transform traditional farmers into science-based farmers by producing and utilizing sustainable supply of homegrown improved grasses and legumes and development and adoption of improved feeding management system.

“With year-round supply of homegrown forages, the farmers will adopt intensive system of management, thus, the problem of liverfluke infestation among dairy buffaloes can also be addressed,” Dr. Aquino averred.

He added that it is important for the farmers to have a standard ration (grass-legumes-feeds) for their buffaloes. Grasses will serve as rice of buffaloes while the legumes distributed by the research team will serve as their viand.

“We compute the feeding requirements for one year based on the number of animals raised. Usually, we give 70%-80% of grasses and 20%-30% of legumes,” Dr. Aquino explained.

The research team recommended this kind of formulation of feeding or “Total Mixed Ration” per day for dams and lactating buffaloes: 50 kg of grasses, 5 kg of legumes, and 2 kg of concentrates. This kind of formulation, according to the research team, is a complete supplement for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals.

The team is currently conducting different actual feeding trials for growing and lactating buffaloes and calf rearing trial using milk substitute to increase calf as well as milk production of the dam.

“We are expecting that once we established good BCS of animals, they will be receptive in terms of reproduction. This will also result in reduced mortality and enhanced milk production. That’s the role of nutrition in attaining our target of two million liters of milk production,” Dr. Aquino stressed.

Testimony of farmer-beneficiary

Although the project is still ongoing and is expected to end in February next year, Ferdinand Urbano of “Nag-iisang Masikap Multi-Purpose Cooperative” in General Natividad, Nueva Ecija, and one of the beneficiaries of the project, already has his initial observations of the good impact of the project.

He observed that after he adopted the “grass-legumes-feeds feeding” technology, his buffalo becomes sexually receptive. One month after its parturition, it already got pregnant.

“I used to feed my buffalo with just grasses because I didn’t have a forage plantation area before. Thus it didn’t get pregnant easily. After I adopted the feeding technology, I observed that when my buffalo gave birth, its BCS remains the same,” he attested.

He added: “Improved feeding management system is of great importance to the milk producing capacity of our buffaloes. I myself witnessed that.”

Aside from nutrition and feeding management, other components of the program include “Reproductive Biotechnology”, “Animal Health Management”, “Milk Quality Evaluation and Safety Assurance”, and “field application of science-based technologies to increase milk production”.

Efficient bull farm operations impact on nationwide GIP

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) thru its national bull farm located in Caranglan, Nueva Ecija exerts efforts to produce quality semen for widescale Artificial Insemination (AI) in support of its Genetic Improvement Program (GIP).

Successful AI and GIP necessitate quality semen, which is anchored on proper donor bull management practices.

According to bull farm manager Hernando Venturina, included in the farm operations are regular vaccinations of bulls, shaving, disinfection, spraying of vehicles entering the farm for biosecurity, regular monitoring of feeding activities, close monitoring of the bulls’ Body Condition Scores or BCS, and their capability to mount (they should not be overweight).

Heavy bulls are provided with ‘exercise ring’ – a metallic equipment that allows the bulls to walk in circular motion to lose weight and at the same time strengthen their legs. Venturina proudly says that the national bull farm is the only farm in the country that has this kind of facility.

He also added that, “another important factor to pay attention to is the monitoring of personnel who takes care of the bulls. This has a very big impact on the farm operations, especially to the bulls’ health.”

Bull farm facility and efforts for GIP

In summary, the bull farm serves as the source of superior semen for AI of water buffaloes throughout the country. Currently, it has 67 bulls, 57 of which are enough to supply the needs for frozen semen.

In support of this function, the national bull farm also has a facility called ‘semen processing laboratory’ where semen are being evaluated after twice-a-week collection from the bulls. It also caters to the needs of semen of the PCC regional centers by way of a systematic semen distribution. The latter is carried out by PCC regional centers with the help of the Local Government Units (LGUs) to eventually reach the Village-based Artificial Insemination Technicians (VBAITs).

As a result, the bull farm creates impact throughout the Philippines by adding value to the carabaos through crossbreeding.
Its impact does not only reach VBAITs and dairy farmers in rural communities, but goes along with a major aim of producing improved breeds of buffaloes in the Philippines.

Semen processing procedure

The semen collection is done every Tuesdays and Fridays. Before the semen goes through a processing, it must first undergo an evaluation, either subjectively or through the Computer Assisted Semen Analyzer, for sperm movement or motility. The PCC has standards for each evaluation tests.

The semen must have at least 60% motile sperm and a concentrate of not less than 500 million sperm cells per millimeter. Even when sperm motility gets high, still, a standard concentration is needed to assure the sperm quality suitable for AI. Around 50 million sperms are being put per straw.

The concentration and motility level are two main criteria to look for in assessing the quality of semen.

Processing and freezing of semen with liquid nitrogen in tanks under -196°C happens for almost 8 hours before it finally moves into final/post-evaluation the next day. The standard postthaw motility at PCC is 30% but most of the processed semen reaches around 40-50%.

All semen that did not pass evaluations and meet the standards are discarded properly to ensure that semen to be distributed all over the Philippines are of quality and underwent proper processing procedures.

After the semen quality evaluation, it is stored in a semen tank. Inventory takes place during this time, wherein all semen must have a traceability indicating the processing date. So if for example, laboratory personnel received complaints or feedbacks about the semen, they could easily detect why and retrieve details of semen processing, or might as well consider if it is concerning the bull where semen is collected from.

The production of sperm being processed is around 3,000 to 3,500 straws per collection day and these are sent to the PCC national headquarters and regional centers for appropriate distribution to the technicians.

White revolution: The farmers’ liberation from hopelessness

ABOUT a decade ago, the usual talk in pained tone by the farmers in a village in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, was their unremitting bondage to hopelessness. Their harvests from their rice and vegetable farming have been in an up-and-down state, their margin of profit in a pittance as cost of inputs goes higher, their debts mounting, and their dreams for a better tomorrow unreachable.

Until they were introduced to carabao dairying. And, they speak no more in pain but in blasts of unbounded glee.

One of them, Melchor Correa, 47, is unabashed in speaking about his unshackled bondage to hopelessness. He is a towering figure of the “White Revolution” launched in the province some years back.

He affirms that this revolution, although fraught by sacrifices, determination and dogged commitment, is worth it – for what successful undertakings are not without those virtues?

Nakabaon po noon talaga sa kawalang pag-asa  (Burried in hopelessness then),” Correa says. “It was a hand to mouth existence then and our children seemed destined to follow our paths,” he added in Tagalog.

Then he got wind about carabao dairying – a relatively new venture that makes use of the carabao’s other breed. Its hope lies on the oozing milk of this mammal and the concomitant carabao-based enterprises. It was unheard of then, as he only knows the carabao is just an ally in farm works. But, it has its other importance: that of directly providing nutritious food and promise of daily income as oppose to the seasonality of rice and vegetable farming. They were, to his estimation, certainly compelling attractions to engage himself in.

“From one, I now have a herd of 30 dairy carabaos, eight of which are lactating,” Correa proudly said.

Prouder was he as he told of his average daily milk yield.

“It is 57 liters,” he said. “I sell it at P54 a liter,” he added.

That’s a cool daily income of P3,078, which in his wildest dream then he could not have imagined. “I expect my 16 pregnant dams to give birth during the year,” he said. They will go on yielding milk for ten months,” he added.

His gains so far, he disclosed, are windfalls for a former downtrodden farmer: a concrete house built on a purchased lot, one hectare more of a rice field, a lot and a functional corral with milking parlor for his animals, a brand new owner-type jeepney, a second-hand car, two motorcycles, several home appliances, and above all the concretization of a dream to see one of his children go up the stage to receive a diploma for finishing a college course.

Correa and his achievements were not alone. In his place, 59 others are members of their dairy cooperatives. Last November, his coop was declared the “most outstanding cooperative” during the National Carabao Conference. Per evaluation, the organization’s members have 432 dairy carabaos with a combined milk harvest of 145,099.65 liters from 91 lactating carabaos.

That milk yield translated to P7,254,982.50 gross sales.

Elsewhere in the province, there are 62 such dairy cooperatives. Together, they had a total milk yield last year of 1,235,472.39 which at P54 per liter translated to a whopping P66,715,509.06 gross sale.

Added to that volume are the thousand more liters of milk harvested and sold by at least 10,000 farmers who own crossbred carabaos which is the product of the crossbreeding of their native carabaos with the dairy-type water buffalo.

Correa understood that the “white revolution” in the province is corollary to championing the province as the “National Impact Zone” for the carabao-based enterprise development. It is designed to change the frontiers in the practice of agriculture that he knows.

The movement recalls to mind the “Green Revolution”, which begun in Mexico in the 1940s and spread worldwide in the decades that followed. It changes the way agriculture was conducted in order to overcome mass starvation in some countries due to insufficient food supply.

In a way, the ‘White Revolution” in Nueva Ecija follows the path of the “Green Revolution”.

Grit and determination

It was not a “give-me” undertaking that Correa and the rest participated in. It involved education, struggle, commitment, and grit and determination which is not for the faint of heart.

“Kailangang bunuin ng husto para magtagumpay (It must be fully conquered in order to succeed),” Correa said.

He recalled sitting through for days in a seminar on carabao management. Then on the lectures and demonstrations on feeds and feedings, health care, de-worming, need for artificial insemination, taking care of the mother carabao and its calf, bathing the animal and cleaning the pen, proper milking and milk handling, and many more. Then, too, there was social preparation or the need to cope up with the expected changed life.

He also bound himself in an agreement of putting up a planting area for the napier grass and legumes needed, construction of appropriate corral, and “not to sell or slaughter the animal”, and return to the government a female offspring for every animal entrusted to him.

Then when the time came for milking animal.

“I and my wife, and sometimes my children when they are not readying for school, rise up at four in the morning to bathe the animal, sterilize the milk can and other milking paraphernalia,” Correa said. “And I need to squat and gently force the milk to flow from the animal’s teat ‘til it flows no more,” he added.

He said it must be a family work – of instilling the value of loving and dotting the animal – for it returns what you give, you bestow love and care for it, it gives more milk yield –  doing the assigned work no matter how difficult it is or how lowly it seems.

Sustaining the gains

Correa’s personal saga in joining the “White Revolution” doesn’t end there. He became chair of the 60-member Eastern Primary Multipurpose Cooperative (EMPC).

He led his coop in putting up a processing plant and an outlet. The coop now produces and sells milk-based products such as pastillas de leche, chocomilk, pasteurized milk, kesong puti, milk-o- gel, iced candy, ice cream, espasol de leche, yogurt, leche flan, and others.

The other cooperatives, too, have put up their own carabao’s milk-based enterprises. Like the Catalanacan Multi-purpose Cooperative in the Science City of Muñoz which also produces such products as sweet macapuno, macaroons, leche flan, bibingkang kanin, bibingkang gatas, pandan-flavoured bibingkang kanin, and  espasol de leche. And they are making money.

Nevertheless, viewed in the context of the huge amount used for importation of milk and milk-based products, which in 2017 were valued at P23 billion, this success in the “White Revolution” in the province needs to be fanned some more. Estimates have it said that for every glass of milk consumed or used in the country, three are sourced from importation and only one locally.

Thus there is need for concerted efforts – by the stakeholders, that include the public and private sectors, policies, adept planning for the pathways to pursue, implementation, and continuous monitoring and evaluation.

For one, it is suggested that a determined move by the government be undertaken to make the rising generation to be “milk drinkers” like those carried out by other foreign governments. In the long run, it will be for the health benefits of the young especially those suffering from malnutrition. It will also augur for a more robust dairy carabao enterprises in the country.

Sayang (what a pity) is the apt word if these gains shown in the “White Revolution” would be frittered away.