Government crossbreeding program boosts population of dairy carabaos in Region 2

The government’s crossbreeding program has significantly boosted the population of dairy carabaos in Region 2. San Agustin, a town in Isabela province, stands out as the “Crossbred Carabao Capital of the Philippines” due to its remarkable achievements in carabao crossbreeding.

The municipality actively collaborates with the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC) to train Village-Based Artificial Insemination (AI) Technicians (VBAITs), aiming to increase the population of crossbred carabaos.

This endeavor has yielded impressive results, with the municipal agriculture office reporting 2,854 crossbred carabaos in June 2023 in San Agustin.

The success in San Agustin can be attributed to the local government’s commitment to harnessing AI for breed improvement. Initiatives like the Carabao-based Business Improvement Network (CBIN) project and the DA-PCC’s carabao upgrading program are also expanding the carabao population in neighboring Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya through processing and marketing facilities.

San Agustin is known for its “Nuang Festival,” celebrating the achievements of carabao owners who have actively participated in the program to improve the native carabao breed.

During the 13th Nuang Festival in 2018, three farmers received buffalo bulls with 93.75% riverine blood, introduced as the “Philippine Dairy Carabao” breed during the DA-PCC’s 25th anniversary celebration.

The Philippine Dairy Carabao is a product of a continuous backcrossing method conducted by researchers at DA-PCC at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (DA-PCC at UPLB) under the guidance of Dr. Ester Flores, National Genetic Improvement Program Coordinator and geneticist of DA-PCC.

This breeding approach involves mating purebred riverine buffaloes with native swamp buffaloes (carabaos). The resulting offspring—crossbred carabaos—are bigger, meatier, and produce more milk than native carabaos, which can only provide an average of one to two liters of milk a day.

The development of the Philippine Dairy Carabaos did not stop at the production of the first cross—the 50:50 bloodline. Subsequent generations of purebred riverine bulls that are the product of careful selection and mating are used for continuous mating (backcrossing) of the subsequent generations of crossbred cows with an increasing riverine bloodline until the fourth generation.

At this point, the crossbreds are no different from purebred riverine but have the distinct advantage of better tolerance or adaptability to the Philippine climate.

“These bulls [entrusted to farmers] are products of continuous backcrossing and selection of cows that are really good milk producers. Their daughters will be included in the genetic evaluation, the process that purebred cows undergo, having their own estimated breeding values,” Dr. Flores said. “With all the rigorous processes done to come up with these bulls, they are ready to be used for breeding,” she added.

San Agustin, through LGU collaboration with DA-PCC and other partners, aspires to excel in carabao upgrading and dairy enterprise development. The production of more “Philippine Dairy Carabaos” positions the Philippines among countries that have successfully bred their dairy buffalo, potentially boosting the dairy carabao population nationwide.