Multiplier Dairy Farms: Multiplying dairy buffalo-based opportunities

The continuing efforts of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) to encourage Filipino farmers to venture into carabao-raising and carabao-based enterprises, has given rise to a new kind of partnership with private entrepreneurs who have the capacity and willingness to help pursue the goals of the agency.

Such partnership is manifested in the Dairy Buffalo Multiplier Farm (DBMF) project, which, from indications, is now well on the way to expansion.

In the town of Javier, Leyte, 73 kilometers south of Tacloban City, one can find the country’s first DBMF, which was established proponent-cooperator Michael Javier on a four-hectare land in Sitio Mapula, Zone II after entering into a DBMF agreement with PCC.

Dr. Arnel N. Del Barrio, PCC acting executive director, together with the staff of PCC at Visayas State University (PCC-VSU) in Baybay, Leyte, officially turned-over 50 Italian Murrah heifers in a ceremony held late 2014, marking the official launch of the country’s first DBMF project.

Del Barrio explained that the multiplier farm is another strategy aimed at increasing the population of dairy buffalos and breeder base, improve animal productivity that will help ensure availability of milk, and serve as a demonstration farm for farmer-partners and stakeholders for better appreciation of buffalo-based enterprise through dairying.

He added that the Department of Agriculture supports the implementation of the DBMF operation scheme as it believes that this project can contribute substantially to the sustainable growth of the Philippine dairy industry and can create more livelihood opportunities.

Operating a DBMF basically involves breeding, milk production and processing, and establishing a sustainable dairy enterprise. The covering contract is awarded to qualified farmer-trustees that gives them to gain access to good quality animals and technical support for carabao production, breeding and marketing activities.

Under the applicable scheme, PCC entrusts a number of imported or island-born purebred heifer animals, depending on the capability of DBMF partner. The animals are to be paid within an eight-year period.

The first payment, in the form of heifers, commences within or at least at the end of the 4th year of the contract and the last payment is within or at the end of 8th year of the contract. The heifer should be at least 14 months of age, weighing not less than 220 kilograms in body weight, and has an average body size for its age.

Mayor Leonardo Javier Jr. said that DBMF project in his town will translate to economic benefits for his constituents.

A fourth-class municipality with 28 barangays, most of the households in Javier town are engaged in corn, abaca and coconut planting.

“What does this multiplier farm mean to the town? It means we will have milk, so we will have income. We will have organic fertilizers from the animal manure. We will benefit a lot,” he said in his message during the turn-over ceremony.

Dairy farm management

It was not smooth sailing at the start.

The Javier DBMF personnel had to work double time to set up the required housing facilities for the animals. For two weeks, the construction works went on full swing mode. The personnel also underwent intensive hands-on training to familiarize themselves on the actual management of the dairy animals.

The 50 Italian Murrah heifers arrived on the farm on October 31, 2014.

The animals were fed with fresh napier four times a day. The workers also engaged in silage-making to ensure the availability of continuous supply of feed for the animals.

According to Dario Divino, Javier DBMF supervisor, the challenge they confronted was how to keep the animals healthy and disease-free.

“We monitored the animals 24-hours a day. We divided the 12 staff into two groups. The day shift is in-charge of feeding and health monitoring of the animals while the night shift conducts heat detection of the animals,” said Divino.

On the part of PCC at VSU, its center director, Dr. Julius Abela, made sure that close health monitoring is ensured and that technical assistance to the farm is always at hand. The center’s staff also assisted in the planting and growing of napier grass in the forage areas.

The farm uses artificial insemination for its breeding management. Out of the 30 animals artificially inseminated; a dam gave birth with a female calf on August 27. Additional births are expected in the days ahead.

The farm also practices the use of coco peat as animal bedding and to lessen the foul smell in the dairy farm as well as helping the pens to stay clean and dry.

The coco peat primarily consists of coir fiber pith or coir dust, which is obtained by processing coconut husk and removing the long fibers. It can hold large quantities of water, just like a sponge.

“Twice a day after cleaning the area, we scatter the coco peats on the pens,” Divino said.

“The animal wastes that we collect every day are transformed into organic fertilizer, which we apply to our forage area,” he added.

According to Divino, the DBMF management is undertaking the necessary preparations for the construction of the farm’s milking parlor and processing plant to prepare for the future much-anticipated milking activities of the farm

The Javier DBMF management will also adopt the PCC “paiwi system” for its animal re-dispersal in the community.

“The farm’s role is to multiply the animal stocks and eventually distribute the calves produced to qualified farmers in our areas as shared animals. We will help the farmers to become our business partners. Milk collected from the animals that we entrusted to them will be collected or delivered to us,” Divino further said.

The farm intends to market the processed products through the popular Andok’s chain of stores, a family business owned by the Javier’s.

The farm aims to raise its herd up to 100 head in the years to come.

Other adopters

Two other DBMF proponent-operators have been added to the list of qualified beneficiaries of the program. Both in Tarlac, the new DBFMs are operated by Alfredo Belen Farm and RG Agustin Dairy Farm.

Alfredo Belen, owner of the Belen Farm in Magao, Concepcion, Tarlac, was entrusted with 40 head of Italian Murrah heifers in December 2014. To date, 11 calves were already produced and six of the breedable buffaloes were confirmed pregnant.

The turnover of the multiplier dairy module to RG Agustin Multiplier Farm in Tambugan, Camiling, Tarlac was done during the inauguration of PCC’s Livestock Innovations and Biotechnology (LIB) complex last March 20. The 25-head Italian Murrah heifers were awarded to Rommel Agustin, owner of RG Agustin Dairy Farm.

As of September, one female calf was produced.

In the days ahead, with the three DBFMs serving as forerunners, PCC hopes to see the multiplication of more dairy buffalo multiplier farms in other parts of the country.