Cur­rents

Agriculture - - Contents - >BY DR. RAFAEL D. GUER­RERO III

THE NA­TIVE PIGS in the Philip­pines orig­i­nated from the four en­demic wild species (“baboy damo”) in Lu­zon, Ne­gros Is­land, Palawan, and Min­danao that have be­come do­mes­ti­cated. They are char­ac­ter­ized to be black in color with small ears and eyes, and with an elon­gated snout. The males have tusks pro­ject­ing up­ward, rem­i­nis­cent of their wild­ness. Na­tive pigs are lit­eral “piggy banks” com­monly raised in back­yards by thou­sands of small farm­ers through­out the coun­try as an ad­di­tional source of in­come. Com­pared to im­ported pig breeds, na­tive pigs are eas­ier and cheaper to raise be­cause they are well-adapted to lo­cal con­di­tions and do not re­quire ex­pen­sive hous­ing and care. They are only fed with or­ganic ma­te­ri­als avail­able in the house­hold or farm like food wastes, veg­etable scraps and plant leaves. There is also a grow­ing mar­ket for na­tive pigs in Metro Manila and other big cities for ‘le­chon’, a fa­vorite del­i­cacy among Filipinos that is served dur­ing feasts and other spe­cial oc­ca­sions be­cause of its spe­cial taste and the crispi­ness of the roasted skins.

A pro­ject to im­prove the growth and breed­ing per­for­mance of na­tive pigs was started in the late 1990s by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s Na­tional Swine and Poul­try Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter (NSPRDC) of the Bureau of An­i­mal In­dus­try (BAI) in Tiaong, Que­zon. The so-called BAI-Train­ing black pigs or BT blacks for short were de­vel­oped by the NSPRDC through the selec­tive breed­ing of na­tive pigs from Benguet, Marinduque, and Que­zon.

The BT blacks grow faster than their par­ents and have an av­er­age lit­ter size of 8 piglets that weigh 0.75 ki­los each at birth. The piglets ma­ture at 4-5 months of age and can weigh 60 ki­los each af­ter 6-8 months. A ma­ture fe­male pig (sow) can breed two times in 14 months. The im­proved na­tive pigs have been dis­sem­i­nated to farm­ers in Que­zon who also have been trained at the NSPRDC to raise them.

Dur­ing our re­cent visit to the NSPRDC, Dr. Rene San­ti­ago, the cen­ter’s chief, guided us on a tour of their na­tive pig im­prove­ment pro­ject. The sows and their nurs­ing piglets were con­fined in cov­ered 2 x 2-me­ter pens that had bed­dings of rice hulls and soil in­stead of con­crete floors used in com­mer­cial farms of the for­eign breeds. Weaned piglets were reared free range in out­door en­clo­sures. Feed­ing was with for­mu­lated di­ets con­sist­ing of rice bran, ground corn, co­pra meal, mo­lasses, salt, and lime sup­ple­mented with fresh leaves of “madre de agua” (Trichantera gi­gan­tea), an in­tro­duced South Amer­i­can acan­thus shrub be­ing grown ex­ten­sively in the fa­cil­ity.

What sur­prised us about the pig rear­ing meth­ods of the cen­ter was the ab­sence of the foul smell that usu­ally em­anates from con­ven­tional pig farms that use pens with con­crete floors. The bed­ding of the na­tive pigs’ pen con­sisted of a 70-cen­time­ter layer of rice hull topped with a 30-cen­time­ter layer of soil and rice hull. “The urine of the pigs is ab­sorbed by the bed­ding and fer­mented by micro­organ­isms in the soil, thus elim­i­nat­ing the smell of am­mo­nia and other odor­ous gases,” ex­plains Dr. San­ti­ago. The solid wastes of the pigs are man­u­ally col­lected daily and used for bio­gas gen­er­a­tion or com­posted.

An­other ad­van­tage in the rear­ing of na­tive pigs the nat­u­ral way is that there is no need for wash­ing the pens. “We used 16 liters of wa­ter to clean a pen ev­ery day be­fore,” Dr. San­ti­ago said. More­over, the pigs in the free-range en­clo­sures are much leaner than those in pens be­cause of the ex­er­cise they get.

For dis­ease preven­tion, only anti-hog cholera vac­cines are ad­min­is­tered to the na­tive pigs, ac­cord­ing to Dr. San­ti­ago, who is a ve­teri­nar­ian. Her­bal ther­a­peu­tics like boiled leaves of “la­gundi” for colds and coughs, and star ap­ple leaves for di­ar­rhea, are also used.

In the Na­tional Swine Pro­ject of the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Los Baños, sup­ported by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s Bureau of Agri­cul­tural Re­search, 45 farm­ers in the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Malanay and San Nar­ciso in the Bon­doc Penin­sula of Que­zon were given the im­proved breed of na­tive pigs for rear­ing as their ad­di­tional source of in­come. Each farmer was given two ready-to-breed gilts (fe­males) and seven wean­lings (piglets) to raise. The pigs were kept in sim­ple sheds un­der the co­conut trees in open ar­eas that were fenced with bam­boo and “madre de agua.” Feed­ing was mainly with boiled taro tu­bers and leaves, rice and corn bran, ma­ture co­conut meat, cas­sava and madre de agua leaves.

With an ini­tial in­vest­ment of R15,000 for the pigs and feeds per farmer, and an an­nual gross in­come of R30,304 from the sale of 10 head of mar­ket-size pigs weigh­ing 25 ki­los each at R780/ head and 24 piglets at R937/ head, the farm­ers who earned only R5,000-R6,000 per year prior to rais­ing na­tive pigs are now each earn­ing an ad­di­tional an­nual in­come of R15,304.

Dr. San­ti­ago looks over the im­proved na­tive piglets in a free range en­clo­sure.

An im­proved na­tive pig sow with piglets in a pen with rice hull bed­ding.

Mar­ket-size im­proved na­tive pigs feed­ing on “madre de agua.”

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