PCC IM­PROV­ING NA­TIVE CARABAO BREED FOR GREATER PRO­DUC­TIV­ITY

Agriculture - - Genetic Improvement - BY MA. CE­CILIA C. IRANG

FOR CEN­TURIES, the Philip­pine carabao, which is a swamp-type wa­ter buf­falo,has been the ideal com­pan­ion and help­mate of farm­ers in their day-to-day chores. Its draft power abil­i­ties, and its be­ing tractable and friendly, have given it the sta­tus of be­ing so in­dis­pens­able, lo­cal farm­ers of­ten said they were less ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient with­out the crea­tures. Times have changed, though. In the ad­vent of farm mech­a­niza­tion, the carabao’s role has been di­min­ished, and it is now un­der­uti­lized, es­pe­cially since the num­bers of the river­ine or dairy type carabaos, its cousin, are in­creas­ing.

But all is not lost for the Philip­pine carabao.

The Philip­pine Carabao Cen­ter (PCC), up­hold­ing its man­date to con­serve, prop­a­gate, and pro­mote the carabao as a source of milk, meat, draft power, and hide to ben­e­fit ru­ral farm­ing fam­i­lies, is em­bark­ing on apro­gram to im­prove the na­tive carabao. It is now com­mit­ted to es­tab­lish­ing a gene pool for the Philip­pine carabao, and from this pool, the se­lec­tion of its eco­nom­i­cally im­por­tant traits will be done.Th­ese traits in­clude growth, car­cass qual­ity, and re­pro­duc­tive abil­i­ties.

Fore­most on the PCC’s list of things to do for this an­i­malare: to im­prove its size, weight, and ca­pa­bil­i­ties to yield more draft power, meat, milk, and other ben­e­fits that can be de­rived from it.

In the ge­netic im­prove­ment pro­gram (GIP) for the Philip­pine carabao, con­ser­va­tion ef­forts will un­der­score the main­te­nance of a vi­able herd and long term stor­age of germplasm in the form of frozen se­men, and per­haps frozen em­bryos, and im­prov­ing the an­i­mal’s growth rate, re­pro­duc­tive per­for­mance, and car­cass traits via a breed­ing pro­gram that will em­pha­size se­lec­tion for th­ese traits.

“We are fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing the meat pro­duc­tion po­ten­tial of the na­tive or swamp buf­faloes, in­creas­ing…its growth rate, and im­prov­ing some of the spe­cific mus­cle ar­eas that are of high value,” said Dr. Ester B. Flores, PCC na­tional GIP co­or­di­na­tor, adding that the breed­ing pro­gram is meant to in­crease the pro­duc­tiv­ity of the Philip­pine carabao­for meat be­cause it al­ready has good struc­ture and form for draft power. “If it will be sold for meat, then why not in­crease its dress­ing per­cent­age?” she asked, em­pha­siz­ing the im­por­tance of im­prov­ing the pro­duc­tiv­ity of the na­tive carabao.

IM­PROV­ING GROWTH PO­TEN­TIAL Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Flores, in terms of eco­nomic ben­e­fits, the changes in the po­ten­tial growth rate of the na­tive carabao can be trans­lated into more eco­nomic value with few­er­ef­forts, and­will only in­volve the use of swamp buf­faloes with im­proved ge­net­ics. A faster growth rate, she said, would en­able farm­ers to sell them to the mar­ket at a younger age with an av­er­age mar­ket weight of 400 kilo­grams (kg), and pro­vide farm­ers with an ad­di­tional source of in­come.

The doc­u­ment “Write-up on the Up­dates on Philip­pine Swamp Buf­falo Gene Pool and Breed­ing Pro­gram” con­ducted by the team of Dr. Flores in­di­cated that to date, there are 1,266 growth records avail­able for anal­y­sis. In re­cent years, a gen­eral im­prove­ment in weight and ADG (av­er­age daily gain), es­pe­cially among the younger calves was noted. This val­i­dates the se­lec­tion of re­place­ment bulls for breed­ing.

Track­ing growth trends in­di­cates lin­ear growth in the calves up to 24 months of age. The ADG at 12months in­creased the most con­sis­tently, with a 153% in­crease in 2014 rel­a­tive to 2004. This was fol­lowed by ADG at 18 months. This trans­latesinto slightly higher body weights at 12 and 18 months com­pared to 2004 prior to start­ing a breed­ing pro­gram.

The study also in­di­cated thatthe Philip­pine carabao has the po­ten­tial to in­crease its meat-type breed, with more for­mal ge­netic eval­u­a­tion and se­lec­tion pro­gram. Thus, ge­netic eval­u­a­tion to es­ti­mate breed­ing val­ues for growth rate, car­cass, and ma­ter­nal traits should be given more em­pha­sis as well as ge­netic cor­re­la­tions among th­ese traits.

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