French rabbit expert visits the Philippines
WHEN FRENCH rabbit expert Michel Colin, asked for an audience with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), the bureau invited the Association of Rabbit Meat Producers (ARaMP), Inc. to the meeting.
Led by president Art Veneracion Jr., ARaMP board members joined the recent meeting held at the Animal Health and Welfare Conference Room at the BAI Visayas Ave. compound, together with concerned BAI officials led by Animal Product Development Center (BAIAPDC) OIC Emelina A. Lopez.
COPRI, which Colin represents, is mainly a research and development company located west of Brittany at Ploudalmezeau, in one of France’s first areas of animal production. It is now working with France’s Ministry of Research and with different government agencies and authorities in charge of health and human nutrition. It owns a rabbit farm engaged in meat production. They have allocated 300 does at the farm to be used exclusively for continuous nutritional experiments for the improvement of their farming systems and the quality of meat they produce. Their company mission is “to produce healthy rabbit meat profitable to farmers and cheap to consumers.”
Colin discussed the current situation of rabbit production in France and how it has evolved in the last forty years. He shared that there are four plus one key factors for success in the production of rabbits: management, feeds, building and environment, genetics, and the most important factor, the farmer.
After his presentation, ARaMP board members shared their inputs and experiences, noting that the same basic principles apply to rabbit production in the Philippines. While it took France forty years to attain the level they are at now, it is possible to shorten the development of the industry in the Philippines since modern equipment is available; studies and research are more accessible; and technology transfers can be easily arranged. The belief is that the involvement and help of government, specifically the BAI, in the development of the rabbit industry will hasten its growth. It was also noted that resource persons like Colincan greatly help in this endeavor. Veneracion commented that Colin’s presentation was an eye-opener that broadened the association’s perspective regarding the direction that the rabbit industry should pursue.
After the meeting, ARaMP board members paid a courtesy call to the new BAI Director, Dr. Simeon S. Amurao Jr., to thank him for the help BAI has been extending the association. Veneracion mentioned the ongoing Rabbit Dispersal Program in which ARaMP is the designated lead beneficiary and dispersal administrator. He said this will help the growth of the industry in terms of breed upgrade, and that this will lead to the increase in productivity of locally available rabbits.
The group also updated the director on the present rabbit industry situation, in which there is a huge demand for rabbits as pets, laboratory and experimental animals, and breeders. They informed Director Amurao that there is a growing demand for rabbit meat but ARaMP wants to be ready before the members begin to market this to hotels, restaurants, and meat shops. The director reiterated that his office is open to the association for any industry concerns and will always be available for consultations and assistance.
Colin also visited AVEN Nature’s Farm the next day to see a local rabbitry so that he could gauge the progress of the industry in the country.He was impressed by the simple setups and facilities that are adapted to Philippine conditions and can easily be duplicated by small farmers and beginner rabbit raisers.He also noted that the rabbits in the farm were healthy and thriving in cages under the trees.
Veneracion shared that the farm has plans for expansion and will eventually build housing for the rabbits. AVEN Nature’s Farm wants to increase production tobe able to meet the growing market demand for both live rabbits and rabbit meat. He noted that ARaMP members are expanding their operations and are pooling their resources to grow the industry, adding that the provincial veterinary office (PVO) of Bulacan gave its full support to local rabbit breeders, contributing much needed technical support
A FRUITFUL EXCHANGE Colin said that one of the strengths of COPRI is continued experimentation. It is believed that the productivity of rabbits is highly dependent on feed formulation,and rabbit raisers have to ensure that adequate nutrition is provided. COPRI uses different types of formula adapted to every physiological stage of the rabbits.
Formula requirements may also vary according to farm conditions, and some supplements for the rabbits’ diets may be needed. He then offered to bring some local feed formula samples to France for content analysis, after which he will give recommendations for improvement to ARaMP andits Philippine rabbit pellet supplier. He also expressed support for ARaMP’s ventures and declared that he is willing to share his expertise on rabbit nutrition and the technology of COPRI to help grow the local industry.
Veneracion expressed his appreciation that Colin’s company did not use antibiotics, substituting natural substances for them, adding that his AVEN Nature’s Farm and ARaMP members also practice the use of natural ingredients and locally available materials.
Colin enjoyed lunch at the farm, with the meal featuring dishes such as the popular rabbit kaldereta; hewas pleased with the dish and noted the good meat quality, texture, and excellent taste, asking for its recipe and those of the other rabbit-based dishes served at the farm. Angie Veneracion shared that at Aven Nature’s Farm, rabbit sisig is another favorite— made with rabbit brain instead of mayonnaise, the dish is healthier and tastier. As a result of the lunch, a “recipe transfer on top of a technology transfer” agreement was forged.
ARaMP directors and BAI officials with French rabbit expert Michel Colin (fifth from right), at the Animal Health and Welfare Division of Bureau of Animal Industry in Quezon City. Earlier, Colin delivered a presentation showing the rabbit production situation in France and how it has evolved through the years.
Colin visited AVEN Nature’s Farm in Baliuag, Bulacan and was impressed by the simple setup and facilities that have been adapted to Philippine conditions and can be easily duplicated by farmers and beginner rabbit raisers. He noticed that the rabbits in the farm are healthy and thriving in cages under the trees.