Don En­rique Zo­bel’s most prof­itable farm project

(Mem­oirs of an Agri Journalist)

Agriculture - - Contents -

IN 1994, we in­ter­viewed Don En­rique Zo­bel in his home in Ayala Ala­bang. He was then wheel­chair-bound most of the time since fall­ing from his horse dur­ing a polo game in Spain in 1991. Early in the in­ter­view, we asked him what was his most prof­itable farm project in his 400-hectare farm in Calata­gan, Batan­gas. His ready an­swer was rais­ing thor­ough­bred horses. At the time, he had 70 breed­ers – 90 per­cent of which gave birth ev­ery year. How­ever, de­spite the high per­cent­age of re­pro­duc­tion, he said his pro­duc­tion was not enough to meet the lo­cal de­mand. He sold ev­ery two-year-old colt or filly at R150,000 to R300,000, de­pend­ing on the blood­line. Those amounts could be equiv­a­lent to mil­lions of pe­sos to­day. Of course, his big­gest project was rais­ing beef cat­tle, par­tic­u­larly the Indu-Brazil breed. At the time of our visit, he had 520 breed­ers, most of them Indu-Brazils. He loved this breed be­cause it is a large an­i­mal (700 ki­los at 2.5 years old) and is hardy for trop­i­cal con­di­tions. It can sur­vive on leaves dur­ing the dry sum­mer months. Dur­ing the rainy sea­son, it does not suf­fer from foot rot which was com­mon in some for­eign breeds.

Zo­bel said he crossed the Indu-Brazil with Li­mousin, a French breed, to pro­duce cross­breds that are meaty and fast­grow­ing, gain­ing about a kilo in one day.

Deer is an­other project at the Zo­bel farm. At the time of our in­ter­view, there were at least 300 deer graz­ing to­gether with the cat­tle. The stocks con­sisted of na­tive deer and three im­ported breeds from New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Malaysia. He par­tic­u­larly liked the Russa from Malaysia be­cause it is twice as big as the na­tive breed. It could weigh

110 ki­los at ma­tu­rity, he said.

Deer farm­ing, ac­cord­ing to Zo­bel, was prof­itable be­cause there was no spe­cial treat­ment given them. They just grazed in the pas­ture most of the time. The only thing spe­cial that was given them was the salt lick im­preg­nated with de­wormer. The an­i­mals gave birth twice a year so they mul­ti­plied fairly fast. He sold deer meat at the Calata­gan mar­ket at twice the price of beef.

By the way, Don En­rique took up Agri­cul­ture at the UCLA Davis. Af­ter fin­ish­ing his course in 1952, he came back to the Philip­pines and started de­vel­op­ing his farm in Calata­gan.— ZAC B. SARIAN

Don En­rique Zo­bel in a wheel­chair.

Rais­ing thor­ough­breds is Zo­bel’s most prof­itable farm project.

Deer was also a prof­itable project for Zo­bel.

Indu-Brazil is a fa­vorite breed of Zo­bel. It is big and hardy un­der trop­i­cal con­di­tions.

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