May 31, 2011

 

Philippine pig farms to step up on biosecurity

 

 

While the Philippines still has a large backyard farm segment, swine production continues to progress in terms of consolidation, expertise and production levels.

 

There are currently more than 12 million pigs housed in the Philippines, which has a strong domestic market of 95 million people, but weak export markets. Many pork products are integral to Filipino cuisine.

 

The backyard farm sector is scattered throughout the 7,100 islands that make up the Philippines, comprising 70-80% of the total pig output. Many households hold pigs throughout the year up until June, when they are often sold to provide an income for families. Farm-gate prices tend to peak in May.

 

In the larger agribusiness swine operations there is increasing integration (breeder and feed suppliers, finisher contractors) around the major cities and the number of smaller to medium-sized farms are also building up. Some farms are located in the agricultural province of Bulacan located close to metropolitan Manila. Nenas Quintos farms are a well-run, 1,000 sow, single-site swine farming operation. The farms provide around 20,000 finisher pigs each year into the local dealer markets and slaughterhouses.

 

There are around 70,000 sows in the small Bulacan province, and all farms face difficult biosecurity issues due to the presence of numerous closely-located farms. At Nenas Quintos there is strong management control of the farrowing, weaner and finisher area operations, with hygienic facilities for breeder, nursery and finisher pigs. The farm maintains a good weaning weight of eight kg, with low losses in wean-to-finish of only 6%. Slaughter weights tend to be low in the Philippines at 90kg live bodyweight in the local markets.

 

Relatively high feed input prices are currently countered by good farm-gate prices. The Nenas farms currently use only 10% corn cereal in the final diets, with added components derived from bulk purchases (one to five tonnes) of stale or unused noodles, biscuits, corn chip snacks, chocolate milk drinks, banana meal, coconut meal, chocolate snack bars, milk powder and others. As a result, they are able to keep feed costs at 30% below the national average of PHP21 (US$0.49) per kg.

 

Farmers are having good success with the use of gut health stabilisers such as Sangrovit alkaloids to control Pediatric Gastrointestinal Disease (PED) diarrhoea and poor performance in the finishers.

 

The Philippines is one of the few major pig producing countries with a problem of the PED epidemic diarrhoea virus. Almost all Filipino pig farms have been affected in the past five years and many farms report reoccurrences of PED outbreaks. There are no reliable vaccines on the market and the search is on for a good quality vaccine that will halt this common problem.

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