Legazpi promotes commercial production of native chicken under organic agriculture

September 9, 2015 5:03 am 

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 7 (PNA) -– The office of the city agriculturist here is pushing for the implementation of a project towards commercial production of native chicken as part of its organic agriculture advocacy for safe food.

“There is a need for us to push food safety and environment-friendly food production techniques that would preserve the environment for sustainable agriculture,” Jesus Kallos, the city agriculturist, on Monday said.

One of these techniques, he said, is the community-based commercial production of native chicken that enjoys wide market demand owing to its meat that carries a distinct taste and more nutritious properties inimitable from the commercial breeds.

The free-range management of native chicken makes it possible for them to accumulate natural nutrients directly from the soil, which cultured broilers and layers do not acquire, he explained.

In a common rural scenario, these native birds, Kallos said, supply the family with few eggs and, occasionally, meat that are tastier and more savory than those of purebreds for home consumption, for barter or for sale and despite their slow growth and smaller size, they are more costly.

“We are embarking on some strategies to improve the native chicken– one is adopting a program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on community-based production based on organic agriculture system. The DA is also mulling on a station-based organic native chicken project,” he said.

There are also applicable studies which show graded chicken thriving and performing well by crossing the local breed with purebreds and general purpose breeds like Rhode Island, Plymouth Rock, New Hampshire Australorp and Cantonese using some technologically proven techniques, according to Kallos.

These techniques, he said, include the introduction of purebred hatching eggs, a practice of replacing with purebred hatching eggs all the about-a- dozen eggs laid by a native bird once it starts to be broody, which in result makes the native hen raise purebred chicks.

Another technique is the introduction of purebred chicks wherein day-old purebred chicks are placed in the evenings with the broody native hen which is also rearing day-old native chicks.

This technique requires rubbing all the chicks, native and purebred alike, with some coconut oil to prevent the mother hen from recognizing her “real” chicks from the others.

The cockerel exchange program introduced by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), which is a means to upgrade local chicken by exchanging local cockerel with purebred one, thus, all native cockerels in the flock are eliminated, can also be applied, he said.

The offspring of these are called mestizos or grades, whose size and egg production almost equal those of the purebred parents.

Further mating of the graded females to purebred males produce birds that could be mistaken for purebreds as in white leghorn males when mated with native hens produce grades for better egg production.

Coupled with these methods of upgrading, the farmer should also put up a poultry house of local materials as these purebred would not be able to roost on higher branches of trees.

These birds also need protection during inclement weather, Kallos said.

The surroundings must be planted with wind breakers such as banana and fruit trees that will not only provide shade and protect the housing and the chickens but also fruits and source of naturally occurring feedstuffs.

Kallos said native chicken has the great potential of becoming a big industry, given that it has already launched its name in the local markets and started to play side by side with the commercial ones.

Through the intervention of available technology, it has also evolved into a more complex production process and marketing system.

“It’s about time that the native chicken be projected to the public as one of the city’s and Bicol Region’s flagship farm commodities produced out of organic system based on sustainable agriculture methods embracing a wide range of techniques that mimic natural ecological processes,” he said.

Beyond growing food, the philosophy of sustainability also espouses broader principles that support the just treatment of farm workers and food pricing that provides the farmer with a livable income, he stressed.

In simplest terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities and animal welfare.

“This form of agriculture enables us to produce healthful food without compromising future generations' ability to do the same,” Kallos said.

The primary benefits of sustainable agriculture, according to him, is, among others, environmental preservation wherein farms produce crops and raise animals without relying on toxic chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified seeds that degrade soil, water, or other natural resources.

Likewise, Kallos said, sustainable livestock farmers raise animals without dangerous practices like use of non-therapeutic antibiotics or arsenic-based growth promoters and through careful, responsible management of livestock waste, they also protect humans from exposure to pathogens, toxins, and other hazardous pollutants.

It also upholds animal welfare as farmers treat animals with care and respect by way of implementing livestock husbandry practices that protect animals' health and well-being.

By raising livestock on pasture, these farmers enable their animals to move freely, engage in instinctive behaviors, consume a natural diet and avoid the stress and illness associated with confinement, he added. (PNA)

LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

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