Raising Livestock in the Philippines
Almost every family in the country breeds a dog, cat, bird, or any other domesticated animal which the family members feed, bathe, and treat as a lovable pet. Other pet owners give their time and interest in taking care wild and exotic animals such as cobra, iguana, scorpion, and others. Truly, Filipinos are definitely animal lovers.
Aside from wanting to have pets, Filipinos raise animals in order to improve the quality of their lives. Many families today, both in the provinces and in the cities, engage in livestock raising to have a secured supply of food, support their daily needs, and have an additional income. Just like having a vegetable garden in the backyard, tending animals prove financially rewarding if done in the right way.
What are livestock? Why is it important to breed and raise them? What are the things we need to consider in livestock raising and the proper steps we need to guarantee the growth and development of the animals? How do we market their meat so people can buy them fresh?
What are livestock
Livestock are animals raised in the backyard for work or for food. These include chicken, duck, quail, hog or pig (swine), cattle (cow and carabao), and goat. These animals are raised depending on the kind of surrounding or environment. Livestock raising is a sure source of food and clothing. The meat and skin of these animals command higher prices in the market. Even the by-products of these animals are a good source of fertilizers. With the Filipinos' patience and perseverance, livestock raising remains a profitable and sustainable business enterprise.
Importance of Livestock Raising
If you raise chickens in your backyard, you are probably aware that through this, the family is able to earn thousands of pesos from the sales of eggs and chicken meat. This is the reward for the hard work that you put into mini chicken farm. This scenario clearly shows the benefits people get in raising livestock.
Consider this as well: According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the livestock industry in 2005 generated over P800 billion value of production. This staggering amount has created allied industries worth billions of pesos as well. These include, among others, feed milling, marketing and distribution, manufacture of veterinary drugs and supplies, fresh meat production, and a multitude of other foods, cosmetics and industrial products. These industries generate hundreds of thousands of jobs -- from the small backyard livestock farmers comprising the bulk of the raisers to the workers of the commercial livestock or poultry farms and in all the allied industries.
Livestock play a vital role in the development and growth of our agricultural and rural economies. Not only do they produce food directly, they also provide key inputs to crop agriculture. Most farms are too small to justify owning or using a tractor, and the alternatives are animal power or human labor.
For many smallholder farmers, livestock are the only ready source of cash to buy the inputs they need to increase their crop production, like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. Livestock income also goes towards buying things the farmers cannot make for themselves. And that includes paying for school fees. Income from cropping is highly seasonal, almost of it coming in just a few weeks after harvest. In contrast, small stock, with their high rates of reproduction and growth, can provide a regular source of income from sales. Larger animals, such as cattle, are a capital reserve, built up in good times to be used when crops are poor or when the family is facing large expenses, such as the cost of a wedding or a hospital bill.
Selecting livestock for raising
After knowing the benefits of raising livestock, the next step to do is to know what breeds of animals are of the best quality so that you would be able to make a good profit.
The following general points must be considered in choosing animals or breeding:
- Age. Select young animals for they are more productive than older animals.
- Health. Choose animals that are active, with bright eyes, and soft and smooth hides.
- Crossbreeds. Crossbreeds or crosses of two different breeds are much preferred because they gain weight faster.
- Breeder. Choose animals that are heavy and big for their age, well-developed shoulders, and can stand firmly on their feet.
- Meaty. Animals with broad chest and good body built and appetite are good choice of breeders.