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Trichantera: A cheap feed source for organic native pig production

Callo-Etis

MANILA, Philippines - High feed cost takes a huge portion of the cost in swine production. In fact, according to Dr. Virgie N. Callo-Etis, professor at the University Rizal System (URS) and project leader of native pig research funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), “about 70-80 percent of the total cost of production is spent on feeds if pure commercial feeds are used.”

Feed cost, however can be reduced if locally-grown feedstuffs are utilized for feeding native pigs.

Hence, the group of Dr. Etis conducted a study that determined the economic potential of raising native pigs using Trichantera (Trichantera gigantea) as source.

The study specifically hoped to determine the feeding value of Trichantera for Philippine native pigs in terms of growth, meat quality, and economic performance. It looked into the three feeding value of Trichantera as: partial replacement to commercial diets (study 1), formulated rations in gabi-based diets (study 2), and formulated rations in gabi-and corn-based diets (study 3).

What is Trichantera?

Trichantera, also known as madre de agua or nacedero, is a fodder plant introduced into the Philippines some years ago from Latin America, particularly in Colombia and Venezuela.

According to Dr. Etis, this plant adapts well in local tropical conditions and grows well easily between plantation crops producing 12 tons of dry matter per hectare per year. It can grow up to three meter-high, but may be pruned for ease of harvesting and good herbage yield.

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This plant has been known as a good feed source for swine. In fact, at the Southern Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Research Center (SMIARC) of the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 11, a techno guide was developed that teaches swine raisers to use Trichantera as feed supplement. Its young leaves are offered fresh to pigs replacing about 20-30 percent of its required commercial diet. It can also be processed into leaf meal and use as ingredients in mash.

According to SMIARC, six kilograms of fresh leaves consumed by pigs per day is equivalent to one kilogram of mixed feeds saved.

Although proven effective for commercial swine production, Dr. Etis’ study is looking into the feeding value of Trichantera as feeds on native pigs particularly, for the production of its organic meat.

“Fodder plants like Trichantera are preferred feed source because they are cheap. They are easy to propagate and therefore readily available and more sustainable,” she reported.

Dr. Etis cited that Trichantera leaves are good sources of proteins for poultry and livestock, while its trunks and branches are efficient substrate for gasification.

Fodder plants are also good sinks for carbon dioxide (CO2) and for methane (CH4) particularly those coming from decaying organic matter from fallen leaves and unused branches. They also control soil erosion.

“As feedstuff, Trichantera is well-accepted by pigs in their diets. There is no report of any toxicity or any toxic substances,” she said. Trichantera has crude protein (19.26 percent), crude fiber (14.41 percent), calcium (6.19 percent), and phosphorous (0.25 percent).

Why native pig?

“The Philippine native pig maintains its niche in the demand for a Filipino delicacy called lechon because of taste and crunchiness,” explained Dr. Etis. She added at least three potentials of this industry and why farmers should start raising native pigs.

“For one, it is a source of additional income in a subsistence economy at a very low capital investment. The present volume of pork production is still insufficient so native pigs can supply part of the market demand for pork. Second, the Philippine native pigs are very rich sources of genetic materials for development of local breeds adapted to the local conditions of the country.

Third, its meat is a good source of a healthy pork diet. Native pigs offer a great potential for producing organic meats if reared naturally and fed organic feeds such as Trichantera,” she said.

Results of studies

Overall conclusion of Dr. Etis’ three studies which tested the feeding value of Trichantera on Philippine native pigs showed that “Trichantera can be fed to native pigs up to 30 percent of their diets whether as a replacement of commercial rations or as formulated diets. Utilization of Trichantera for native pigs can be maximized up to 45 percent but in combination of high-energy feeds like corn.                         

 

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