Them birds and hogs gotta eat
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2020 - 12:00am

While everyone in the city is worrying about food and supplies in Metro Manila, I have not heard or read a single article talking about supplies for pets or even for farm animals. Two days ago, I saw a story on cable news in the US that a number of animals/ pets were being turned over to shelters because owners could not take care of them due to the community quarantines in different cities or towns in America. The biggest challenge for many is buying food for animals at a time when owners have to worry meeting the needs of their families. 

In the farming and chicken community that I mingle with, I have read Facebook posts from friends who are giving away or selling at a loss different types of chickens that cost a small fortune. A well known game fowl breeder in Mindanao recently offered hundreds of chicks for free because of challenges he faced with provincial lockdowns and having to go through so many checkpoints just to bring feeds to his farm out in the bundoks. It’s like giving up your kids for adoption after spending so much time and money to raise future fighting cocks that sell for as much as P25,000-P30,000 each. If there were flights, I would have asked for all of them! Much closer to Metro Manila in Tanay, a very respected veterinarian and promoter of free range poultry all over the Philippines has been posting special offers for anyone who wants to buy free-range roosters as long as they can pick up the birds at the farm. It seems that the Luzon-wide quarantine has prevented hundreds of customers from making purchases and prevented the good doctor from delivering his chickens because all the flights have been cancelled. While I have not reached that point, I must confess that my team in Lipa will be regularly eating chicken tinola, chicken adobo, chicken apritada etc. It will probably take four hours to slow cook them birds but as a precaution I too have culled all the three- to four-year-old chickens in the yard! But that was as far as I could go.

To be truthful about it, last week I really went into a panic worrying about how I was going to feed “them birds and hogs.” I honestly wasn’t thinking straight, I was on survival mode and very concerned about the well being of my farm animals. So, I pulled the trigger and made an advanced order for one month’s worth of BMeg Integra and BMeg Premium feeds. As most of you may recall, I have always been transparent about being a volunteer lecturer for backyard hog raising for the company so it was not at all complicated to make the arrangement. The complication took place in the farm, when I told the caretaker about the order and she asked: “And where do you propose we stock another month’s supply of feed?” I forgot all about that, so if anyone visits the farm, please excuse the 40 sacks of feed sitting in the living room. Of course there is a lesson to this story. Inquire before you order! 

 A week after my panic buying, I casually told my friend in BMeg that I had put in the order just for emergency and that I even bought a sack of corn grit or giniling na mais as an extender for our dog food. She laughed and told me that Nutri Chunks dogfood under San Miguel was readily available in select Petron stations. All I had to do was to check the Nutri Chunks Facebook page. I decided to do more than that. I asked someone in BMeg what the supply situation was so that backyard farmers can have an accurate idea and not get infected by my “Panic Positive-19” state of mind. Here’s a short version of the email he sent me:      

“At this time, we have enough raw materials in our system to support our feed production requirement for the next six months, We still continue to build up our raw material inventory by buying as much as we can locally available raw materials such as corn, cassava and milling by-products and storing it in our warehouses nationwide. Although we experienced challenges on the labor side, but because of the raw materials inventory build up per area, we were able to sustain our production runs. In order to alleviate the potential labor shortage, we were able to provide the following: 

Shuttle service with defined pick-up points for workers with issues on transport applied for IATF IDs, Barangay IDs, certificate of employment as passes in checkpoint areas. Implemented health safety measures at plant through an awareness campaign on COVID-19, social distancing, bringing in personal utensils to avoid possible cross infection, provision of hand-washing implements for personnel and washing off dirt and debris for transport, disinfection of transport and ground areas using Protect Plus Gold and alcohol for personnel, provided personnel with masks and even Vitamin C supplement. Special allowances for those reporting on-site and higher allowance for those reporting under stay-in arrangement. Complete meals for everyone in the plant. All plants are receiving egg and chicken rations from our Live and Processing Operations as additional food support. Toiletries, laundry and bedding amenities for those who are reporting under stay-in arrangements.

Our 35 feed mills are strategically located in different regions. We have established high reliability in terms of supply of goods and services given the five state-of-the-art mega plants that are ISO-Certified and GMP compliant. We have been doing our share in terms of community-relations.

We donated disinfectants and assisted in the application of disinfectants in barangay halls, LGU offices, provincial hospitals and clinics. We also donated food in aforementioned locations including checkpoint areas.

Hope this helps. Please do let me know should you need further inputs.”

Yes, I’d like to know the medicine for “Panic Positive-19.”

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