The Bounty Agro Venture Inc. partner farms in Mindanao employ new tech to protect their investments.
By Maan D’Asis Pamaran
Poultry farming has a reputation for being a dirty, risky business. This stems from the fact that chicken farms can draw swarms of flies that feast on the chicken droppings. There is also a risk of high poultry mortality, because chickens are temperature-sensitive and any change in weather can leave the flock vulnerable. With many uncontrollable conditions in an open farm, they can also get contaminated or infected. What the farmers commonly do to ensure their survival is to load them up on antibiotics and growth enhancers—this is according to studies done on the poultry industry that have been cited by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
There is a new, cleaner, safer way to offer farm fresh chicken, though, and it is being practiced by Bounty Agri Ventures Inc. (BAVI) group. They have alternatives ways in how their poultry is raised by their contract growers, which offers faster turnaround times for their ROIs.
BAVI has enabled their contract growers to build chicken houses using a Controlled Environment System design. These are enclosures that are well-ventilated, temperature-controlled and automated for feeding and water supply. According to BAVI Davao contract grower assistant manager Dr. Riza Pineda, these enclosures are run by systems that sense temperature changes and time feeding and water release. She explains that this system also makes sure that there are no strong odors or flies flitting about. “Since it is well ventilated, chicken dung dries up quickly. Flies multiply at chicken farms because dung is a medium for their eggs. Since there is no conducive moisture for them to lay their eggs, they die out quickly.”
The sensors are also quick to react to temperature changes. If there is a storm, it becomes a cause of concern to other chicken growers. Since there are temperature and humidity sensors in the system, it can decide to operate the blowers and keep temperature at a constant level of about 25 degrees Celsius. “Our target is to provide for the comfort of birds. They already have that genetic potential for them to grow faster. What we can do at this stage for a 28-day harvest is to make them comfortable as they eat and sleep, so they can grow.”
With the feeding and water system automated and timed, there is less need for manpower, where a 60 by 400 feet enclosure can hold 40,000 chickens, with only three or four personnel operating the farm, bringing down manpower costs.
She adds that of their 358 contract growers, 62 % are Controlled Environment System (CES) Houses and 38 % are still open-sided.
The chickens that they raise in Mindanao have been Halal-certified, because they are now giving their growers vegetarian feeds and even the five dressing plants in that region are certified to be Halal.
“With other feeds, protein comes from animal byproducts such as fish meal. We have substituted non-animal sources in their feeds with highly-digestible fats and starch for our Mindanao production,” Pineda says. “We are planning to expand this to other parts of the country, as we are gearing toward producing chicken that is healthier for human consumption.”
Antibiotic-free For All
Antibiotic resistance has become a global concern. Health experts say that in the future, simple infections in humans can no longer be treated with antibiotics because of imprudent antibiotic use in raising animals for consumption. “This is why the US has banned the use of antibiotic growth promotants in their poultry and meat industries,” Pineda explains. “We are proud to say that our Luzon chickens have been raised antibiotic-free and we are going to start implementing this in Mindanao late this year.” She explains that they negate the need for antibiotics by starting out with good quality chicks and making sure that growers apply strict biosecurity procedures. The enclosures are fully disinfected twice and are given at least a week’s rest period after each harvest before the start of another cycle.
Pineda says that poultry is a good agri-business to get into. “Maganda ang promise ng broiler industry. There is still a big demand for chicken in the country and there are only a few integrators. You can see the demand for yourself. In the Philippines, if you check all the food chains, you will not find a restaurant that does not offer a chicken dish.”
She says that for a one-hectare property with an investment of P13M to P16M using the new CES design and technology, the ROI would take an average of four years. She smiles. “I have had many cases where a partner would say that they will stop at just one enclosure, but since they find it profitable to work with us, they usually come back to set up another one. There is room for growth in this industry.”
Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. (BAVI)