By Zac B. Sarian
It can be said that some pigs are luckier than many humans because they live in air-conditioned houses day in and day out, never experiencing heat stress in their lives.
We learned about such lucky pigs in the mid-1990s when we visited the hog farm of Chito Aniban in Brgy. Macamot, Binangonan, Rizal. His farm specialized in producing male and female pigs for breeding. He found it a bright strategy to produce breeders because breeding animals command a much higher price than those intended for fattening.
Of course, hogs that are raised to produce breeding animals have high genetic qualities like fast growth, prolificacy, lean meat, good mothering ability, excellent body conformation, and the like. These are costly animals and so they have to be given special treatment, according to Chito.
One way of giving the special treatment to the prized animals, particularly the boars, was to raise them in air-conditioned quarters. At the time of our visit to the farm, Chito had 16 elite boars that were used to sire 370 female breeders. Breeding was done by artificial insemination, a technique that Chito himself had become an expert.
Why keep the boars in air-conditioned quarters? Chito had very good reasons for doing so. He said that they were very expensive animals (some costing as much as P100,000 in those days) so they deserved special treatment. Under such conditions, the boars produced more sperm and they also remained productive for many more years.
The boars were not under stress so they used up less energy, which was why they also ate less. Chito explained that a boar without any air-conditioning will normally eat 2 to 2.2 kilos of feed daily. On the other hand, he fed his own elite boars only 1.6 kilos every day.
At any rate, Chito said, he could afford to put his boars under air-conditioned quarters (there were two air-conditioned buildings) because it did not really cost him much. The electricity that ran air-conditioning units came from his biogas system.
His biogas facility provided 80 percent of all his electricity requirements in his five-hectare farm. He said that his biogas plant saved him anywhere between P45,000 and P50,000 a month. Those were big amounts in those days. Now you see why some pigs receive much better housing than many of us ordinary souls.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2018 issue.