Markaduke: A native pig recognized as the best lechon in the Philippines

Native pigs are pure black. Any color combination indicates that it is a hybrid or the result of crossbreeding. (DOST-PCAARRD)

By Vina Medenilla

Markaduke is a native breed produced by Marinduque State College that serves as the pride of the Philippine swine industry.

“It is a product of a closed-nucleus breeding system employing selection for growth and litter size under assortative mating.” 

Joy B. Banayo, a researcher from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, described this breed as black, smaller than commercial pigs, tolerant to heat and diseases, and capable of producing excellent meat quality and caring for her piglets.

DOST-PCAARRD-funded research examined Markaduke’s genes and confirmed that the Markaduke pig is ideal for lechon due to its superior quality.

Apart from lechon, it can only be used to make local dishes and value-added products such as chicharon, tocino, marinated tapa, and sisig. 

Read: The Best Lechon is Marinduque’s Native Black Pig

Breeding techniques

There are two ways to reproduce native pigs: natural breeding and Artificial Insemination (AI).

Both are considered pure breeding methods as long as the male and female pigs belong to the same genetic group, but are not necessarily closely related to each other, said DOST-PCAARRD’s Livestock Research Division (LRD) Director Synan S. Baguio.

The Council is currently developing artificial insemination technology for native pigs. Through this system, the genetic materials such as the semen of highly selected boars can be collected for breeding and improving sows raised in other areas. 

AI will also allow researchers to evaluate the quality of the semen before inserting it into the female pig’s reproductive area. Plus, this could also help calculate the success rate of producing young.

Baguio suggests: “Select your potential breeder pigs from a large litter size, maybe 10 or more.” 

“For Markaduke, it’s already producing an average of eight litter size and we got a maximum litter size of 17. This means that our native pigs have the natural genetic property of large litter size,” said Arnolfo M. Monleon, DOST-PCAARRD’s program leader of R&D initiatives on Philippine native pigs, on cross-breeding to increase litter sizes of native pigs.

Proper feeding is a contributing factor to the litter size. “Whatever we feed [the pigs], as long as they provide the nutrients that our pigs need to support reproduction, then they will be able to give more piglets if they have the genes for prolificacy.”

For the usage of commercial feeds, Baguio said, “More than its effects on the meat quality of pigs, it will largely affect the income. At this time, it will be hard to make native pig production profitable if we use solely commercial feeds due to their high costs.”

LRD Director added, “As we are trying to purify our native pigs, we are discouraging indiscriminate cross-breeding because early on, starting 1901, as I’ve read in literature, the Philippines has been indiscriminately cross-breeding our native pigs with exotic breeds and they call that ‘upgrading,’ which to me, is actually not upgrading—it’s downgrading.”

He claimed that this method “failed to produce something that is of use and that uplifts our swine industry.”  

“It results in mongrelization of our native pigs and it will take a very long time and will need so much money to purify them again, similar to what we are doing now.”

The information provided above is from a webinar on native pigs held during the fourth day of DOST PCAARRD’s Native Animals Fair. Additional research was taken from DOST-PCAARRD’s digital flyer on native pigs.

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Vina Medenilla
Vina Medenilla is a content producer for Agriculture Monthly magazine. She is a graduate from Miriam College with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Fashion, photography, and travel are some of the things she loves. For her, connection with nature is essential to one’s life.

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