The American Pacific has year-round and seasonal abundance of local feedstuffs such as breadfruit, bananas, coconuts and fish byproducts. These feedstuffs become readily available as daily swine ration. The primary reason these local feed products are not utilized is the lack of information on the nutritional contents and the absence of demonstration studies of these resources for feeding swine in the region. Hog producers feed their pigs different local products but have no records and data on how these pigs perform under such feeding practices and environments.
This grant conducted feeding trials in Pohnpei, Guam and Tinian. Hogs weighing 30 to 60 lbs. were utilized for the trials. The feeding trials conducted on each site used different proportions of local feedstuffs with commercial hog grower feeds. Records on growth rate and feed efficiency were taken and analyzed. Feed intake, behavior and health conditions of animals were thoroughly observed and recorded.
Results show that hogs fed with mixed local feedstuffs had slower growth rate and high feed conversion ratio. These results are expected because of the low nutritional values of the local feed resources. But the delayed growth rate fits into the hog market situation in the American Pacific, where hogs are sold “live” at the farm gate. There is no regular market target to meet on a weekly or monthly basis. The equal proportion of bananas, grated coconut and commercial hog grower ration gave the best results in terms of growth rate and feed cost. Utilizing more local feedstuffs in the feed means higher profit for the producers. Regional and local workshops were conducted to disseminate the information gathered from these trials.
a. Develop a feeding program to reduce feed cost by 50% for growing-finishing hogs and breeding stocks using local feedstuffs (breadfruit, copra and fish by products)
b. Develop feed formula using these local feedstuffs. After establishing the nutritional values, these formulations will be converted to simple combinations formula for hog producers to understand. A formulation form for these local products meeting nutritional requirements for the 2 rations to be studied will be converted to simple weighing of these products for feed ingredients.
c. Develop sustainable practices in terms of preparation of local feedstuffs for feeding swine.
d. Educate hog producers on proper ways of feeding swine utilizing available local feedstuffs
e. Publish educational materials of results in PEOPLE’S project as ready-to-print desktop publications and prints. Conduct local and regional workshops on the project.
Almost all the islands and atolls in the American Pacific are engaged in swine production. Hogs are raised to supplement farm income and are important commodities in the observation of the traditions and customs of the islanders.
The feed sources and feeding management methods practiced by hog farmers are dependent on many factors and vary from island to island. One island may have an abundance of sweet potatoes and breadfruits while other islands may have an abundance of taro and bananas. Guam and Saipan have reliable sources for wet garbage because of the many hotels and other food establishments. The only common local product for feeding hogs among the islands is coconut. The hog producers utilize these feed resources in feeding their hogs. However, the overall feeding system and practices are inconsistent, crude and irregular. There is lack of a general pattern or method that hog farmers use. For example, hog raisers throw any available local feedstuffs (whole ripe bananas or chopped coconuts) into the pig pens. There is no established quantity of each of these local feed ingredients to feed for each age group of hogs in the farm. There is no effort on the hog raiser to examine exactly how their pigs are performing when fed with these local feedstuffs.
In spite of the year-round or seasonal availability of these local feedstuffs, there is still heavy reliance on utilizing imported commercially prepared swine rations for feeding hogs in the region. The feed cost is high because of the transportation/freight expenses of these commercial feeds coming from the U.S. mainland or Australia. The price of market hogs in the region can be so unreasonably high for the average resident in the islands.
Although there were numerous studies on the use of local feedstuffs on Guam and Pohnpei, the hog raisers were not able to adopt the information and results into their feeding practices. Most of the recommendations from these studies are not suitable to the daily farm feeding routine. It is very difficult for the farmer to plant corn or cassava to supply or even supplement the energy content of the local products. The swine rations recommended from these studies were scientifically calculated and formulated, but the implementation of the swine rations is just too difficult for the backyard raisers.
The main objective of this grant was to improve the existing feeding practices of hog raisers utilizing local feedstuffs. Hog raisers need to be educated on how a simple feed processing, such as grating and mashing of these feedstuffs, improves palatability. Hog raisers need to establish feed combinations of these local products.
Feeding trials were conducted on Guam, Pohnpei of the Federated Sates of Micronesia and Tinian of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
a. Guam: A total of 100 growing pigs were fed with different proportions of grated coconuts, bananas, breadfruit and commercial hog grower. The duration of each feeding trial was 30 days. The hogs were weighed before and after each trial period.
i. Mangilao Hog Farm: This a 100-sow-level farm. Two different feed combinations were tested in this site: (1) equal proportion of ripe bananas and commercial feeds and (2) two-thirds bananas and one-third commercial feeds. The feed ingredients were hand-mashed and mixed together. Control groups were fed commercial hog grower feeds.
ii. Guam Department of Agriculture Breeding Facility: More feeding trials were conducted at this site. Two different feed combinations were tested in this site: (1) equal proportion of bananas, grated coconuts and commercial feeds and (2) equal proportion of bananas, grated coconuts, ripe breadfruit and commercial feeds. The feed ingredients were hand-mashed and mixed together. Control groups were fed commercial hog grower feeds.
b. Tinian: Two farmers, Mr. Ray de la Cruz and Mr. Melvin Cruz, participated in a feeding trial conducted at their own farms. Each had 4 growing hogs fed with 100% commercial hog grower (control) and an experimental group fed with 30% coconut, 30% wet garbage and 40% commercial hog grower feed. The feeding trial lasted for 30 days. Management practices on the farm were similar for both groups of hogs.
c. Pohnpei: OHWA High School hog farm conducted a feeding trial using coconuts. Although coconuts are major feeds for pigs on Pohnpei, there are no data on the effect on growth rate on pigs fed 100% coconuts in the island. The control group were fed with 100% commercial feeds and the experimental group were fed with 100% fresh, chopped coconuts for 30 days. The pigs were weighed before and after start of feeding trial.
i. Mangilao Hog Farm: In all the trials conducted at this farm, the results were consistent throughout. The experimental group ( 50% bananas-50% commercial grower) had an average daily gain of 0.541 pounds and feed conversion of 5.38 compared to the control group (100% commercial grower feed), which had an average daily gain of 0.968 pounds and feed conversion of 3.18.
In the 75% bananas-25% commercial hog grower group, the average daily gain was 0.303 pounds and the feed conversion was 7.89 pounds. The growth rate was slower than the 50%-50% combination.
The experimental group did not encounter problems in health and behavior. The feed intake and consumption were normal. The growth rate was slower, and this can be attributed to the nature of the diet.
ii. Department of Agriculture Breeding Station: The experimental group (33% bananas-33% grated coconuts-33% commercial grower) had an average daily gain of 0.290 pounds compared to the control group (100% commercial grower feed), which had an average daily gain of 0.297 pounds.
b. Tinian: There was a slight significant difference of weight gain using the commercial feeds (control group) over the combination of local feed resources and commercial feeds (experimental group). Both farmers agreed though that the total cost of the commercial feeds to attain the weight gain for the control group is very high. Commercial feeds should be more of a supplement to feeding local hog population. More local feed resources should be made available.
c. Pohnpei: . The experimental group ( 100% fresh chopped coconuts) had an average daily gain of 0.336 pounds and compared to the control group (100% commercial grower feed), which had an average daily gain of 0.777 pounds.
During the workshops conducted on Guam, Kosrae and Pohnpei, farmers learned that simple processing such as grating coconuts, mashing bananas and mixing the ingredients and local feedstuffs improve palatability and increase feed consumption. Workshop participants saw the difference in the pigs’ reaction when fed grated coconuts mixed with mashed bananas instead of giving whole bananas and whole raw coconut meat separately.
Coconuts and bananas are available all year round. These two local products become the basic components of hog rations. One or two other seasonal food items can be added. Commercial feeds should still be added but of equal proportion to local feeds being utilized. Savings on feeds depends on how many local feedstuffs hog raisers can utilize.
The feeding practices and methods used in this study are easy to be adopted by the majority of hog producers. The activities are doable by the hog raisers.
The different feeding patterns and methods used in the trials are being continued at the Guam Department of Agriculture breeding station. More data are being gathered for hog raisers to see the performance of the pigs given such feed combinations.
I made one of the feeding trials into a laboratory exercise for my Agriculture 211 class. Students weighed the hogs before and after the feeding trials. The students computed for average daily gain and feed conversion ratio. Each group made a classroom presentation of the results.
Educational & Outreach Activities
I conducted workshops at the University of Guam. A total of 12 hog producers and extension agents from Micronesia and Northern Mariana Islands attended the workshop. The participants saw the entire process of processing the local feedstuffs. They saw a batch of the hogs utilized in the trial. They had a hands-on comparison of the growth rate and performances of the hogs.
I conducted workshops in Kosrae and Pohnpei. A total of 63 hog producers attended the workshops. In Kosrae, we visited a farm where there was an abundance of ripe bananas and coconuts. I did a hands-on feeding demonstration just mixing the 2 feed sources. All the participants saw how differently the pigs consumed the grated coconut and mashed bananas compared to just feeding whole bananas and coconuts.
I used a PowerPoint format to present the project activities and results during my workshops. Hard copies were given to workshop participants. I have the file ready as a print-on-demand publication.
Even after the grant was officially terminated December 2004, I continue conducting demonstration trials at the Guam Department of Agriculture. The combination of bananas, grated coconuts and hog grower is the main daily ration of our growing stocks. I add other seasonal feedstuffs as they become available. Visitors to the breeding facility are informed of the performances of hogs fed with local feedstuffs. Long-term demonstrations utilizing local feed products convince farmers of the findings of this study.
Hog production and the market situation of hogs on Guam and Micronesia is unique and totally different compared to Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. Hog production and marketing of hogs differ as well on Guam compared to the other islands in Micronesia. But even with the differences in production and marketing, the economics of using local feedstuffs in the region has similarities.
Overall, the results of this study show the experimental groups had a slower growth rate and lower average daily gain compared to the control groups. This is expected because the control group had a complete balanced ration. But if we compute the costs of feeds consumed by the control group, hog producers in the region cannot afford feeding 100% commercial feeds, and the market situation cannot support such feeding practice. The typical market situation in the region is live, on-farm market. Customers directly come to farms to buy pigs as needed for parties, home consumption or for traditional purposes. Hog producers don’t have a market schedule to follow. There is no such thing as finished hogs in 150 days are off to market.
With the experimental groups, the feed cost decreased by 75% to 50%, depending on whether one utilizes 1 or 3 local feed sources. The growth rate is slower and takes more days to finish to market size. But this extended growth phase fits into the hog market situation as described in preceding paragraph. The pigs are sustained with less costly feeds while waiting for market.
The recommended practice of utilizing local feed products is feasible only to hog farmers that have free supply of these feed products in their own backyard. Hog farmers should be willing to do manual grating, collecting the products and implementing simple processing of the products.
The farm manager and caretakers at the Mangilao Hog Farm were satisfied with the results of the 50% bananas-50% hog grower combination. This particular feed ration can give the farm a 50% reduction in their hog grower cost without jeopardizing their production goals. There were two reasons the farm cannot adopt the practice; (1) the company operates the biggest feed store on Guam (2) it would cost more for the farm to have one of the caretakers collect reject bananas at the stores.
Two of the workshop participants from Rota bought major parts of an electric coconut grater so they can start grating the coconuts and mixing with available local feedstuffs. They used to just feed raw, whole or chopped coconuts to the pigs.
One stumbling block for farmers to adopt the practice of utilizing a majority of the local feedstuffs is lack of availability of small-scale processing equipment. For example, an electric coconut grater may be needed if a raiser has 10 head or more. A manual hand grater may only apply for raisers having fewer than 5 head. Another item needed will be mixing equipment to have a good consistency of the feeds when combined together. Hand mixing may apply again to 5 head or fewer and may not be applicable for a big hog population.
Most of the hog farmers in the region have their own field of bananas, coconuts, taro, etc. Any excess of these products not suited for market can be given to the hogs. Hog raisers without these feed products around their farm may have difficulties in adopting the recommended feeding system due to possible increase in cost and time to collect such feed products from other farms.
Areas needing additional study
Fish and other marine products can also be readily available as source of protein for hog rations in the region. Some islands actually have fish-processing establishments but the fish byproducts are thrown back to the sea or dumped in the landfill instead of being processed into animal feeds.
A lot of ideas have been put into these marine resources, but they have not been studied and tried. The main bottlenecks are the drying process and suitable grinding equipment. Most fish meal grinding equipment in the market are too large and expensive to sustain such small volume of marine products to be processed on each island.
Another aspect that needs to be looked at is a system of preserving local feedstuffs when they are in season. Freezing seems to be the most practical but a freezer and the cost of power may be prohibitive factors for most hog producers in the islands.