One of the challenges in the use of local non-traditional feedstuffs for livestock in the region is the variable and generally poor results in terms of swine growth and performance. There is lack of information on the nutrient values of the most commonly used non-traditional feed materials.
Twenty-one local feed materials from Guam and Pohnpei were sent to a feed laboratory for nutrient analysis. Base on the analysis, ranchers and extension agents can formulate feed rations that are best and appropriate for the kind of livestock they raise. The nutrients from these local feeds do satisfy the feed requirements for the quality of swine and other livestock raised in the region.
Feeding trials also demonstrated that local feed materials when properly processed and formulated resulted to good performance at least cost of feeds. Workshops were conducted and publication handbooks were distributed in the region.
a. Organize farmer-to-farmer networking group, similar to the Green Hills farm project in Missouri. This group will conduct surveys among producers in his or her locality on the most common and current local feeds being used and how these producers process these local feeds prior to feeding. This survey will include observations on growth, behavior and health of livestock. The group will have 5-10 producers.
b. Collect samples of these local feed formulations and local feeds of interest and send to laboratory for analysis.
c. Conduct feeding trials on growing hogs (60-120 lbs.) on their farm. A comparative study of feeding what is considered ‘wrong” local feedstuffs to what will be considered “ideal” formulation of local feedstuffs.
d. Maintain feeding trials and keep all records and data for analysis. Open their farms for visits from the community.
e. Participate (preparation, organizing and evaluation of local and regional workshops.
f. Assist in translating publications to local dialect and language.
During the 2007 Pacific sub-regional conference on Guam, one of the top priority issues among ranchers and farmers was animal feeds. Poor feed quality and an erratic supply of imported feeds while cost is getting too expensive due to increasing fuel costs.
The entire region is rich in local feedstuffs such as breadfruit, bananas, taro, coconuts and fish by-products. Livestock studies and feeding trials conducted in the region are very limited and the studies only covered fractions of the total livestock feed problem in the region.
There have been traditional ways of using these local feedstuffs that have been practiced, prior to the use of commercial feeds. Feeding practices that have sustained the livestock production in the region for so many years. In one of the layer farms in Palau, a combination of grounded noni leaves and branches, sand, and a percentage of commercial layer feeds is being utilized with good egg production. Producers feed to their pigs any available local feedstuffs such ripe bananas, breadfruit, unknowingly, getting good results but unaware because these feed practices are not well documented. These feeding practices have to be improved and enhanced by better processing and adding more local feeds.
One of the challenges in the use of local feedstuffs for livestock feed in the region is the variable and generally poor result in terms of swine growth and performance. These variable and poor results led to producers to conclude that these local feedstuffs are not good enough. But these negative results are actually brought about by using the wrong local feedstuffs (cooking banana trunks and swamp cabbage), improper processing (whole coconut, raw taro) and excessive amounts (Leucaena sp.) being fed to livestock. There is an absence of a consistent daily feed ration because producers feed whatever is available on farm. Producers spend a lot of time and effort feeding local feeds that are high in fiber content and hogs cannot digest. Each of these wrong practices and misconceptions of feeding has to be corrected.
There is a great need of education and research in the use of these local feedstuffs for each of these islands as the resources and availability of these local feedstuffs vary. Producers have to establish a long term plan in the utilization their local resources that will benefit them in the long run compared to depending on imported commercial feeds.
The main objective of this grant is to demonstrate the best local feeds and feeding practices based on each island situation. Aspects of renewable energy sources and regular upgrading of brood stocks through introduction of new bloodline will have to be incorporated to sustain a viable livestock program in each of the islands in the region.
a. Twenty-one locally and commonly used, non-traditional feed materials such as breadfruit, taro, coconut, banana trunks, taro stems/leaves, fish and fish-by-products, food waste and various root crops were collected. These materials were processed to include drying, shredding, grinding, and fermenting. These processed local feed ingredients were sent to an animal feed laboratory for nutrient content analysis. Some samples came from Pohnpei.
b. Feeding trials were conducted at the Guam Department of Agriculture Breeding Station and on producers’ farms using the processed feed materials. Last Fall 2009, my class in Animal Science (AG 211) did a feeding trial on hogs using local feeds.
c. Results of the trials and findings of the grant were presented in workshop in the region (Guam, Yap, Palau, Pohnpei, Kosrae and Saipan. A total of 140 participants (Extension agents, Extension associates, Agricultural professionals, producers and ranchers, students) attended these workshops.
d. Small equipment such as grinders, mixers, shredders and coconut graters were sent to four sites in the region to use in demonstration of local feed processing.
a. A table of nutrient analysis for 21 non-traditional local feed materials that hog producers commonly use is now available for feed formulation guideline for local use. Analysis shows nutrient values are close to those of traditional feedstuffs, especially on energy values. Formulated ration mixed out of local ingredients were also sent for analysis. Analysis shows that mixing up processed local feed` materials can easily satisfy nutritional requirements for the quality of growing and breeding hogs and pullet ration in poultry.
b. Feeding Trials:
i. The results of the Fall 2009 Animal Science class exercise showed that grower pigs with a ration of a 25% fermented breadfruit, 25% fresh grated coconut and 50% commercial grower feeds gained more weight than those grower pigs fed with a 100% commercial feeds. The juice of the fresh coconut increased the palatability of the feeds.
ii. In the on-site farm trials, hog producers observed that hogs fed with local feed materials readily consume the feed and had similar performance if not better, to those hogs fed with 100% commercial hog feeds. Weight gains are difficult to record since all participating farms have no weighing scales.
c. Producers realized the necessity of utilizing the right kind and the significance of processing local feed` materials for animal feeding. Producers have to make extra efforts to maximize the potential use of local feed materials. From simple gathering of materials from the trees to hand mixing or to the complete processing of drying, shredding and grinding and storing of feed materials. Hands-on processing in some regional workshop participants of local feed ingredients were conducted and later on fed to sows. Participants observed how sows readily consume the ration.
d. Most of these local feed materials (breadfruit, taro, coconut, etc.) have high water content at any given stage of maturity. Spoilage is high with the tropical heat in the islands. Appropriate methods of preservation (drying, fermenting, freezing, etc.) must be established in each farm to sustain the daily utilization of local feeds.
e. The benefit of utilizing local feed materials depend on how the producers have : (1)accessibility to the materials (is it on-farm site or need to gather/collect somewhere) (2) time to prepare and process feed materials, either manually or using equipment dependent on fuel or electric (3) Consistency in formulation of feeds and feeding practices in the farm. (4) Maintaining high genetic level of swine population
f. Using the Pearson square method, producers were taught to make simple formulations using the nutrient values from the table of nutrient analysis.
a. A maximum of 80% replacement of local feeds for growing, finishing and broodstocks feeds for swine is possible since the protein requirements of this class of animals range from 12 to 16% crude protein. A feed ration with this protein requirement can be achieved by mixing calculated amount of processed breadfruit, taro, and Leucaena sp. and coconut (copra). Rations with protein requirements higher than 16% may have a lower percentage of replacing commercial feeds. This replacement percentage may range from 25 to 75%.
b. Producers have become more knowledgeable and well-informed in terms of what local feeds to use. The results of the nutrient analysis of the non-traditional feed materials available clearly show which materials are worth using and not. For example, cooking banana trunks and taro stems are not worth the effort because the high fiber and low protein content of these materials. Therefore, time and efforts of producers will be more productive and efficient.
c. Producers realized breadfruit, taro, bananas, coconut are high-energy feeds that replace corn and tapioca. Farmers in Pohnpei now use concentrated protein to mix with these high energy feeds.
d. Request for more workshops, information on certain local feeds have been sent to me.
e. Demonstration on use of local feeds for goats and other small ruminants will continue through another recently approved Ag Producer and Ag Professional grant.
Educational & Outreach Activities
a. Outreach Activities
i. Field days: August 2009 / April 2010 – Field days at the Guam Dept. of Agriculture Breeding Station
b. Regional Workshops: Results of the grant were presented to local livestock producers, agriculture professionals/extension agents and students. Hands-on processing of feed materials, formulation of rations out of these processed products and actual feeding of the feeds to animals were the major activities during these workshops.
i. Pohnpei – August 2009
ii. Palau and Yap – November 2009
iii. Kosrae and Chuuk – December 2009
iv. Saipan – January 2010
c. Educational materials:
i. Handbook on local feed processing, examples of local feed ration
ii. Table of Nutrient Analysis of Most Common Non-traditional Local Feed Materials
iii. Powerpoint files used in regional workshops
There are two options that producers can do, depending on the animal population in the farm.
a. For farms with less than 5 sows, producers can depend on year round supply of coconuts, ripened bananas and the seasonal breadfruit. Hand grated coconuts hand mixed with ripe bananas and breadfruit can satisfy nutritional requirements of growing and breeding hogs. Costs involved would be the labor involved in the collection and manual preparations of the feed materials, assuming that producers have excess of these materials around their farm.
b. For farms with more than 5 sows, producers may have to purchase equipment such as shredder, grinder and a method for drying the feed materials since the feed volume to be prepared and processed are in large quantities. The equipment is either run by fuel or electric, which could be expensive in the islands. The total equipment cost is $ 2,480.00 (includes the shredder, grinder, electric grater).
One hundred forty farmers/extension agents learned to stop utilizing local feeds of high fiber content such as banana trunks/leaves and taro stems. They learned that additional processing of local materials can render better digestibility and palatability. (Grated coconut is better than whole coconut.)
Ranchers realized that time; effort and resourcefulness are needed to fully maximize the potential benefits of using local feeds. The money they will save by not purchasing commercial feeds will pay off these investments of time and efforts in the preparations and processing of local feed materials.
Below are some feedbacks from collaborators in the region.
a. After an observation of a two-week period of feeding trials, a Guam lady producer got convinced that local feeds can replace commercial feeds based on a feeding trial. She now collects breadfruit and swamp taro to feed her growing pigs.
b. Eight farmers from Pohnpei regularly utilize the shredder machine to process taro, banana and coconut to feed their pigs. A total of 1,500 lbs. of processed products so far have been used as feeds.
c. From Yap State Department of Agriculture, they are now utilizing fish and cooked banana to feed their swine breeding broodstocks. They are now looking into processing tapioca and breadfruit as additional feed materials.
d. Producers should plant more breadfruit, banana, coconut and root crops around the farm. These trees can serve as windbreaks at the same time. Local feed materials have long shelf-life as long as these are properly dried and stored.
e. A cooperative effort of producers to have a mini-feed processing unit to market processed local feeds in their area.
Areas needing additional study
a. I turned in a similar grant for goat nutrition. Goats are also being fed with commercial feeds or no grain feeding at all in some places in the region.
b. Local feed materials for aquaculture (tilapia and shrimp feeds.)
c. Amino acid assay of local feedstuffs to establish real protein values.
d. To find alternative energy sources to run small equipment such as grinders, shredders and solar driers. A small-scale solar energy design to run a 1-2 horse power motor
e. In depth economic analysis on the cost and return of utilizing local feeds.