- Animals: swine
- Animal Production: feed/forage, feed rations
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking
- Production Systems: holistic management
The entire region is rich in local feedstuffs such as breadfruit, bananas, taro, coconuts and fish by-products. Livestock feed studies and feeding trials conducted in the region are very limited. There had been one WSARE grant conducted in the use of local feedstuffs and one on-going (fermentation of breadfruit). But these studies can only cover a fraction of the total livestock feed problem in the region. The initial results of these studies have been encouraging as shown in the pig growth and performances when fed with different proportions of local feedstuffs of grated coconut, ripe bananas and breadfruit. 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 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 cabbages), improper processing (whole coconut meat, raw taro) and excessive amounts (Leucaena sp.) being fed to livestock. Producers spend a lot of time and effort feeding local feeds that hogs cannot digest. Each of these wrong practices and misconceptions of feeding local feedstuffs has to be corrected. On the other hand, there have been traditional ways of using these local feedstuffs that have been practiced for so many years, prior to the onset of commercial feeds. Feeding practices that have sustained the livestock production in the region. 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 throw in any available local feedstuffs (over-riped bananas, breadfruit) in the pig pens, unknowingly, getting good results but unaware because these feeding systems are undocumented. These feeding practices with significant results have to be improved and enhanced by better processing and adding more local feeds. There is a great need for 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 realize that utilizing their local resources will benefit them in the long run compared to depending on imported grains or complete commercial rations. Processing the feedstuffs using energy (use of electricity to cook, grate coconuts, etc.) can be costly but a holistic approach to the entire local feed and livestock production system needs to be established. Aspects of renewable energy sources and regular upgrading of broodstocks through introduction of new bloodline will have to be incorporated to sustain a viable livestock program in each of the islands in the region. The main objective of this grant is to demonstrate the best local feeds and feeding practices based on each island situation. This is top priority amongst the other issues on swine production as feed is always the major cost in animal production.
Project objectives from proposal:
Producers will take a major role in this grant. Under the guidance and supervision of the designated Land Grant professional in his or her area, producers will have to: a. Organize a 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 in growth, behavior and health of livestock. The networking group will have 5 – 10 producers. b. Collect samples of these local feed formulations and local feeds of interest and send to a laboratory for analysis. c. Conduct feeding trials on growing hogs (60 lbs. – 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. For example, in Palau and Yap, cooking banana trunks is a common feeding practice. Hog performance will be evaluated on this feeding practice compared to a formulation of local feeds of 33% banana fruits, 33% grated coconut and 33% breadfruit or whatever is available in the locality. Another feed trial would be a formulation of what currently a producer is feeding (whole coconut meat and raw taro) versus adding more and better-processed local feeds (grated coconut meat, cooked taro, fermented breadfruit). Feeding trials will vary from site to site as local feeds and feeding practices vary from site to site, island to island as well. 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) in local and regional workshops. f. Assist in translating publications to local dialect and language. This farmer-to-farmer network will meet at least once a month at the project site. This group of producers doing the hands-on demonstration of evaluating their current practices will no doubt learn first hand the effects of using the right and proper local feedstuffs. Personal observations of the producers on the performance of the pigs as it relates to the usage of local feeds will bring about change in knowledge, skills and attitudes. Producers easily learn from their fellow producers. This farmer network will also lead to other farmers networking together. The experience and the outcomes from this grant will guide these producers on how to maximize their usage of the proper local feeds and knowing the right way of processing, storage and feeding to their hogs. Local feed formulations out of 100% local feeds based on hog performances can be established for each of the sites and these local formulations will eventually spread out in the island community. This approach will be different from the usual method of an Extension professional educating the producers by just presenting the results of a feeding trial conducted somewhere as compared to having the local producers doing the feeding trials, results backed up and expressed in their own hog weight gains and their own qualitative observations of the whole feeding trial.