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October-December 2017 Issue (Vol. 19 No. 4)

by Anne Camille B. Brion

Native pigs are known to possess traits that make them favored by the farmers and the consumers alike. These include, among many others, their ability to thrive even in adverse conditions and their healthy, flavorful meats. With such attributes, there has been a growing demand for native pigs, especially for lechon and lechon de leche, commanding a competitive price and increasing the income of local farmers.

The rearing of native pigs usually involves a low-cost production system employing organic strategies. With the changing of the climate, farmers and growers are confronted with challenges on detection, control, and management of diseases associated with native pig production. “The diseases can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic in nature – with the latter two being the most common,” said Dr. Vachel Gay V. Paller of the Institute of Biological Sciences-University of the Philippines Los Baños (IBSUPLB). “Some of the important and useful information that could be used in rearing pigs are the gastrointestinal microbial flora and parasite fauna that animals harbor, as well as their biology and ecology,” Dr. Paller added.

It is for these reasons that Dr. Paller, together with her colleague, Dr. Rina Opulencia embarked on a project that aimed to study and identify the bacteria and parasites that exist in native pigs, including the factors in the production system and rearing practices that lead to their abundance and prevalence. “Knowing which bacteria or parasite is present and from where they originate would be helpful in maintaining not only the overall health of the native pigs, but the farm as well. Its significance lies in ensuring not only the health of our native pigs, but of the farmers, growers, consumers, including the environment. This is what we consider as the one health approach” Dr. Paller explained.

Under the project, native pig samples were collected from farms in the province of Quezon which are practicing low-cost/organic production systems. Internal organs of weanling to market-aged pigs were collected and examined in the laboratory. Tests include microscopy intended for the presence of bacteria and parasites; and molecular detection for the identification of specific species present in the system of the native pigs, including the soil and water samples collected from the farms.

Preliminary findings showed detection of bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella from majority of the pig and environmental samples collected. Some potential factors attributed to this were the lack of hygienic farming practices among the farmers.

As for the presence of parasites, all the native pig samples were positive for presence of intestinal helminths, protozoan parasites, and other coccidian. In addition, protozoan parasites such as Blastocytis, Cryptosporidium and Giardia were found contaminating water samples from the farms. “These parasites are considered emerging water-borne pathogens that originate from animals and infective to humans,” Dr. Paller said.

Also, from the 48 soil samples collected from the native pig backyard farms, 93.80 percent were positive for parasites and other nematode larvae. Soil contaminations, according to Dr. Paller, may be associated with risk factors such as free-range, substandard confinement farming management; improper waste disposal; utilizing manure as fertilizer; and presence of other domesticated and wildlife animals which could act as parasite hosts.

While the project is still continuing, Dr. Paller said that results derived from the project will provide useful information in the development of effective management strategies, especially for those who are into low-cost, organic native pig production. In particular, these may be deemed valuable in the aspects of organic feed formulation and good agricultural practices for native pig production that will address the health of pigs, farmers, and the environment.

Dr. Paller furthered that the findings derived from the project, once completed, will aid in livestock health and production, specifically in planning and promoting preventive and control measures with respect to parasite infections in native pigs. The project leader also acknowledged the need for further studies to help in the improvement of management strategies dealing with microbial and parasitic diseases, especially in organic production systems.

“Ultimately, with this project, we want to maximize the potentials of our native pigs through proper care and management to avoid diseases caused by bacteria and parasites. If our native pigs are healthy, we can be assured of the quality of its meat, which translates to better marketability and profit for our local farmers,” Dr. Paller concluded.

With funding support from the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Research, this undertaking was made possible through collaboration with UPLB’s College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture and Food Science, Bureau of Animal Industry’s National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center, and the provincial and municipal agricultural offices of Quezon. ###

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Contact details: Dr. Vachel Gay V. Paller Project Leader Institute of Biological Sciences-UPLB, College, Los Baños, Laguna phone: (49) 536-2843 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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