Saturday, July 10, 2010

Organic Chicken: A result of research in Mindanao

“Is it safe?”

“Does it have drug residue?”

Those are the common questions asked by consumers today.

The development of antibiotic resistance is the common concern of growers and consumers nowadays.
A call for safer and healthier poultry meat! Producers must have an alternative. They can minimize the use of antibiotics as growth promotants.
Antibiotics are commonly mixed with feeds as additives known as sub-therapeutic antibiotics (STAs). It is mixed to enhance growth rate, enhance feed efficiency and prevents outbreaks of some diseases. Generally, commercially mixed feeds for poultry and livestock have STAs.

A consumer said “...lami ang karne ug wala’y tambok, murag native nga manok” (It taste good and doesn’t much fat, similar to native chicken) showing a ‘thumbs up’ sign. Caloy is a satisfied customer. He bought the dressed chicken at Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) where it was grown in natural or organic system. The feeds are low-cost and organic (no STAs). The birds grew to an average weight of 1.25 kilograms in 42 days. He came back to buy for more since he’s assured of a safer and healthier poultry meat.

Before Caloy left the center with a basket of poultry meat in his hand, he insisted for the secret of raising the organic chicken. Without a doubt, we shared this to him. Now, we’re sharing this to you.

In MBRLC, broiler chicken was raised without synthetic drugs or antibiotics. The only supplement used is the homemade fermented plant juice (FPJ) from day 1 until harvest.

In June 2004, a research was conducted by Janoz Xn Yesu S. Laquihon, MBRLC R&D Unit head, and Johanna Schober, a German intern student from Hohenheim University. The study was conducted to evaluate the performance of chickens given with organic supplements.

Prior to the arrival of the chicks, low-cost housing was prepared. A comfortable litter floor (wood shavings) was made with at least 1 sq.ft floor area/chicken. The shavings were treated with indigenous micro-organisms (IMO) which is locally cultured at MBRLC. The IMO is cultured under the bamboo leaves, using cooked rice as media. It facilitates rapid decomposition of feces eventually lessens foul odor and does not attract flies.

The bird receives fresh water with FPJ upon arrival. It soothes their thirst. After fasting for 8 hours they received their homemade booster mash as first ration. The birds were fed ad libitum (without limitation) from starting on the 2nd day.

A tablespoon of FPJ was mixed with 5 liters of clean and fresh water. It served a supplement instead of STAs. FPJ is made of different plant leaf extract mixed with crude sugar and fermented it for 14 days. It can be also used as organic foliar fertilizer in plants.

To give warm welcome to the young chicks, an electric brooder was provided. The lights were lit for 24 hours and were adjusted to a comfortable temperature. The correct temperature is achieved by observing the chicks’ behavior. They would comfortably scatter themselves around the house when the temperature is normal. Else, they would scramble around the heat source if it is cold or would run away gasping when its too hot! The birds enjoyed their heater for 3 weeks.

Few birds died during the conduct of the study. Would it be a disease outbreak?! Birds were observed for signs of illness. Weak birds were taken out from the flock. They eventually died. Nevertheless , a tolerable 8% mortality rate was recorded. To use synthetic drugs is enticing but we decided not to use one and amazingly the rest survived!

The customer left home, carries his poultry meat with a smile in his face for he learned something. Consumers like Caloy, likes to eat meat without chemical residues and less fat. Growing your own chicken in you backyard fed with organic feeds is an alternative! You can produce safer, healthier, high quality poultry meat.

This article was taken from "The Rural Researcher" June 2004. I'm posting this article in memory of my former collegue, Carlos Juano, Research Assistant @ MBRLC, who passed away ahead of us. Carlos and I have worked on research projects in natural farming system.

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