LAOAG CITY — The water buffalo used to be a farmer’s best friend in Ilocos Norte. Farming families highly depended on it for draft. But as heavy infrastructure developments and agricultural modernization take place, the carabao industry has waned over the years.
In Piddig town, the local government unit is making an effort to save the water buffalo from extinction. Recognizing its potential as a local source of milk and meat, town Mayor Georgina Guillen believes the water buffalo production should be conserved.
“We need carabaos, not just to help farmers to plow the land but they also give us milk and meat. They exist to balance our ecosystem,” Guillen said in a radio interview on Wednesday.
As a baby step to revive the industry, the Piddig local government is conducting an inventory of the remaining water buffalo in every rural village here.
Under the animal health program of Piddig town, the local government unit here will focus on the health and welfare of water buffalo by ensuring that they get proper nutrition.
Based on the carabao situation report published by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in its website, the Philippine carabao has a total of 2.88 million heads as of July 1, 2017.
Compared with the stocks of the same period in previous year, it decreased by 0.18 percent. Commercial stocks also decreased by 5.50 percent while inventory in backyard farms decreased by 0.16 percent.
Guillen has also urged local farmers here to help in revitalizing the carabao industry and increase production with the right mix of technology.
Water buffalo, according to the PCC, have inherently longer gestation period than any other domesticated farm animal.
The average gestation length is 310 to 315 days. Given a post-partum service period of 60 to 90 days, yearly production of calf is not achievable even under the best conditions. This characteristic has a major effect on the measure of the overall reproduction efficiency over a given period. (PNA)