The Department of Agriculture (DA) has set up temporary shelters for rescued livestock animals to ensure animal genetic preservation in areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), DA Region 4-A Executive Director Arnel de Mesa said: “Selling of animals at a very low price by their owners could affect the propagation of livestock animals in the affected areas in the future.”
“We need to preserve the genetics of these animals, so we need to create a program, and then provide assistance to the farmers until they are ready at may listahan kami ng mga may-ari ng mga hayop na ito (and we have a list of the owners of these animals),” he added.
De Mesa said about 70 animals — carabao, cattle, horses and small ruminants — are now housed at the Taal Livestock Care Emergency Operations Center at the Southern Tagalog Integrated Agricultural Research Center (STIARC), in Lipa City.
Free feeds, biologics, vitamins and other veterinary supplies are available in the center.
“We have coordinated with the local governments and they also do rescues, halimbawa, ‘yung Tanauan, marami rin silang na-rescue na animals. Medyo marami kaming animals na pwedeng makuha (for example, in Tanauan, many animals have been rescued. We can rescue many animals), in our inventory around 20,000 so we need definite guidelines,” de Mesa said.
As such, he said the DA is drafting the guidelines on the temporary housing of all rescued animals. These guidelines would identify the numbers and types of animals that can be housed in the shelters, their length of stay in the centers, and whether their owners would need to pay “housing fees”.
“Sa ngayon, libre pa ang lahat (For now, everything is for free) because we have received donations, the biologics, and we have remaining resources. Kaya kapag kinuha nila ang mga alaga nila, wala kaming sisingilin (They don’t need to pay anything when they get their animals back),” he said.
After sending one truck for animal rescue and evacuation, the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) delivered 270 bags of animal feeds — cattle, hog grower and chicken grower mash to the livestock care center in Lipa City.
Earlier, DA-Philippine Carabao Center sent a mobile veterinary clinic, complete with veterinary medicines and 2.5 tons of feeds to the center. It will deliver additional 3 tons of corn silage.
Meanwhile, Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) has allotted PHP10 million which the center can use to pay owners who wish to “pawn” their animals at 50 percent or one-half of their market value.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the owners may buy their animals back once conditions normalize.
To ensure the rescue of more livestock animals, the DA-National Livestock Program and DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service is tapping at least two large farms as livestock evacuation centers. (PNA)