Production of Organic Feeds for Native Chicken: A Pilot Corn/Sorghum + Cowpea Intercropping Scheme Integrated With Village Feedmilling and Native Chicken Production

Quick Facts:

  • 1 Oct 2014 to 30 Sep 2016
  • Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR)

Project Description

The overall objective of the project is to increase production of cowpea and chicken in selected existing corn/sorghum plantations of small farmers/indigenous peoples through corn/sorghum + cowpea intercropping cum-village feedmilling and livestock integration in selected area(s). This is to be set up in suitable locations tentatively in Region 1- Batac, Ilocos Norte (with sweet sorghum), and Region 10- Claveria, Misamis Oriental (with corn).

Specific objectives are as follows: (a) promote corn/sorghum + cowpea intercropping among participating farmers; (b) assist farmers to organize coop(s), operate village feedmill(s) and raise native chicken; (c) promote collaborative support in production and distribution of cowpea seeds; and (d) improve nutrition among collaborating families from increased meat and/or cowpea intake.

Project Results

Promote Corn/Sorghum + Cowpea Intercropping Among Participating Farmers. Notwithstanding problems due to drought, typhoons, and bird infestation, cowpea proved versatile as shade tolerant intercrop together with corn and sweet sorghum. Both sweet sorghum and cowpea would be attractive alternative dry season crops in Northern Luzon and elsewhere with the increasing problems associated with climate change. Reduced establishment and weeding cost were apparent. Additional benefits include added soil nitrogen, and subsequent reduced fertilizer requirement for next crop, at a conservative 30 kg N/ha from intercropping field trials by IRRI and others. In Batac, even as a remedial measure to plant cowpea in a field after it was silted due to the typhoon, the crop yielded substantial grain towards the dry period.

Benefits from sweet sorghum were derived from a) its grain, b) having a ratoon crop, and c) juice extracted from stalks. The juice is obtained by a private entrepreneur using a truck mounted crusher, on-farm, and pays PHP 15/li.

In the two locations, both cowpea and sweet sorghum demonstrated resilience under severe climatic stress, and as suitable intervention under marginal smallholder farming conditions, tied up with native chickens grown free range, organically. The MOSCAT Sub-Team also indicated their intention to try sweet sorghum as cereal, especially in such new marginal land site(s).

Assist Farmers to Organize Coop(s), Operate Village Feedmill(s) and Raise Native Chicken. The Project also aimed to enable cooperators to mix feeds for the commercial market. Yields were so minimal and hardly sufficed for their own chicken feeding needs even as they collectively mixed the materials and shared accordingly. Commercial feed mixing will remain an objective upon scaled up production.

In Bukidnon, Cenyu Probiotic Chicken Farm raises commercial chickens using feeds "with no antibiotics". Its broilers are being marketed by outlets including Healthy Options, a chain store located in high-end establishments like Shangrila Hotel. The owner and son attended the Los Baños workshop with the expressed interest in producing organic free range native chickens and possible contract-growing with farmers of organic feeds.

Promote Collaborative Support in Production and Distribution of Cowpea Seeds. It was agreed with cooperators that initial seeds of sweet sorghum, OPV yellow corn and cowpea will be provided by the Project, and will be repaid in-kind on a 1-on-1 basis. Both MMSU and MOSCAT also decided that on-station production will insure seed availability and complement trials to be conducted for staff and with students, especially in case of adversity(ies).

  • MMSU. As pointed out by some cooperators, food acceptability of the Project red-seeded variety is less compared with the locally-available white or black-seeded, indeterminate ones.
  • MOSCAT. Working with Food and Nutrition staff, food utilization of cowpea grain and shoots will be considered- including learning from the MMSU Sub-team and farmer cooperators. On-Station trials done by thesis students on inter-row planting distance and organic fertilization validate the soundness of Project planting distances: 30 cm inter-row. Sole cropping corn or cowpea had high yield, but merit of intercropping was further validated, even without measuring the resulting soil N. Sweet sorghum may also be introduced, especially in marginal soil conditions, complemented by on-station trials.

Improve Nutrition Among Collaborating Families from Increased Meat/Eggs and/or Cowpea Intake. The added benefit of chicken and eggs, along with cowpea consumption among the cooperators still remain to be measured in monetary and nutrition terms. Chicken rearing was done after crop harvest, in limited numbers due to limited harvests, in turn due to the typhoon and drought disturbances. High mortality of chickens also occurred in Claveria.

Two cooperators from Batac indicated that the red seeded IT 82D-889 variety used is less acceptable than the locally grown white- and black seeded- varieties, which are largely indeterminate. This provides an opportunity to share cowpea food consumption practices in Ilocos with the Claveria Sub-Team and cooperators, with participation from Food and Nutritionist specialists.

Value-added Benefits from Native Chickens. Value added benefits were estimated from the one crop yield out of 0.1 ha in Ms. A. Tutaan's farm in Batac. Based on her 48 kg cowpea and 75 kg sweet sorghum harvest, a feed mix formulation for 183 kg was done. A 1 kg chicken allotted 5 kg, in 120 days is equivalent to 27 chickens, valued at PHP9250, or PHP250 each. Value added from chickens was PHP4,036, or roughly PHP40,360/ha.

Labor cost was estimated at 0.25 hr/day, equivalent to 11.4 md, or worth PHP3,420. This could also be treated as Unpaid family labor. If treated as such (Unpaid), Value Added is PHP 7,456 or PHP74,560 per ha.

Such estimates show potential for improved native chicken for the organic market, from a range of 1 hen unit, or "home garden scale", up to commercial-scale of 1 ha crop area + chicken rearing with project Value added PHP74,000 or more. It could also be a combination of crop intercropping, chicken rearing, and commercial feedmilling along a cooperative group effort.

Cowpea and sorghum were not costed, the other ingredients were valued at PHP1,292, resulting in a feed mix at PHP21.10/kg. Said cowpea and sorghum grains + sorghum juice resulted in breakeven (PHP248) net of production cost.