Negros As Lamb Capital Of The Philippines

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Maranon (left) and Zac B. Sarian
at a dinner in Bacolod City on May 25, 2012, where we partook of
different sheep cuisines. Gov. Maranon is promoting sheepraising
in his province.
A plate of mutton stew served at the dinner given by  Gov. Alfredo
Maranon to Zac B. Sarian and some other friends of the Negros
chief executive, including Ramon Uy and Marvin Velayo.
The province of Negros Occidental is poised to become the “Lamb Capital of the Country” if we are to believe Gov. Alfredo Maranon who is apparently obsessed in promoting sheep raising in his province.

He believes that sheep could be a better choice than goats for Negros farmers for a number of good reasons. Sheep are less problematic to raise than goats. They are more docile and they are not as destructive as goats when goats are raised in the open, not confined in their housing.

Sheep are an ideal live “lawn mower” in orchards because they don’t destroy the trees. In fact they eat the grass in the plantation so that they are helpful in keeping down the weeds.

Sheep meat or mutton is also claimed to be more healthful than other livestock meat. It is reported that prime cuts of mutton sell for as much as P700 per kilo. Mutton can be served in many ways. Sheep lechon is a special food that is now served during special occasions.
A few years back, Gov. Maranon happened to visit the farm of Juven Chua of General Santos City because they were looking for Brahman bulls to buy. During his visit, they served his party with a sheep lechon. He liked it so much that he vowed to make sheep a special farm animal for Negrenses to raise.
The provincial government bought a number of stocks of sheep from Chua. But after the purchase of the second batch, Chua would not sell any animals anymore because that would deplete his flock. He regularly butchers sheep for his own restaurant, according to Gov. Maranon.
The recourse was for Negros province to import no less than 6,000 ewes and rams from Australia so propagation of the selected breeds – Dorper and Damara – would be fast. These selected breeds are much bigger than their native counterparts. Many of the animals weigh a hundred kilos, according to Gov. Maranon.
The provincial government has developed a 159-hectare property in the town of Murcia which used to be a santol orchard. There are still 300 big santol trees but there is enough space between the trees to produce forage crops which are cut and brought to the animals that are confined in their housing.
The workers harvest to less than 17 tons of napier grass every day which are shredded using the RU Shredder manufactured by Ramon Uy. The shredded grass is transformed into very small pieces that are easily eaten by the sheep. The shredded grass is more palatable too.

The imported sheep arrived in Negros early this year and a good number of the breeders have been bought by private entrepreneurs as their own breeders whose progenies could be sold to others interested in raising sheep.

A total of 2,000 have been sold not only to private raisers but also to various local government units. In the meantime, trainors headed by Dr. Renante Decena, the provincial veterinarian, are busy training what are called para-veterinary workers who are at least high school graduates who are teaching the farmers the proper care of farm animals, not only sheep and goats but also free-range chickens, goats, cattle, carabaos and others.

There is at least one para-veterinary personnel in each barangay who helps the farmers in the barrio with the problems that they encounter with their farm animals.
The improved breeds of cattle, both for dairy as well as for meat, are being promoted by Gov. Maranon as an additional source of income besides sugar and gamefowls.
Dairying is something that needs assistance from the government. Importation of breeding animals to augment the present stocks that they have in their ranch will be done shortly.

These are Dorper and Damara sheep from Australia.
They are much bigger than the so-called native sheep.

The gamefowl business, meanwhile, is a thriving industry in the province but the private investors can take care of themselves, according to the governor. It is a big industry in the province. Fighting cocks are sent to Manila and other provinces by plane at the rate of 17,000 a month, according to Dr. Decena.

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