MANILA, DECEMBER 19, 2007 (STAR) By Fermin M. Diaz - Since last year, an integrated farm in Nueva Ecija has successfully produced over 2,000 pigs for fattening and nearly 500,000 broilers that all grew up healthy and resistant to diseases without using antibiotics and vaccines despite the prevalence of animal health problems in Central Luzon.

The hogs and chickens at Aries Villa Farm in Barangay San Fernando Norte, Cabiao, eat corn-soybean meal-based diet like those raised in typical swine and broiler farms. And while they consume lesser amount of feeds, they gain weight and grow up eight to 15 percent faster than those raised in conventional farms, thereby assuring their owners higher income and a higher rate of return on investment.

The animals also discharge manure that is relatively fewer, drier and odorless. This makes it unnecessary to install expensive waste water treatment facility or construct a biogas digester to collect the waste and convert them into methane for fuel as most owners of hog farms do.

And since the pig droppings do not smell, only a little amount of water is needed to clean the pig pens, thereby saving a lot of precious water in the farm especially during drought and prolonged dry season.

The odorless manure is also collected for conversion into highly superior organic fertilizer for various crops, or reprocessed further to become top quality yet low-priced feeds for aquaculture. Either way, the manure at Aries Villa Farm doesn’t generate methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide, thus helping the Philippines cut its emission of greenhouse gases known to contribute to global warming and climate change.

What makes all this possible and what’s the secret behind the farm in Nueva Ecija?

Unknown to many, the animals at the 54-hectare farm owned by the family of Nenita Villa are given a regular dose of a feed additive developed from nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is the highly multidissciplinary science of manipulating and rearranging individual atoms and molecules to create useful materials, devices and systems. It draws from fields such as applied physics, materials science, interface and colloid science, supramolecular chemistry, chemical engineering and electrical engineering.

Since it involves manipulation at the nano level (one billionth of a meter) products can be made with fewer imperfections and more durability; drugs can be more efficient and have fewer side effects; and energy sources can be cleaner and more cost-effective.

Examples of nanotechnology are the manufacture of polymers based on molecular structure, and the design of computer chip layouts based on surface science. A popular nanotech product is the iPod Nano, a compact device only slightly bigger the size of a business card yet enables the user to hear music, play video games, and browse the Internet continuously for 26 hours.

At Aries Villa Farm, the nanotech product being used is a feed mix called Atovi developed by Filipino engineer Walther Alvarez. Its physical and chemical properties had been altered at the sub-atomic level so that while it had been registered with the Bureau of Animal Industry as a performance and immune system enhancer, it can also do new functions and perform other beneficial actions when taken in by the animal.

Before Nenita Villa started using the product last year, her 250-sow level farm and a flock of 70,000 broilers had not always ensured profit for her family. In fact, in the last two decades until 2006, she had seen and experienced first-hand the unpredictable upswing and downswing of commercial hog and broiler farming.

She narrated to PAJ News Service for instance, how the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the mid-1990s almost made pig sales impossible, how heat stroke during hot months increases mortality, and how pneumonia, hog cholera, swine flu and other diseases can drive up vaccination and medication cost, taking away profit.

But always the woman in search of solutions, Villa, a 58-year old mother to three grown-up children, never gives up finding ways to develop her farm. The break came in December 2006 when she placed an order for several kilograms of Atovi after hearing John Enriquez, a radio farm program host, spoke one early morning about a ‘wonder powder’ and how it works on enhancing the performance and immune system of livestock and poultry.

Following the recommended dosage, Villa first applied the feed mix to all the pigs, adding 10 to 20 grams of the powder mix to every kilo of feeds served the animals depending on their growth stages.

Remarkable changes ensued. She said she noticed that her hogs had improved performance and their feed conversion became more efficient. While the pigs’ average daily feed consumption dropped 6.2 percent, she said their average daily weight gain had gone up by 12 percent, resulting in faster growth period even at reduced feed intake.

Encouraged by these initial results, she next gave the feed additive to the broilers, but in this case the powder was mixed with a certain amount of water and then left for the birds to drink.

With continued product use, Villa noticed a sharp drop in vaccination and medication expense and a 30-percent decline in chicken manure generation. Also, the droppings were almost odorless and attracted no flies, something she said she never experienced during her long years in the poultry business.

Using self-mixed feeds plus Atovi instead of relying on commercial feed and other veterinary products,Villa was able to net P200,000 last month for raising a flock of 4,500 broilers in just about five weeks. To date, she has already used the product on seven broiler production cycles with no complaint and vowed to continue using it while stocks are available.

Alvarez, an industrial engineer with extensive nuclear physics background, said more Filipino-developed nanotech products will be unveiled next year especially in the area of agriculture, livestock and fisheries.

He disclosed that aside from Atovi, he has also successfully tested at the Villa farm a plant nutrient foliar spray for various crops and an inexpensive pet food guaranteed not to emit foul coat odor among dogs and other companion animals. Also to hit the market in 2008 is a cheap but efficient organic feed for aquaculture applicable to prawns, bangus, crabs, tilapia and other fishes raised in cages, ponds and water tanks.

(For more information on nanotechnology’s application to agriculture, text or call 09189257675, 09179645409, 09204866879 or email at atovianimalg2@ yahoo or – PAJ News Service

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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