DA checks cold spell’s impact on livestock

Posted on January 30, 2014

CEBU/BACOLOD -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has fielded teams to evaluate the extent of the cold spell’s damage on crops and livestock.

As of this week, 150 livestock in Cebu and Negros Occidental have died as temperatures dipped to as low as 12°C in the uplands.

Joel A. Elumba, DA regional technical director for research and regulations in Central Visayas, said 36 cattle, goats, carabaos and horses have been killed in Cebu due to the unusually cold weather following 16 days of non-stop rains. Some 31 upland barangays in Cebu have been affected, he added.

“The cold weather they experienced was extreme. Although the animals in the area are used to cold temperatures, the stress conditions of the inclement weather caused their immune systems to be [weakened],” Mr. Elumba told BusinessWorld.

In Negros Occidental, Provincial Veterinarian Renante J. Decena said 114 farm animals died after showing signs of pneumonia.

As of Monday, he said, the fatalities included seven cattle, three carabaos, 38 swine, 49 sheep, nine goats and eight chickens.

“The total value of these animals reached P912,290,” Mr. Decena said.

Affected areas are the towns of Don Salvador Benedicto, Toboso, Valladolid, San Enrique, Murcia, Manapla and Moises Padilla, as well as the cities of Himamaylan, Cadiz, La Carlota, Sagay and Sipalay.

The DA has asked farmers to immediately report any ailing livestock to local veterinary and barangay units for proper monitoring. Assistance to affected farmers will be determined after the damage assessment has been completed, Mr. Elumba said.

He also said the DA has advised farmers to place the animals in sheds, especially at night, to shield them from the cold.

Farmers have also been advised to feed their animals inside sheds instead of bringing them out to graze. Whenever possible, commercial feeds and vitamin supplements should be used to boost the animal’s resistance to diseases.

“We would also like to ask farmers not to slaughter weakened livestock.

We do not know if there are secondary infections present in the animals,” Mr. Elumba added.

Among the mountain barangays in Cebu that have been severely affected by the cold spell are Sudlon 1, Sudlon 2, Buot-Taup, Malubog, Tabunan, Bonbon, Lusaran, Adlaon, Sirao, Tagba-o, Taptap, Guba, Cambinocot, Paril, Budlaan, Pung-ol Sibugay, and Sinsin in Cebu City, and Gaas in Balamban town.

Cebu City Veterinary Officer Pilar Romero said the animals in some parts of the affected barangays were unfazed by the cold weather.

“When we verified it over the weekend, you can draw a line through a map of barangays affected. Farms appearing on the line were the only ones affected,” she said. “We have yet to ask the implications of this from PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration). This weather pattern is truly unusual. Even the farmers in the mountain regions who are otherwise prepared for cold temperatures were caught unawares,” she added.

Meanwhile, Pepito Libo-On, agriculturist of Don Salvador Benedicto, said they were preparing for the possible occurrence of frost on vegetables.

Don Salvador Benedicto’s elevation is at 2,400 feet. The town lies in a valley between Mt. Mandalagan and Mt. Canlaon, east of Bacolod.

“I will send two technicians for training [at DA Region 6] so they can map out measures in mitigating the effects on vegetable plants if in case frost... will hit our town,” Mr. Libo-on said. -- John Paolo G. Bago in Cebu and Adrian P. Nemes III in Bacolod