DA gives 50 hogs to ASF-affected raisers in Benguet
BAGUIO CITY — The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday turned-over 50 pigs to the Benguet provincial veterinary office, which will be given to hog raisers as “sentinel” pigs.
Dr. Miriam Tiongan, the provincial veterinarian of Benguet, said the pigs will be used as experiment, or will be used as sentinel animals, to find out whether the pigpens are already free of the African swine fever (ASF).
She said the 50 animals will be distributed to the 50 ASF-affected hog raisers in the towns of Itogon, Tuba, and La Trinidad.
For 44 days, the hogs will be monitored and blood samples will be taken every week. The blood samples will be brought to the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory to see if it is ASF-free.
“The experiment will determine if the ASF virus is no longer in the pigpen because they cannot proceed to grow again without first assuring it,” Tiongan said.
“At least meron itong tulong ng DA for the sentinel (the DA assistance is a big help for the sentinel),” the veterinarian said.
She said ASF-affected animals are mandatorily culled and buried, while the pigpens go through a one month of daily disinfection. This is followed by a three-month downtime before the sentinel animal is placed.
“After 44 days when the tests show negative, the hog raiser can already place more pigs to grow,” Tiongan said.
She relayed the hog raisers’ gratitude to the government for the help it has been extending to the ASF-affected raisers.
During the ASF’s first wave, the provincial and municipal governments gave rice and financial assistance to the affected hog raisers.
The DA regional office also extends interventions such as the distribution of chicken, goat, sheep, and cow as livelihood assistance. A remuneration was also given in exchange for the culled pigs aside from disinfection chemicals.
Tiongan said they continue to inform the public about the ASF and its effects including the prevention measures through the media and distribution of reading materials.
She said they also give disinfectants to hog raisers so that they will pursue the practice of having sanitary pigpens. The advocacy against feeding swill is also a regular reminder.
Tiongan said they are also leveling up biosecurity measures by conducting sanitation on vehicles carrying live animals and meat at the provincial borders. Meat inspection is also done at checkpoints.
She said that hog raisers must be constantly cautious and not buy piglets from ASF-affected areas.
“Malaking epekto yan kung talagang gagawin nila yang mga advisories (that will have a big effect if only they will follow the advisories),” she said.
The veterinarian said it is sad that another case of ASF was monitored in Atok town in the last week of August. “There were 91 heads culled due to the infection. Two hog raisers bought piglets in Pugo, La Union. They just finished de-culling infected pigs,” she said.
Tiongan said Benguet will feel the effect of ASF in a few months. At present, there is difficulty in getting enough meat supply. **Liza Agoot, PNA