Makati engineer turns back job to raise carabaosBy Anselmo Roque
Inquirer Central Luzon
TALAVERA, Philippines—In 1979, when the carabao was generally regarded only for its power, Jaime Ramos of Barangay (village) San Ricardo in Talavera town, Nueva Ecija, decided to stake his future on this animal.
He had just finished his engineering degree and was working as a radio communications engineering assistant in a Makati City firm.
He went back to his hometown and bought a few native carabaos. He was thinking of raising and training them not for the rice field but for what he thought was easy money—carabao racing.
“I was certain then that there’s easy money in carabao racing than in producing rice,” Ramos says.
Ramos did win big money in carabao races. However, these occasions for winning in races were happening few and far between.
It was then that he took note of how his brother was earning a living—by selling milk from his female crossbred carabaos, which were offsprings of the crossing of the native carabaos and Murrah buffaloes. The daily milk yield, he observed, was at least three times more than the female native carabao’s yield.
He abandoned his leaning on carabao racing and went into raising dairy carabaos. He joined the Farmers’ Kilusang Bayan Cooperative and later he, together with his brother and other members of the cooperative, applied and qualified as recipients of the 25-dairy carabao module of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).
They got purebred dairy carabaos under certain terms and conditions, including paying them with proceeds from their milk sales.
In 2004, Ramos had four dairy Bulgarian Murrah buffaloes and two crossbreeds.
“I was earning from P25,000 to P30,000 a month from milk sales,” Ramos says. “It was comparable to an income of a company executive,” he adds.
About that time, Nueva Ecija was identified by the PCC as the national impact zone (NIZ) for carabao dairying. Several dairy cooperatives were formed and qualified to be recipients of the PCC modules.
The cooperatives were later formed into a federation, the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Carabaos’ Cooperatives (Nefedcco), which functioned as the milk collection and selling arm of the cooperatives in the province.
Ramos’ cooperative joined the federation and he became its chairman. He was re-elected several times.
On his own, Ramos continued boosting the number of his dairy carabaos.
He studied artificial insemination using sperm from high-quality bulls and since then, his superior breed animals have been producing quality calves.
Today, the 56-year-old Ramos has 75 carabaos with 45 adult females, 28 of which are lactating, a few bulls and calves.
At one time, he had almost 100 dairy-type water buffaloes.
“Raising them is indeed tedious,” Ramos says. “Feeding them is a Herculean task and looking after their health and nutrition needs close attention. But enduring the difficulties is certainly most rewarding,” he adds.
He milks the lactating dams daily with the aid of his five helpers. He sells the milk in top-grade condition to his customers in San Miguel, Bulacan, and other places.
Ramos says he has a 6,000-square-meter area for the growing and harvesting of napier grass. “My helpers cut and carry the napier grass to feed the animals in the barns,” he says.
He feeds his animals with concentrates and gives them medicine and vitamins.
During harvest time, he piles a mountain of rice hay to be used as feed when fresh grass is insufficient. Whenever possible, he sends his carabaos to graze in nearby areas.
There is also a man-made pond where he allows the animals to wallow.
As for milking his dairy carabaos, Ramos says: “It is now easier for us to milk them. I have a clustered portable milking machine, which was introduced by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Natural Resources Research and Development and the PCC.
“I get a daily average of six to seven liters of milk from each of my lactating carabaos. When they were younger, I used to get as high as 16 liters a day during peak months from some of my best dams.”
The milk is delivered to four clients in San Miguel who turn them into various milk products. Daily milk delivery is from 220 to 250 liters. Priced at P42 to P45 a liter depending on the distance from here, Ramos easily gets a gross income of P10,000.
For the calves, he sells them when they reach eight months to one year old at P28,000 each for the female and P18,000 for the male.
“Raising dairy carabaos definitely pays,” Ramos says. “I don’t regret turning my back on practicing my profession as an engineer.”
To succeed in this kind of venture, he says: “The dairy farmer must employ hard work, patience, diligence and the use of technology.”
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