High School Dropout Is A Large-Scale Swine Producer
Unknown to many, the biggest commercial swine farm in the Ilocos Region and probably one of the biggest in the country is in Barangay Bugayong, Binalonan, Pangasinan, which is located parallel to the national highway.
The DCU Farm started on a rented land 23 years ago with five weanlings, which were raised for fattening. Today, it is already at the 1,000-sow level in a sprawling contiguous area and has been incorporated as the DCU Farm Corporation.
Equally astonishing is that the owner, Danilo “Danny” C. Uy, is a high school dropout who established the small piggery because his neighbors were quarreling over the waste generated by a small kropek factory he established about a year earlier.
With a wide smile, Danny, 58, says he is a graduate of the “university of experience”, as he finished only two years of evening classes in high school at the Far Eastern University. He was forced to leave school because he got deeply involved in student activism.
Thereafter, he hopped from one job to another — dish washer, janitor, delivery man, etc. — until he became a sales representative of a company selling canned goods. Because of his excellent performance, he was one of the candidates to replace the sales manager when he resigned. However, he did not get the post because of his low educational attainment.
As a result, he resigned in to frustration and transferred to a kropek factory, but still as a sales representative. At times when he was at the factory and there was not much to do, he would help in whatever way he could. Thus, he got first hand experience on how kropek is made.
One day while making the rounds in the Ilocos, his delivery van had an engine trouble in Bugayong. It was then that he met some people in the barangay who later became his friends. A few years later, his friends helped him get a small piece of land there, which he rented and used for the establishment of a small kropek factory while at the same time maintaining his job as a sales representative.
A few months after the small factory started, his neighbors already got angry at him because of the obnoxious odor emitted by its waste. But Danny played a small trick on his neighbors and told them that the waste could be used as feed for pigs. And why not, except for the vetsin, most of the waste contained carbohydrate and protein. The trick worked because the pigs liked the cooked waste and they grew bigger.
After that the neighbors started to compete with each other to be able to get a share from the kropek waste. This led to frequent quarrels among them until one of them almost got stabbed by another.
To prevent possible bloodshed, he told his neighbors to stop gathering the waste as he was already going to use it himself.
Five Piglets for A Start
At the back of his mind, Danny was probably saying he might as well use the kropek waste himself for additional income.
In 1982 he bought five piglets from local growers just to give it a try. And true enough, the pigs grew well. After selling the first batch of pigs, he immediately bought 12 piglets as replacement.
However, the kropek byproduct was no longer enough for the pigs. Thus, he started to bring down the leftover foods in his restaurant in Baguio City that was being run by his wife. He even collected the leftovers from other restaurants in the city.
He cooked the leftover foods with the kropek waste. In addition, he fed the pigs with commercial feeds mixed with rice bran from a local kiskisan. He would mix a bag of commercial feeds with lots of rice bran. He continued to do this until he was already raising 50 fatteners at a time.
One day the pigs could no longer stand and he was very much worried. That same day he attended a seminar for swine raisers that was handled by a drug company. During the open forum, he brought out his problem and the lecturer, who was a veterinarian, went with him to his farm after the seminar for first hand observation.
He was told that the pigs lacked calcium and so the veterinarian injected his animals with the much needed nutrient. He was also told to mix salt and limestone (apog) with his pigs.
Since he did not have much technical knowledge on swine production, he continued to attend seminars offered by drug and feed companies. In addition to the knowledge he gained, he said, he also got free meals, T-shirt or cap and lots of samples.
Becoming more daring, he started to raise 100 weanlings after he sold the 50 fatteners.
Starts to Raise Sows
As he continued to raise 100 weanlings at a time, he realized that he was spending much for the purchase of piglets.
Someone advised him to raise his own sows so that he would not be buying piglets anymore and without even batting an eyelash, he immediately heeded the advice.
He asked owners of boars for hire to bring their animals to his farm whenever his sows were in heat. He paid P400 for every successful mating.
When he reached the 20-sow level, someone told him again to buy a Duroc boar to save on the cost of breeding. He bought one in Sta. Maria, Bulacan and used a small Tamaraw jeep to bring it to Binalonan.
Danny, who comes from Bulacan, was laughing loudly when he told us his experience with the boar. When he reached Bocaue, the boar jumped out of the vehicle and he had to run fast to catch it. To top it all, the incident occurred near the town plaza and people got amused at him. Luckily, however, some kind souls helped him catch the boar.
At this stage of development, he already needed some technical help. So he hired someone who had spent a few years studying veterinary medicine as his consultant. Although the fellow no longer does consulting work with him, he is still in Danny’s payroll as a token of his unending gratitude for the help he extended during his early years.
By 1986 he was already at the 100-sow level and five years later, he already reached the 500-sow level.
At the 100 sow level, he already experienced some difficulty in expanding his operations. Fortunately, the PCI Bank gave him a clean loan of P300,000 without collateral, which he used to buy the initial site of the swine farm.
After one year, he used the property as collateral to get a new loan amounting to P900,000, which he used for further expansion.
Formulates Own Feeds
Danny said it did not take him long in using commercial feeds before he started formulating his own feeds. For a start, he used a small coffee grinder as a hammer mill. As he had no laborer, he manually mixed his feeds himself using a shovel. His wife, Myrna, who comes from Candaba, Pampanga, and now the vice mayor of Binalonan, was his assistant.
It was only when he reached the 100-sow level that he hired a few laborers. All along before that, Danny and his wife were the only ones taking care of the farm.
He has already changed his hammer mill three times. At present, he uses an automated system but the feed mill is just enough for his own use. The present hammer mill has a capacity of 4 tons an hour.
His corn requirement for three to four months comes from Pangasinan during the dry season. The rest comes from Isabela. Rice bran is supplied by local rice millers, while soya is bought in Manila.
“You save a lot if you formulate your own feeds,” he said. “You can save 30 to 40 percent on feed cost. In addition, you are assured of a continuous supply.” He said it would be a big problem if feeds become limiting at the middle of the production cycle.
Danny said he had to roll his income from the piggery for its expansion, saying that if one uses the income from the piggery for family needs, it would not progress much. Income from other sources should be used only for the family, he said.
Thus, even before he reached the 50-sow level, he was already a distributor of veterinary products in Pangasinan. He gave seminars for backyard raisers to promote his product lines. Farmers thought he is a veterinarian and called him “doc”.
OJT and Training Center
Because he did not have the opportunity to finish even a high school education, Danny, who is the president of the Federation of Councilors Leagues in Pangasinan and automatically a member of the provincial board, has his mind focused on education.
Thus, his four children have already finished their college education: Dennis, computer science from De La Salle University (DLSU); Daniel, business management also from DLSU; Donald, veterinary medicine from UP Los Banos; and Darwin, medical technology from the Far Eastern University where he is finishing medicine. Incidentally, Dennis is a councilor in Pozorrubio.
Danny said a good portion of his income goes to the DCU Scholarship Foundation. Starting in 1995, the farm has become an on-the-job training (OJT) ground for animal science students of the Pangasinan State University College of Agriculture in Sta. Maria. Five OJT students are admitted at any particular time and full support is given to them for 60 continuous days. They are allowed to leave the farm only after the 60th day of the farm practice. They are even provided monetary allowance, P50 a day, for their personal needs. The OJT students experience first hand practice on everything about swine production – from breeding to fattening.
Danny said those who practiced in his farm had easily landed a job after graduation. He stressed, however, that he does not hire them, as his laborers are already well-trained.
In addition, he has constructed an air-conditioned training center within the farm where training programs for farmers are conducted. Just recently, the Department of Agriculture in Region 1 conducted a three-day farmers’ field school on goat production in the training center for free with Danny providing the meals and snacks.
Asked what formula he used to succeed, Danny said it was hinged on his vision and determination. He added that when one has already attained his vision, he must take care of his character – what he does when other people are not watching him. But most of all, he added, “don’t forget the Guy up there.”
By Sosimo Ma. Pablico, Ph.D.