Rolly Lagaya : Everyday, You Should Attend To Your Farm
Rolly Lagaya, the successful poultry farmer from San Jose, Batangas shares with us his “innovative” tale of success.
Arapid change is now sweeping the Philippine poultry industry. The sector—which is predominantly a backyard affair—has now stepped up with nearly all farms operating at a calibre similar to that of commercial operations. Nowadays, rarely you would see small raisers sowing corn grains to feed the chickens roaming around their backyard and housing them in bamboo or wood-made cages. Minute operators now house their birds in modern fabricated domiciles and fed those using calibrated feeders and waterers. The evolution, according to pundits, is caused by tremendous competition in the market as well as the fast-paced and ever changing lifestyle of consumers.
Rolly Lagaya, owner of Lagaya Farms in San Jose, Batangas is happy to be a part of the sector’s revolution. An engineer by profession, he has established his farm together with his parents in 1975 as a mere family business. Started with 500 heads, the farm has now 200,000 birds in tow and producing 175,000 eggs per day. “Our farm’s expansion has been continuous. Whenever there’s a new technology, we always adapt it. We were the first farm in Batangas that has elevated the poultry houses. Unlike other farmers, we are always open to new technologies. We love new discoveries.”
Such passion for innovation has catapulted Lagaya Farms into an epitome of the ongoing reformation of poultry farming in Batangas.
The farm’s “secrets”
Originally located in Barangay Sto Kristo, Lagaya Farms was the only existing poultry farm in that area at that time, tells Rolly. “During that time, putting a poultry farm was too risky because if you have mismanaged it, then you are bound to fail.” Armed with a Php30,000 capital, their access to poultry farming know-how was limited and there was hardly a veterinarian or a poultry specialist in their area. But it wasn’t much of a concern since diseases were not as fierce as before. “Vaccines were only few then and we only had to deal with chicken pox and Newcastle disease. But now, we can’t afford to have technical consultants because of the numerous problems that we have. We now have a resident veterinary and a permanent consultant”.
Barring any obstacles, Lagaya Farms continued its prosperous streak until it became one of the most flourishing farms in San Jose. But Rolly did not stop there. His cravings for new novelties have increased knowing that he is facing stiff competition from other poultry farms. First to transform was his birds’ housing—he replaced the old domicile with an ultra-modern poultry structure complete with ventilation. He has also replaced waterers have also been replaced with nipple drinkers.
He has also constructed his own feedmill which Rolly says is more practical than buying your feeds from feedmillers. “Our feedmilll is already eight years old. It is an advantage to us having our own feedmill because their mark-up price goes to us because we have our own feeds. Aside from our own consumption, we also sell our feeds to other farms.”
He also uses the Lohman breed which he directly sources from his long-time supplier. From day one, Rolly says it starts to lay eggs for 18 weeks and will last until 100 weeks. This breed is also the preferred choice of his customers in Baguio and Benguet. “They make it into ‘pinikpikan’ its like `killing me softly’. While the chicken is still alive, they will stab the skin until the blood comes out and when it sticks to the skin that is when they will kill the chicken.”
Usually considered as rubbish, Rolly uses a technology to convert chicken dung into a fertilizer. He usually produces 200,000 kilos of chicken dung fertilizers per month which he sells and uses some of it. “San Jose is notorious for its chicken dung and investors shy away from this area because of the ‘smell. But because of our technology, we were able to convert manure into something useful and that is of being an organic fertiliser. Previously, chicken dung was sold at Php5 to per bag but because of the dryer that we have, it is now sold at Php5o. San Jose has well-benefited from it.”
All these avant-garde practices have clearly helped Rolly’s farm from a mere backyard business into a commercial-like operations, thanks to his never-ending quest for conventional ways of raising poultry from a simple cottage business into a mercantile industry.
An expert’s advice
Rolly admits that a lot of poultry farms have folded up either due to hard times or inefficient management. But being a clear testament on weathering difficulties, Rolly has shared several pieces of advice. First is being focused on the business. “You can’t be a weekend farmer, everyday you should attend to your farm. I haven’t seen a successful layer farmer who was not on-hand with his farmer. Every raiser should attend to his farm not the other way - ” In fact, Rolly says he already acquired some poultry farms that were neglected by their Manila-based owners. “I used to supply feeds to them. They only visit their farms during weekends. They were in the brink of bankruptcy so I bought them.”
Rolly says being at hand lets the raiser knows the real situation of the farm. “Seldom you would see a worker or a poultry boy that will work religiously without supervision. Aside from the farm manager, the owner should always be there. He would directly know the problems and deal with it first-hand.” Rolly maintains a 20o-workforce in his farm and feedmill plants which he personally supervises.
Second, handling eggs is very important. “It is very critical”, he says. “If its on the layer cage, the more frequent you should harvest it to minimize breakage If your farm has a capacity to produce 10,000 eggs, you need to harvest all of it even if it needs whole day because the more infrequent you harvest, the huge chances of having more breakage.”
Would-be raisers should prepare for the lean season too. The two-month summer break is the period when sales are low because students are on break. On the other hand, December is the season when sales are at its peak. Roily however laments on the low per capita consumption of egg in the country. “We are among those who have the lowest per capita consumption of egg considering that egg is one of the cheapest sources of protein. We can solve malnutrition through eggs but unfortunately, our population does not consume egg as per required consumption.”
Third, a future raiser should have adequate money to invest. Nowadays, Roily says an investor should expect spend Php5oo each bird before he can sees profits. “Including housing, equipment and of course your chickens. If your building can accommodate 10,000 birds, you should at least have Php5 million at hand.”
Fourth, a farmer should have good marketing strategies since most raisers are dependent on traders for prices. “You should establish a good marketing group because I plan to directly go to the consumer for them to have affordable prices of eggs.”
San Jose, which produces Around 3.5 million to 5 million layers a day, is one of the biggest poultry producers in the country and Rolly takes pride that their farm was the first in everything in their area: the first to install a ventilated steel-made poultry house and chicken dung dryer. His 35-year old previously backyard-run farm is now at par with commercial raisers and he owes it to his incessant search for new updates.. “You should always learn something new and do research. Ask suppliers always because they are the ones who tell you the latest. I am proud to say that our equipment is locally-made, some of which are made of steel and made of concrete. Never be content with what you have but upgrade your facilities as often as possible.”
By Gabriela Vasquez