Semen Cardona Filipinas rides on high quality genetics

By: Isa Q. Tan, Asian Pork Magazine

SCF's boar station is ideally located in an isolated hilly area in Umingan, Pangasinan province. Unlike other boar stations in the Philippines, there will be no complementary sow or piglet production in the company’s facility.

There will only be boars, all of which will be sourced from abroad.

The company, a joint venture (jv) between Spain’s Semen Cardona and the Philippines’ Plaridel Products and Services, Inc (Plaridel), took 10 years to be forged. That is also how long Plaridel has been distributing Semen Cardona in the country. 

“We are not a farming business. We are a trading company with technical people, but we saw the vision of Semen Cardona and how they now influence some 30-40% of the pigs produced in Spain and felt we could maybe do the same here,” said Jun Punzalan, who is concurrently Managing Director of Plaridel and CEO of SCF.

A different business model

Dr. Punzalan explains that SCF’s business model differs from other boar stations in the country. “We aren’t simply selling semen. Instead, we offer boar management services, which means genetic provision and managing the boars’ semen for our clients,” he told Asian Pork Magazine.

“We tell farmers ‘why maintain boars, which are expensive and can be risky’. A premium boar can cost upwards of USD 3500, and then there are the additional expenses, risks, and headaches associated with maintaining them.”

He explained that SCF customers would be buying boar rights where they pay for a boar in a line. The company would compute the amount the customer will consume monthly, and for 18 months, assuring them of the doses required.

“What happens is the producer is outsourcing their boar and semen needs to us. The cost is about the same as buying a regular boar, but in effect, they would be getting consistently high-quality semen from premium boars kept in a high health and biosecure facility. We’ve made the scheme attractive for customers so it would be acceptable,” Dr. Punzalan pointed out.

Transitioning

He noted that rather than the cost of its service or the quality of the genetics it provides, SCF’s current genetics it provides, SCF’s current make the transition.

“By transition, I mean convincing pig producers to let go of the boars. Filipino producers still have this mindset that they must own the boars. “But by transferring the management of the boars and production of semen to us, they also transfer the risks and the headaches to us who have the expertise, and we will deliver to them what they need,” he said.

The genetics SCF provides have already been proven, as customers, the company is currently negotiating with have used semen imported from Spain. The only difference said Dr. Punzalan, is that now this will be produced locally.

SCF’s genetic partners include Axiom of France, UPB of Spain, EGZH of Germany, and DanBred from Denmark. Soon, three other genetic companies will be introduced.

“Semen Cardona is doing business with about 15 genetics companies worldwide, but we cannot bring all of them to the Philippines, so we have them to the Philippines, so we have the genetics to bring here,” he explained.

Providing the need

To provide what their customers demand, Dr. Punzalan said it is important to understand exactly what they want or need.

“When a client or a potential customer comes to me, I interview them to find out what it is they need and want in their production, and from there, work backward to recommend to them the kind of genetics that will produce that,” he explained.

“There is no such thing as perfect genetics. We will help them choose the right genetics that will deliver their desired outcome, but we will also let them know there are trade-offs, so they can compensate for those.”

Also, SCF explains to clients how genetic programs are developed so they know how these will affect their future production.

Uncompromised biosecurity

Delivering high-quality semen requires a high health farm operation, so strict biosecurity is a must.

“My partner, Jordi Coletas of Semen Cardona, has said that semen is the best way to spread diseases, so we will never compromise on biosecurity,” said Dr. Punzalan.

There is topographical biosecurity, with the facility on a hilly and isolated location with no nearby farms. The entire boar station, which includes two boar houses, a quarantine area, and laboratory, takes up only 5ha out of a 19ha area.

The farm has three-level fencing for physical biosecurity, separating the low-security area from the medium-security area, and the medium-security area from the high-security area, where the actual boar station is. There is also chemical biosecurity with three levels of disinfection. Coming into the low-security area, visitors and vehicles are disinfected via misting. 

Moving into the medium security area means another misting, and visitors must shower and change slippers. If there is a need to go into the high-security area, another shower and change of clothes are required.

“Of course, nothing is perfect, but we have implemented all the biosecurity procedures that experts prescribe,” said Dr. Punzalan. “One of our selling points is peace of mind. The semen we provide gives our customers peace of mind.”

Semen preparation and transport

To ensure high-quality semen, careful steps are taken from collection to the final packing of the doses. SCF is implementing a system that minimizes human handling of the semen.

When semen is collected it is already given a barcode that identifies from which boar it comes from for traceability. Also, there is already an initial computer analysis to calculate the number of doses an ejaculate will produce. 

For this SCF is using IMV Technologies CASA system. Once collected the semen will go through various testing to ensure the viability. After testing, the semen is packed.

It is then put in temperature-controlled storage. Retention samples are kept so they can immediately address if a problem should occur.

During transport, a data logger that takes temperature readings is attached to the transport box. “Until the semen reaches the delivery point, we take a reading of the temperature. From the data logger, we will see if temperature fluctuates during can address the situation if there is,”  transport and we can address the situation if there is,” explained Dr. Punzalan.

SCF’s mother company, Plaridel, will handle semen marketing and distribution. In the future, he said they would put up ‘semen depots’ around the country.

“These are partners that we will deliver to, and they will be the one to deliver to the clients. One thing we assure, we will not mismanage our logistics of semen distribution. 

We will not compromise on biosecurity and logistics.”

Ongoing operations

The first boar house, with a capacity of 100 heads, is already operating. In July 2018, the first boars, ranging in age from 70 to 75 days old and weighing an average 40kg, arrived.

By September and October, they had begun training the boars, and semen sales are expected to begin by early 2019. The company is accredited to ship semen throughout the country.

“We are not going into 100% capacity for now because we want to manage the learning curve,” Dr. Punzalan said. “Although Semen Cardona will send experts to train our staff and guide us, there is still going to be a learning curve for us but it would be as big as if we were to do everything ourselves.”The quarantine house is due for completion this year. Like the first boar house, the critical equipment like the cooling system and the feeding system, all automatic, is supplied by Big Dutchman. Once the quarantine house is finished, the next in line is the second 100-head boar house.

Since SCF will not be producing any animals, the plan is to bring in new boars every 4-5 months.

Expansion plans

By end 2019, SCF hopes to have 200 boars in Luzon and 100 boars in Mindanao, where it has already identified a partner for another boar station.

“Our vision is by 2022, we can push our semen strategically all over the country to deliver the same quality following the same protocol that Semen Cardona is doing in Spain,” remarked Dr. Punzalan. 

 

 

 

 

Published by: plaridel
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