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Cecilio R. Arboleda
Institute of Animal Science,
University of the Philippines at Los Banos
College, Laguna, Philippines


In the 1970's local researchers have experimentally demonstrated that there is a decidedly higher economic benefit from the integration of livestock and fish production systems than from specialized livestock or fish farming only. Still, in spite of the relatively well-developed poultry and swine industries and fairly-developed inland aquaculture in the country, integrated livestock-fish production system has so far been rarely practised in the Philippines either among smallholder or large commercial farming operations.
Among the agri-business enterprises in the Philippines that have established fishponds to integrate livestock and fish production systems are the Maya Farms and Yaptenco Farm each representing a different approach to integration. The Maya Farms utilizes livestock manure for biogas generation and then applying the liquid sludge as fertilizer for its fishponds. On the other hand, the Yaptenco Farm allows the raw pig manure to flow directly into the fishponds. These two farms have, so far shown to significantly increase the yield of tilapia in the pond and the overall profitability of the farm.


With the country's ever-increasing population accompanied by a progressively shrinking farmholding, Filipino farmers need to adopt more and more efficient farming systems to survive. Fortunately, through farming systems researches new techniques are continuously being developed, particularly for smallholder farmers. For example, it has been shown that by integrating livestock and fish production systems the total food protein yield and profitability from a unit area of land is significantly increased.

The Philippines has a well-developed livestock, a fairly-developed aquaculture and a rich inland aquatic resources. Yet, in spite of the profitability of integrated livestock-fish farming systems demonstrated by local researchers, very few Filipino entrepreneurs have adopted the technology.

Perhaps more data and information are to be obtained through research coupled with effective extension programme. The few entrepreneurs who have adopted integrated livestock-fish production technology will also serve to encourage farmers to venture in this farming system.


Livestock production

With the application of modern intensive commercial production systems, the Philippines has attained self-sufficiency in poultry, eggs and pork. In 1988 the hog population was estimated at 7.58 million while the chicken and duck populations at 60.49 and 5.87 million respectively. The phenomenal growth in the swine and poultry industries in the country may be attributed to the rapid adoption of improved swine and poultry production technologies by farmers accompanied by a consistently high demand for animal products. Today, all the popular commercial swine and chicken hybrids developed in the United States and Europe are widely available in the country through local franchise hatcheries. Similarly, good quality formulated livestock feeds are locally-produced and readily available to commercial livestock raisers. Environmental pollution from intensive poultry and swine production, however, is becoming a serious concern of the country today.

The cattle, buffalo and other ruminant production enterprises in Philippines have remained mainly as small backyard operations and are managed basically according to the traditional system. Over the last decade the population of cattle and buffalo has sharply declined mainly due to low fertility coupled with high extraction rate. Today, cattle and carabao populations are estimated, as only 1.68 and 2.84 million heads respectively compared to 1.94 and 2.91 million head in 1982. Goats, on the other hand, have increased from 1.78 to 2.21 million over the last decade.

Except for Maya Farms, practically none of the commercial swine or poultry farms in the Philippines have deliberately established fishponds in their farms to more efficiently use the manure as fertilizer for the ponds or to recover the spilled livestock feeds for fish feeding. In almost all cases, poultry manure are allowed to accumulate under slatted floors and, at end of cropping period, is sold to and hauled by truckers who, in turn, sell it to vegetable growers. Pig manure, being usually wet and difficult to transport, are mainly washed away and drained into sedimentation ponds or directly into creeks and rivers.


The Philippines is rich in inland aquatic resources with 338,393 hectares of swamp land, 224,527 hectares of fishponds, and 250,000 hectares of lakes, rivers and water reservoirs (Dept. of Agriculture, 1991). Furthermore, some 1,600,000 hectares of irrigated rice lands are potentially available for fish growing in combination with agricultural production.

Of the total fishpond area, only 6.15% is on freshwater and the rest is on brackish water. In spite of the low hectarage of freshwater fishponds, however, it accounts for about 11.39% of the total production of fish.

Milkfish (Chanos chanos) and tilapia (Tilapia spp.) are the two major species of fish raised in ponds. Milkfish is mostly found in brackish water while tilapia is grown mainly in freshwater. Over the last decade, the production of tilapia has almost doubled while that of milkfish has slightly declined.

Milkfish culture in fishpens has been practised as early as in the 1950's but tilapia culture was started in the 1970's in the lakes of Laguna province near Manila.

Milkfish production has been mainly dependent on the seasonal supply (March to June) of fry from natural sources such as shallow coastal waters, tidal creeks and mouths of rivers. Supply of fry has been the critical factor in the commercial production of milkfish. Tilapia, on the other hand, reproduces even in ponds and fingerlings are already commercially produced and widely distributed by private operators (Brown, 1977). This is probably the reason why tilapia culture has grown very rapidly in recent years.

Fish grown in ponds usually subsist on its natural flora and fauna such as algae and plankton. Adding of organic and inorganic fertilizers in the pond is usually practised, particularly by farmers operating on commercial scale.


In the Philippines, researches on the integration of livestock and fish production systems have only been actively pursued in the 1970's even though the technology has already been practised in some countries for some time. Local researches have been conducted mostly at the Central Luzon State University in cooperation with the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM). These researches have demonstrated that raising of livestock in combination with fish in ponds could accrue additional benefits that would not otherwise be taken advantage of if livestock of fish production operation were undertaken independently.

Research and Extension

Researchers at the Central Luzon State University conducted studies to determine the fish yields in ponds directly manured by pigs and ducks at different livestock-fish stocking rates (Hopkins and Cruz, 1982). They have shown that in pig-fish, or duck-fish integration, significant increase in fish yield over two successive 90-day cropping periods could be obtained. Considering the amount of dissolved oxygen that were observed in the pond after the second 90-day growing period, the authors concluded that the optimum stocking rate was 60–20,000 for the pig-fish combination and 750 – 20,000 for the duck-fish combination.

Because of the nature of the production system in livestock-fish farming, apprehensions about public health hazards have sometimes been raised particularly when incidence of diseases or death due to eating of fish from contaminated waters were reported. Velasquez (1980) reviewed evidences of potential public health hazards from some organisms that are borne by both livestock and fish particularly in a mixed or combined livestock-fish farming system. These diseases include those arising from bacterial infection such as erysipelas, leptospirosis salmonellosis; protozoal infections such as amoebiasis; helminth infections such as schistosomiasis and heterophydiasis; and nematode infections such as ascaris and angiostrogyliasis. In this review, the author noted that the farmers' responsibility in maintaining sanitation and hygiene cannot be overlooked and strong government regulations regarding health measures are required. In the meantime, she recommended that further study on the disposal of human and animal wastes, use of treated manure as fertilizer or animal feed to fish, immunization and public health education should be further studied in relation to the integration of livestock and fish production systems.

Economic analyses and feasibility studies have shown that livestock-fish integration could be very profitable (Maramba, 1978; Sevilleja, 1980; Hopkins and Cruz, 1982; and Edwards et al., 1988). To promote this technology to a wider clientele, the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (1990) has published a manual on integrated crop-livestock-fish farming systems. This manual includes instructions and specifications of field design and construction, management considerations, and production economics of an integrated pig-fish, duck-fish and chicken-fish integrated farming systems.

Although adoption has been quite slow, the few entrepreneurs who ventured into this farming system technology have succeeded but only after certain modifications have been incorporated. These are the Yaptenco Farm which typify the pig-fish integration model (Fig. 1) and the Maya Farms which typify the livestock-biogas-fish integration model (Fig. 2).

Commercial Pig-Fish Production System Model: Yaptenco Farm

Located near the UPLB campus, the Yaptenco Farm occupies a two-hectare land with an irrigation canal beside the property. While its design was patterned after the CLSU livestock-fish polyculture model, two important operational modifications were incorporated. The first modification is the provision of controlled but continuously flowing water into the pond. By tapping water from a nearby irrigation canal and construction of a network of distribution and drainage canals, good water quality in the ponds is maintained even with a higher fish stocking rate. The second modification is the transfer of the male fish from the manured ponds at two months old and growing them in non-manured ponds during the last 30 days of growing. This operation, while requiring additional labour, serves two purposes: it allows more space for the fish to grow to the desired market size of 200 to 300 grams and removes the objectionable odour and taste of fish which is often characteristic of those grown in manured ponds. Dr. Yaptenco notes that even with the additional cost of transferring of the fish and addition of commercial fertilizers to non-manured ponds, it is worthy because he is able to market larger and better quality fish desired by the buying public.

With only about one meter deep of water in the pond, Dr. Yaptenco claims that he is able to stock up to about 80 fattening pigs and 50,000 fish per hectare per 90-day cropping. At this stocking rate and with the current price of 72 pesos per kilo for pork and 62 pesos per kilo for tilapia, Dr. Yaptenco claims to be making good profit out of his operation.

Commercial Livestock-Biogas-Fish Production System Model: Maya Farms

Maya Farms is a large integrated farm located some 40 km from the city of Manila. It maintains some 60,000 pigs, 120,000 egg-type chickens and a few hundred heads of cattle. Soon after the oil embargo in 1973, Maya Farms started experimenting on the industrial uses of biogas generated from the manure produced by their livestock. It developed systems that enabled the farm to use methane gas from the manure as substitute for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and as source of energy to run internal combustion engines that power its deep-well water pumps, feed-mixers and generators and some other electric equipment in the farm. With its success in the efficient generation of biogas, in 1982 Maya Farms cut off its electrical connection from the Manila Electric Company and has since been running the farm on self-generated power thus saving millions of pesos annually on electric bills.

Figure 1. Integrated pig-fish production system: Yaptenco model.

Figure 1

Figure 2. Integrated livestock-biogas-fish production system: Maya farms model.

Figure 2

Sludge is a voluminous by-product of Maya Farms biogas generation. It contains a mixture of anaerobically fermented organic wastes and water discharged from a digester. Because sludge is rich in nutrients, Maya Farms also succeeded in processing solid sludge into animal feeds and commercial fertilizer. To make use of the liquid portion of the sludge as fertilizer for algae and phytoplanktons, Maya Farms constructed fish-ponds for tilapia production. The amount of sludge added to the ponds is controlled to avoid excessive algal growth and decomposition which could cause oxygen depletion in the water. Maya Farms claims that, with nothing but the plankton and hog feed sweepings as fish food, its fishponds yield about 2 tons of tilapia per hectare every 3 months.

According to Maramba (1979), several advantages are derived by passing the raw manure through a biogas plant and using the resulting sludge as fertilizer for fish-ponds. These are:

  1. Sludge is not odorous and will not adversely affect the palatability of the fish.
  2. Sludge promotes the growth of the plankton better than fresh manure does.
  3. Sludge has a lower biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) than the fresh manure slurry, thus leaving more oxygen available for the fish in the pond.
  4. It allows the production of biogas and biofeed out of the manure.


Notwithstanding the constraints to the development of livestock-fish production system, current events and government policies in the Philippines promise big potential for the development of this technology.

Land-holding per farm family is becoming smaller. Between 1971 and 1980 the average size of farms decreased from 3.6 to 2.8 hectares and about 97% of all farms were below 5 hectares. With the current aggressive implementation of the Agrarian Reform Program of the government the number of smallholder farmers will continue to increase while the average size of farm-holding will become even smaller. This trend will encourage maximum utilization of the resources of the farm through more diversified farming systems.

Fish will become more and more expensive not only because of its high nutritional and culinary values but also because it will become scarcer due to the continuing depletion of traditional sources such as deep-sea and community fishing grounds. This situation is compounded by the unbated pollution of coastal waters which renders them unfit and unproductive fishing grounds. This means that freshwater aquaculture will become more and more important source of fish for the rapidly increasing population. And livestock-fish integration would be a more attractive and profitable alternative farming system alternative for the farmers. Furthermore, implementation of stricter pollution controls on livestock farms will force farmers to engage in farming systems that will not only neutralize the odour of animal wastes but profit from them by efficiently converting them into fertilizer in fishponds.


While we may be positively optimistic on the growth and development of the practice of livestock-fish production system, absence of good statistics on aquaculture in the Philippines does not permit us to make accurate projections on the contribution of this technology to the protein food supply of the country. However, rough projections may be made from trends in the last ten years. For example, from 1980 to 1988, estimates from the Philippine Bureau of Statistics and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Dept. of Agriculture, 1990) puts the annual growth rate of tilapia production at about 7%. Within the same period, the contribution of tilapia to aquaculture production rose from 17% to 22%. If this trend continues to prevail over the next decade or so, we would expect an annual production to increase from 75,000 MT in 1988 to about 169,000 MT of tilapia by the year 2000 only from aquaculture.

Today, there are probably only about 10 private farms engaged in integrated livestock-fish production with an average of 2.5 hectares each. With an average yield of 2.5 tons of tilapia per hectare every 3 months, the present contribution of the technology to tilapia production would only be about 250 tons or 0.3 percent of the total tilapia production from aquaculture.

With the improvement in the technology of livestock-fish production system through research and its increasing adoption by farmers through more aggressive extension, it may be expected that by the year 2000 about 20 percent of the total production of tilapia will come from some form of livestock-fish integrated farms. Considering a land-holding of only about 1.5 hectares per farmer and an average yield of 5 tons per hectare per 3-month period, about 1,000 Filipino farmers would be practising commercial livestock-fish integrated farming at the turn of this century.


Brown, Evan E. (1977). World fish farming: cultivation and economics. The AVI Publishing Company, Westport, Conn. USA. 397 pp.

Edwards, P., R.S.V. Pullin and J.A. Gartner (1988). Research and education for the development of integrated crop-livestock-fish farming systems in the tropics. International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management. Manila, Philippines. ICLARM Studies and Reviews 16, 53 pp.

Department of Agriculture (1991). Philippines agricultural profile. Information Division, Department of Agriculture, Philippines.

Hopkins, K.D. and E.M. Cruz (1982). The ICLARMCLSU integrated animal-fish farming project: final report. ICLARM Technical Reports 5. International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, and the Freshwater Aquaculture Center, Central Luzon State University, Nueva Ecija, Philippines, 96 pp.

Maramba, D.F. (1978). Biogas and waste recycling: The Philippine experience. Maya Farms Division, Liberty Flour Mills, Inc. Metro Manila, Philippines, 230 pp.

Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (PCAMRD) (1990). Integrated crop-livestock-fish farming systems. Fisheries Technology Manual Series No, 6.

Sevilleja, R.C. (1980). Economic analysis of integrated pig-fish farming operations in the Philippines. In: Aquaculture Economics Research in Asia: Proceedings of a workshop held in Singapore, 2–5 June 1981. IDRC-193, pp. 75–81.

Velasquez, C.C. (1980). Health constrains to integrated animal-fish farming in the Philippines. In: R.S.V. Pullin and Z.H. Sheadeh (eds), Integrated agriculture-aquaculture farming systems. Manila, Philippines, ICLARM Conference Proceedings 4. pp 103–111.

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