By Zac B. Sarian
In 1994, we interviewed Don Enrique Zobel in his home in Ayala Alabang. He was then wheelchair-bound most of the time since falling from his horse during a polo game in Spain in 1991.
Early in the interview, we asked him what was his most profitable farm project in his 400-hectare farm in Calatagan, Batangas. His ready answer was raising thoroughbred horses. At the time, he had 70 breeders – 90 percent of which gave birth every year. However, despite the high percentage of reproduction, he said his production was not enough to meet the local demand. He sold every two-year-old colt or filly at P150,000 to P300,000, depending on the bloodline. Those amounts could be equivalent to millions of pesos today.
Of course, his biggest project was raising beef cattle, particularly the Indu-Brazil breed. At the time of our visit, he had 520 breeders, most of them Indu-Brazils. He loved this breed because it is a large animal (700 kilos at 2.5 years old) and is hardy for tropical conditions. It can survive on leaves during the dry summer months. During the rainy season, it does not suffer from foot rot which was common in some foreign breeds.
Zobel said he crossed the Indu-Brazil with Limousin, a French breed, to produce crossbreds that are meaty and fastgrowing, gaining about a kilo in one day.
Deer is another project at the Zobel farm. At the time of our interview, there were at least 300 deer grazing together with the cattle. The stocks consisted of native deer and three imported breeds from New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia. He particularly liked the Russia from Malaysia because it is twice as big as the native breed. It could weigh 110 kilos at maturity, he said.
Deer farming, according to Zobel, was profitable because there was no special treatment given them. They just grazed in the pasture most of the time. The only thing special that was given them was the salt lick impregnated with dewormer. The animals gave birth twice a year so they multiplied fairly fast. He sold deer meat at the Calatagan market at twice the price of beef.
By the way, Don Enrique took up Agriculture at the UCLA Davis. After finishing his course in 1952, he came back to the Philippines and started developing his farm in Calatagan.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2018 issue.