From growing healthy broilers to providing high quality fresh meats
| From growing healthy broilers to providing high quality fresh meats | What started as a small independent broiler contract grower is now a fully integrated agri-food corporation, which is known in the industry for its commitment to providing high quality, fresh whole chicken, cut-ups and value-added meats.
Chicken Lumpiang Shanghai and Rapsarap Chicken Embotido
Based on aesthetic attributes and consumer preferences, a high-quality fresh chicken meat is white or pale in color, not slimy, and has no foul odor and bruises. When cooked, the meat is tender, juicy and flavorful.
Founder and CEO of RDF, Dr. Robert H. Lo
As a single proprietor, Dr. Robert H. Lo founded Red Dragon Farms in 1988. He began his broiler contract growing business by renting two farms in Bacolor, a town in Pampanga, with a combined capacity of 132,000 birds. After overcoming a lot of challenges, both natural and man-made, Dr. Lo expanded slowly to other areas in Pampanga, and he would later venture into commercial contract growing, bought feeds and day-old chicks from giant integrators.
In 2012, Red Dragon Farms was re-structured to become a corporation and changed its name to RDF Feed, Livestock & Foods, Inc.
RDF Poultry vertical integration
RDF’s poultry operations are vertically integrated from contract to supply day old chicks, feed manufacturing, rearing to hauling, and marketing of broilers.
At present, all broiler farms of RDF are company-owned and managed by the Animal Health Team composed of veterinarians who are in charge of overseeing, implementing and monitoring strategic animal health programs such as biosecurity, medication, vaccination, and health profiling. Total capacity of broiler farms is more than 1 million birds. Housing system is 65% CCS type and 35% conventional. CCS is a modern housing system that stands for Controlled Climate System. Its ventilation system uses fans with an ideal energy efficiency rating that translates into a higher degree of ventilation for birds. Proper housing ventilation minimizes the incidence of heat stress that may lead to loss of appetite (i.e., lower feed consumption) or death of birds. To improve efficiency and eliminate manual input, automation systems are used in some processes like the Bionic Distro for accurate, real time, and synchronized processing of harvest records; and Genus Hawk for online ordering of feeds, pharmacy items and warehouse materials. Broilers are reared from 28 to 34 days and have an average carcass weight of 1.0 to 1.4 kg to cater to the size requirements for dressed chicken and cut-ups of Fresh Options, which is the meat retail arm of RDF.
Dr. Fabienne Luz Balucas, RDF’s Manager for Poultry Operations, identified four quality processes to ensure that broiler chickens are raised healthy, with utmost importance on animal welfare and food safety, and these are:
- Standardizing rearing practices across all farms by conducting farm management audit in all areas of production
- Adopting to technological innovations in poultry housing to continuously improve growing conditions of birds and address challenges of fly infestation
- Enhancing people competitiveness by equipping them with new skills in the area of troubleshooting and by using technology to prevent machine failure that may result to poor grow out performance
- Promoting responsible use of antibiotics by adhering strictly to the prescribed withdrawal period and conducting quarterly testing of antibiotic residues in chickens. This is done to make sure that there are no traces of antibiotics in meats, which may cause health hazards and antibiotic resistance to consumers
Dr. Balucas adds that unlike other companies, RDF does not engage in contract growing because farm standards for broiler operations such as average live weight, feed conversion ratio, and mortality rate require strict supervision by trained farm personnel. Also, critical activities like chick placement, brooding, vaccination, medication, and harvest are difficult to manage in contract growing arrangement. The company would rather have direct ownership and greater control of the supply chain so that quality is never compromised.
RDF Feed, Livestock & Foods, Inc. manages a variety of modern poultry and swine farms in Pampanga and Tarlac, equipped with state-of-the art facilities that include a feed mill, a slaughterhouse, and meat-cutting and meat processing plants. The company also owns and operates a meat retail business under the brand, Fresh Options Meatshop and restaurants such as Hot Kitchen and Roberto’s.