The one and only free-range poultry specialist of the Philippine College of Poultry Practitioners (PCPP).
I got to know Dr. Erwin Cruz in the early months of 2007 while Reina Helena Farms was still in the stage of experimenting with breeds to use for free-range poultry. It was the time when SASSO chicken was in its ‘tween years (between the years it was first introduced and then re-introduced, and thus, was out for a while) and Grimaud was making its way in. The year when i finished my trial runs of Kabir and the native chicken. When we started in 2005 up to the year 2007, there was a dearth of data and research of sufficient statistical power to rely on when it comes to free-range poultry. What farmers like me, who wanted to get into the chicken business, relied heavily on was commercial production practices and hearsay practices of “rangers” or the people raising un-caged chicken.
Being a medical doctor for so long and steeped in the tradition of doing research before accepting statements as truth it was frustrating, of course. No reliable scientific data to back up statements is deemed “doomed” in the medical field. I did statistical analysis on my flocks but a vet has to put power in the numbers.
In comes Dr. Erwin Cruz.
I got hold of his posts at the PCARRD message board (hey, thanks PCARRD!) and eventually got in touch with him. Meeting him was like seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel. He was the scientific guy i was looking for who could explain to me with scientific basis free-range poultry farming. And with that came my own research and analysis of farming practices, breed, brooding, physiology, anatomy, vet pharmacology, etc., etc.
And having thoughts in the same plane, i gave him some of my research data. In exchange he guided me in navigating the maze that is now called “free-range poultry farming in the Philippines”.
He started in free-range poultry 1997.
Over the years, I discovered that he is the one and only specialist in free-range poultry farming in the PCPP. PCPP is not a school but a collegial body of learned men where exchange of ideas and research as a way of life come together for the improvement of its members and society. Much like the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS) of which I am a member.
Now, free-range farming is a field under the wider term “poultry farming”. If it were the field of Medicine, that means it is a sub-specialty. In the POGS, we have subspecialties, too. For me it is Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Meaning, in the course of building our careers, Dr. Cruz and I have both decided to channel our energies to some specific aspect of our scientific interest.
(an aside: if you are concerned about certain hormones or contaminants in your chickens and you want to confirm but wouldn’t know how to have them tested, you can ask me.)
What does this mean to me as a doctor and scientist?
All the other veterinarians who would give me advice on free-range poultry farming should show me proof of the scientific soundness of their advice and should pass Dr. Cruz’s scrutiny. Otherwise, it would be relegated to what we construe as “hearsay evidence”.
The next trait of Dr. Cruz that had us ticking together is his genuine concern for small farmers and local stakeholders. He is for educating the farmers and empowering them so that they too will have a voice in the poultry business. That point of view jives with my own that consumers, too have to be educated and re-educated to keep the purity of spirit of free-range poultry and perhaps even organic chicken farming. He gives free consultations and even engages farmers in the PCARRD poultry forum with sound advice that is understood in simple terms.
His third trait that drew us together: it does not have to be expensive to be successful in free-range poultry farming. The Philippines is so rich in natural resources! The rudiments of free-range farming has always been there since the beginning of time and was just lost sometime in the 60′s when commercial production of white chicken was introduced. Farmers and consumers have to be re-acquainted with this approach, the reason for my blog and his blog. And that is our mission together.
Here comes “The Organic Agriculture Act of 2010″. The government will surely be looking for specialists in various sectors of agriculture, including free-range poultry or organic chicken. Let it be known that to for the Act to succeed, it should be backed by valid data that have been scientifically tested. Look no further, ladies and gentlemen of the board! It is only Dr. Erwin Cruz who holds that set of data. All the others veterinarians or resource persons or supposedly “specialist”, in my point of view as a scientist, will only be pretenders to the throne. The advise of these other veterinarians or specialists will only be, at best GPPs or Good Practice Point in medical parlance. If I am to apply them in my farm, they should be level I or Grade A evidence, in the scale of bases of scientific data.
He alone holds the honor of being the one true Specialist in Free-range Poultry. In the interpretation of the Codex Alimentarius of Free-Range Poultry, i believe only Dr. Erwin Cruz can steer us towards our nation’s goal of “clean” and viable free-range poultry production that would be beneficial to both farmers and consumers.