Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
In the Philippines , more and more people are now raising goats -- in their farms, in their backyards, and even in their ranches! “We have been raising goats since the early 1970s and we have observed that the demand for the animal has been increasing,” admits Roy C. Alimoane, the current director of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) Foundation, Incorporated.
MBRLC is a non-government organization based in the rolling foothills of Mount Apo , specifically in barangay Kinuskusan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur. The center is not only known for its sustainable upland farming systems, but also for its goats. In fact, it has earned the moniker as the goat center of Davao del Sur.
“Unlike in other countries, only a few Filipinos raise goats on a large scale,” says Roy C. Alimoane, the current director of MBRLC and its livestock specialist. “In fact, our goat population has remained small.”
Records from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) showed the number of goats in the Philippines has been increasing consistently. In 1990, there were about 2.2 million goats all over the country. Today, the country is home to 3.3 million goats.
Goat production is economically valuable for the Philippines with value rising from P3.3 billion in 2000 to P5.113 billion in 2005. At the increased price of P4,000 per head, the current inventory is now valued at P13.2 billion.
Among the goats raised by most Filipino farmers are the Philippine strain (also known as the common goat) and the Dadiangas goat (which originated from General Santos City ). Some farmers are also raising exotic breeds, which include Anglo-Nubian, Toggernburg, Saanen, French Alpine, and Boer.
Central Visayas has the most number of goats, accounting for 15 percent of the total, according to the University of Asia and the Pacific. Southern Mindanao closely trailed (13 percent), then by Ilocos (12 percent), and Western Visayas (11 percent). The rest are distributed throughout the country.
“Goat raising is one of the most simple, low-cost food production projects that a Filipino can get involved in,” Alimoane says. “Because of the rising cost of commercial feeds these days, goats have become one of the most economical alternatives for meeting the protein needs of Filipino families.”
Goats require low maintenance because they eat tree leaves, grasses, weeds, and agricultural by-products. “Goats require less feed than cows and carabaos,” Alimoane says.
About 10 native goats can be fed on the feedstuffs sufficient for one cattle. And about 6-7 purebred dairy goats can be fed on the feedstuffs adequate for one dairy cow. “Although a goat is small, she can produce as much as four liters of milk a day if she is purebred and is given a ration to meet all of her nutritional requirements,” Alimoane informs.
There are several other advantages of raising goats in the farm or backyard. To begin with, you need only a small starting capital to start a goat project. Secondarily, more goats can be raised per hectare than cattle; they also multiply faster than cattle or carabaos.
Unknowingly, goats are good source of milk. Research conducted at the MBRLC has shown that the volume of milk produced from a purebred milking doe is about 3-4 liters per day (including the milk fed to the kids), which is more than the national average production of 2 liters. Thus, by raising goats, the country can develop its own dairy industry.
“Popularizing goat milk consumption nationally would drastically cut huge amount of foreign exchange being spent by the country annually to fill domestic demand for milk and its by-products,” Alimoane says.
The Philippine dairy industry – although considered a vital component of the country’s economic and nutritional development – remains undeveloped. Presently, the country imports 98 percent of its milk and other dairy products requirements.
As goat production requires low initial investment and small risks compared to other livestock, it is therefore an attractive undertaking among resource-poor families. In addition, women and children can raise the animals, making it a sound option to augment the country’s programs on livelihood. Goats provide livelihood to about 15 million Filipinos across the country, according to PCARRD.
A press release disseminated by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) claimed that a goat-based Rural Enterprise Development (RED) program can raise by more than 80 percent a farm’s goat population and generate more income for the goat industry.
According to the report, the multi agency-led RED-Innovative Goat Production System has successfully raised goat population in its phase 2 trial farms of nine farmers association in Region 1. These were in La Union (Bacnotan, San Juan , and Bauang) and Pangasinan (Balungao, Bayambang, and Bautista).
With a new breeding scheme, the project has produced superior breeds from the crossing of Philippine Native with Anglo Nubian and Boer breeds. “This resulted in goats’ improved reproductive performance, improved capacity to produce milk and to sustain nutrient needs of their offspring called kids, and faster fattening ability that allows for earlier slaughter,” the report said.
“Goat production is already a successful poverty alleviation program. We just need to upgrade our systems so that it will become truly grounded as an enterprise among small farmers,” said BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.
In Mindanao , goat farming is considered a “sunshine industry.” The country’s second largest island has a large Muslim population and goat meat is considered Halal food. There is also a big demand in the international market, particularly the Middle East .
In Davao , more people are now raising goats in their farms. Darwin Tinasas, a marine engineering graduate, decided to add goats in his farm; today it has become his main business.
Aside from providing him a steady income from the milk and sales of breeding stocks, he discovered one thing about the animals. “Their manure is a good source of fertilizer,” he says. His goats provide organic fertilizer for his fruit trees and coconuts.
According to PCARRD, to start a profitable goat venture for backyard operation, you need the following production inputs: investment (goat house and breeding stocks), operating expenses (veterinary medicines, vaccines, concentrates and additional feed supplements).
For commercial or large-scale operation, the production inputs are aplenty. Fixed investment includes land, goat house, fences, pasture area, water pump, feeding trough, spade, wheelbarrow, and ropes. You have to buy breeding does and breeding bucks. Operating expenses include veterinary medicines, drugs, and vaccines; feed supplements and goat rations; and repair and maintenance of goat house, fences, equipment, and pasture. Fixed and seasonal labor is also required.
Since the early 1970s, the MBRLC has been raising goats. In fact, it has already developed a sustainable goat raising method called Simple Agro-Livestock Technology (SALT 2), a modification of its internationally-known Sloping Agricultural Land Technology.
“SALT 2 is a half-hectare model of goat-based agroforestry with a land use of 40 percent for agriculture, 40 percent for livestock (specifically goats), and 20 percent for forestry,” Alimoane explains.