by Henrylito D. Tacio
Raising goats in the Philippines is a profitable venture. Artemus Lot C. Almeda knows this. This is particularly if the breed you are raising is Boer goats. “Our farm is known in the goat industry as one of the best sources of Boer goats in the country,” says Art, as he is known among his friends.
Art is referring to Alaminos Goat Farm, which sits on a 16-hectare property at the picturesque valley of Mount Makban (the source of geothermal energy in Luzon). It is located at the back of the Iglesia ni Cristo Church and the Church of the Latter Day Saints along Maharlika Highway in Alaminos, Laguna.
The farm is teeming with napier grass, centrosema, stylo and ipil-ipil, all of which are utilized as forage for his goats. Recently, he has included such leguminous crops as flemingia, rensonii, and indigofera, which he got from the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) Foundation, Inc., touted as Davao del Sur’s goat center.
“We intend to develop a technology capable of producing dairy goat breeders which are adaptable to the tropical condition of our country and adept of producing milk in commercial quantity,” says the 25-year-old bachelor from Binan, Laguna.
Art graduated from San Beda College Alabang with a degree in Business Management, major in Entrepreneurship. It was while in college that the idea of raising goats came into his mind. “In 2004, I did a college project study regarding cattle feedlot business,” he recalls. He used the feedlot business of his father as a case study. It was then that he discovered the potential of the feedlot facilities of their farm in Alaminos, which were left idle because of the continuous supply problem of imported cattle from Australia.
“The feedlot facilities have established pasture and feedmill, which are good for 1,000 catlle,” Art says. With the encouragement and moral support from his father, he decided to go into goat raising in 2005. “I had very minimal risk because of the experience of my employees in ruminant feeding,” he admits.
On why goats instead of cattle, he explains, “Cattle are very expensive and we have to import them from another country, particularly Australia. As for goats, I can usually get them from nearby provinces.”
Easier said than thought. At the start of his business, he found out that looking for quality breeder goats in the Philippines is very hard. When he did find quality breeders, they were way above the market price. But this did not deter him from doing what he thought would be a profitable venture.
“I started with native does from Mindanao and Saanen native-cross does from Bulacan and full-blood Boer and Anglo bucks,” he says. “My idea was to start small with native does first. As I get the feel of the business, well, that’s the time I can go full blast.”
His father advised him to use a full-blood Boer goats and Anglo bucks as starters. “We select the Boer goat because it is known for its meat,” he says. “Anglo goat is added to improve the milking and size of the native does.”
So in the middle of 2005, Art imported his first batch of 30 heads of full-blood Boer does and two award-winning full-blood Boer bucks from South Australia. Because of the change of weather from winter in Australia to hot and humid here in the Philippines, the goats suffered heat stroke and resulted in mortalities.
The second batch came one year after, when Art imported 65 full-blood Boer does and four full-blood Boer bucks sired by award-winning Boer goats from the leading breeder in Southern Australia. Upon arrival from Australia, the goats had thick winter hair coats. Their daily intake of roughage, grains and water were strictly monitored until their hair became smooth and shiny, which signaled they have acclimatized to the tropical condition in the Philippines. There was zero mortality from this batch of imports.
After three years of raising goats, Art has some advices to share. “Make sure to invest on a good quality full-blood Boer or Anglo buck because the buck represents 50% of type of goats you will be producing,” he says.
This is how they are upgrading their breeding stocks. The offsprings from the Anglo-native cross are bred with the Boer buck to produce meat-type goats, which are at least 50% heavier than native goats. “The kids from the triple cross have the milking ability, length, and width of the Anglo breed and the meatiness of the Boer goat,” he says. “Doing so would improve the quality of chevon meat in the Philippines like what the Boer goats did to the Feral goats in Australia, which catapulted the country to be the number one exporter of chevon meat to the world market.”
According to Art, nutrition plays an important role for Boer goats to attain their full potential in terms of weight gain and reproduction. In his farm, he has develop a successful feeding program for his Boer goats. “Although it is quite expensive the results will justify the additional cost,” he says.
Goats are fed a lot of napier grass, centrosema, stylo, ipil-ipil, trichantera, rensonii and indigofera (which are fertilized with goat manure) plus concentrates, urea, vitamins and minerals. The feeding system developed is geared towards selling quality and good-looking breeders with smooth and shiny hair coat.
“The focus of supplemental grain feeding starts before breeding and one month after breeding for multiple births,” Art informs. “The does are then released to pasture and given minimal concentrate until one month before kidding. Then they are brought back to the kidding house and are fed 800 grams of concentrate plus the usual napier grass and legumes. This makes for heavier kids at birth, more milk production during lactation, and heavier kids at weaning.”
Studies conducted by livestock experts show that supplemental grain feeding helps meet the required amount of energy, protein, vitamins, calcium and phosphorus needed in Boer goat breeding and production. Palatability is one aspect often neglected by goat raisers in their search for cheap source of ingredients. This is important so that the goats will not be off feed which could result to bloat.
However, like most ventures, there are some issues and concerns. “Today, after establishing over a hundred heads of productive full-blood Boer does producing quality breeders, we are facing a market limited to certain areas because Luzon is still not declared free from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD),” Art laments. “We want to tap the market of the whole county and possibly Malaysia but we need the support of the Department of Agriculture to remove the restriction of animal movement with the declaration of Luzon as FMD-free.”
But despite this, Art believes there is a bright future for goat industry in the country. As he puts it: “The future for goat raising is very bright with the entry of private investment in quality breeding stock from Australia. With the advancement of goat raising technology and genetics in the country, there is no way but up. The potential of developing goat meat market is there, we just need to establish a steady supply and standard for goat meat.”
Art invites everyone to visit the Alaminos Goat Farm to see Boer goat raising in progress. Quoting a famous adage, he says, “Goats are very intelligent animals if you take care of them you will feel close to God. And if you are blessed by God, you will be very successful in this kind of endeavor.” — ###