Goat Dairying Has Great Potentials (Part 1)
Milk production with goats is increasingly becoming attractive as a few private raisers are discovering its possibilities with the use of improved technology. One fellow who is extremely excited about goat dairying is Rene Almeda. He and his two sons, Art and Toti, are operating the Alaminos Goat Farm in Laguna which is credited with what could be considered significant firsts in the industry.
The farm’s Milk Star fresh goat’s milk, for instance, is the first fresh goat’s milk to be commercially distributed in SM and Robinsons supermarkets in Metro Manila. A few weeks back, the farm was producing about 120 liters of milk a day but by the time this May issue of Agriculture Magazine comes out, the milk production could reach 200 liters a day as more animals join the milkline.
The Almedas operate one of the finest goat farms in the country today with a herd of some 600 Boers and Anglo Nubians, and about 300 Saanens. The Saanens are the ones currently producing the milk sold in the market. But the progenies of a superioY line of Anglo Nubian crossed with Saanen are what excite the Almedas the more. They call this the Alaminos Mitra Saanen cross or simply AMS cross.
The goat farm was started in 1993 as a project of Art, the elder son. Rene relates that Art was very good at taking care of dogs so he suggested that he start a goat project on the 16-hectare property of the family where Rene used to fatten feedlot cattle from Australia. The feedlot operation was stopped in 1999 when the exchange rate of the peso vis a vis the dollar was very unpredictable. fortunately, Rene got out of the cattle business early enough with his investment intact. And so he had ready money to fund the goat project of Art, which is an honest-to-goodness business operation.
Of course, Rene did not want Art to fail in his project. That’s why he had to actively get involved in the goat operation. After all, he had that experience in animal husbandry, especially in nutrition and management. In no time, Toti the younger brother had to join to take care of marketing.
The Almedas started their dairy goat project when they imported 100 purebred Saanen in May 2007. That was considered a big number since some people would just import just a few for breeding. Why did they import so many? Rene said it was a challenge for them to prove than one can milk Saanen dairy goats profitably in a tropical country like the Philippines. He explained that with the experience they gained in raising Boer goats in the areas of nutrition and animal husbandry practices, they were very confident they can succeed in goat dairying.
It may be noted that sometime back, the government had imported a sizeable number of Saanen goats under the PL 480 program of the United States. Nothing significant, however, seems to have come out of the importation.
Rene observed that the Saanens they imported were even faster in adapting to the hot, humid and wet weather of the Philippines compared to the Boers when they arrived from Australia. They love the fresh forage grass and legumes
in Alaminos, he said.
By November 2007, they started to milk their first Saanen and by December they were test marketing Milk Star fresh pasteurized goat’s milk. The rest is now part of history of Philippine agriculture as Milk Star became the first fresh goat’s milk to be sold in supermarkets in Metro Manila.
What’s good about Saanen goats is that they can produce milk for as long as 300 days after giving birth. And they produce at least two liters of milk a day. Usually, however, it will only give birth once a year because of its long lactation period. The Anglo Nubian, on the other hand, is considered a dual breed. i.e., good for meat and milk. However. it will not produce milk for a period as long as that of Saanen. But the Anglo Nubian, can give birth three times in two years, hence it can produce more kids than the Saanen within a similar given period.