Good Forage : Key To Successful Goat Raising
“There are grasses around my area. I can get them from the roadsides, under coconut trees and even in our backyard” says Manong Doming, recipient of goat dispersal program of a government project.
Manong Doming was given five upgraded does. But after six months, he sold his breeding stock due to shortage of forage. “There was a drought,” he explained, adding that other recipients like him also got their forage from the same area where he used to harvest. When asked how much he received for the goats, he said, “I sold them half the original price. My goats were thin and no one would buy it if I sell them at the original price.”
Most backyard goat raisers often overlook the importance of nutrition as one of the leading factors in goat production. “Good nutrition gives good production and consequently higher income,” points out a livestock specialist. “This can be only achieved if you have good quality forage for your animals.” Although forage is the main source of nutrients that most goats need, forage isn’t enough to meet the nutrient requirement for production; concentrates are also needed.
Complete grazing and tethering feeding systems are common to backyard farmers who raise three to five native does. Most of the large-scale farmers, on the other hand, use semi-confinement system and most of them raise upgraded goats and crosses. But whatever system a farmer adopts, he needs to have a good pasture area.
Before buying the breeding stock, a farmer must prepare the forage area, which should be large enough to meet the dry matter (DM) requirement of each animal per year.
But even before that, a farmer must know the kinds of plants growing in the farm. Are these plants beneficial or not? Most plants with broad leaves are considered poisonous to animals so they must be eliminated from the pasture area. Among these plants are talong-talungan, lantana, barak, hagonoy, mangkit, and kudzu (which causes diarrhea among animals).
Among the beneficial plants that could be used for goats are grasses like kulape,
balbas kalabaw, baning usa, tinitigro, Digitaria species, and Cyperus species. The following legumes are also palatable to goats: makahiya, centrosema, paving pyang, balatong aso, marring aso, tagumtagum, and Desmodium pulcellum.
Some goats also like to eat broadleaves like sapin-sapin, luya-luyahan, tuhod manok, and dilang aso and shrub-type trees like ipil-ipil, kakawate and buvabas.
In Mindanao, most farmers plant native grasses and improved grasses for their goats. Few farmers including Janoz Laquihon use legumes as forage. In an exclusive interview, he said he prefers legumes as main feed since he started raising goats in 1998. When he was still in high school, he used to wake up at five in the morning to help his father establish their forage area.
Janoz and his dad planted rows of ipil-ipil, but Janoz wondered why they planted such until he reached college. “I learned that legumes have higher nutritive value and digestibility compared to improved pasture grasses. Unlike other grasses – which are tagged as `parasites of the soil’ since they vie with plants for nutrients, thus, increasing the need and expenditure on fertilizers – legumes help by fixing nitrogen from the air.”
Thirteen percent of coconut plantation in the Philippines is used for animal production, according to Alex Castillo, director of International Training Center of Pig Husbandry. However, the available grasses under coconut trees have lower nutritive value (45-50 percent) and even lower crude protein levels (11-13 percent). Experts are now looking for alternative systems.
Integrating improved grasses or leguminous shrubs/trees in the farm could be the best alternative. One institution that has been promoting this kind of scheme is the Davao-based Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) Foundation, Inc. Under its Sloping Agro-Livestock Technology (SALT 2), a modification of Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT), 12 dairy does and one buck are raised in half-a-hectare farm. The farm is divided into two components: one component for forage crops and another for agricultural crops. Goats are raised at the center of these two components. The goat manure is utilized as fertilizer for both the forages and agricultural crops.
Among the recommended legumes as forage for goats are the following: Leucaena
leucocephala, Desmodium rensonii, lndigof’era and, Gliricidia sepium and Arachis pintoi. All these could be planted six months before the stocks arrive.
LEGUMES As FORAGE CROPS
Leucaena leucocephala, or ipil-ipil to most Filipinos, was brought by the Spaniards to the Philippines as animal feed. A research conducted in 1981 showed that giving higher amount of fresh ipil-ipil leaves (75 percent DM) has adverse effect to pregnant animals. Other effects were seen in heat cycle, number of kids per kidding and growth of kids. This could be attributed to the anti-nutritional substances like mimosine and condensed tannin.
Another researcher recommends that only 30 percent of ipil-ipil mixed with other forages must be given to animals. Another study debunked this idea when it showed that wilted ipil-ipil has no detrimental effect when feed to Nubian goats.
Meanwhile, a ruminant nutritionist found that milk quality was improved when goats are fed with 30 percent ipil-ipil combined with Bracharia mutica. Jeffrey Palmer, former director of MBRLC, said that goats fed with ipil-ipil have higher milk produced (2.25 kilograms per day) compared to goats fed with D. rensonii and FF macrophylla.
In meat type goats, two researchers found that a combination of 30 percent rice straw, 50 percent dried ipil-ipil leaves, and 20 percent rice bran can give a live weight gain of 60 grams per day among native goats, while higher proportion of ipil-ipil (70 percent) only gives a live weight gain of 36 grams per day.
Ipil-ipil as well as other fodder trees/ legumes D. rensonii, FF congesta and I. and – could be planted under shady areas like those planted to coconuts. In Davao Oriental, coconut farmers- integrate legumes in their farms. One farmer in the municipality of Manay claims that planting legumes under the coconut trees increases coconut yield. The farmer stopped using fertilizer since he planted legumes under the coconut trees.
Few farmers said they have trouble finding the coconuts they harvested because of the tall shrubs grown under the coconut trees. To solve this problem, experts recommend that legumes be planted in line with the coconut rows or in a ring form (surrounding the coconut). Another solution is to plant creeping legumes like A. pintoi or centrosema. Livestock fed with centrosema and native pasture grasses grew higher compared to animals feed with native pasture alone. Experts have also confirmed that planting legumes don’t have detrimental effect on coconut.
A. pintoi from Australia is an ornamental creeping plant with yellow flowers. Studies have shown that it has high nutritive value and known to suppress the growth of weeds and to control soil erosion. Another advantage is that arachis can withstand heavy grazing compared to other creeping legumes. Arachis can be planted either as cover crop and/or forage.
F macrophylla is an erect woody native shrub and is known to withstand long dry periods since the plant retains most of its trifoliate leaves. Likewise, flemingia can also tolerate water logging and can grow well in acidic soil. Studies have shown that young leaves are more palatable compared to the older leaves. The protein content ranges from 14.5 percent to 17.9 percent.
Kakawate (G. sepium) is commonly planted as live fence or as post for growing black pepper. Although seeds can be used in planting, most people use cuttings. At the MBRLC, goats are given 20 percent of kakawate in combination with D. rensonii (55 percent), FF macrophylla (20 percent) and ipil-ipil (5 percent).
The leguminous forages mentioned above are just some of the species farmers can grow in their farms. They can plant other species, however. But before doing so, be sure to consider the nutritive value of the species, reliable source of seeds or planting materials, survival rate (especially during the dry season and drought), and the-type of soil in the farm.
Successful goat raising does not only mean knowing the facts and learning the experiences of other farmers, but also adopting and adapting all these information in your own farm.