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Raising healthy goats for sustainable livestock farming
by Ladylyn Jose - Monday, 28 March 2016, 01:32 PM
www.philstar.com: March 27, 2016

MANILA, Philippines – Commercial goat farming is slowly gaining popularity due to its high demand and good economic prospects.

Capital required for this business is relatively less than other business ventures.

Compared to cattle, goats require little land, reproduce fast, and are able to feed on a wide range of forages.

Rearing goats is a profitable business that has contributed immensely to the rural economy and national income.

The country’s goat population, however, has been decreasing annually since 2010.  This can be attributed to two major factors – high slaughter rate and low productivity.

Low productivity stems from the farmers’ limited knowledge on improved management practices and lack of access to quality breeders.

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This leads to long production cycles of more than nine months and low conception rate of only 75 percent for the dam and high pre-weaning mortality rate (25 percent) and low slaughter weight (15kg) for the kids.

Industry observers have noted the enormous potential of goat’s meat especially as consumers’ preferences shift to healthy options worldwide.

Goat’s meat is known to be lower in saturated fat than chicken, pork and beef, low in cholesterol, but higher in protein. 

To improve goat productivity and enhance goat-based enterprises, the Department of Science and Technology’s  Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research has trained farmers on feeding, breeding, health, and farm recording.

As of the end of December last year, 2,003 out of the targeted 2,400 farmers have been trained in Regions 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 12, and the Cordillera Administrative Region on improved goat production using the program-developed modality, the FLS-GEM.

This modality has been embraced by no less than the private sector-led Federation of Goat and Sheep Producers and Associations of the Philippines Inc. (FGASPAPI) as its national training model for goat production.

The FGASPAPI requires farmers to undergo this training before any goat is dispersed to them. 

As of November 2015, conception rate increased from 75 percent to 87 percent, exceeding the target of 81 percent.

With the promotion of proper feeding, housing, and health regimen for does and kids, pre-weaning mortality significantly dropped from 25 percent to 4.5 percent.

To address the farmers’ lack of access to breeder bucks, the program introduced artificial insemination (AI) using semen from exotic breeds. It also refined the protocol on goat AI and enhanced the semen extender mixture, Semex.

This protocol was later institutionalized with the DA’s Unified National AI Program, which formerly catered only to cattle and carabao.

The infusion of quality genetic materials in these smallholder farms thru AI, led to the increase in average birth weight by 43 percent and slaughter weight by 80 percent.

Aside from conditioning the doe prior to kidding, giving of pre-weaner supplements also helps increase kid survival.

To ensure that nothing goes to waste after slaughtering, the program developed and applied for patent nine chevon-based products from prime cuts, bones and meat trimmings.

Currently, the food products are either completing their shelf life studies or undergoing product labeling at the Industrial Technology Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (ITDI-DOST), and  will soon be registered with the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) prior to commercialization.

The program also developed and tested halal assurance protocols on goat production, transport and marketing, slaughtering and processing.

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