Rene Almeda of Alaminos Goat Farm is very con­fi­dent that goat dairy farm­ing can be a prof­itable ven­ture un­der the trop­i­cal con­di­tions of the Philip­pines based on their own sys­tem that in­volves su­pe­rior ge­net­ics, good nutri­tion, and com­plete record-keep­ing

IT TAKES PRI­VATE INI­TIA­TIVE to come up with a vi­able sys­tem of dairy goat pro­duc­tion in the trop­ics through a sci­en­tific ap­proach that in­volves close ob­ser­va­tion and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

Agriculture - - Contents - FROM THE EDITOR >BY ZAC B. SAR­IAN

The guys who now be­lieve that dairy goat pro­duc­tion is pos­si­ble un­der the trop­i­cal con­di­tions of the Philip­pines are Rene Almeda and his two sons Art and Toti of the Alaminos Goat Farm in La­guna. For eight years now, they have been rais­ing dairy goats and are suc­ceed­ing very well.

GE­NET­ICS - The father-and­sons team now be­lieve three im­por­tant fac­tors are needed in or­der to suc­ceed in pro­duc­ing goat’s milk com­mer­cially un­der lo­cal con­di­tions. Very im­por­tant is ge­net­ics. This means that the herd must have su­pe­rior blood­lines, no mat­ter how high the high cost. The Almedas, for in­stance, did not mind im­port­ing a pedi­greed Saa­nen buck from the US that cost more than US$ 4,000 to bring to the Philip­pines. The high cost is now more than re­cov­ered, thanks to the or­ders for the prog­eny of the cham­pion buck.

RECORD KEEP­ING - An­other very im­por­tant fac­tor is the strict record­ing of the per­for­mance of the an­i­mals. This is very im­por­tant in de­vel­op­ing a data­base for so-called “fam­i­lies” of dairy goats. Record keep­ing can tell you which an­i­mals to breed with one an­other to avoid in­breed­ing. Record keep­ing will also re­veal the per­for­mance of crosses

that pos­sess hy­brid vigor com­pared to pure­breds. While cum­ber­some, record keep­ing is re­ally very im­por­tant.

GOOD NUTRI­TION – Just as im­por­tant as ge­net­ics and strict record keep­ing is proper nutri­tion that is af­ford­able. The Almedas’ so-called Salad Gar­den for goats has proven to be highly ef­fec­tive in cut­ting feed costs. The salad gar­den con­sists of for­age crops like in­digofera, pak­chong 1 napier, mu­lato II grass, mom­basa (an­other grass), malung­gay, and mul­berry.

Af­ter study­ing their records, the Almedas have con­cluded that 40 per­cent pel­letized feeds and 60 per­cent green for­age is best for their herd. The milk­ing goats are given 1.2 ki­los of pel­lets and 1.8 ki­los of green for­age daily. The cost is less than R20 per day. The goats usu­ally give two ki­los of milk or more per day, so the cost of feed is eas­ily re­cov­ered.

The main in­gre­di­ent of the pel­lets, which the Almedas also make, is in­digofera, a legu­mi­nous tree that is very hardy. Ev­ery 45 days, the leafy twigs are har­vested, ei­ther for fresh feed­ing or for mak­ing into leaf meal for pel­letiz­ing. By the way, the Almedas con­sider as their solid con­tri­bu­tion to goat rais­ing in the Philip­pines their pi­o­neer­ing work in rais­ing aware­ness about in­digofera. This small legu­mi­nous tree is a good source of pro­tein and en­ergy for small ru­mi­nants. And Rene is very happy that in­digofera has gained wide ac­cep­tance from goat rais­ers all over the Philip­pines.

By the way, Rene Almeda also be­lieves that the good nutri­tion they have been giv­ing their an­i­mals has re­sulted in mul­ti­ple kid­ding of their breed­ers; they have even pro­duced triplets.

HY­BRID VIGOR – Af­ter ob­serv­ing the per­for­mance of their goat herd, Rene strongly be­lieves in the hy­brid vigor of

crosses, which per­form much bet­ter that the pure­breds un­der the trop­i­cal con­di­tions of the Philip­pines.

What is very im­por­tant, how­ever, is that the pure­bred par­ent stocks of both male and fe­male lines be of su­pe­rior ge­net­ics. They had that in mind when they im­ported a hun­dred Saa­nen dairy goats from Tas­ma­nia and An­glo Nu­bians from Queens­land, both in Aus­tralia. Saa­nen is the most pre­ferred dairy goat while the An­glo Nu­bians were cho­sen for both their meat and milk.

Con­stant se­lec­tion of the high­per­form­ing an­i­mals in the herd has been the Almedas’ main ob­jec­tive. In time, they came up with lo­cally born an­i­mals that adapted well to lo­cal con­di­tions. To fur­ther boost the qual­ity of the prog­eny of their breed­ers, they im­ported the US$ 4,000 buck from the United States.

Rene Almeda ad­mits that do­ing dairy breed im­prove­ment takes a lot of time and pa­tience, and in­volves much in­vest­ment. AGF has in­vested heav­ily in bring­ing in Amer­i­can Nu­bian dairy goats from top dairy breed­ers in the United States. Breed­ing An­glo Nu­bians adapted to the trop­i­cal cli­mate was un­der­taken full time with the Alaminos An­glo Dairy Line (AADL) breed im­prove­ment pro­gram. They are the fe­male line of the An­glo-Saa­nen cross. In the same man­ner, breed­ing Saa­nen through years of se­lec­tion with em­pha­sis on adapt­abil­ity to the trop­i­cal cli­mate has also been their con­stant goal.

Due to the long time AGF has spent breed­ing dairy goats, they have es­tab­lished a data­base of the dis­tinct dairy char­ac­ter­is­tics of the dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies of dairy goats be­ing bred at AGF. And Rene Almeda stresses that as AGF moves for­ward in their dairy breed im­prove­ment pro­gram, strict se­lec­tion is its main tool in us­ing the records col­lected through the years.

MUL­TI­PLE KID­DING – Rene is up­beat in re­port­ing that for the 2016 kid­ding sea­son, which started in De­cem­ber 2015, they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing mul­ti­ple kid­ding. The rains that were well dis­trib­uted in 2015 ben­e­fited the for­age crops in their Salad Gar­den. He added that 2015 will be recorded as one of the best years in feed­ing fresh in­digofera, pak­chong, mom­basa, mu­lato II, sig­nal grass, mul­berry, malung­gay and Florida napier grass in Alaminos Goat Farm.

The mul­ti­ple kid­ding be­ing recorded at AGF would in­di­cate a cor­re­la­tion of good goat nutri­tion with suc­cess in goat dairy­ing un­der the trop­i­cal cli­mate of the Philip­pines, ac­cord­ing to Rene. Hy­brid vigor, which the An­glo-Saa­nen cross brings to the ta­ble, plus good goat nutri­tion will spell suc­cess for AGF’s op­er­a­tion in 2016, he adds.

SHAR­ING THE TECH­NOL­OGY – In their de­sire to bring doable goat rais­ing tech­nol­ogy to the coun­try­side, Alaminos Goat Farm has be­come a pri­vate sec­tor part­ner of the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s Re­gion 8 sub-depart­ment in a pro­gram called SAIS-RED. The acro­nym stands for Sa­mar Is­land Small Ru­mi­nant En­ter­prise De­vel­op­ment Pro­ject.

Un­der this pro­ject, farmer ben­e­fi­cia­ries take care of dairy goats sourced from AGF. Alaminos Goat Farm sup­plied the plant­ing ma­te­ri­als of all the for­age crops be­ing grown in the AGF salad gar­den. The Almedas also shared their feed pel­letiz­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Rene Almeda is op­ti­mistic that goat dairy­ing in the coun­try­side can suc­ceed with the doable tech­nolo­gies that they are shar­ing with the farm­ers un­der the guid­ance of the SAIS-RED pro­ject man­ager – As­sis­tant Re­gional Di­rec­tor Wil­son Cer­bito. If the pro­ject is suc­cess­ful, it could be the key to faster de­vel­op­ment of goat dairy­ing in the Philip­pines.

An im­ported Amer­i­can Nu­bian doe with her triplet buck­ling kids.

Rocky Almeda, the young fu­ture milk­man of Alaminos, and Emily bot­tle-feed­ing young early-weaned An­gloSaa­nen cross buck­lings. The kids were early-weaned from their mother so that the lat­ter can be milked early for the pro­duc­tion of Alaminos Milk Star goat’s milk.

A pure­bred Amer­i­can Nu­bian doe with her An­glo-Saa­nen kid sired by an Amer­i­can Saa­nen buck. The kid is show­ing hy­brid vigor.

Alaminos An­glo Dairy Line kids, prod­ucts of long years of breed­ing well-se­lected Amer­i­can Nu­bian dairy goats adapted to the trop­i­cal cli­mate of the Philip­pines.

Preg­nant Ober­hasli doel­ings. Their prog­eny will be crossed with Saa­nen-An­glo to pro­duce triple cross dairy goats.

Plant­ing more in­digofera at AGF.

Triplet An­glo-Saa­nen cross kids are now in com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion at AGF.

Rene Almeda in his in­digofera plan­ta­tion.

(Pho­tos from top): Milk­ing takes place ev­ery morn­ing; the An­glo-Saa­nen cross and triple cross are top milk pro­duc­ers. Rene Almeda (cen­ter) show­ing the process of mak­ing pel­lets for feed­ing goats. A ship­ment of An­glo-Saa­nen crosses to the SAIS Red pro­ject.

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