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Update on dairy goat production

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.

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

GENETICS – The father and sons team now believes 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 the high cost. The Almedas, for instance, did not mind importing a pedigreed Saanen buck from the US that cost more than $4,000 to bring to the Philippines. The high cost is now more than recovered, thanks to the orders for the progenies of the champion buck.

  • MULTIPLE KIDDING – At the Alaminos Goat Farm in Laguna, their dairy goats are producing multiple kids of two or three. Rene Almeda, who operates AGF with his two sons Art and Toti, believes that good nutrition and superior genetics of their dairy goats are the reason for their good performance. Female Anglo Nubians are crossed with Saanen bucks to produce high-performing dairy goats. For eight years now, AGF has been doing its own experiments in dairy goat production

    MULTIPLE KIDDING – At the Alaminos Goat Farm in Laguna, their dairy goats are producing multiple kids of two or three. Rene Almeda, who operates AGF with his two sons Art and Toti, believes that good nutrition and superior genetics of their dairy goats are the reason for their good performance. Female Anglo Nubians are crossed with Saanen bucks to produce high-performing dairy goats. For eight years now, AGF has been doing its own experiments in dairy goat production

  • SAANEN CROSSES – These are  crosses of Saanen bucks and Anglo Nubian does. Because of hybrid vigor, they grow faster, give more milk, and are more adaptable to the tropical conditions in the Philippines. Normally, the animals produce two liters of milk or more per day. And they eat less than R20 worth of feeds – pellets and green forage – each day.

    SAANEN CROSSES – These are crosses of Saanen bucks and Anglo Nubian does. Because of hybrid vigor, they grow faster, give more milk, and are more adaptable to the tropical conditions in the Philippines. Normally, the animals produce two liters of milk or more per day. And they eat less than P20 worth of feeds – pellets and green forage – each day.

  • AGF SALAD GARDEN – The so-called Salad Garden at the Alaminos Goat Farm in Laguna plays an important role in providing good nutrition to the dairy goats at an affordable cost. The green forage is cut and fed to the dairy goats in confinement. The garden consists of indigofera, pakchong 1 napier, Mombasa grass, mulato II grass, mulberry, malunggay and others. Indigofera is the primary forage crop which is fed fresh as well as made into pellets. For best results, the animals are fed 1.2 kilos of pellets and 1.8 kilos of green forage a day, according to Rene Almeda.

    AGF SALAD GARDEN – The so-called Salad Garden at the Alaminos Goat Farm in Laguna plays an important role in providing good nutrition to the dairy goats at an affordable cost. The green forage is cut and fed to the dairy goats in confinement. The garden consists of indigofera, pakchong 1 napier, Mombasa grass, mulato II grass, mulberry, malunggay and others. Indigofera is the primary forage crop which is fed fresh as well as made into pellets. For best results, the animals are fed 1.2 kilos of pellets and 1.8 kilos of green forage a day, according to Rene Almeda.

  • BEAUTIFUL REGINA RICA – Regina Rica (Regional Institute for Contemplation in Asia)  in Tanay, Rizal is not only a place for contemplation. It is where you find nature at its best with man-made forest, exotic fruit trees, ruminants and exotic fowls. The place boasts of very tame peacocks, guinea fowls, Barbados blackbelly sheep and other farm animals. Photo shows a peacock photographed from the back. The place is well kept and is visited by tourists from different parts of the country.

    BEAUTIFUL REGINA RICA – Regina Rica (Regional Institute for Contemplation in Asia) in Tanay, Rizal is not only a place for contemplation. It is where you find nature at its best with man-made forest, exotic fruit trees, ruminants and exotic fowls. The place boasts of very tame peacocks, guinea fowls, Barbados blackbelly sheep and other farm animals. Photo shows a peacock photographed from the back. The place is well kept and is visited by tourists from different parts of the country.

  • HEALTHFUL VEGETABLE – Kale is considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. It is claimed to be capable of lowering cholesterol level, especially when it is cooked by steaming. It can also be eaten raw. Scientists have identified at least 45 flavonoids in kale. Flavonoids are a group of nutrients known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits. Kale is also locally called “Kailaan”. It can be successfully grown in the lowland as proven at the experimental farm of Allied Botanical Corporation in Tayug, Pangasinan where this photo was taken.

    HEALTHFUL VEGETABLE – Kale is considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. It is claimed to be capable of lowering cholesterol level, especially when it is cooked by steaming. It can also be eaten raw. Scientists have identified at least 45 flavonoids in kale. Flavonoids are a group of nutrients known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits. Kale is also locally called “Kailaan”. It can be successfully grown in the lowland as proven at the experimental farm of Allied Botanical Corporation in Tayug, Pangasinan where this photo was taken.

  • MAGALLANES PUMMELO – Fruit growers in Mindanao love to produce the Magallanes variety of pummelo for a number of good reasons. For one, the variety which is often called Davao pummelo, is sweet and usually seedless. It is also a very prolific variety. Each mature tree can  easily produce 200 fruits in one season as long as it is adequately fertilized. Pummelo can be multiplied by grafting. Grafted trees will usually produce commercial fruits in four years from planting. This variety can also be grown in Luzon and the Visayas.

    MAGALLANES PUMMELO – Fruit growers in Mindanao love to produce the Magallanes variety of pummelo for a number of good reasons. For one, the variety which is often called Davao pummelo, is sweet and usually seedless. It is also a very prolific variety. Each mature tree can easily produce 200 fruits in one season as long as it is adequately fertilized. Pummelo can be multiplied by grafting. Grafted trees will usually produce commercial fruits in four years from planting. This variety can also be grown in Luzon and the Visayas.

RECORD KEEPING – Another very important factor is strict recording of 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. Record keeping is cumbersome but that is really very important.

GOOD NUTRITION – Equally 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, mulberry and others.

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 P20 per day.  The goats give usually 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 the 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 creating 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 have resulted in multiple kidding of their breeders that include triplets.

HYBRID VIGOR – After observing the performance of their goat herd, Rene strongly believes in the hybrid vigor of crosses which perform much better than 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 must 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 are both for meat and milk.

Constant selection of the high-performing animals in the herd has been their main objective. In time, they have come up with local born animals that adapt well to the local conditions. To further boost the quality of the progenies of their breeders, they imported the $4,000 –buck from the United States.

The Almedas launched early a selection of Anglo Nubians for their so-called Alaminos Anglo Dairy Line (AALDL). These are used as the female line for crossing with selected Saanen bucks. The results are high-yielding and highly adapted Anglo-Saanen crosses.

Rene Almeda admits that doing dairy breed improvement takes a lot of time, patience and investment. He has no regrets, however, because their efforts have started to pay off not just in monetary terms but in enhanced know-how of the business of raising dairy goats in the tropics.