By JAMES TABABA
Aldrine Josef Bunyi, a 30-year-old real estate broker, has invested in goat production, specifically in breeding Boer goats. As the owner of Alpha Boers Goat Farm, he believes that the introduction of Boer goats into the goat industry will enable farmers to increase their income and improve the quality of goat meat production. By producing high-quality Boer goats, Bunyi hopes to contribute to the growth of the local goat industry, which will ultimately benefit the community.
Initially, Bunyi was drawn to raising Boer goats because of their distinctive appearance–a white body with a red head. However, he soon came to appreciate their rapid growth rate as well. With proper nutrition and care, Boers can reach a weight of 100 kilograms within their first year. This impressive growth rate is one of the reasons why Bunyi continues to raise Boer goats.
“The main purpose of breeding Boer goats is to upgrade the native goats of the Philippines because our native goats found in most provinces only weigh 25 kg. In other countries, goats normally weigh 100 kg. Four times heavier than our goats. It will take many native goats just to produce 100 kg of goat meat. Currently, native goat breeds are being crossbred with Boer goats to produce offspring with the potential to reach weights of 40-50 kg,” Bunyi said.
Native Philippine goats are generally smaller in size with a leaner body frame, shorter legs, and a narrow, angular head. They have a coarse coat, which provides protection against external parasites and extreme weather conditions. Native goats are known for their adaptability, hardiness, and resistance to common goat diseases.
On the other hand, goats with Boer bloodlines, also known as Boer-cross or upgraded goats, are larger in size and more muscular than native goats. They have broader, more rounded heads, and their coats are generally smoother and shorter. They are known for their fast growth rate and high meat production, which makes them a popular choice for commercial goat farming. Boer-cross goats have a high reproductive rate and can produce twins or even triplets.
How did the goat business start
Bunyi’s father and aunt, both from the rural area of Batangas, currently operate a goat business that involves the sale and breeding of native and upgraded goat breeds. However, they often face challenges in finding high-quality breeding goats. To address this issue, they approached Bunyi with a proposal to invest in their business by providing superior breeding goats.
Bunyi began his goat farming venture in 2018, gradually investing in the business by purchasing one Boer goat whenever he had some extra funds, opting for imported Boer goats rather than the local upgraded breed. The goats he acquired were entrusted to the care of his father, who resides in Batangas.
When the pandemic arrived, it had a significant impact on his primary job, and he was no longer required to report to the office. This had him thinking about investing his time in developing his own farm. With the recently acquired four imported Boer goats, he was excited to start a goat farm that would focus on breeding purebred Boers.
Bunyi took a significant step towards expanding his business in 2020 by developing his own farm in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. To acquire additional breeding goats, he sought the support of a few friends who were willing to invest in his venture. Thanks to their assistance, Bunyi was able to purchase six new Boer goats. These valuable additions to his stock now allow him to produce purebred Boer offspring, which are highly sought after for their breeding potential and can be sold to interested buyers.
The demand for good quality breeding goats
Bunyi’s clients comprise a diverse range of customers. While some are local backyard goat farmers who seek to improve the breed of their native goats, most of his customers are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who grew up in rural provinces and are keen on starting their own farms in the Philippines.
Bunyi’s goat farm has gained widespread popularity with the help of his Facebook page. As a result, interested clients from far-flung regions such as Ilocos, Cagayan, Cebu, Iloilo, Palawan, and other parts of Mindanao have contacted Bunyi to purchase his quality goats. Professional goat transporters facilitate the transactions and deliveries for clients residing in far provinces. They oversee all necessary paperwork and health inspections prior to transportation, ensuring the safe and hassle-free transport of the goats.
Goat farming as a business
According to Bunyi, Boer goats are a resilient breed that can thrive in different climates. Originating from Africa, they are well-adapted to the heat of the Philippines, but they can also acclimatize to colder weather, as they are bred in the US and Australia as well. However, prolonged rainy seasons can pose a challenge for Boers, as their respiratory health can be compromised when they are exposed to rain. Additionally, during these periods, the goats cannot graze in the field. To address this problem, Bunyi prepares corn silage as a food reserve for the rainy season. Corn silage is a type of livestock feed that is commonly used for goats and other ruminants. It is made from chopped and fermented corn plants.
The farm currently has 12 goat breeders. During the breeding season, the population can go up to 200%. The goat population of the farm peaked at 40 heads in the last breeding season.
Boer goat prices vary based on various factors such as coat color, sex, and age. Traditional Boers with a red body and head typically cost around P40,000 for males and P60,000 for females at about three to four months old. However, red Boers of the same age can cost up to P50,000 for males and P80,000 for females. It’s worth noting that purchasing goats at breeding age can be more expensive due to the invested expenses of growing the goats.
Due to bio-security reasons, the farm does not offer stud services. In Philippine goat production, stud service refers to the process of breeding a female goat (doe) with a male goat (buck) that has desirable genetic traits to produce offspring with those same traits. The male goat is referred to as a “stud” when used for breeding purposes. To protect Bunyi’s goats from acquiring infectious pests and diseases, they do not allow other goats to enter the farm. However, they are venturing into selling goat manure as a form of natural fertilizer to nearby farms, especially to calamansi growers.
Goat production using the Boer breed is a profitable business because “the offspring of the purebred Boer goats can be sold for an excellent price. Goats have three birthing cycles in two years. They usually produce twins, making the business have fast income returns,” Bunyi said. “This is when I realize, aside from being enjoyable and stress-relieving, agriculture is good for business.”
Additionally, for native goat backyard raisers, “The advantage of upgrading their native goat with Boer is that it can result in a significant increase in growth rate, sometimes doubling it. If they were raising 100 heads of small native goats before, now, they may raise 50 heads of larger upgraded native goats, making it more manageable. There is no other breed that can compete with Boer in terms of producing goat meat,” Bunyi said.
Bunyi values honesty and integrity. He shares that there are a lot of dishonest online sellers, claiming their goats are purebred even if they are not. “Farms should have integrity and credibility. We practice culling goats that are not fit for breeding. When a goat is not desirable for breeding, we sell them for meat to prevent incorporating bad genetic traits in the industry,” he said.
Plans and aspirations for his goat farm
Bunyi described the Philippine goat industry as a retirement business as most goat farmers belong to the old age group, “Although there are a lot of good and established farms here in the Philippines, they do not usually share their presence in the industry efficiently because they are not adept in using the current marketing technology,” he said in Tagalog.
Bunyi aspires to become one of the leading goat breeders in the Philippines. He is passionate about discovering the most effective and efficient practices in goat farming and hopes to share his experiences with fellow goat farmers. In doing so, he aims to reduce the learning curve for his beginner clients and minimize the mortality rate of their goat herds. His ultimate goal is to ensure that his clients have zero casualties, not only to prevent lost investments but also to maintain their interest in the industry.
He is currently planning to expand his goat farm to a larger area while simultaneously searching for partner farms to help meet the growing demand for breeder Boer goats. To ensure the quality of the goats supplied by these partner farms, he will personally supervise their operations.
As Bunyi suggests, if you’re interested in goat farming, it’s essential to start by securing a suitable area for production. But before diving into the business, it’s crucial to conduct a comprehensive study of the industry. Agriculture is a complex business that involves numerous variables and unexpected events. Failing to prepare for such circumstances can have negative consequences on your business.
Bunyi takes pride in his low mortality rate during the whole journey of his goat production. This is the result of his investment in research and training. Despite the limited availability of training centers in the Philippines, he eagerly continues to seize every opportunity to attend webinars, conventions, and other events focused on goat raising.
In addition to securing a suitable area and conducting research, it’s essential to find a trustworthy person who can manage your goat farm if you’re not planning to work hands-on. As Bunyi suggests, this person should have the necessary skills and experience to oversee the day-to-day operations of the farm.
Moreover, it’s crucial to prepare an emergency fund to deal with unexpected setbacks. As with any business, goat farming can be affected by unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or market fluctuations. Having a contingency plan in place can help you weather these challenges and keep your farm running smoothly.
“To end, the readers can follow our path of starting with native and upgraded goats. They can work their way up while learning and experiencing the industry first before infusing additional capital to start boer goats. There are many niche markets like selling goat meat, goat milk and even selling goats for breeding purposes. They just have to pick one that suits their capacity at the moment and adjust while their operations are ongoing,” Bunyi said.
For inquiries, visit Alpha Boers Goat Farm
Photos courtesy of Alpha Boers Goat Farm