By Henrylito D. Tacio
Goats are considered the first hoofed animals ever tamed. In the Biblical town of Jericho, people kept domesticated goats as long as 6,000 to 7,000 years before Christ. The ancient Greeks and Romans paid great attention to the rearing of goats.
Anyone at all familiar with classical authors will remember how frequently these animals are mentioned, especially in pastoral poems. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, for instance, wrote of “splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat.” Thomas Chatterton penned: “Now, the rough goat withdraws his curling horns.” John Milton also wrote: “Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even.”
Asia hosts more than half of the world’s one billion goat population and is also where domestication of wild goats started.
The Philippines is one of the Asian countries where goats are extensively raised. As of March 2023, the total goat inventory was estimated at 3.96 million heads, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). This was one percent higher compared with the previous year’s same period count of 3.92 million heads.
About 99.3% of the country’s goat population came from smallholder farmers, while about 0.8% consisted of semi-commercial and commercial farms, the PSA added.
Small-scale goat farmer
Right now, more Filipinos are raising goats in their farms. One of these is Jim S. Cimatu, a 52-year-old farmer from Magsaysay, Davao del Sur. This high school graduate raises dairy goats in his one-and-three-fourth-hectare farm.
“Based on my experience, I find goat raising a profitable venture,” Cimatu said in Bisaya. “You get a daily income from goat’s milk.”
Cimatu used to raise cattle and pigs, but stopped because both projects were not really that profitable. “When you raise cattle, you have to wait for several months before you can have an income. As for pigs, the price is usually lower than what you are expecting,” he explained.
He learned about goat raising when he worked as a driver of the business manager of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC), a non-government organization based in Kinuskusan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur.
MBRLC has been raising goats since the mid-1970s. In fact, it has been touted as the goat center of the province. Most goats in Mindanao can trace their goat lineage from the center.
It was at MBRLC that he became interested in goat raising. During his spare time from his job, he visited the goat barns and talked with the caretakers. When there were people who bought goats from the center, he also talked with them and got some first-hand information about goat raising.
As goats are sources of milk, they are confined in a goat barn. (Henrylito Tacio)
After five years of working at the center, he quit his job in 2005. He was 29 and already married. He bought two Anglo Nubian does from the center and decided to raise them in his farm.
Anglo Nubians, which originated from Nubia in northeastern Africa, are dairy types of goats. They produce an average of two liters of milk per day. This breed is found to have a satisfactory performance in the country.
To upgrade his Anglo Nubian goats, he bought a purebred Anglo Nubian buck. (Henrylito Tacio)
His farm is located in barangay San Miguel. It is about 3.2 kilometers away from the town proper. Here, he allotted 1,250 square meters of the farm for his so-called “forage garden.” He plants pasture grasses like pachong, molato, and Mombasa. He also plants leguminous forages like indigo, calliandra, madre de cacao, ipil-ipil, madre de agua, and rensonii.
For breeding, he brought the two does to the MBRLC. A few months later, his goat stock started to grow. When he applied in a program initiated by the National Dairy Authority (NDA) in Magsaysay, he received 10 Saanen goats.
Aside from Anglo Nubians, another good source of milk is the Saanen goats. (Henrylito Tacio)
The Saanen, a native of the Swiss Alps, weighs about 65 kilograms at maturity. It is touted as the “Queen of Dairy Goats,” as a doe’s average milk production is three liters a day.
Right now, he now has 35 heads on his farm. He wakes up very early in the morning (at around 4:30 am) and travels to the farm so he could milk the 13 lactating does every day. “I usually get 1.7 kilograms of milk from one doe,” he said. “The highest, however, is two kilograms while the lowest is 1.2 kilograms.”
He pasteurizes his milk to ensure that it is free from disease-producing bacteria and to prolong its keeping quality. Since there’s still no electricity on the farm and the source of water is still not constant, he brings the milk to his home in the town proper, which is about three kilometers away from the farm.
Cimatu sells fresh milk, and has started adding flavors like buko pandan, strawberry, melon, and durian. A liter costs P120 while the 330 mL is only P50. He sells them at the small sari-sari store near his house.
During the pandemic, he said he sold goat’s milk online. The person ordering the milk either went to his farm or he brought them to the place where the person lives.
Cimatu is looking forward to the next school year as he has been tapped by the Department of Education (DepEd) to supply them with goat’s milk for their feeding programs not only in Magsaysay but also in the towns of Bansalan and Matan-ao.
In the past, he hired someone to harvest forage for the goats from the forage garden. The harvested forage is placed in a stock room and accessed when feeding the goats in the afternoon and in the morning.
After milking the goats, he harvests forage. (Henrylito Tacio)
Since milk production went up and his income also increased, he decided to hire someone to cut the forage and feed them to goats. He pays the caretaker the minimum daily wage.
Aside from milk, another source of income are the kids from the goats. He sells three-month-old kids, either does or bucks, at P15,000. Once the kid is more than three months old, the price goes up.
Another source of income is goat manure. He sells them at P350 per sack. He also uses the manure as feed for his earthworms. He uses the vermicast as fertilizer for his crops, such as vegetables.
Goats are not the sole source of income for the family. He also gets income from his coconuts, cacao, and bananas. In addition, he has 22 mango trees. Just recently, he acquired another 40 mango trees that were pawned to him at P1,000 per tree.
In the beginning, his neighbors were surprised about him raising goats. But when they saw that his standard of living was being uplifted, they now asked him how they can raise goats, too.
He is a member of Magsaysay Agriculture Cooperative. “Being a member, I can get some benefits from the government-funded projects,” he said. “You see, if there are programs from the government, these are usually given to associations or cooperatives. These are not generally released to individual farmers.”
Cimatu also receives help from government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture. He also attends training sessions like those being conducted by the MBRLC. “I learned so many new things when I attended training,” he said.
When asked if he will recommend goat raising to others, he answered affirmatively. “It’s a big yes,” he said. “Among the livestock I have raised, I find goats very profitable. You don’t spend so much capital on them and the return on investment is fast. Once they are grown, you get a daily income from the milk.”
During peak season, he gets a daily income of P1,300. His expenses for a day, he said, is about 600 so he has a daily net income of P700. And that’s only for goat’s milk.
Goats are one of three local sources of milk; the other two being cows and carabao. Raising goats is the least expensive because goats are not as big as the two other animals.
Other advantages of dairy goats are as follows: they require smaller capital investment than cattle; they multiply faster than cattle or carabaos (before a goat is three years old, she can have given birth to as many as five kids); and they require less feed than cows and carabaos.
Goats are usually docile and can be raised by anyone. Where cows or carabaos may be too huge for women or children to handle, goats are just the right size of animals for them to raise.
Photos by Henrilito D. Tacio