Dairy crosses are proving to be consistent good milk yielders. This is the latest report from the Alaminos Goat Farm (AGF), which has developed two practical strategies that have made them successful in achieving significant levels of milk production.
By Zac B. Sarian
The AGF in Alaminos, Laguna is managed by Rene Almeda and his two sons Art and Toti. The three have been successful in developing production as well as marketing strategies for their products. The farm was the first to introduce bottled fresh goat’s milk to supermarkets in Metro Manila. Aside from fresh milk, the Almedas also make goat’s milk cheese and ice cream.
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One very successful production strategy in providing proper nutrition to the dairy animals is what Rene calls the Alaminos Salad Garden. This is a plantation of various forage crops relished by goats that are harvested every day and fed to the confined animals.
The predominant forage crop is Indigofera, which is said to contain more than 25 percent crude protein. It is a small tree that can be topcut every 45 days for feeding to the goats. Other forage crops in the salad garden include mulberry, ipil-ipil, malunggay, centrosema, Stylosanthes, and Pakchong 1 or Super Napier.
Aside from fresh forage, AGF has its own formulation of pelletized feed for its dairy animals. One of the components is Indigofera leaf meal. The Indigofera leaf meal constitutes 40 percent of the pellets, making the cost low.
Rene is a firm believer in the benefits that can be derived from Indigofera. Many government researchers had earlier ignored what Rene advocates, but now Indigofera is being given the attention it deserves by government researchers and authorities.
The pellets are very economical. One kilo costs about Php11. And since one goat in the milkline eats 800 grams to 1.20 kilos (1,200 grams) a day, the cost is only Php8.80 to Php13.20 per head. Add to that the cost of one kilo of green feeds, and the daily feed cost is not really much compared to the value of the milk produced by each animal. As per the latest report of the AGF, the crossbreds are giving an average of two liters a day; these fetch Php250 ex-farm.
The AGF also pays special attention to improved genetics. Rene believed that with the right nutrition under tropical conditions, the superior genetics from abroad would perform well under local conditions. By all indications, he has been right. He is excited about the good results at AGF.
First, AGF launched a selection program for Anglo Nubians. This was followed by the importation of Saanen breeders from Australia and then from the United States. AGF did not mind paying a high price for superior bucks from the United States which they used to sire Saanens or for crossing with Anglo Nubians.
Rene is excited to report on the progress of their efforts in improving milk production. They embarked on crossing selected Anglo Nubians with Saanen. And the result is that the crosses have been consistently giving about two liters of milk daily in a lactation period of 305 days. Now, they are aiming at a triple cross by mating the Anglo-Saanen cross with purebred Alpine bucks. Actually, however, they are milking the does for 245 days per lactation. That’s because they allow the kids to suckle from their mother in the first 60 days. That’s to boost the growth of the kids.
The Almedas are also paying much attention to the Oberhasli dairy goat that they acquired through the AGRIPBeS (Accelerating the Genetic Resource Improvement Program for Beef Cattle and Small Ruminants) program of the Department of Agriculture. They are making crosses of the same with other breeds for the desired hybrid vigor.
On to Samar and Leyte
In 2013, AGF was invited to be a private sector partner in the Samar Island Small Ruminant Enterprise Development Project (SAIS-RED). This was upon the initiative of Assistant Regional Director Wilson Cerbito of the Department of Agriculture. At the start of the program, Indigofera seeds, centrosema seeds, Stylo seeds, and Pakchong 1 cuttings were provided by AGF to the target recipients of dairy goats in Samar and Leyte. Oh yes, before the goats were dispersed, the farmers had to prepare their feeds.
Ten Anglo Nubian bucks were supplied by AGF in 2013. In 2014, purbred Anglo Nubian does were brought to the Malitbog government station in Leyte. Anglo Saanen and triple cross Alpine-Anglo-Saanen does were distributed to farmer partners in the project. This year (2015), AGF will ship another batch of 30 doelings to Samar.
Rene is very optimistic that this could be a model in dairy goat production for other regions to copy.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s July 2015 issue.