By Zac B. Sarian
We remember the late Valeriano “Rene” Almeda (who passed away only recently) for his practical strategies in making dairy goat farming profitable under the tropical conditions in the Philippines. The Alaminos Goat Farm in Laguna that he founded in 2005 together with his two sons, Art and Toti, is considered today as the most successful dairy goat farm in the country.
To Rene, superior genetics is very important. The name of the game, he said, is Hybrid Vigor which is achieved by mating two purebred animals of different breeds to produce crosses that usually perform much better than their parents in terms of growth rate, milk production, liveability, resistance to diseases, mothering ability, and other desirable traits.
Several years before he died (January 11, 2019), Rene had proven his strategy right. Early on, after establishing AGF, he imported a hundred purebred Saanen goats from Australia. Saanen, by the way, is considered the No. 1 dairy goat breed. He imported a pedigreed Anglo Nubian buck from the United States to produce the crosses with hybrid vigor. The Anglo Nubian is considered a dual breed. It is good for producing meat as well as milk. It is generally bigger than the Saanen.
Rene did not mind paying a high price for a superior breeder that he liked. For instance, he paid $4,000 for a purebred Anglo Nubian buck, plus another thousand dollars for airfreight several years back. His strategy has been paying off handsomely for Alaminos Goat Farm. According to Art Almeda, the crosses of Saanen and Nubian have been delivering a lot of milk for the last ten years. The crosses have been producing an average of 2 liters of milk every day. During peak periods, some are even producing 3 to 4 liters a day. At farmgate, the fresh milk is sold at P140 per liter.
Currently, 70 crosses and 40 purebreds are on the milkline, producing 180 to 200 liters of milk a day. A big percentage is sold as bottled fresh milk whereas a smaller volume is made into cheese (kesong puti) and ice cream. As of now, there is no problem selling the dairy products. In fact, they have discovered a new market that promises to become a big one. Art relates that more and more dog breeders are buying goat’s milk for feeding their puppies. He said that goat’s milk is cheaper than the powdered milk intended for feeding puppies. And then there is another one. A racehorse owner has been buying 35 liters of goat’s milk every three days. This is used to feed a baby horse whose mother had died after giving birth.
The superior genetics at AGF has not been only producing high milk yield. They are also producing a lot of kids. For instance, from November 2018 to February 2019, AGF has recorded 32 sets of triplets. This is something Art Almeda is very proud of because normally, goats produce only one or two kids each time they give birth.
The Alaminos Goat Farm does not only make money from milk but also from the animals produced. The five-month-old crosses, whether male or female, fetch P25,000 to P30,000. On the other hand, the purebred sell for as much as P40,000 for a five-month-old.
Good nutrition is another contributor to the success of AGF. The dairy animals are fed 60% green forage and 40% pelleted concentrates. Bulk of the green forage is Indigofera zollingeriana which has a high protein content. The Indigofera is also made into leaf meal and used as 30% of the pelleted concentrates. Each milking animal is given 1.2 kilos of pellets and 1.8 kilos of green forage every day. This ration is less than P20 so it is really affordable.
Currently, Alaminos Goat Farm is home to 600 goats that include 100 Saanen, 150 Nubians, 200 Dairy Crosses and 50 Oberhaslis, and counting. The brothers are very confident they will be able to continue the good job that they and their dad started in 2005.