By Vina Medenilla
Goat meat is an underrated source of protein, even in a country that loves its kalderetang kambing. In Sibonga, Cebu, you’ll find a 580 square meter farm that serves as one of the community producers of goat meat.
For Hassan Basanon, 35, a senior manager in a Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) company, goat meat is a staple food that has always been part of their family events. Some of the favorite dishes that they serve with this type of meat are kaldereta (goat stew), kilawin (grilled goat skin soaked in vinegar and spices), and paklay (a popular Cebuano dish that involves goat’s internal organs).
Basanon’s interest in raising goats started in 2017, stemming from the idea of not having to buy goat meat for every occasion. After two years of gathering funds and studying goats, Basanon established a goat farm and named it Susana’s Pride Sibonga Goat Farm, or Sibonga Goat Farm for short. Basanon was able to build the farm remotely while working in Manila with the help of his family and cousins. The farm was also established to commemorate the memories of his late mother, who was very supportive of his farming endeavors.
Life of a remote farmer
Basanon oversees his Cebu farm from afar. He usually visits the farm several times a year to check its progress, but because of the pandemic, he hasn’t visited the farm for a year now. Despite this, Basanon and his team often communicate about their day-to-day operations to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Although they sometimes face difficulties in virtual communication, consistency keeps them on track. “I’m still able to keep things in order with the kind of team I have back home. I am very lucky to have them,” said Basanon, who is also a practicing tattoo artist.
Although goat meat has high demand in areas like theirs, Basanon still finds the goat supply low on a national scale. Goat meat is one of the healthiest protein sources, yet is still underrated, Basanon added.
In Sibonga Goat Farm, they breed upgraded Anglo-Nubian and Boer goats. They have 30 does (breeders) and two main bucks (male goats) named Sultan and Adan. “Sultan is a Boer and British Alpine crossbreed (with both imported parents), while Adan is an upgraded Red Boer buck.” They also plan to raise pure breed goats soon.
Goat raising for food and livelihood
With regards to raising kids or young goats, they make sure to apply iodine or betadine solution on their navel to avoid any infections right after birth. Within two hours of delivery, they make sure to provide the newborn goat with colostrum, the first milk produced by the doe after kidding, as this is vital for their survival. Without this, Basanon added that kids would develop a weak immune system and could die the next day.
In terms of goat housing, Basanon highly recommends using wooden floors if raising about 50 goats or more. For 10 goats or less, raisers can use bamboo, too. The flooring must have enough distance from each other to ensure that they would last for years. Since goats tend to play around and get heavier as time goes by, proper use and placement of flooring can prevent the kids from getting any injuries from cracks.
Putting labels on each goat is also beneficial for easy tracing and recordkeeping. Performing this will help raisers, especially those with 20 or more goats, identify the kids of each doe and the bucks that impregnated them.
Basanon’s team is composed of five workers. Two persons are in charge of the farm maintenance, while the other three are entrusted with the day-to-day tasks and routine. Part of their daily chores includes making sure that their forage crops on the farm are sufficient for the goats.
Contrary to Basanon’s initial goal to raise goats for personal consumption, the goats are mostly offered to clients to pay for the team’s time, effort, and monthly expenses. The prices of goats differ depending on the variety, which Basanon chose not to disclose. They also offer free goat management training to support and help their customers who are new in the field. For non-clients, Sibonga Goat Farm also offers one-on-one training that can be availed of at an affordable rate. This is part of their advocacy to help other start-up backyard raisers.
Goats with full tummies are happy, too. Be consistent in feeding and keeping them in a warm dry place. When they’re happy, their health is also boosted, and with a strong immune system, goats are more likely to build a strong resistance to diseases.
Basanon added, “A successful goat farm is not just money-driven, but should also serve a greater cause and purpose.” And as a goat farmer himself, the greater purpose is to improve many lives through goat farming while contributing to the growth of Philippine agriculture.
Photos from Hassan Basanon.