Growing up on a rural farm in Tennessee, I worked with chickens, pigs, and cattle, but had little to no experience with goats. I actually had several misconceptions about them. But wouldn’t you know, when I arrived in the Philippines in 1983, goats were everywhere! I soon learned why these small animals were so beneficial to farmers around the world when it came to overcoming food and income problems.
- They are small and don’t need much land to thrive.
- They’re easy to take care of and quite hardy.
- They mainly eat grass and can forage on roadsides or abandoned fields without
- competing for human food.
- They’re good for meat, milk, and income, making them ideal for a poor farm family.
So how do you improve such a great animal? We discovered that building upon the existing strengths amplified the positive impact goats created for families and communities. For goats, this meant focusing on:
- Size – more pounds means more meat and money
- Hardiness – turns out its hard to best an animal that has already been around for centuries
- Increasing marketable by-products – milk and milk by-products
- Improve the system of raising goats – better feed, methods, etc.
We spent nearly 17 years at the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) in the southern Philippines, which was and is noted for a lot of things, including their improved breeding and goat-raising methods.
At the MBRLC, we worked with goats called “Nubians” (sometimes referred to as Anglo-Nubians). These milk-goats were much larger and, when raised properly, produced amazing quantities of milk (up to a gallon a day!). They also had much longer ears than the smaller, short-eared native goats, making them instantly recognizable.
Over the years, we were able to help farmers and farming communities start hundreds of small Nubian goat projects. Some were simply to help increase the size and thus the potential income of the farm family. The numbers tell the story:
- Fully-grown native goats = 20-30 lbs max
- Fully-grown Nubian goats = 80-100 lbs
- Cross-bred fully-grown Nubian/native goats = 50-60 lbs
Already, the farm has increased the average size of his goat herd (per goat) by 100%!
Milk production was also vastly amplified. Most native goats produced only enough milk to feed its offspring. The cross-bred goat produced up to a half gallon more milk every day. This milk could then be consumed by the family or sold for a good price, given that the work of the MBRLS had greatly increased the value of goat milk in the southern Philippines.
The impact of these goats was monumental and easily discernible. Driving through the area you only had to spot all the long-eared goats dotting the landscape to know that the Baptists had been there. Long-eared goats and Baptists—helping people physically and spiritually!
If you’re interested in learning more about goat raising in the tropics, please contact us here and we’ll be happy to send you a copy of “How to Raise Goats” produced by the MBRLC/ARLDF.