Raising Goats Using the SALT System

In the Philippines, about 60 percent of the total land area has slopes of 18 degrees or more, which are categorized as uplands. These are continually distributed by increasing population pressure as more people move to the uplands.

In 1970, the average upland population density was reportedly 39 persons per square kilometer. A decade later, the population has increased sharply to 119 persons per square kilometer.

As the country’s population grows, its forest resources were directly affected. Today, the Philippines has a remaining 1.2 million hectares of commercial old growth forest. Its classified forest land is safely placed at 15 million hectares, of which 5.7 million hectares are already categorized as badly denuded. The remaining 9.2 million hectares, through they are potentially considered, are unfortunately in various stages of degradation.

Today, upland residents have been found to be among “the poorest of the poor” with an annual per capita income of P2,168. This figure is way below the average poverty line for families belonging to the bottom 30 percent income bracket. In addition, the diets of these uplanders are found to be inadequate, both in quantity and quality. Based on the studies done in Palawan, second and third degree of malnutrition ranging from 41-47 percent is prevalent among the upland population.

Possible Solution

To alleviate malnutrition in the uplands and increase the farm family income, the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) developed an agroforestry system called the Simple Agro-Livestock Technology or SALT 2. It is classified under the agro-silvipasture scheme of agroforestry in the sense that it integrates production of fuelwood (from hedgerows), agricultural crops, livestock, and forage.

Step 1: Locate and Develop the Contour Lines

First, locate the contour lines of your farm using an A-frame, which is made of a carpenter’s level and three wooden or bamboo poles. In finding the contour lines, plant one leg of the A-frame on the ground, then swing the other leg until the carpenter’s level shows that both legs are touching the ground on the same level.

Repeat the same level-finding process with stakes every 5-meter distance along the way until one complete contour lines is laid out-and until the whole farm is covered. Each contour line is spaced 4-5 meters apart.

Step 2: Establish the Contour Hedgerows

Cultivate the contour lines thoroughly, forming raised beds, 1 meter wide. Make 2 furrows, 1/2 meter apart, on each contour line. Plant thickly the nitrogen fixing trees and shrubs (NFT/S) on the furrows. In addition, plant NFT/S at the uppermost part and along the borders of the farm. Examples of hedgerow species are Flemingia macrophylla, Desmodium rensonii, Leucoena leucocephala, L. diversifolia, Gliricidia sepium, Calliandra calothyrsus and Indigofera tyesmani (anil).

Step 3: Plant Food and Cash Crops

Grow food and cash crops on the upper half portion of the farm so that loosened soil due to cultivation is caught at the lower half portion by the forage crops. To avoid further disturbance of the soil, plant 3/4 of the agricultural area to long-term crops (e.g., black pepper with Gliricidia sepium or “kakawate” as trellis, coffee and calamansi) and the remaining 1/4 to short-term crops (e.g., maize, beans and peanut).

Step 4: Develop the “Forage Garden”

Plant the other half of the area to forage crops. This should be established 6-8 months before bringing in the goats. Plant only palatable, high in protein, fast coppicing and high-yielding forage crops. A suggested composition of forage crops is 55% Desmodium rensonii, 20% Gliricidia sepium, and 5% Leucaenca leucocephala.

Step 5: Build the Goat Barn

Construct the goat barn at the middle of the farm between the boundary of the “forage garden” and agricultural area. This will save time and labor in hauling manure out to the farm and in carrying forage to the goats. Provide floor space of 20-25 square feet per goat using local materials. For convenient removal of manure, raise the floor 4 feet above the ground with floor slots nailed, 1/2 inch apart.

Essential divisions and fixtures in your goat house are kids’ separation pen, milking stanchion, milkroom, storeroom, feeding through, grass rack, waterer, and salt through.

Step 6: Bring in the Breeding Stock at the Right Time

Do this only when the “forage garden” has been fully established and is already capable of supplying sufficient forage for the goats. Bring in the goats 6-8 months after planting the forage crops. The recommended breeds are either the purebreds, crossbreds or upgrades of Nubian, Alpine and Lan Mancha. Without these breeds, start with the biggest goat you can buy. A good stocking rate is 1 buck:12 does per half hectare of a well-developed agrolivestock farm. Start small, with 3 or 4 does, and begin building your herd as you learn dairy goat production.

Step 7: Give the Goats Sufficient Feed

Dairy goats essentially need concentrates (high-energy feeds) aside from the forage (high-fiber feeds). Give them feeds in the morning and in the afternoon. A good concentrate consists of 18% first class rice bran, 23% corn grain or rice middlings, 21% copra meal, 36% Leucaena leucocephala (“ipil-ipil”) leaf meal, 1% salt, and 1% limestone. A good forage is a mixture of 55% Desmodium rensonii, 20% Flemingia congesta, 20% Gliricidia sepium, and 5% Leucaena leucocephala. Goats should be given daily rate of forage at least 10% of their body weight. Half of this forage should be given in the early morning and the other hand in the late afternoon. In addition, provide you goats with salt and plenty of water every day.

Step 8: Breed the Goats at the Right Age

Earlier breeding will stunt the animal. A doe should not be bred until she weighs 40-45 kg or she is 10-12 months old. Breed the doe in the second day of the heat period. If the doe is not pregnant after being bred over three heat periods, she should be culled, or placed under close observation if she is a valuable breeding animal. Rebreeding may be done 2-3 months after the doe has given birth. Bucks may be ready for servicing at 10 months of age but not for heavy service until over one year old.

Step 9: Sell Milk and other Farm Products Immediately

Milking, which is done daily, should have a definite procedure and time. A slight change in the routine of feeding and milking will result in unfavorable milk yield. Pasteurize the milk first (at 74 degrees Celsius about 30 seconds) before selling it.

Do not delay marketing your other farm products. The kids of the goats can be marketed at the age of 6-8 months or when they weigh from 25-35 kilograms.

Step 10: Maintain the SALT-2 Farm Regularly

Cut the hedgerows half to one-meter from the ground when they start to shade the field crops. Replant missing hills of the hedgerows, weed and clean the crops and spray with chemicals only if necessary. Rotate the non-permanent crops. Collect manure and spread them over the forage garden every 4 months to maintain soil fertility and sustain forage production.

Other Features

The buck should be separated from the does. A better set-up is to build another shed for the animal, and to just bring a doe to the buck house when the doe is in heat.

During the rainy season, a farmer may have more forage than he can give to his goats. When this occurs, the leguminous shrub cuttings can be used as greed manure for the agricultural crops.

The goat manure should be utilized as fertilizer both for the agricultural crops and the forage.

Kids should be disbudded two weeks to one month after they are born. Adults can be dehorned using a dehorning instrument or by sawing off the horn close to the skull.

When they are already two months old, trim the hooves of the kids. After this, trimming is done every 2-3 months thereafter.

Deworming should also be practiced every month for five months and every three months thereafter. Pregnant does can only be dewormed a week before kidding.

The gestation period is the time between service and kidding and is approximately 150 days. Most does kids within 2-3 days either side of that date. Milking pregnant does should be dried off at least 6 weeks before kidding.

Avoid inbreeding. Use an unrelated buck on every third generation of does.
The sideways of the boundary may be planted to fruit trees like lanzones or timber trees such as mahogany.

Social Impact, Advantages and Limitation

SALT 2 encourages Filipino farmers to integrate dairy goats in their upland farms, thus, increasing profitability without the fear that goats may destroy plants/crops.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the Philippines imports annually an average of 673 million kilograms of dairy products valued at P24 billion. By means of SALT 2, the need for dairy products can be supplied locally generating a savings from the importation cost. In addition, the establishment of many SALT 2 projects throughout the country has been predicted to create new jobs (milk handing (sic), selling, and processing of milk products) in the long run.

As per the experience of the MBRLC, SALT 2 can provide a regular and decent income to an upland farm family, improve soil fertility by using organic (animal manure, plant biomass) fertilizers, and minimize soil erosion in the uplands.

This scheme,however, has two limitations: decent income could only be realized if there is a ready market for goat’s milk; and, cold storage will be needed if milk handling is done by the family.

Conclusion

Increased farm productivity per unit time and area, generation of employment, and increased milk/meat supply for the improvement of the nutritional status of the farming population may be the key solutions to the poverty in the uplands.

For more information, contact:

Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center
Kinuskusan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur
Phone: (82) 221-1186
Email: [email protected]

 

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