Status of Goat Production in Asia
Currently, there is a surge in the demand for goats, paving the way for what some countries now call as the "goat revolution". Goat raising has become not just for the Asian rural farm households. It has emerged as a popular business option for many affluent entrepreneurs in some Asian countries. Seeing great economic potentials, many have gone into goat raising as a business, with some importing exotic stocks and venturing into breeding on a commercial scale. Therefore, the goat industry has continuously been growing as local demand for goat meat and milk increases.
In addition to daily consumption, goat meat has been recognized traditionally as a healthy or functional food, or for health-giving purposes other than for dietary purposes. For instance, in Korea, goats are generally regarded as a healthy food source that helps the human body to get used to seasonal climatic changes.
The production systems practiced by smallholders depend on many factors such as investment, herd size, availability of grazing areas, and availability of feed supplies that can be categorized into extensive, semi-intensive, intensive, and integration with tree crops.
Extensive or free-range and semi-intensive systems are the most common practice among smallholders in Asia. The livestock-tree crop integrated system, where the animals are reared under tree crops such as rubber, oil palm and fruit trees, is also commonly practiced. However, as the goat industry continues to grow, the production system has gradually improved toward a more commercial oriented management system. Hence, it is important to provide small-scale farmers with scientific and technological information, as well as support services such as credit and infrastructure assistance, to enable them to thrive and compete in this growing industry.
Issues and Constraints in Goat Production
The major constrains in goat production system in most Asian countries are recognized as follows:
1) Rearing system: unavailability of suitable breeding goats; lack of suitable land and feed resources; inadequacy of knowledge of goat husbandry among farmers; lack of effective disease prevention and control program; and lack of good production practice program for farmers.
2) Management systems: inadequate planning and system to utilize goat by-products; inadequacy in technical knowledge; and insufficient farm labor.
3) Marketing: inadequate promotion of goat product consumption; lack of continuous marketing promotion for live goat and its products; higher prices of goat meat and milk compared with other sources; inadequate market for goat products.
4) Food culture: goat meat is not commonly a part of the meal of most Asians except those of Malay, Arab and Chinese descents; and people have aversion over the strong smell in goat meat and milk.
Prospects and Recommendations
Through the years, research and development have resulted in advanced technologies and efficient cultural practices in improving goat production. Specific studies on the crossing of local goats with introduced breeds, nutrition and feed resource availability and quality, animal health management, and product processing have led to improved goat production, especially when introduced for adoption to local farmers through village demonstrations on sustainable livestock farming systems. The potential to develop and further expand goat production systems has been recognized, such that collaborative research programs among livestock experts in the Asian region must be pursued toward stimulating further the development of goat production.
In view of the growing demand for goat meat and milk, each country must formulate a long-term development plan considering the following factors: a) fostering goat production especially where sources of raw feed materials are abundant; b) provision of credit assistance to encourage private investment; c) development of an integrated goat production center; d) selection and improvement of the best available genetic resources of goats; and e) human resources development throughout the milk and meat value chain (production, processing and marketing).
Improved goat production can also be realized through the application and adoption of breeding technologies, better utilization of local feed resources, and establishment of milk collection and processing systems in a sustainable integrated livestock farming system. Meanwhile, the challenge for increasing goat meat production is a huge and exciting task. The main objective is to increase the goat population in terms of both quantity and quality. The establishment of several nucleus farms will pave the way for the development of the goat industry.
Assisted reproductive technologies must also be addressed as vital tools in enhancing goat breeding improvement programs. However, the effectiveness of these reproductive techniques and the expected benefits to the goat farmers will largely depend on the accuracy of identifying the best bucks and does through a well planned breeding objective, selection and mating program.