Popularising local goat meat

| 24/06/2009 | Reply

SPEAKING UP

AN
order of lamb chops from a posh restaurant will bring you a nicely-done
meat of sheep from the kitchen. Tender and succulent with the right
proportion of meat and fat – undisputed characteristics of premium
grade lamb chops. Alas they are flown from New Zealand or Australia,
either chilled or frozen.

You may ask: “Why can’t we be served
with Made in Malaysia lamb chops?” Your inquisitiveness may soon be
rewarded when our goat industry starts to produce “chevon chops” from
young Malaysian bred goats. Yes, chevon chops from goats as lamb chops
from sheep.

Lately we have been seeing more local investment in
goat farming. More goats are being reared today than in 2003. There are
about 20,000 farmers currently involved in goat farming.

“By
2020 the country is envisaged to have 3.2 million goats reared for
breeding,” says Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin, Director-General of the
Department of Veterinary Services, Malaysia. “These goats will be the
production units to supply 68% of the national requirement for goat
meat in 10 years’ time.”

In tandem with this development, the
Government has encouraged the setting up of more specialised stock
farms to generate high quality goats for breeding. Goats from these
farms will supply the improver seedstock to uplift the productivity of
goats in the industry.

The joint effort of Mardi and the
Department of Veterinary Services has realised the setting up of
several Boer goat multiplication farms. Added to that, the East Coast
Economic Corridor Development Council has also supported the
establishment of such a farm in Terengganu. As is crucial in the other
industries, goat marketing has yet to be developed. Currently the many
players in the industry have their own strategies to cater to the
different market segments – breeding farms, slaughter markets, organic
fertiliser processors.

A private sector driven marketing system
encompassing all players in the value chain may solve some of the
hiccups in the trading and production of meat goats in this country.
Why meat from Boer goats and not from our own indigenous Kajang goats?
As far as meat yield is concerned, no other breed has yet to surpass
the productivity of Boer goats.

At a similar age of slaughter
(12 months), Boer goats produce 30% more meat than Kajang. On two
hectares of land, Boer goats yield 210% more kilogrammes of live weight
than Kajang goats. Loin portion – from where chevon chops are cut – of
Boer goats is 40% heavier than Kajang. Besides, there are many other
plus factors when raising Boer goats – ability to breed all year round,
and general adaptability to many habitats.

This is not to deny
the many virtues of Kajang goats. They are hardy and thrive on poor
feeding environment, among others. We need to concurrently improve the
Kajang goats by getting them to produce more meat per kilogramme of
feed. We could do so by upgrading the local Kajang goats with the Boer.
A similar path could also be opted for Jamnapari goats.

Many
more things need to be done to get the level of local production to
reach the critical mass beyond the breeding phase. Good nutrition is
crucial to ensure the productivity potential of Boer goats is not
hindered.

Goat rearers require the right skill and knowledge in
the husbandry of goats. Use of modern reproductive biotechnologies
involving the manipulation and utilisation of semen, embryos and other
ovarian products, needs to be explored and commercially applied.

Kajang
and other Asiatic goat breeds should be exploited to add to the much
needed population of breeder goats, surrogate mothers and replacements.
The feeding of goats in the breeding farms and feedlots has to be
intensified with more efficient use of locally available feedstuffs,
including by-products from rice and oil palm.

Opportunities
abound to cater to the demand of the global halal market of which goat
meat could form a substantial portion in the coming years.

Professor
Mohamed Ali Rajion of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Universiti
Putra Malaysia has even attempted to produce health-enhancing chevon
containing increased concentration of unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids.

Much
has been said about reinventing agriculture as a third engine of
economic growth for Malaysia. Goat farming, when done systematically,
can enable the smallholders in the villages to sustain a reasonable
income. Going big commercially in the production of goat meat and
breeding stock has its role in the national agenda to increase
agricultural productivity of the country.

Perhaps this time
around we could collectively realise the popular aspiration of meeting
our own food needs and being less dependable on outside supplies. And
chevon from local goats is surely a nutritious item on the family menu.

Prof Dr Mohamed Ariff Omar
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Universiti Putra Malaysia

Category: Asia, Meat & Poultry

Leave a Reply