Publication on Happy Goats Sdn Bhd at 2nd Asia-Australian Dairy Conference, 25-27 April 2014, Bogor, Indonesia.

Advanced Housing in Dairy Goat Farming for Smallholders in the Tropics - N. Yogendran

Genetic Improvement and Farm Technologies Sdn Bhd. 20-1, Jalan PJS 10/2, Subang Indah, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

At the first Asian Dairy Goat Conference (AADGC2012) held in Kuala Lumpur in 2012, we presented a radically new housing system for goat production for the humid tropics (1) based on a model farm built on a 4 acres land in Penang Island, Malaysia capable to house 100 goats (Figure 1). The intention of the presentation was to provide an optional housing system for goat production to optimize milk yield by biologically isolating goats of high genetic potential from heat stress, high parasite and disease load and poor quality feed, which have hindered successful ruminant production in the humid tropics, including Malaysia. We have termed this new ruminant production system “Deep Tropical Agriculture” (2).

Our previous paper (1) reported the physical performance of an evaporatively cooled barn without the animals. The barn was constructed using galvanized metal sections and fitted with cooling pads and extractor fans for improved ventilation. Air speed in the barn was set at 2.5m/s. During peak midday ambient temperature of around 320C the temperature inside the empty barn was reduced to 260C (Figure 2), well within the thermal comfort zone for goats. Peak temperature was recorded between 11am to 4pm daily. Selected fast growing fodder grass were planted within the farm compound, cut at around 40 days when the digestible dry matter and nutrient yields are highest and fed to the animals.

Sixty heads of pregnant purebred Saanen does and 2 bucks were purchased and air-freight from Australia in 2012. On arrival to the farm, the goats were immediately housed in the cool barn and adapted well to the temperature-controlled environment and the hygienic elevated expanded metal floor and freshly cut grass and mineral supplements. The husbandry challenges monitored included feed intake, heat stress, ovulation, mortality and parasite infestation. There was no observation of goats being off-feed during the hottest part of the day, with daily feed intake of does averaged approximately 3.5% DM of body weight. The goats showed good comfort in the ventilated barns (Figure 3). Mortality rates were low with only 2 out of the 60 does were lost over the last 24 months, one due to sudden death of unknown reason and the other because of dystocia complication. The remaining 58 does carried to full gestation term with one case of premature birth. Over the last 24 months only one deworming program was carried out indicating a low parasite infestation.

We believe that the husbandry problems of dairy goats in the humid tropics have can be overcome with this new production system. However, it is premature to analyze the financial viability of this farming system since this depends on sale of milk and excess animals, market price and return on capital expenditure including land, buildings and equipment. We are currently collecting more production data including milk yield. Currently the does are milked only once a day, harvesting about 1.8 liters per doe with the remaining for the kids.

References

  1. Yogendran, N. 2012, Housing Advancements in Dairy Goat Farming for Smallholders in the Tropics. Proceedings of the First Asian Dairy Goat Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. pp. 188-190 (Universiti Putra Malaysia)
  2. Mohd Peter Davis and N. Yogendran, 2009, How Developing Countries Can Produce Emergency Food and Gain Self-Sufficiency. Spring 2009, 21st Century Science & Technology (Washington), p29-41
  3. Mohd Peter Davis, 2008, Malaysian Agriculture Breakthrough and Nuclear Desalination, Can Feed the World, Spring 2008, 21st Century Science & Technology (Washington).

Publication on Happy Goats Sdn Bhd at 1 st Asian Dairy Goat Conference (AADGC2012) held in Kuala Lumpur in 2012

Housing Advancements for Smallholder Dairy Goat Farming in the Tropics - N.Yogendran

Dairy goat farming in Malaysia started expanding in the 1990s based on purebred goats, namely the Saanen, Anglo Nubian, Jamnapari and smaller numbers of the British Alpine. However milk yields of these temperate goats in the Malaysian humid tropics were disappointing and well below their genetic potential. The low milk yields of purebred goats in the tropics in general jeopardises their commercial viability. The problem is due to a combination of biological constraints including heat stress, poor intake of feeds, poor quality of feeds, poorly ventilated barns together with a wide range of tropical parasites and diseases.

The solution being tested commercially on Penang Island, Malaysia is to completely separate purebred goats from the heat stress and tropical disease load by housing them continuously in hygienic climate controlled all steel barns.

This biological isolation approach, combined with a greatly improved cut grass plus concentrate diet, has already proved very successful for purebred Jersey dairy cattle. We have given the term Deep Tropical agriculture to this new intensive ruminant production system that replaces grazing (1).

A model barn for 100 purebred goats has been built on 4 acres of wetland treated for flood mitigation with large canals and ponds to contain rainwater. The lower areas were seeded with special grasses that could take the wetness whilst the higher grounds were seeded with grasses that produced more leaf.

The Dairy Goat Barn

The modular smallholder building for 100 purebred dairy goats was assembled on site using self-manufactured steel sections. The enclosed building was designed complete with an evaporative cooled ventilation system, a milking parlour and raised expanded metal floor for waste disposal system.

The building measured 13m X 27m with the main structure constructed using 100% galvanised mild steel hollow section (MSHS). All sections were welded to size and then sent for galvanising. This assured that all welding points were rustproof and clean. The building was assembled on site using just bolts and nuts without any need for welding. The walling and roofing of the barn was covered using zinc/aluminium coated metal cladding that  provided the best heat reflection during the hottest times of the day.

The raised flooring was constructed using galvanised expanded metal sheets measuring 1.2m X 2.1m. They were laid to cover the total area of the barn. All goat waste droppings fell through the raised metal grid floors, eliminating the need to clean the standing area of the goats. The total area of the barn measuring 351 square metres was partitioned into dry goat pens, milking goat pens, kid pens, a treatment pen, walk alleys and a milking parlour using a 4 cluster bucket milking system. 

The Cooling and Ventilation System 

Three units of extractor fans, each with an air displacement of 44,000 cfm, were fitted on the 13m back end of the barn. The fans were controlled by electronic sensors that determined the air extraction rate during the coolest and hottest times in the barn. During the hottest times of the day between 11am to 4pm, an air speed of 2.5 m/s is achieved with all 3 fans running. On the front end of the barn, large cellulose cooling pads covered with dripping water created with the high ventilation rate a drop in temperature in the building. During peak midday ambient temperatures, when the outside temperature was around 33C, the temperature inside the barn would range from 26 to 27C at animal level (Fig I). Night ambient temperature in Malaysia ranges from 20 to 24C and there is no need to cool the barn. During this period the water to the cooling pads is programmed to shut down and the barn ventilation reduced to only one fan running. From our experience with similar dairy cattle and pig barns, the ventilation rate is designed to keep the interior of the goat barn cool and dry at all times and to completely remove any odour from the goats and their faeces and urine.

Improvements in Animal Production 

The barn is completed and currently waiting delivery of purebred dairy goats from Australia. From experiences in dairy cattle farming using similar systems, the intake of young grass increases tremendously and no heat stress is observed. There has also been no need to de-worm or de-tick the animals if no parasites are introduced.

In areas where fertility, ovulation and production of temperate type animals has been of concern , these modern farming technologies allow for the successful farming of high yielding purebred genetics in the most challenging and harsh  tropical environments. Although the high tech ruminant sheds are considerably more expensive than traditional sheds used in grazing systems, the extra cost can be quickly recovered from the improved quality and higher milk yields.

The adaption and milk yield of the temperate purebred dairy goats in the Malaysian cooled and hygienic sheds will be the subject of a subsequent report. 

References

Mohd Peter Davis and N. Yogendran, 2009, How Developing Countries Can Produce Emergency Food and Gain Self-Sufficiency. Spring 2009, 21st Century Science & Technology (Washington), p29-41.