AI Goat: Improving genetics, increasing profit

Goat raising is a practical livestockbased enterprise that requires minimal investment but guarantees a good return in a short period of time. However, the lack of quality breeder stock and the high cost of breeding activities are some of the constraints that cause the low rate of local goat production in the country.


The price of goat is mainly determined by its genetic size and weight. When it reaches its marketable age, usually at eight months, a native goat, weighing 16 kilos can be sold at Php 1,600 while an upgraded goat or a goat of good breed, weighing 30 kilos is double the price.


To improve the genes of goats, Rita T. dela Cruz AI in goat: a farmer needs guaranteed goat breeders. Unfortunately, bucks cost a lot more and are difficult to find. But with artificial insemination (AI), the same benefit is within reach of farmer-entrepreneurs.


AI is one of the best technologies being used today as an alternative to natural breeding. It is used to fast track the dissemination of genetic materials from quality breeders to improve the blood composition of farm animals.


Although AI is more widelyused for cattle and swine, its use for goat breeding is yet to be fully explored. Many goat raisers are still hesitant in adopting AI in goat due to: 1) unavailability of processed semen, 2) lack of trained inseminators, and 3) absence of a viable industry to support the commercialization of the technology.


To address these constraints, the Cagayan Valley Small Ruminants Research Center (CVSRRC) of the Isabela State University implemented the project “Commercialization and Institutionalization of Artificial Insemination for Goats Delivery System in Cagayan Valley.”


Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the project is headed by Dr. Jonathan Nayga of CVSRRC with the hope of upgrading local stocks that will make the technology accessible to target clients. Specifically, the project aimed to increase the production of processed goat semen intended for AI and to train more technicians who will facilitate the delivery of insemination services to intended clients.


After the project was initiated in 2012, it is now producing benefits not only to direct beneficiaries but to the goat industry as a whole. After the development of AI protocols, the project was able to sustain the upgrading of stocks for the production of quality slaughter goats in the Cagayan Valley region through technology commercialization and institutionalization activities.


Increasing availability of frozen semen

Through the AI technology, frozen semen from a buck is thawed and then inserted or deposited into the cervix of a doe in heat. If the necessary equipment is available, the use of frozen semen is much less expensive than paying a breeding fee.


For this project, the ISU-AI Goat Semen Processing Laboratory was tapped for semen processing. Part of the project activities was the purchase of breeder bucks of pure breed to increase the production of processed frozen semen.


As part of the commercialization initiative, the laboratory at ISU is selling frozen semen of Boer, Anglo-Nubian, and Toggenburg breeds to private raisers and commercial farms. Much of these genetic materials have already reached parts of Northern Luzon and even Central Visayas.


Training inseminators

Capacity-building activities for AI service providers are important components of the project. These come in the forms of trainings and implementation of a technology orientation program. Participants were provided with start-up kits for insemination. Sixty-seven AI service providers in Cagayan Valley underwent the training on AI and conducted 1,211 inseminations.


Today, the technicians are continuously providing insemination services to qualified does. Provision of AI services has become an additional source of income for them. It also provides the means to sustain the upgrading of stocks for the production of quality slaughter to pigs because it influences average daily gain negatively, and increases feed conversion. Soybean feed meals prepared for native livestock are the by-products from oil extraction or soy sauce production, otherwise known as whole soybean. Whether or not whole soybean is fermented is one of the variables studied by Dr. Sanchez and her team. Initial results have successfully proven that fermented soybean leads to positive effects on native pig’s gastrointestinal and respiratory systems.


Study three and four of Dr. Sanchez’s research project looked into the effect of soybean feed formulations to the reproductive performance of female native pigs. Soybean contains compounds called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens have a similar make-up of human estrogens, the compound released in a woman’s body that regulates her menstrual cycle.


Foreign studies conducted with rodents have shown that high dietary intakes of soy isoflavones (phytoestrogens in soybean) resulted in the increase of uterine and ovarian weight as well as higher levels of follicle stimulating hormones. Even Dr. Sanchez herself has conducted similar tests on rodents at the Nutraceutical Research Laboratory, a BARfunded research facility in PSAU.


Dr. Sanchez and her colleagues are now analyzing initial data of the changes in a native pig’s reproductive cycle under various soybean feed formulations. The research tested the hypotheses of Dr. Sanchez that if fed with soybean, female native pigs will have prolonged estrus or “heat period” therefore increasing gilt’s potential for pregnancy.


During one of the bureau’s monitoring activities in Region 3, Jacob Sanchez who is a member of the project team expressed the need for studying the pig’s reproductive performance because Philippine native breeds have irregular estrus. Developing an enhanced and all-natural soybean feed meal can potentially be useful in improving the reproductive performance of native pig.


This component of the study can be attributed as research efforts towards genetic conservation of native animals. According to Dr. Sanchez, raisers of native pigs crossbreed their stock with commercial breeds in order to produce bigger livestock. While this is more profitable, it puts at risk the genetic diversity of native pigs which can potentially lead to extinction. But studies like that of Dr. Sanchez aimed to conserve biodiversity while at the same time, address the needs of farmers who want to augment their income through native pig raising. ### Rita T. dela Cruz


For more information:

Dr. Geraldine C. Sanchez

Project Leader

Pampanga State Agricultural University

(045) 866 0800

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