Masferré, when mentioned, connotes global prominence in popularizing the landscape, people, and culture of the Cordillera through photography. But this time around, Engineer Franciso Masferré, son of the famed Eduardo Masferré, is making a name for himself in the field of agriculture.
A third generation goat farmer, Francisco or Pancho, as some would fondly call him, has been in the business for six years already. In the recently concluded Livestock Congress at the Benguet State University Gymnasium on May 22-23, 2018, he shared his best practices in goat farming.
Dairy goat raising in Mountain Province is still in its infant stage according to Masferré, with only two small-scale farms engaging in the practice, his in Sagada and the other one owned by Mr. Fonet Dirige in Bontoc.
He mused that the stories by his father ignited his interest to delve in the industry. Such stories such as how in Spain of how milk is delivered in the olden days was not by bottles but by bringing the goat itself and milked in houses. Also, milk is a staple food for Europeans therefore his grandfather started to milk goats for household consumption.
Although a practicing engineer, his heart really belongs to farming. Though his family history made it easier for him to begin, he still has his fair share of challenges.
His journey started when he was awarded with three saanen high milker does from the Provincial Veterinary Office - Bontoc under the animal dispersal program of the Department of Agriculture. Though he met with challenges in the beginning, from the death of the original does given to second generation low milkers, his experiences prompted him to try line breeding, a practice which jolted the start of his dairy farm.
Looking at the terrain of Cordillera highlands, Masferré narrated the difficulties of pasturing with the steep slopes of the mountains. Fencing is expensive and most people have little land area to make into a pasture. Luckily, his has already been established way before by his grandfather when they relocated in the Philippines.
He practices a cut and carry method in feeding his goats. Bulk feeding for three times every morning and afternoon is done by him, basically making sure that the feeding racks are full throughout the day.
Napier grass, calliandra, ipil-ipil, and trichantera are ideal for they are fast growing, easy to establish, and favored by goats, according to him.
When asked, the number one advice he can give to starting goat farmers is to make sure to have a pasture area established even before buying stocks. This is the main factor one should consider for the survival of goats.
“Another thing to consider when raising goats in CAR is having a good housing. Due to the weather here, proper facilities should be made to protect the animals. The nature of goats make them susceptible to diseases when exposed to cold and wet climate so houses should be elevated from the ground and goats are totally confined” said Masferré.
“It is also advisable to have partially covered walls to prevent cold winds,” he added.
He also shared that sawdusts are spread on the dirt floor or cemented floor below the elevated floor to absorb the goats’ urine, which is rich in nitrogen. The sawdust with the goat’s excretion and urine are later collected and placed in vermi composting bins and converted to fertilizer.
During the kidding stage, Masferré shared his practices in assisting the doe in cleaning the kid with a cloth when the mother is too weak.
He instructed that long umbilical cords should be cut with the use of a sterile string and blade and then a wound spray is applied to disinfect and keep the flies away.
He also said that some mothers are reluctant to let the kid suckle so it’s better to remove some of the milk by hand to relieve the pain from the udder. It is also best to hold the doe when the kid suckles to let the mother get accustomed to it.
“With the case of an uneven udder size due to kids drinking in one teat, manually remove excess milk to relieve pain and avoid mastitis” he added.
Engineering to farm science
Masferré listed one more important practice of being a goat farmer and that is dehorning/disbudding. His resourcefulness is evident when he fashioned a budding box that was patterned over the internet.
The disbudding box he made is perfect to hold a kid and so with the use of an LPG blow torch he can safely do the disbudding process.
For him, this is the worst thing that goat raisers have to do. It is a cruel practice but it concerns safety especially in dairy goat raising.
On the other hand, a vacuum milker was invented by him to aid in his milking. This contraption is good and sanitary, however for small batches only. This just goes to show his knowledge as an engineer and his sense of innovation in farming.
Magic of milking
Once the farm is set, the next step is milking. Masferré says that it requires patience coupled with gentleness. First time milkers have to be taught to be milked and some are stubborn. If not handled properly, frightened goats can withhold their milk.
A tip that he gave is giving them feeds in the milking stand instead of giving it in their pens, to keep them busy. The struggles is lessened and you avoid getting kicked while milking.
The udder is cleaned before and after milking in his farm. Plus, abnormalities are also checked by looking at the first two to three squirts of the milk.
After, large mayonnaise containers are used to store the milk. He said not to use abrasive materials when cleaning to not get scratches on the jars that could be breeding places for harmful bacteria. Instead, clean cloth and dishwashing soap would suffice in cleaning, followed by sterilization with boiling water for five minutes.
Milk is inspected and dirt are removed using sterile cotton swabs. To keep the container tight, food grade plastic placed top of the container and twisted securely before covering. The container is then immediately placed in a bucket of water and ice.
In addition, storages for the milk are also disinfected.
Marketing and by-products
His wife, Marietta Masferré, helps him in finding ways to innovate and market the goat by-products.
At present, the Masferré goats’ milk are available at their inn and restaurant in Sagada and at the Sayangan bus stop in Atok, Benguet. Cheese products such as pure goats’ cheese and dips with artichoke, which they just started making this month, are available too.
These products are also staple ingredients for some of their menu in Sagada.
However, Masferré feels that the market still needs to get acquainted with goat products, especially the milk. During lean season, the influx of tourist isn’t enough market so at times he has to stop milking his goats.
For the spoiled milk, he gives them to his native goats for drinking for it not to go to waste.
The couple is now looking into other kinds of processing aside from food. One possible item is goats’ shampoo and soap, with the milk as the main ingredient. This has a high shelf life and so good all throughout the year.
They are also in the lookout for a new marketplace.
Engr. Masferré’s drive is what keeps him going. With all of these under his belt, he’s one of the people that can be looked up to in the goat industry in CAR.
“There may be lots of challenges in goat farming but you just have to push through. If you have the passion, you can do it,” he said. //Ayra Galanza