NAGA CITY, Jan. 28 (PNA) -- At first, Dr. Rufo Llorin Jr., a noted internal medicine specialist here, raised goats as a hobby, a respite from the daily stress of his medical practice.
Today, his passion for goat-raising has become an integral part of his health advocacy.
"Drink your goat's milk" is now the general medical advice he gives his patients.
After seeing all his patients for the day, the doctor would leave his clinic at 5 p.m. not to go anywhere else but to see his goats, the ruminant considered in the Philippines as the "poor man's cow."
As a hobby several years back, Llorin had only four heads of native goats in the family farm until he and his wife, Lynette, realized that they could sustain their health advocacy by engaging in the business of goat milk and meat production.
The couple's interest in such venture was caught by the health benefits derived from the goat's meat and milk.
They came across scientific researches that say goat meat is the healthiest red meat and goat milk is second to human milk.
Llorin's professional training in evidence-based medicine led him to probe further into the health benefits of goat meat and milk.
His findings showed that goat milk has colostrum which nearly replicates a human mother's milk. It also contains vital bioactive components and higher Vitamin A, Vitamin B1/Thiamine and Riboflavin.
Llorin said over the weekend here that his studies showed that goat milk also contributes significantly to disease prevention.
With 3.8 times more calcium than a mother's milk, it is proven to be best for women who are pregnant, those who have just given birth and those in menopausal stage.
It is good for those who suffer from osteoporosis and arthritis.
Llorin said goat milk contains no allergen which is common in other milk.
It has higher content of potassium; sodium, iron, vitamins A and C, Niacin, Riboflavin, B6 and B12, minerals, and amino acids.
It aids in forming blood cells and brain cells, he said, adding that, "There is also evidence that goat milk soap rejuvenates, protects, moisturizers and exfoliates human skin."
The doctor's interest in goat-raising was further fueled by other enthusiasts, some of whom eventually became his friends and mentors–among them former Governor Emmanuel Piñol who owns Braveheart Farms in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato.
Llorin said Piñol introduced to him the La Mancha breed of dairy goats and later gave him a buck and four does which are now parts of the stock of the Naga City Goat Farm (NCGF) that the Llorin couple established in 2007 to become the first commercial goat farm in the province of Camarines Sur.
Located in a 15-hectare land in Barangay San Felipe here, the farm today has nearly 200 heads of superior breeds of dairy- and meat-type goats of five types--Anglo-Nubian, La Mancha, Saanen, Alpine and Boer.
Some of these stocks were imported from California and Tennessee, USA.
Llorin views NGCF as a social enterprise as it promotes health through the product that it sells.
"We have the dairy goats with the best milking performance and constantly infusing superior breeds to upgrade the genetics of the present stock," he said.
For fellow goat-raisers and Bicolanos who are planning to start their own goat farm, the couple had this pointer: Nutrition and environmental conditions play a key role affecting goat milk production.
Thus, NGCF has a garden inside the farm growing various pasture grasses like guinea, napier and seagrass.
Some parts of the farm also bear legumes like indigo, mulberry from Brazil, flemingia, calliandra and centrosema.
With these, the NCGF was able to formulate its own feed supplements.
Recognized now as one of the top goat raisers in the country, Llorin has been elected national vice president for Luzon of the Federation of Goat and Sheep Raisers of the Philippines.
NCGF is also a member of the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA), the International Nubian Breeders Association and the American Lamancha Club, thus, its goats are registered with the ADGA.
In 2010, Llorin was one of the recipients of imported goats from the USA under its Public Law 480 by which US products can be used for overseas aid.
Under the Dairy Goat Development Project of the Department of Agriculture (DA), which focused on herd build-up through an appropriate animal loan scheme, Llorin has also availed of the eight hi-breed does and one buck package.
Indeed, the pace of growth that NGCF has achieved is marvelous, former DA regional executive director Jose Dayao, said.
NCGF has by far the finest imported and island-born goat stocks in the country, Dayao further said, noting that Llorin imports them from the US and chooses the goats with the strongest potential to contribute to the farm's breeding program.
It no longer raises the native breed and focuses on upgrading its stocks through line-breeding.
Llorin takes pride that he has goats with distinguished ancestry or pedigree, either former champions or off-springs from superior lineage.
The NGCF, for example, has "Contessa," which was declared Best in Show and "Playgirl" as Champion Junior Nubian doe during the 5th National Goat Congress held in Clark, Pampanga last year.
Both were adjudged as the goats with the perfect characteristics for dairying.
Because his goats are of superior genetics, these command prices ranging from P20,000 to P25,000 or more, depending on the breed and lineage.
Llorin guarantees that his dairy-type goats are healthy, well adapted to Philippine conditions and can produce no less than 1.5 liters of milk per day.
The fresh milk is packed at 500 milliliter and 1000 ml or 1 liter and sold at P100 and P200, respectively.
The packs are brought to his clinic where it is made available to his patients and consumers.
The farm has its own in-bottle pasteurizing unit.
Goat milk soap is also available and goat milk cheese can be processed when ordered.
NCGF has been a goat supplier to different parts of the country.
The Bureau of Animal Industry has been eyeing its accreditation as a nucleus farm which produces and maintain top quality breeders and distributes these to multiplier farms.
In Bicol, only the Masbate Breeding Center of the DA is accredited as a nucleus farm.
The local government here has also identified NCGF as an agri-tourism destination, making the farm regularly visited by students, entrepreneurs, health buffs and tourists to whom Llorin speaks with pride and fondness about his goats that he all knows by the names he has given them. (PNA) LAP/PTR/FGS/DOC/CBD/EBP