Bong D., a 27-year-old Bicolano from Tabaco, Albay tends his two native goats. The potbellied ruminants are grazing in a sparsely populated hilly subdivision in Cavite. “Madali naman silang pakainin. Masaya nga mga homeowners dito at hindi na sila nagpuputol ng damo (They’re easy to feed. The homeowners here are happy as they no longer have to cut grass),” he laughs.

But goats are browsers, much more so than cattle, which prefer grass. Browsers eat shrubs and young trees, primarily. So if you have brushy, young woods that you want to clear, goats are a natural choice. Goats are not lawnmowers with legs. Goats cannot eat everything. They are nothing like the cartoon version of them, which is often shown eating tin cans happily.

Gary Pfalzbot of http://www. shtml, says, “ …(A) goat has basically only a few things on their mind; eat, drink water, sleep, play and reproduce. And taking up the greatest percentage of that time is eating. Most goats will eat several times a day, stopping only to rest and letting their rumens process the food. An hour later they are back at it again. So to have an “outdoor pet” of this type, you must be willing and able to provide the proper food and nutrition at all times for your goat just as you would any other pet. And the water is important as well. Never deprive a goat of water. One must either have an ample field or pasture for the goat(s) to browse in addition to supplementing the diet with nutrients not readily available such as hay and alfalfa.”

“Galing pa sa Masbate mga kambing ko. Okay ang gatas ng kambing, mas masustansya pa sa gatas ng baka (My goats come from Masbate. Goat milk is okay, more nutritious than cow milk),” Bong says. He is right, for goats are prolific milk producers, generating 90 liters per month for each doe or female goat. The goat is popularly known as the “poor man’s cow” because old folks who cannot afford cow’s milk prefer drinking goat’s milk. Aside from being cheap, goat’s milk is more digestable compared to cow’s milk.

Bong’s goats are native, small, stocky, and low set, with white and black coats, seemingly healthy, with clear and bright eyes, and have good appetite. Today there are more than 300 breeds of goats, and they live in climates ranging from high altitude mountains to deserts. These kinds of goats range from Anglo Nubian, Boer, Saanen, Tiggenburg, Alpine, and Native.

Raising goats on a small farm can have great benefits and be very rewarding.

But for Bong, his goats’ curious and friendly nature simply make them good companions.

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s July 2016 issue.