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mikey
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« on: September 01, 2010, 11:25:30 AM »

Sheep Raising Has Potential
Sheep raisers in the Philippines are much less than goat raisers. That’s probably because most Filipinos have been used to eating goat rather than sheep. But there is an increasing awareness of the potentials of sheep production as a possible money-maker for local farmers.

That’s the belief of Jonie and Jeff Valencia, the father and son tandem who run the Ebenezar Goat Farm in Brgy. Arangureng, Capas, Tarlac. The Valencias have been importing small ruminants from Australia since 2005 which they sell to local farmers as well as to the government’s small livestock production program.

During their first three years of operating their goat farm, they were importing only goats for breeding.

They have imported 1,300 goats for Congressman Abdullah Dimaporo, for instance. Another recent big shipment of goats numbering 766 was for the government. Of course, they also sell a lot of goats for breeding to individual farmers.


What they have observed is that there is also a increasing interest in sheep, especially the Dorper breed. It all started when Jonie and Jeff were toured through the help of the Australian Trade Commision to the major goat breeders in that country in 2008. Because there was no more goat rancher that was near their last destination, their guide brought them to a 75-year-old woman, Judy Murphy, who was raising more than 500 Dorper sheep in the state of Victoria.

The old woman told the Valencias that it is so easy to take care of sheep. In fact, she said, her animals are let loose on the range and she only visits them once a month. She sells the marketable animals for meat.

That set the father and son thinking. They eventually learned that sheep is much less aggressive than goats. The goats will damage the trees if they are ranged in a fruit tree plantation, but the sheep will not. The sheep will just browse the grasses and will keep them down. In fact, that’s the reason why they are called live mowers for orchards.

The Valencias then started to import some breeders of sheep. And to their surprise, an increasing number of local farmers are buying their own sheep for breeding. Among the well known personalities who have bought Dorper breeders are basketball star and former representative Dodot Jaworski, former congressman Toti Carino, Congressman Abdullah Dimaporo, and several others.

The Valencias are particularly interested in the Dorper sheep. It has short hair and is adapted to the hot tropical climate of the Philippines. It grows fast and is much bigger than the native sheep usually grown by farmers here. A mature male Dorper says Jeff weighs about 150 kilos while a female weighs around 90 kilos. One three-month-old kid of a pregnant Dorper imported from Australia, born last April in Tarlac, was already 40 kilos during our visit.

The money-making potential is good. Those who produce breeders using purebred stocks can make a lot of money. Island-born sheep that are 8 months old sell for about P20,000.

By Zac B. Sarian

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