Goat and sheep farming focused on the production of milk and related products is growing in Brazil. This is because farmers have been relying on a broad training structure, which includes courses and learning materials for the sector. To encourage production, the institution SENAR-SP launched the course “Sheep and goats: agro-industrial products as a way of adding value.”
According to the Center for Intelligence and Markets for Goats and Sheep (CIM), Brazil produced about 253 thousand tons of goat milk in 2016. The Northeast Region leads, with about 235 thousand tons, followed by the South (approximately 7 thousand tons) and the Southeast (about 4 thousand tons). In the same period, world production was more than 15 million tons, with India, Sudan, and Bangladesh leading the ranking.
The animals are bred for various purposes, with specific genotypes for meat, milk, and leather production—in the case of goats—and genotypes with potential for meat, milk, leather—and wool when it comes to sheep.
“About 90% of the students are interested in the slaughter for meat trading,” says Marcelo Piagentini, SENAR’s course instructor in the sheep module. Today, the most profitable market in sheep-raising is the meat market, regarded as noble in butcher shops and barbecue restaurants.
Piagentini has noticed an increase in the search for the course in the last editions due to the adaptation of these animals to small spaces. “Even if someone has a small farm, they can raise sheep or goats,” he highlights. These ruminants have great resistance, flexible feeding, and need little water. When compared to cattle raising, another advantage is its lower production cost: the amount of food consumed by a 450 kg cow is enough to feed five to six adult sheep.
SENAR’s course starts with the main notions about sheep and goat farming, such as history and the current status. In the discipline which deals with adding value to production, the focus is on the productive process and the activity’s redesign. Next, the student gets learns about the diversity of products: milk, powdered milk, flavored milk, cheese, soft cheese, butter, fermented products, cream, edible casein, meat, leather, and wool yarn.
Other disciplines focus on business viability, systems, and how to handle animals. “When it comes to butchering, we recommend the lambs, since they are younger animals and their meat is more appreciated. By using proper management, a good diet, and nutrition, the breeder will have better quality meat in a shorter time. It will add value to the final product,” explains SENAR instructor and veterinarian Gustavo Ribeiro, who teaches in Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo state, to nine students.
Lucas Ferreira is a veterinary student who took part in sheep-raising classes. He said that “the learning was very rich, especially concerning the disease control field.” Ferreira is responsible for the management of about 500 animals, among cattle and sheep, and notices the growing interest of producers in the segment. “These animals don’t require much space and even rural properties with ditches or ravines can be used as pasture,” he highlights.