Monday, July 29, 2013

New kid on the farm!

When we procured our goat herd for breeding purposes, we did not expect any to be already pregnant. However, a couple days later we were thrilled to see a kid born to one of our Kanni. It was a smooth delivery and both mother and kid seem to have recovered without any issues.

A couple of days after birth, the kid was playful, hopping all over the cell. For now, both of them have been put in a separate cell in order to prevent any injury to the kid. At night, the kid is placed under a wooden basket for protection. This also allows for the mother to replenishment milk supply.

We are expecting a few more kids in the coming months. Pregnant goats have been separated from the main herd to avoid injury from other goats. At this time, we are determining appropriate post-birth care required for mother and kid and would love to hear from other herd owners with kidding experience.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Phase 1 Goat Procurement : Tellacherry and Kanni Aadu

Finally, the procurement of our breeding herd was completed last week. We procured 11+1 each of Tellacherry goats, a native of Kerala (also called Malabari) and the more prevalent breed Kanni Aadu (Aadu means goat in Tamil). This lucky group will be our α ( 'Alpha' for non-techies among us) herd to be used for propagation and growing our herd size.

Our vision is that we will start 2 production lines. Tellacherry is popular for cross-breeding so it will be primarily to meet our breeding needs and to help develop associate farms. In contrast, the focus with Kanni would be for meat harvesting. During our purchase phase, a lot of farms were trying to sell us Boers. Personally, I feel Boer (a native of South Africa) is largely hype at this time due to limited meat appeal. In the coming years, Boer may become mainstay but that remains to be seen. Moreover, Boer's main appeal - it's gigantic size, can be a challenge while crossing with other smaller Indian breeds.

Procurement was done from 2 farms near Melur and Arrupkottai. The former was handled by 'farm managers'. We did not get to deal with the owner of the farms and subsequently a lot confusion ensued. The selection process and purchase experience was utterly mismanaged by the available managers. We were looking to procure medium sized animals which the sellers did not take a fancy to. It took multiple calls to and from the owners, their family members and others before we were able to secure the desired animals. The chaos peaked during our selection process when we were trying to finalize on two particular Tellacherries which usually have white fur. As the manager repeatedly asserted that these animals were indeed Tellacherrie goats, the two young nubians escaped into another cell and started milking on a black furred Kanni! We looked at the manager while he wore a queer look with a big oops expression with growing confusion. Finally, we let him off the hook and accepted his explanation of these kids may be a cross-breed though they looked like Tellacherrie.

Unfortunately, most farms do not maintain records of the animals since they are interested in quick turnaround and trading. They buy kids, fatten them and sell them to new farms for raising or breeding. It was a long day and but we felt accomplished that this project had finally taken off after much delay. The new goats are happy and are feeding well on CO4 and a concentrate mix which we are making in-house. More details on this in the next post.

A load of Kanni goats, with a few Tellacherrie look-alikes in white.

                                    All the animals were given a nice warm wash the next day! 

                                           Tellacherry goats acclimatizing to their new shed. 

                                   Kanni with characteristic facial white stripes near the eyes.

In conclusion, our initial learnings were that we should have insisted on visiting the new / unknown seller prior to the buying visit. Since most breeders and traders remain small scale operations, it is always advisable to deal directly with the decisions makers - be ready to walk away, it will save you trouble later. Over the coming weeks, we will start building out the goat health checklist. Our immediate priorities are vaccinations and de-worming. We shall also start to add natural supplements to encourage weight and size growth. It would be great to see examples of health checkup schedules, maintenance checklists or growth trackers that our readers may have developed. Feel free to send documentation directly to our inbox and we'll make it available for all.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Moringa saplings at 20 days!

Some of you may recall that we recently finished bagging and sowing over 10,000 bags for our Moringa leaf cultivation. Growth so far looks promising and healthy. Below, you'll find pictures from our nursery on day 15-20.  We will probably wait another 20 days or so before transplanting them into the field.

Based on unscientific estimates, we have seen approx 85-90% germination. Given the weather, I am pleased with our statistics at this point.

Fresh Moringa leaf is tender and full of nutrition. These are in demand in multiple industries in various forms. Our current stocks will be transplanted into the field at about 15", in about 3 weeks from now.

Given the scope of pilot is limited, we expect to come away with extra saplings which will be available for sale. Reach out to us if any of you are interested in starting your own Moringa cultivations and looking for saplings.We would be interested in buy-backs and long term cultivation relationships as well.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Savera Farms @ Dina-Malar

It was a lazy Sunday morning when the phone started ringing as early as 6 am. It took me a few minutes to realize that Savera Farms had just been featured on Dina-Malar, a popular Tamil news paper. The publication had caught me off-guard given several weeks had passed since the afternoon I had spent with the Dina-Malar journalist. During my interview we chatted about my decision to come back to India and particularly about my motivation around agriculture. It was a pleasant experience and I had provided my perspective on what it takes to be a serious agri-preneur.

Over the course of the day, July 14th, the response to the article was even more interesting. There were folks reaching out expressing interest in our activities. Others wished me well and offered to help with assorted goods & services. There was even someone, based overseas, who wanted to invest in Savera Farms! :) With over 120 calls and text messages, needless to say the day was a little overwhelming.

However, the irony of the situation is that my less-than-perfect Tamil has prevented me from reading the article. If anyone would take a few moments to para-phrase the article, I would certainly appreciate it! Until then, I will try to respond to as many inquires as possible and extend my appreciation to Dina-Malar for their interest in Savera Farms.

Article Links : ePaperPDF