Helping farmers meet the increasing demand for goat's milk

Sep 26, 2013
Helping farmers meet the increasing demand for goat's milk
Credit: Shutterstock

The EU-funded project FLOCK-REPROD ('Hormone-free non-seasonal or seasonal goat reproduction for a sustainable European goat-milk market') is working to develop artificial insemination techniques for goats that require no hormonal treatment.

The solution would help farmers reduce costs and produce more goat's milk, while providing them with a way to meet EU legal requirements on the use of hormones.

Although the vast majority of the milk we consume comes from cows, goat's milk is becoming increasingly popular in Europe partly because many consumers believe it to be healthier than the bovine alternative.

The composition of goat's milk is generally closer to which makes it easier to digest, especially for people with allergies. For weight-watchers, goat's milk also contains fewer calories and less cholesterol. In addition to having the same mineral and vitamin content as cow's milk, that from goats also contains taurin, a substance that appears to play a role in the development of the brains of .

However a major challenge for farmers in meeting the demand is the relatively short lactation period for goats, which tends to last only 10 months of the year.

To overcome these challenges and to boost milk output, some producers resort to artificial insemination supported by hormone injections that enable goat reproduction cycles to be controlled.

However, EU law restricts the use of exogenous hormones, which are currently used by the majority of dairy goat breeders using artificial insemination. These legal requirements are expected to be enforced more strictly soon to better protect people from any health risks potentially posed by hormones.

The law requires farmers to discard any goat's milk produced in the first 36 hours after . This requirement leads to a significant economic loss for them. In addition, growing consumer demand for healthier food and means that more natural reproductive methods need to be developed.

FLOCK-REPROD is working to test and provide an alternative method by developing year-round artificial insemination techniques that require no . The project's researchers are focusing on the 11 main breeds of goat used by the milk industry. These include the popular Saânen and Alpine breeds, which are widespread in Europe, and local breeds from Spain (Murciano-Granadina), Italy (Sarda), Portugal (Serrana), Greece (Capra prisca, Skopelos, Damascus) and Romania (Carpathian and White of Banat).

The under study include highly seasonal northern breeds and moderately seasonal southern ones. Different goat production systems are also included in the project. This approach aims at ensuring that the project's findings can be applied by goat farmers across the EU.

The researchers have already developed hormone-free protocols. They are currently awaiting the final results of their research on private farms.

The project is scheduled to end in November 2013. The project involves 15 partners from seven EU Member States, including associations representing more than 1500 breeders, and is led by France-based CAPGENES. It has received funding of around EUR 1.76 million from the EU.

Explore further: An unlikely region leads the way in the study of dairy intolerance

More information: www.flock-reprod.eu/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Kids reduce stress in goat herds

Sep 10, 2013

The introduction of young dairy goats into an existing herd is stressful for all animals involved. Rank fights and aggressive behaviour can further result in injury. Researchers at the University of Veterinary ...

New method makes milk safer and tastier

Aug 08, 2013

EU-funded project SMARTMILK ('A novel system for the treatment of milk based on the combination of ultrasounds and pulsed electric field technologies ') has developed a non-thermal treatment to make raw milk ...

The global gene pool of the goat seriously under threat

Jan 23, 2013

Amongst the range of domestic livestock species, the goat is not just the 'black sheep' but a resource of survival in impoverished countries, and many breeds are at great risk of disappearing. This is the ...

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.