Kim and Tony Puzio, of My-Enchanted-Acres near Snohomish, Washington, recently played a small part in a large project to export live dairy goats from the United States to the Philippines, during the summer of 2010. The Puzios have a herd of nearly 40 registered Nubians that are on DHIA milk test. They also do linear appraisal annually and participate in ADGA shows throughout the Pacific Northwest. When the annual National ADGA show is in the western states, they attend and have had prominent placing does at that level as well. Their Nubian dairy goat herd came into being when their children were young and in 4-H. Though the children are grown, the Puzio’s continue to raise dairy goats and horses, with attention to top quality and improving bloodlines.
"We focus on producing animals that show well but can also milk well because, after all, they are dairy goats," Kim Puzio said. "I hate to say the goats are a hobby because this is our life now. Hopefully, when we retire from our regular jobs, the goats will become our regular job. Our dream is to open a Grade A dairy."
Although the Puzios have raised dairy goats for over 20 years, they have never before been involved in an export project until this year.
"We received a call in May from a gentleman from the livestock export company," she said. "The next day he and some gentlemen from the Philippines, who were apparently representing different regions of the country, came out to our farm."
The livestock export company handling the export deal was AM-CAN, Inc., Bloomington, Illinois. AM-CAN is owned by Effingham Embree, who said he has 39 years of experience exporting live animals and equipment from the U.S. to Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Offspring of Tony and Kim Puzio’s Nubian buck, My-Enchanted-Acres Discover, were selected for Philippine export, presumably because of top quality milk and show genetics.
"They were on a buying spree," Puzio said. "They contacted quite a few of us in the Pacific Northwest. They were looking for Nubian, Alpine, Saanen, and Toggenburg does and breeding bucks between five and 24 months of age."
The buyers were interested in the overall health, pedigree, and registration of the goats the Puzios, and others, had for sale.
"They were looking for sturdy and healthy animals," she said. "They wanted real hardy stock that could stand not only the transportation but being over in a different climate."
There were other requirements as well. The goats had to be registered with the ADGA, had to have been disbudded (no horns), and had to be proven disease free.
"We showed them the tattoos and the papers," Puzio said. "At that time they were documenting who the sire to the animal was. When they were looking at the lineage I believe they were looking at whether does out of a particular sire were good milk producers. I got the idea that they were going to put these goats into commercial dairy goat dairies to help with milk production and to build up the genetics in the Philippines."
The Filipinos were also interested in the farming practices at My-Enchanted-Acres and toured the farm, taking notice of management practices.
"There were four Filipinos from four different regions of the country," Puzio said. "I believe one was a farmer himself and the other three were representatives of farmers from their regions. They were fascinated with the way we were set up. They were interested in how we pen our animals and how our hay feeding system is set up. They also wanted to know how and why we separate our bucks from our does."
Ultimately, the buyers selected three goats from the Puzio’s herd, one buck and two does. The sire of the does was My-Enchanted-Acres Discover, a prolific sire who has two permanent Grand Champion daughters and many offspring with star milker awards from ADGA and DHIR milk testing programs. After selections were made, instructions for disease testing, quarantine requirements, and delivery plans were outlined. Payment for the animals was to be made upon delivery to the shipping facility.
"They gave my husband a list of tests that we had to run," Puzio said. "We had never heard of some of the diseases but this is what the Philippine government wanted. Our vet had to draw the blood. The vet labeled two tubes with the registration number and the tattoos and sent it to two different labs. Later, they sent me an email saying all the animals were negative for all the diseases so we were ready to go."
Even the Puzio Nubians were ready for the next step in their adventure; there was a long wait for shipping construction to be completed for their journey across the ocean.
"I believe there were 1,100 animals signed up for this shipment," Puzio said. "Once all the testing was done, the money was released from the Philippine government, and the pen construction that would hold all the animals in the cargo planes was started. It was a long wait for that. We were under the impression it would be weeks, but it was actually months. It was more than two and a half months that we had to hold our three goats in quarantine."
Finally, in early August, the Puzios were told to take their three goats to a livestock facility in Roy, Washington. "We got the call saying to have them at this facility at 6:45 on Saturday morning," Puzio. "We loaded them into our little truck and my husband took them. When he got there, there were a thousand animals there that had been transported from all over the country, some from as far away as Florida and Texas. They looked good. It was obvious there was plenty of feed and water on board the semis they were hauled in. Upon arrival to the Seattle (Roy) area they were unloaded to an outstanding facility with more fresh water and feed. We were quite impressed with the care the animals were given."
All that was left was for the Puzios to get paid.
"My husband signed off on the papers and got a check," Puzio said. "The goats were shipped out of Sea-Tac (airport) on Monday morning."
Puzio said the price they received for the goats would have been fair if AM-CAN had delivered on its promise to ship the goats by mid-June.
"A few of us thought that by the time the animals were actually sent it may not have been worth it because of the quarantine and the extra feed," she said. "But I would do it again. I felt good knowing our goats were well cared for and going to do the job they were bred to do. I felt like we were helping a country out. That made it worthwhile. It was better than selling them to somebody down the street and not knowing what would happen to them."
The AM-CAN export to the Philippines is part of a larger Filipino effort to improve small ruminant genetics in that country, according to the Australian embassy in Manila, Philippines. Late in the last decade the embassy assisted with an export from Australia, to the Philippines, of 3,000 Anglo-Nubian and Saanen goats.
"The imported goats will be primarily used for cross-breeding to increase meat production and to capitalize on the rising demand for goat milk," the Australian embassy representative said. "The Anglo-Nubian and Saanen dairy goat breeds are farmed for their higher milk production capacity and adaptability to tropical environments."
In 2007 the Philippine goat herd was estimated to be approximately four million goats, the representative said. Canada has also been involved in goat exports to the Philippines.
To learn more about the Philippines goat industry, visit the website of Federation of Goat and Sheep Producers Associations of the Philippines, Inc. AM-CAN information can be found at www.cowboyexports.com or 309-663-5153. The Puzios and My-Enchanted-Acres can be found at 360-668-6103 or www.myenchantedacres.com.