Stephanie Rovey plays with Nubian goats on her farm in Union. Rovey is participating in a Pacific Northwest export program that sells Nubian goats to the Philippine government to establish dairy herds in the rural Philippines. Kelly Black/For The Observer
by Kelly Black/For The Observer
Some of Stephanie Rovey’s 32 kids are destined for life in the Philippines.
Union farmer Stephanie Rovey is participating in a Pacific Northwest export program that sells Nubian goats to the Philippine government to establish dairy herds in the rural Philippines.
“The Philippine government purchases these animals and then sells them at a reduced rate to farmers in the Philippines to set up dairies,” Rovey said.
This year the export program is going to accept 1,900 Nubian does and 102 Nubian bucks. The goats are chosen based on pedigree, structural correctness and the milk records of their mother. Milk records show the quantity of milk a doe produces, which is measured in pounds, as well as butterfat and protein percentage.
“Of course the higher poundage, and the higher butterfat and protein, the more valuable the doe,” Rovey said.
The Philippine government is spending big money to invest in bloodlines that will bolster the production capacity of dairy goats in the rural Philippines.
“By the time they get the animal over to the Philippines, they have spent close to $1,000 per animal,” Rovey said.
The Philippine government is footing the bill for running blood tests to check for a variety of diseases before the goats are selected, the purchase price, the cost of transportation to pick the goats up from regional farms, quarantine and shipping to the Philippines.
Rovey thinks dairy goats are ideal for aiding nutrition in developing nations. Goats are smaller and cheaper to feed than cows.
With good genetics, Nubian milk should have about 6 percent milk fat and 4.5 percent protein. Whole cow milk has about 3.5 percent milk fat.
“The Nubian breed is perfect because they are extremely heat tolerant,” Rovey said. “Nubians tend to have a higher butterfat and protein content.”
Many of Rovey’s does produce about a gallon and a half of milk per day.
Last year, the export program paid $350 per animal and purchased 10 goats from Rovey, a combination of does and bucks.
Gilbert Pimmintel, who lives in the rural Philippines, purchased one of Rovey’s does and used the doe’s registration papers to locate Rovey on the American Dairy Goat Association website. A couple of months ago he sent her an email.
“He let me know that she was doing great,” she said.
Pimmintel purchased six does from the program and has aspirations of growing his dairy.
“The Philippines is a good side market for me,” Rovey said.
Many of Rovey’s goats are pre-sold to show homes. Four lucky kids will take an airplane ride to the Midwest.
Last year at the American Dairy Goat Association National Show in Loveland, Colo., Rovey had four does place in the top 20 with one finishing seventh.
“Quality show does from my herd will be between $400 to 600 apiece,” Rovey said.
Does that do not have the stature or quality of movement required for showing are sold to dairies. There are fewer options for bucks.
“Most of those bucks out there would have been $1 per pound and gone for rodeo tying,” Rovey said.
Rodeo gals want them right at 50 pounds.
“The Philippines has given me a market that lets me get rid of the extras for a premium profit instead of just selling them somewhere for just $50 a head,” Rovey said.
Rovey hand raised nearly 32 babies this spring. The babies were separated from their moms at birth and fed on a bucket system.
“I get super friendly babies,” Rovey said. “If I sell them to dairies, if I sell them to show homes, I can guarantee somebody that it is going to be a workable animal for them.”
Rovey hopes that after the Philippine government reaches the quota of what they need to establish their herds that the export program will expand to other Asian countries.
Rovey’s passion for goats began as a 12-year-old when she got her start with 4-H dairy goats in central Illinois.
“They just got addicting. They are cute. They have personalities but yet they are still livestock,” Rovey said. “They are producing a product.”
Twenty-two years later, she still has goats from that original herd.
“I did buy a few different lines when I moved out West, but the majority come from the same bloodlines that I started 22 years ago,” Rovey said.
Rovey’s dad took care of her goats while she attended college and graduate school, and also while she worked in California in the dairy division of Monsanto, a biotech seed and herbicide company. Rovey holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Illinois and master of science in reproductive physiology from the University of Arizona.
In 2005, Rovey and her husband, Byron, purchased their 3,600-acre farm in Union where they grow sunflower, triticale, peppermint, sugar beets, wheat and alfalfa and also raise Angus cattle. But the farm would not be complete without her goats.
In 2004, Rovey drove 2,000 miles from Buckeye, Ariz., to Glenarm, Ill., to pick up a trailer full of goats. Finally in October 2005, she brought the goats to their new home in the Grande Ronde Valley.
Rovey dreams of establishing a creamery on her farm in Union. She currently milks 11 does. This summer, Rovey will install a milk parlor in her barn, which will be certified for Grade A milk production. Eventually, she would like to build a creamery with capacity to milk 60 to 100 does and sell products such as milk, cheese and frozen custards.
This fall Rovey plans to try artificial insemination, which will allow her to choose bucks with top bloodlines from other areas of the country.
“We AI all of our cows. I figure if we can do that in cows, I can do the same with goats,” Rovey said. “We’ll see if it works.”