Written by Venus Appel, IGA Country Representative, Colombia
The first goats to come to Colombia arrived with Spanish conquerors in the XVI century. The Spanish entered through the north Atlantic coast bringing with them goat breeds such as Granadina, Malagueña, Serrana, and Andaluza. After more than 400 years of adaptation, a creole breed in the northern region, called the “cabra santandereana” has evolved. In the state of Santander, goats inhabit altitudes between 550 and 1800 meters above sea level, where vegetation consists mainly of small shrubbery, stubble, cactus and the ambient temperature falls between 16 and 24 degrees centigrade with an arid semi-desert climate. Currently, this creole goat is in the process of being registered as a pure breed.
The majority of the goat population in the country is still located in the North. A report from the ICA (Colombian Institute of Agriculture) in 2013 showed that there are 1,114,874 goats in Colombia, with 79% in the state of La Guajira. In La Guajira, goats are mainly owned by the Wayúu indigenous people. For the Wayúu, goats have been an important part of their tradition for more than 400 years, as a food source and an indicator of social status.
The goat production industry is relatively young in Colombia, when compared to others like the cattle industry. Specialized goat breeds started to be imported to Colombia in the 1980’s from the United States and Europe. ANCO (the national association of goat and sheep producers) currently recognizes the following goat breeds in the country: Alpine, Anglo-nubian, Saanen, Toggenburg, Boer and La Mancha. In general, most goat farms are small and goat products are used for the household or small scale commercialization. The market for goat products is weak except in the North of the country. States in which the goat industry is growing include: La Guajira, Magdalena, Atlántico, Bolivar, Sucre, Santander, Norte de Santander, Cesar, Cundinamarca, Boyacá, and in more recent years Nariño, Putumayo and Antioquia.Main goat locations in Colombia.
Colombians recognize goat milk for its medicinal and nutritional qualities and consume it occasionally. Meanwhile, goat meat is mainly consumed in the Atlantic coast where it is a culturally important gastronomy product. There is a lack of formal milk collection systems and slaughterhouses for goats in the country. Goat producers lack adequate information about effective sanitary and productive management techniques. However, various universities have started research and training programs for goat producers.
The Colombian government established a national plan to strengthen the sheep and goat sector in 2007. At present the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced its interest and support for the sheep and goat sector because there is great potential for exportation and as a mean to tackle malnutrition in the population. However, there is still insufficient information about goat production systems, consumption of goat products, imports, exports, prices and others.
MADR. 2006. La cadena de ovinos y caprinos en Colombia.
MADR. 2010. Agenda Prospectiva de Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico para la Cadena Productiva Cárnica Ovino-Caprina en Colombia.
ICA. Censos 2013. http://www.ica.gov.co/Areas/Pecuaria/Servicios/Epidemiologia-Veterinaria/Censos-2013.aspx
Fundación Alpina. Experiencia fortalecimiento cadena ovino caprina con comunidad Wayúu para la seguridad alimentaria y nutricional-La Guajira
The International Goat Association promotes goat research and development for the benefit of humankind, to alleviate poverty, to promote prosperity and to improve the quality of life.