Kentaro Kawazoe was one of Japan’s most successful and inspiring goat farmers. Sadly, he passed away in July 2021, leaving his legacy and one of the largest goat farms in Japan. This tribute is to remember him.
His goat story began in 2005 when he studied music composition in Germany. He found goat milk and meat at a grocery store, which he had never seen in Japan. Once he tried them, he was impressed by the tastes. After he came to Japan in 2009, he started working at a local farm cooperative and bought a pair of young goats at home. Kentaro learned a lot about agricultural subsidies in Japan through his job. His mother, Waka, who supported his ambition, also fell in love with goats and mainly took care of kids and sick animals while he was working.
In 2011, Waka bought a 2000 m2 farm area using government support and started Kawazoe Goat Farm with two male and nine female Saanen goats that had 12 kids in the following spring.
Since then, Kentaro aimed to build the biggest goat farm in Japan. Most producers in Japan are interested in making their goat cheeses, but not Kentaro. Instead, he focused his efforts on understanding how to add value to his goat milk and how to sell it. He also insisted on producing all the feeds within his farm. He believed and proved that the taste of goat milk comes from the feed. He also wanted to increase the self-sufficient rate of Japanese agriculture, which has been only around 30%. About 70% of livestock feed in Japan is from imported grains and forages. He tried and tested different feed ingredients to identify the best for the smell and taste of goat milk.
His passion moved people. It did not take long for local dairy companies and bakeries to start using Kentaro’s goat milk. As demand grew, the number of goats increased every year.
However, it wasn’t always easy. In 2014, after Kentaro quit the job and became a full-time farmer, a massive typhoon hit his DIY goat barn and caused extensive damage. Crop and forage production was ruined some years, but he did not give up. In 2018, a major dairy company contacted him requesting a large amount of goat milk. Kentaro needed more milk to expand his business. By this time, he was very proud of the taste and quality of his goat milk. His Saanen goats produced less than a liter of milk a day. He had no idea why. His goats were the best ones in the market, and he was making the best quality of feed available. He consulted a goat researcher to get advice and modified the goat diet with improving protein and mineral sources. Milk production doubled immediately. The challenges he faced only made his milk better and helped grow his business.
Kentaro’s goat milk was sold all over the country by the beginning of 2020. Not only was the milk in high demand, but his goat meat was served in famous restaurants in Tokyo and other cities. Although the COVID pandemic affected his goat business, nothing could stop his dreams. Kentaro started his research with a local food innovation program at Kochi University. His research detected that goat milk (not colostrum) contains antibodies to upper respiratory tract infections that might mitigate COVID-19. This news came out two days after his passing.
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.