Milk - 70 million litres of milk a year are produced by the sector in Malaga which, in economic terms, is equivalent to approximately 70 million euros.
Cheese- 20 is the number of artisan cheese factories in the province which use the milk of the Malaga goats.
Kid - 2, 000, 000 kilos of meat from young goats are brought onto the market each year, which in economic terms is a business worth about 21 million euros, according to estimates from the Association of Breeders of Malaga Goats.
The Malaga breed of goat could be considered the caprine equivalent of fine Iberian ham. It already enjoys a well-deserved reputation and its properties cross frontiers: it is one of the breeds with the highest milk yield in Europe (some of the animals produce more than 900 litres); it is one of the most prolific (its fertile period lasts almost all year round); it adapts easily to arid land; suckling kid is the only goat meat with its own denomination of quality; and the milk, which is sweeter and more delicious than cows’ milk, is outstanding for its high level of proteins, its low levels of lactose and its easy digestion.
With things being the way they are, at present more work is being done than ever before in promoting, developing and improving the genetics of the Malaga breed of goat, says Juan Manuel Micheo, who is the executive secretary of Cabrama, the Spanish Association of Breeders of Malaga Goats, which is based in Casabermeja and has been involved in these aims since 1983.
Recently, this association has been growing by ten per cent a year, both in terms of the number of farms and the number of goats, says Elena García, the marketing director.
At present, Cabrama has about 80 associate farms (of which 55 are in Malaga province) and about 40,000 goats are registered in their so-called genealogical book. The aim is to reach 100 associated farmers by 2015, in order to generate as much business as possible. In Spain there are currently about 300,000 Malaga goats, of which the majority (some 200,000) are in this province. “There are more Malaga goats than cows, sheep and pigs”, points out Carlos Carreira of Asaja, to underline the importance of this sector.
Carlos explains that the greatest income for goat farmers is produced by sales of the milk to the cooperatives and artisan cheese factories in Andalucía and, above all, to the major Spanish cheese companies such as García Baquero and Forlasa. “Most of the milk produced in Malaga is sold elsewhere, either in Spain or other countries which ask for it, such as France”, he says.
As well as the goat farms in the province, of which there are about 1,500, this industry also includes about 30 companies from different sectors. Most of these are cheese factories in different towns and villages, although there are also two cooperatives that transform and sell milk, plus a small network of distributors of food and animal foods as well as transport and logistics companies.
The whole industry is fundamentally based on the sale of milk and kid meat, two products whose fame is steadily increasing. Together, their sales have reached more than 90 million euros just in Malaga province, according to the latest estimations from the Spanish Association of Breeders. Specifically, based on each litre of milk selling for one euro, the turnover in Malaga each year must be about 70 million euros.
With regard to kid meat, Cabrama says that about two million kilos are brought onto the market each year, resulting in a business which is worth about 21 million euros.
One of the breeders’ greatest aims is to increase the number of purchasers and for this reason they want to improve the quality of their product even further. With regard to the meat, since 2009 there has been the Chivo Lechal Malagueño warranty brand, which is awarded by the Junta de Andalucía and is the first step towards being granted an ‘ Indicación Geográfica Protegida’ status, which is enjoyed, for example, by the beef from Ávila. The warranty brand has made the meat even more highly valued, although, paradoxically, it is more in demand outside the province.
“Before, the meat of young goats was almost treated as a sub-product, but not any more. Nevertheless, there is no great tradition of eating it here in Malaga. You don’t often see trays of goat meat in the supermarkets here. Most of the production goes to Catalunya, Levante, Aragón or Murcia, even though the breeders’ association has made efforts to change that. It’s a shame, because in the gourmet field the meat is highly valued”, says Carlos Carreira. The Cabrama website shows about 50 butchers’ shops and over 40 restaurants in the province where this meat can be found.
When it comes to products made from goats’ milk, the aim of the Association of Cheeses of Malaga is to achieve a Protected Denomination of Origin for the cheeses. The association was formed in 2005 and comprises about 20 businesses which produce the cheese by artisan methods.
In general, the value of the Malaga breed of goat is beginning to be recognised abroad, to such an extent that farmers in other countries have begun to breed them. According to Asaja, Mexico and, above all, Morocco, are the countries where this breed is most in demand, especially because of its ability to adapt to different types of land. The new exportation methods which have been approved in Europe have helped to encourage this, leaving behind the problems of the ruminal bolus capsules (which were introduced into the animals’ stomachs) as the only means of identification, which in some cases even caused the animals’ deaths.
Cabrama points out that modernisation of farms in Malaga has also been one of the important achievements of the sector in recent years. Nowadays very few farmers milk by hand as most of them use milking machines. In fact, many farmers have even automated the feeding process.