Goat farm to multiply its herd at new site

Hay Dairies will also harvest rainwater, use solar energy to be more sustainable

Left: Hay Dairies founder John Hay at his Lim Chu Kang farm, where goats are reared for their milk (above). The farm has been awarded the tender for a Neo Tiew Crescent land parcel. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF JOHN HAY, ST FILE
Above: Hay Dairies founder John Hay at his Lim Chu Kang farm, where goats are reared for their milk. The farm has been awarded the tender for a Neo Tiew Crescent land parcel. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JOHN HAY

The only goat farm in Singapore is looking to expand.

Hay Dairies wants to grow its current herd of more than 1,000 goats to at least 4,000 in four to five years, said Mr John Hay, 65, founder of the farm.

The dairy farm started out with just 48 goats in 1988.

It was recently awarded the tender for a 10,000 sq m land parcel in Neo Tiew Crescent for $500,000, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said in a media statement yesterday.

It was the only farm whose proposal ticked the SFA's boxes in terms of production capabilities, track record, relevant experience and qualification, as well as innovation and sustainability.

Its proposal "incorporated productive and innovative farming systems, including automated feeding, solar panels, and... rainwater harvesting systems", said SFA.

Two other land parcels whose tender had been put up around the same time last year remain unawarded, added the agency.

"For the past 30 years, the demand (for goat's milk) has been going up," said Mr Hay, who has plans to export the milk products overseas once production has been scaled up.

The land the new farm will sit on is half the size of its current land in Lim Chu Kang, but the farm itself will be three or four storeys high to accommodate the increase in the herd size, he added.

The farm will look to technology to automate most of its processes, such as feeding, milking, pasteurising and packaging.

However, some processes, such as feeding of the goats, cannot be fully automated. "Some of the animals, such as the goats which are pregnant or newborn, require special care and feeding," he said.

Still, he expects to be able to reduce manpower from 10 to six or seven people with the help of automation.

Among other moves in a bid to be more sustainable in its operations, Hay Dairies has plans to dry the waste produced by the goats to sell as fertiliser for plants. The waste currently goes straight to the sewage system.

A concrete well will also be constructed at the new farm to harvest rainwater that can be used to wash the barns for the goats. Water collected on the roofs will be channelled to the well. This will help to reduce the amount of water used on the farm.

Solar panels will also be installed on the roofs to offset 30 per cent of the electricity usage, added Mr Hay.

Going the sustainable route would be difficult without help, he said. "Since the Government is supporting going green, I am going green as well. If not, it is hard to get the money to do this."

SFA will be calling for more tenders of sites for farming as part of Singapore's "30 by 30" goal - to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2020, with the headline Goat farm to multiply its herd at new site. Subscribe