SINGAPORE - The only goat farm in Singapore is looking to expand.
Local farm Hay Dairies wants to grow its current herd of over 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 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 on Wednesday (Jan 8).
It was the only farm whose tender proposal had ticked the agency's boxes in terms of production capabilities, production track record, relevant experience and qualification, as well as innovation and sustainability.
Hay Dairies' "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 that the new farm will sit on will be half the size of the 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.
Mr Hay pointed out that some processes, such as feeding the goats, cannot be fully automated, however.
"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 at the farm from 10 people to six or seven with the automation of most of the processes.
Among other moves to be more sustainable in its operations, Hay Dairies also has plans to channel the waste produced by the thousands of goats on the farm every day to better use.
Currently, the waste matter of the animals go straight to the sewage system. But when the necessary equipment has been set up, solid waste will be dried and sold on the market as fertilisers for plants.
A concrete well will also be constructed in the new farm to harvest rainwater that can be used to wash the goats' barns. Water collected on the roofs will also be channelled to the well. This will help to reduce the amount of water used on the farm. At the moment, about 2,000 litres of water are used for the farm's day-to-day operations.
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'm going green as well. If not, it's hard to get the money to do this."
SFA will be calling for more tenders for farm sites as part of Singapore's "30 by 30" goal - to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.