Forget Peugeots, Iran wants Alpine goats

Iran has reportedly shipped in the first herd of goats from France to boost its dairy products which are increasingly becoming scarce and expensive. 

The herd, including 750 goats of Alpine and Saanen breeds, were imported in the first batch, with the number set to rise to 10,000 heads by March, the IRNA news agency quoted an Agriculture Ministry official as saying.

Head of the ministry’s Animal Breeding Center Mohammad Reza Molla-Salehi said Iran plans to cross-breed the imported goats with local breeds as part of its plan to improve dairy production.

“France has a reputation for its dairy goats and a vast processing industry for production of goat milk and a variety of French cheese made out of goat milk,” he said.

“With the imports of French dairy goats, besides the genetic modification of local goats and cross-breeding, Iran’s milk and meat production will increase,” Molla-Salehi said.

Iranian origin

Scientists have carbon-dated the first remains of goats to 12,000-15,000 years ago belonging to the Persian breed of Pashang. It is believed that the present day Alpines descend from the Pashang goat.

The French Alpines are highly adaptable animals. They are great milkers with an ability to produce over a period of one to three years.

Molla-Salehi said Alpine goats are able to produce 700 kilograms of milk in one period of freshening. They produce both on pastures and dry hay-fed conditions. Their milk has also high cheese yields.

According to agriculture experts, Alpine bucks are also as good as meat breeds, with an ability to gain weight over a short period of time.

Iran plans to raise annual goat milk production to 700,000 tonnes in the next 10 years. The combined volume of milk produced out of its flock of goats and sheep currently stands at 500,000 tonnes per year, Molla-Salehi said.

A nomadic woman takes her herd to pasture in Iran.

The official put the total population of goats in Iran at 22 million. Last year, the country produced 8.4 million tonnes of raw milk, he said.

“There is enough demand for goat milk in the country but we are after commercial production in high volume and quality. Our consumers currently have to buy their needs from small production units which are low in both terms,” he said.

Palm oil scandal

The dairy industry in Iran is currently beset by a scandal amid media reports that major producers were adding palm oil to dairy milk to boost its fat content.

The news has affected dairy sales but not the prices which have risen at staggering rates in recent years.

Health Minister Hassan Hashemi recently warned about the increasing disappearance of dairy products from the diet of Iranian families.

“Good health is tied to a healthy diet but the imported nutritional products are seriously detrimental to health,” he said.

The minister warned that dwindling dairy consumption had put Iranians at the risk of dwarfism and osteoporosis, a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile.

By Press TV