North Neuquén Criollo Goat

Ark of taste
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In the northern area of the province of Neuquén, there are over 1500 families of small producers called crianceros dedicated to rearing goats. There, the North Neuquén Criolo goat (civito) is raised in the ares of Chos Malal, Minas, Pehuenches, Ñorquín, Loncopue and Añelo for two types of meat production. Civito mamón is processed when goats are between 45 and 120 days old, and chivito de Veranda is processed when goats are between 120 and 180 days old.   Civito mamón goats feed exclusively on mothers’ milk and are not moved into pastures. They are slaughtered at 4 to 9 kg and have very tender meat. Civito criollo de Veranda feed on milk until passing one season in the pasture. They are slaughtered at between 8 and 14 kg. North Neuquén Criollo goats belong to the Neuquén Criollo breed, of which there are two populations, the Bare and Chilludo.   This breed differs from other goat breeds in the way it is raised. The animals are raised in the pasture following the practice of transhumance, and the production cycle is seasonal. Knowledge of managing this breed has been past down since the time of the Pehuenches, the ancient inhabitants of the region. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Pehuenches were shepherds, who transferred this knowledge to goat herding with the animals’ introduction to the region.   Consumption of chivito is linked to festive occasions in religious or social life, such as Mothers’ Day or Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries or saints’ feast days. The meat from this breed is also protected by a denomination of origin in Argentina. It is estimated about 5000 goats are processed per season. Meat is currently sold at the local and regional level.   The reputation for quality is a major selling point for meats from the North Neuquén Criollo goat, so lack of differentiation at the market level negatively affects the prices paid to the farmers. Furthermore, the lack of active public policies to improve the living conditions of rural families in the areas of production encourages urban migration. These elements contribute to the disintegration of the family and interrupt the process of passing down the trade to each generation. 

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