Dairy Goat Rearing in Machakos County
Traditional goat rearing practice to earn small scale farmers some income is widely practiced in Ukambani .However, the rearing of dairy goats is relatively new since only a few local farmers realize the benefits which they can derive by adopting new breeds.
Dairy goat breeds are much more superior in disease resistance and economically more viable when compared to traditional goats whose milk sales returns and meat production returns are low.
Dairy goat’s milk according to experts is more tastier and has higher nutritional value than cow’s milk due to the high calcium and phosphorus content . It has also been claimed that most adults and children who are allergic to cow’s milk can tolerate dairy goat’s milk.
Armed with this knowledge, an increasing number of small scale farmers in Wote area of Makueni County are now venturing into dairy goat rearing to try to raise income levels and general standard of living.Demand for dairy goat milk, yogurt and meat is rising in the area.
Ms Cecilia Kyalo, a small scale sorghum farmer in Wote is now reaping big from rearing dairy goats in an effort to increase her earnings.
At her small land- holding in Wote, Ms Kyalo rears the Toggenburg and Anglo- Nubian goat breeds which are both tough, resilient and easily adapted to hot climates.Speaking to KNA recently at her farm in Wote, she said the rearing of these two goats breeds had changed her life for the better by earning a stable and higher income since the milk produce was more expensive than cow’s milk. Before then, life for her life and her spouse was difficult. They constantly failed to pay school fees for their five children, and could not meet their basic needs.
“Our family depended heavily on growing maize and beans for food and income, but because of drought and lack of inputs, these crops did not help in Solving our challenges. For many years we were hungry and poor” said Kyalo
In November 2010, Mrs. Kyalo had a life-changing experience. She and seven other women farmers in her village started growing sorghum for sale to Kenya Breweries and from the proceeds they received they each bought one female dairy goat.She recalls communal sharing of male diary goat for breeding purposes which has led to an increase in the number of diary goats in the area. She revealed that she always keeps her goats in confinement to protect them from diseases, and also to get a good amount of milk.
She says that dairy goats are easy to feed because they like to eat plants that are readily available. She feeds her goats with sweet potato vines, banana leaves, Napier grass and avocado leaves.
Goat milk which she sells to her neighbours fetches shillings 120 per litre as compared to cow’s milk which sells at half that price.A mature toggenburg goat can sell for as much as ksh 25,000 she said.
Kyalo explains that that goat’s milk has a number of advantages over cow’s milk and is particularly beneficial for children and the elderly.
“Kyalo said that dairy goats mature after seven months compared to indigenous breeds which take more than a year to reach maturity.
The farmer noted that in case of disease outbreaks, dairy goats are easy to treat since they have been trained by livestock extension officers on how to vaccinate the goats against rampant diseases every six months.
“Twenty litres of acaricides is enough to spray 15 animals which I find very affordable,” Kyalo maintained.
The Machakos county livestock director, Mrs. Damaris Mativo recently urged local livestock farmers in the county to diversify into other emerging livestock production like poultry, beekeeping, dairy goats rearing and fish as they can significantly boost their farm incomes.
Mativo at the same time maintained that dairy goats were gaining popularity because its milk was attracting good market prices.
“Further goat milk had smaller fat globules than cown milk which made it ideal for people with milk-related allergies.” Observed Mativo.
She added that such milk had capric and caprylic acids that minimised the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries and was recommended for gallstones patients.
The director also urged the farmers to make use of livestock extension services to exploit the huge potential in the region to expand their economic base and boost their incomes at household levels.
She noted that goat farming compared to cow farming was also more sustainable on small pieces of land as one acre of land if well managed can sustain 20 goats. Also goats eat more plant varieties compared to cows.
According to the officer in charge of agro business in the Machakos office of livestock, Mr. Alfred Chacha, production the dairy goats were first introduced in Kenya in the 1950s by the white settlers who used the goats’ milk for cheese making for farm use.
During the 1970s dairy goats were introduced in government agricultural institutions such as Egerton Agricultural college, Wambugu FTC, Embu insititute of Agriculture. Later in 1994 the government formed the Dairy goat Association which played a major role in daily goat development.
Mr. Chacha said that the majority of goats in Kenya and especially in Machakos county were bred by small scale farmers under a semi- intensive system of production in the medium and high rainfall areas.
The agribusiness officer explained that dairy goats required a good house with a wooden floor because it helps in absorbing excess heat.
The house should be 2 feet by 4 and should be raised 2 meters from the ground and should be free from rainfall and direct wind.
A healthy dairy goat gives birth after every year. The boar which is a male goat should be confined separately from the doe to control breeding. Farmers must also avoid inbreeding because it reduces milk production.
They most common disease in these goats is the contagious Iprolo pneumonia which is caused by cold. Deworming should be done after every 3 months. Mr chacha, also advised that dairy goats can be affected by a deadly sickness named contagious prolo-pneumonial which is caused by cold. To avoid this farmers should ensure goat enclosures were clean and free from pests.
Other areas where dairy goat farming is being practiced include Kitui and Mwingi in Eastern especially for farmers with small parcels of land..
By Fatuma Jumeah