6 Guidelines to build up a meat goat flock
A meat goat enterprise creates cash income from the sale of extra kids and culled adults. When starting, a good understanding of goats and the goat market will enable you to adapt a suitable production plan that includes appropriate breeds, numbers and farm size.
Never build your stock with animals from a sale yard that have been culled by other farmers. Mostly culled animals have traits that the owner don’t want to transfer the problem to your flock breed. Some of the signs to look out for in healthy animals include shiny coat, lively manner, no limping, no swollen joints or misshapen udders, no abscesses, not too fat or excessively thin, firm and pelleted dung, and well-shaped udder and teats.
Feed costs account for up to 70 per cent of the total cost in a meat goat enterprise. The most economical way is grazing with mineral supplementation. According to KARI Mtwapa, farmers can supplement by using silage and hay, crop by-products such as maize stalks, forages from leucaena, calliandra, gliricidia, clitoria and centrosema, harvested cassava leaves left under the sun for 1 day to reduce poisoning, pruned mango tree branches, cowpeas, local bran from pound maize as energy supplement.
On the minimum, an adult goat should take 2 litres of water per day. It is advisable to ensure they have plenty of clean water. Dirty water carries disease-causing agents.
They are often attacked by Worms and ticks. Worms interfere with the normal growth of goats. Some of the signs indicating worm infestation include Diarrhoea, weakness, swollen neck, loss of appetite, sunken eyes and finally death. Deworm goats at the beginning and the end of rains. It is recommended to deworm after every 2-3 months.
Ticks can be controlled by washing your goats every two weeks with water containing acaricide using a piece of cloth or a hand sprayer. Wear hand gloves for protection against the acaricide. Use at least 1.5 litres of the mixed acaricide for each adult goat.
The main traits that make goats suitable for breeding are adaptability to the environment, reproductive rate, growth rate, and carcass value. When selecting foundation goats, pick animals that would most satisfy these criteria. For a better breed development, cross-breeding is recommended as it results in hybrid vigour.
Inbreeding can lead to deformed kids and stillbirths. Keep not more than 2 breeding bucks in your flock for every 50 ewes and exchange them every year with unrelated bucks. Use bucks that are at least 1 year old. To identify the highest twinning rates flock you have to be very keen.
Goats are browsers, and so they will eat shrubs and tall weeds. Ensure they are contained in a loafing shed. The grazing compound should be well fenced since they tend to destroy small trees.
Goats at a farm in Gitakwa village of Mugwe location, Tharaka Nithi County. Joseph Muchiri, Standard