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Want to keep goats for milk? Here is how

By Dr Paul Kang’ethe
Farmer Lawrence Ndeke feeds his goats in Tharaka Nithi. [Joseph  Muchiri, Standard]

Many people the world over harbour a desire to start a venture in farming such as the lucrative dairy goat farming.

 But wait a minute, do you know what it takes to get you on this winding road? Goat milk is valued for the elderly, sick, babies, children with allergies and patients with ulcers. Dairy goats are easier to keep than cows.

 For instance, goats consume less and occupy less space than cows but produce enough milk for a moderate family. A thorough research on this matter, talking to people who rear dairy goats coupled with great passion would land you safely on this path.

So what exactly do you need to know about dairy goats before you start off?

What dairy goat breeds are available in Kenya?

There are several breeds in Kenya to choose from including but not limited to Alpine, Toggenburg, and Saanen.

Look for a buck (male) and doe (female) from a good breeder. The numbers of the bucks and does to buy depends on the size of your wallet. The breeder should be able to tell you the parentage of your potential stock. The stock should be sexually mature, healthy, free of pests and diseases, easy to identify using an ear tag or otherwise, good posture and gait and ready to mate or be mated.

What is the proper housing for dairy goats?

Goats require relatively small space. It should be constructed near the main house for security from thieves and predators. Use locally available materials to construct their boma. It should be gently sloping and easy to clean on daily. Does, kids and backs should be housed separately.

How do you feed them?

When your breeds are right, correct feeding assures you a continuous supply of milk across the lactation period. Proper feeding entails feeding your dairy goats with feeds well constituted with carbohydrates, proteins, mineral salts and vitamins as well as clean water. The quantities should be sufficient and be of good quality. This ensures that your dairy goat is healthy, can give optimal milk quantities and remains fertile for the buck.

What about pests and diseases?

Some of the most nagging pests are ticks, worms and coccidia. Deworming at the right time with the right dewormers as well as spraying with the right acaricides keeps pests at bay. Some of the common diseases include mastitis, peste de pestes ruminants (PPR), contagious caprine pleuro-pneumonia (CCPP) foot and mouth disease (FMD) among others. Some signs of a sick goat include: loss of appetite for food and water, dehydration, rise in body temperature and respiration rate, hair coat becomes rough and loses its shine, dullness and lagging behind others. Always isolate a new goat from the herd for monitoring of any pests and diseases and subsequent treatment by a Vet.

What records should a dairy farmer keep?

Individual goat records on birth dates, birth weights, sire and dam, milk records, treatment records, feeding records and mating dates. With proper records, you will be able to plan for activities ahead of time.

Availability of market

You should be able to know what places to sell your milk, volumes and prices as well as alternatives. This will help you have an idea of what your revenues will be like and how to grow them. As you grow in your venture, you should be focusing on value adding together with like-minded dairy goat farmers in your locality.

Dr. Paul R. N. Kang’ethe, [email protected]

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