How to get the cash flowing with dairy goats
Raising dairy goats is gaining popularity as a profitable business.
The uptake of goat milk is increasing because it is highly nutritious and more easily digestible than cow’s milk. It also has a unique taste and flavour.
Along with producing milk, dairy goats also produce meat, mohair, hide, leather and manure.
George Murithi rears dairy goats in Limuru, and gives insights how to go about the venture. He started with three goats.
For good breeding, he says, good nutrition, housing and health management are key.
“The returns from commercial dairy goat farming mostly depends on selecting breeds, feeding, housing and some other management,” says Murithi.
Build a pen that will shield the goat from rain and the sun. You can put electric lighting if need be.
The shed should be well fenced to prevent thieves - the animals are rather pricey so the risk of theft is high.
The pen should be clean, dry and well ventilated. It should also be free from pests and rodents. You should always use fresh hay or straw for bedding.
Initiate activities, even installing toys, so your goats can move around. This helps in making them healthy and active.
Murithi used Sh64,350 on materials and labour to build a shed for his 23 goats.
Selecting the breed
While choosing the dairy goat breed, ensure it has high production and quality milk. The popular dairy goat breeds in Kenya are Saanen, Toggenburg, Barbari and Jamunapari.
Murithi has the Toggenburg breed, and bought one goat for Sh16,000.
“These breeds are hardy and have the ability to adapt to virtually all agro-climatic conditions while producing to their maximum. Their farming has given me an opportunity to live a decent life,” he says.
Farmers are also applying artificial insemination (AI) to improve the genetics of their breeds. For dairy goat farming, AI is more effective than using bucks, Murithi says.
Most of the dairy goats give birth to multiple kids only once every year. Raising the kids is an intense job for the producers.
Murithi says most dairy goat farmers keep the female goats and sell the bucks after a few months. You can also keep the female kids for milk production and sell the bucks when they reach slaughter age.
Murithi feeds his goats at 6am with brachiaria grass, supplementing with other feeds such as corn. Some farmers also produce their own feed, which is easier and safer at the end of the day.
Out of the 23 goats, Murithi is currently milking 14, which give him an average of 20 litres a day.
He sells a litre at Sh200 to his customers, many of them being those who have been advised by doctors to take goat milk on medical grounds.
“Goat milk has good rewards unlike a cow’s and its price does not fluctuate, guaranteeing steady income,” he says.
Goats have minimal expense with high return and occupy a much smaller space compared to dairy cows, Murithi says.
He sells mature Toggenburg dairy goats at between Sh16,000 and Sh25,000 while a kid goes for Sh8,000.
To boost his knowledge on goat farming, Murithi attends various seminars organised by farmers’ associations.
Paul Kang’ethe, a veterinary doctor, says one of the common diseases farmers should watch out for is mastitis. This disease especially affects milking goats.
Dr Kang’ethe says farmers should also look out for worms, goat plague and blue tongue.
Other diseases are rinderpest, salmonella infection, tuberculosis and nitrate poisoning.