Rearing Dairy Goats in Kenya
Throughout Kenya pressure on land is increasing. Average farm size is decreasing as plots are sub-divided and farmers in Kenya struggle to find space on their farms to grow subsistence and cash crops as well as keep livestock. Many farmers in Kenya would like to keep dairy cows but do not have the money to buy animals and build zero-grazing units or sufficient land to grow enough feed. But have you ever considered keeping dairy goats as a more affordable and appropriate option?
Why dairy goats?
- Dairy goats are improved breeds bred for milk They are very different from local breeds and produce more milk – up to 12 times more!
- Goats multiply They can kid twice a year and often produce twins or triplets.
- Most dairy goats are owned by women thus supplementing their
- Goat’s milk can sell at more than three-times the price of cow’s milk and contains twice as much vitamin A – essential for growth in children and prevention of eye
- The fat and protein content in goat’s milk is more easily digested than that in cow’s
- Goat’s milk can be beneficial for people with stomach ulcers and is an excellent alternative for people who are allergic to cow’s
- Goat’s milk can generate value-added products, such as cheese and
- Older female goats and surplus males can be slaughtered or sold for
- Goats can consume shrubs that are not eaten by other
- Goat’s manure contains a high level of It can be used to enrich soils and increase crop yields or to fertilize fish ponds.
- Goat’s manure can also be used to produce biogas for cooking and
- Male dairy goats may be used to serve neighbours’ goats and thus help bring in
- There is a ready market for goat’s
Dairy goats or cows?
Dairy goats require less land than the same number of dairy cows. Half a hectare of Napier grass can support five dairy goats but only one dairy cow. See table below on profits, based on average prices in Kenya for 2006.
|Milk yield per day (litres)||Selling price (US$ per litre)||Daily income (US$)|
|One dairy cow||20||0.36||7.20|
|5 dairy goats||5 x 2.5 = 12.5||1.00||12.50|
What you need to start
- Tip! Before buying and moving your goats, consult with the nearest veterinary office for vaccinations, permits and any other relevant information.
- Housing with raised slatted floor (1.5 to 2 square metres per animal). Good ventilation is essential but house should protect animals from wind and Local materials such as off-cuts, poles and sticks can be used. Equip the house with feed and water troughs so you can feed your goats indoors.
- Fodder (Napier and other grasses) which make up the bulk of goat Establish a source of fodder by planting or buying fodder locally.
- Feed supplements (Calliandra, Leucaena, Desmodium, grains and milling by-products, minerals, molasses) which provide essential nutrients, such as protein, energy and minerals, to support milk Fodder shrubs can be grown around the edges of the plot.
- One or more female dairy Breeds include Toggenburg, German Alpine, Saanen and crosses with the Galla.
- A male dairy goat (own or access to a communally owned one). One male is needed for every 25 A male exchange programme prevents inbreeding: male goats should not be mated with closely related females.
- Labour (family labour may be adequate)
- Market for the surplus milk, added-value products and goats
- Indigenous female goats for crossing if one intends to upgrade using a male goat of a dairy breed
Step 1: Establish sources of fodder
- Identify sources of fodder to last a whole One option is to plant a plot of Napier grass to provide the bulk feed and some high-protein fodder shrubs, such as Calliandra. Other feeds include maize stover, sweet potato vines, banana peels and weeds.
Step 2: Construct the goat house
- Construct a raised goat house with a slatted floor, including an outdoor exercise area for the goats.
Step 3: Acquire dairy goats
- Identify local veterinary
- Find a local dairy goat breeder who can sell you some
- Get a livestock movement permit (if goat is being acquired from outside your district).
- Move the dairy goats to the goat
Step 4: Routine management practices
- Provide roughages (like Napier grass) and Napier grass should be chopped into approximately 3-cm-long pieces. Energy supplements include molasses, cereals
or milling by-products (bran, pollard). Protein supplements include cotton seed cake,
Calliandra leaves, Leucaena leaves, sweet potato vines, Desmodium, fishmeal and dairy meal.
- A simple feed supplement can be made at For every 6 scoops of whole cereal grains, add half a scoop of fishmeal or any of the following: cotton seed cake, Calliandra leaves, Leucaena leaves, sweet potato vines or Desmodium. Finally add a tablespoonful of mineral mixture. Mix well before feeding.
- Increase supplement by ½ kg per day during the last month of When in milk, allow ½ kg of supplement for every 3 litres of milk produced.
- Identify a good breeding male goat which has no deformities, with two well-developed testicles, strong feet and legs, good body condition and high libido. Libido is observed by the ability of the male to vigorously detect and mate with females on heat.These qualities will ensure successful
- Breeding females should have good body condition and a soft udder, two functional teats and strong teeth and legs. Age at first mating should be about 16 Breeding too early can result in weak kids and stunted females.
- Replace breeding animals at 9 years of age or earlier if they fail to become
- Male goats serving goats owned by community members should be tested for This is a disease affecting animals and humans. Ask your vet for more information.
- Introduce a male and leave with the female goats for 2 to 3 Mating all your female goats at the same time will ensure kids are born at the same time and eases management, but means you will have no milk for part of the year.
- Mate females two months after
- On average birth occurs 150 days after
- One week before kidding, watch your goat closely in case of any
Reducing kid mortality
- Ensure the newborn kid suckles immediately after The goat’s first milk helps protect the kid from diseases, gets its digestive system working and is especially nutritious.
- Disinfect umbilical cord immediately after birth with iodine solution or diluted disinfectant to avoid
- House both mother and kid in a dry, well-ventilated and secure
Allow half to one litre of milk per day for the kid, depending on size.Wean at 3 months. Introduce kids to roughage (chopped Napier grass, maize stover) by the second week and supplements (0.25 kg per day) by the fourth week.
Failure to treat goats, especially those that graze, can result in blood loss, thin animals and death. For advice on dewormers, consult your local veterinary officer.
- all adults before mating;
- all females 2 weeks before kidding;
- kids at weaning (3 months of age);
- all animals before the start of the rainy
- If your goats graze with other goats they should be vaccinated against the highly contagious disease goat pneumonia (CCPP).
- Vaccinate pregnant females against pulpy kidney and tetanus 2 to 3 weeks before kidding and vaccinate kids at 6 months of
- Vaccinate against orf (scabby mouth disease) at 2 months of Orf can also affect farmers – so wear protective clothing, such as overalls, when handling your goats and wash your hands well with soap and water afterwards.
- Ask your local veterinary officer for advice on vaccines.
Your dairy goat will give milk for around 6 months.To milk:
- Clean udder with warm water and dry with a clean piece of cloth.
- Apply milking jelly on the teats.
Milk into a clean container by squeezing (not pulling) the teats with clean hands. Pass the milk through clean cloth and store in clean containers in a cool place.
- Local markets are readily available for goat’s milk.Try your local hospitals, children’s homes and individual households.Tell your customers about the benefits of goat’s milk.
- More distant markets are best accessed by joining or forming a local dairy goat-keepers’ association.
What can go wrong and what is the remedy?
|Worms||Deworm goats as recommended.
Ask local veterinary officer which dewormers to use and follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
|Inflamed udder (mastitis)||Unhygienic and incorrect milking practices||Follow recommended milking practices|
|External parasites||Fleas, ticks, mites and lice||Use recommended sprays, pour-ons and powders|
|Lack of feeds||Prolonged drought||Preserve feeds when in surplus (hay, dried fodder legumes, leaves, maize stover)|
|Lack of market for milk||Lack of market information and overproduction||Obtain market information on demand for goat’s milk.
Create demand by telling people about benefits of goat’s milk.
Make added-value products such as cheese Time breeding to supply milk when demand is
greatest (dry season) – provided you can feed your
|Lameness||Foot rot, injuries, overgrown hooves, scabby mouth disease||Trim hooves, provide copper sulphate or formalin foot bath, vaccinate against scabby mouth disease
– seek expert advice
|Low milk production||Inadequate feed||Ensure you are feeding sufficient forage and supplements for level of production|
Mrs. Eunice Oketch – a mother of seven from Kajulu village in Winam Division, Nyanza Province, Kenya, was among the first members of her community to take up dairy goat- keeping.That was in 2003: at that time her neighbouring farmers did not believe dairy goat-keeping was possible and none consumed goat’s milk. Mrs Oketch was given two dairy goats by Africa Now, an NGO.The goats were given on a ‘payback system’: three years later she was able to pay back three kids, which have been passed on to other local farmers.
Each day, Mrs Okech gets around 4 litres of milk from her goats. She keeps 1 litre for her family and sells the rest. After deducting her costs, she makes a monthly profit of around US$15. From the proceeds of her milk sales she is able to pay school fees for one of her sons who attends the local secondary school.
In addition to milking goats, Mrs Okech also has three young goats and is keen to expand her flock further. She needs a bigger flock – she is currently unable to meet the rapidly growing local demand as more and more people get to know about the benefits of consuming goat’s milk.
How can one connect with you for more advise
Hi, good evening.
I am I’m need of a professional farm guide/field worker who can direct me and my husband on how to start and establish a goat farm. The farm shall be in Kitale so the professional will also advice on best breed for Kitale climate. Kindly reply as soon as possible.
Hi Faith, happy you are interested in doing this. I am a starter and might share some few insights with you if you are still into it.