Goats are very adaptable animals. They make use of low quality roughages and do not require a lot of food. Goat meat has a high demand with many restaurants and resorts in Kenya selling “mbuzi choma”. Goats fetch quite a good amount of cash and you can sell them anytime during critical financial times.
Here are some of the advantages of keeping goats in Kenya;
- Goat farming in Kenya require less capital to start hence making it an affordable agribusiness venture.
- Goats are multipurpose because they provide both milk and meat.
- Goat farming serves as insurance during tough economic times. You can sell a goat or two when you get broke. Just call your local butchery and they can send you an MPESA then collect the goat later.
- Goats provide manure. Goat manure has high NPK which is very valuable in vegetable farming.
- If you have a large farm which is untidy goats can be used for clearing bushes and making land worth cultivation.
- Goats can get a minimum of 2 kids per kidding and can sometimes go to 3-4 kids which means you can raise many goats in a very short time.
Goats prefer to browse on shrubs with leaves that or a height. They like to eat herbs which have a lot of fiber. Goats rarely graze on the ground and only 10% do so. However goats can be reared only with green grass in a stall (Zero Grazing Unit) feeding system. Goats need the double amount of fodder compared to sheep for fast growth. Goat meat is slightly fibrous and hard but it has a low fat content thus it is good for your health.
Goat Breeds in Kenya
- German Alpine
- Small East African Goat
- Galla Goat
For housing goats, low cost shed can be made from locally available resources like wood,bamboo etc. The shed should have sufficient floor space, well ventilated, preferably elevated platform with small spaces for free fall of
urine and faeces. Make sure you collect the pellets (feces) every day or at least once in a week. It is advisable to house different groups of animals separately.
Goats generally prefer to live in houses that are above ground but it can still be kept on ground houses. Ground houses work well in arid/semi-arid areas because the ground will always be mostly dry. If your region has high humidity and always rains frequently then a raised house is inevitable.
Goats are ruminants. This means that they have a 4- chambered stomach. Their food undergoes different fermentation process to break down the variety of woody and fibrous plants. Goat feeding behaviours are as follows;
- Goat is a hardy, sure-footed small ruminant. They prefer to browse different kind of fodder e.g napier, green leaves.
- Goats can eat hay. They need the energy and protein that comes from the hay. You can feed them 2 Kgs of hay per goat per day. Lucerne/alfalfa hay is the best because it packs a lot of protein.
- They can be fed with kitchen wastes like vegetable tops and spent grains of kitchen which can save 30-40 % of feeding cost. (This is for a very small farm, for a slightly large farm you can get more of these from a boarding secondary school.)
- Goats don’t prefer to eat stale food.
- They prefer nibbling so feed and fodder should be provided at small quantities and at least 3-4 times in a day. This also helps in reducing wastage.
- You can feed goats with Leucaena leaves, desmodium, fish-meal, dairy meal, sweet potato vines, cotton seed cake or sunflower cake etc.
- Keep the breeding buck separately from doe and kids.
- Buck can be kept @ 1:9 ratio in a farm and to avoid inbreeding the buck should be replaced after every eighteen months.
- Castrate all the male goats which are not selected for breeding at the age of 2-4 weeks
- Healthy goat of a good breed is of prime importance for a profitable goat farming
- Good quality green fodder and balanced feed will enhance the productivity
How to select the right breeding stock
- Healthy, physically well developed and sexually matured.
- For selecting breeding buck, testicles should be fully developed, well descended and of equal size.
- For selecting doe, the udder and teats should be well developed and symmetrical with sufficient milk to nourish her kids.
- The udder should be soft well spread with long and soft teats and pointed towards front.
- Age of sexual maturity- 10-15 months or at least 25 kg body weight.
- To get the desirable kidding size, the buck should be bred once in three days.
- The doe giving kids after every 8-9 months with twins / triplet kids should be selected.
- Does with abnormal physical characteristics and irregular oestrus cycle should b timely culled from herd.
Feeding goats under zero grazing can really speed up their weight to reach 30 Kg – 55 Kg in a year. A rough estimate for selling live weight is Ksh 300 per Kg. (This cost varies depending with where you are, however make sure you weigh your goat before selling to get value for your money). Don’t be conned by under-selling.