By PETER CHANGTOEK
Kenneth Mbugua is a taxi driver in Nairobi but keeps goats at his home in Ruaka, Kiambu County. The farmer says he chose goats because they only require a small space, eat little and offer high quality milk that fetches premium prices.
“What motivated me to go for dairy goats is that there is shortage of land in Kiambu. I started in 2008. I had Sh50,000 and I used it to build a shed and buy two goats for Sh15,000 each,” says the father of four. Over time, he increased his flock of goats and now has 20 animals in his small compound.
Mbugua keeps the German Alpine, Toggenburg and Saanen breeds.
Out of the flock, 13 are mature goats.
“The biggest advantage of keeping goats is that they are not labour-intensive. If I had just one dairy cow, I would have employed someone to take care of it,’’ says Mbugua, whose family helps take care of the goats.
Mbugua feeds the animals on napier grass, potato peelings, green maize covers and hay that he buys.
“I buy potato peelings in Nairobi. I also offer my goats dairy meal, maize germ, salt and water,” he says.
“I have nowhere to plant feed but after my job in Nairobi, I use the vehicle to transport the feeds.” He buys the feeds from greengrocers and roadside maize sellers at Sh100 a sack. “Getting feeds for my animals has never been a challenge. I milk six goats, getting three litres from each. However, I have to set aside some milk to feed the kids. The rest is sold to neighbours at Sh130 a litre,’’ the 44-year-old says, adding that the goats are dewormed every three months.
BILLY SEPARATED FROM DOES
“Goat milk is healthy because it is cholesterol-free and is easily digested. My family uses it too. I actually cannot tell the last time I bought milk.”
Mbugua sells a three-month-old kid at Sh7,000 and between Sh15,000 and Sh20,000 for a mature goat.
Ronald Kimitei, a livestock specialist from Egerton University, says keeping dairy goats can be lucrative since the milk is on high demand.
“In fact, the amount of feeds given to one cow is enough for five to six goats,” the expert says.
“To stop milk from smelling, the billy should be separated from does, except during mating periods.
Before milking, one needs to ensure that the animal’s udder is clean. According to Mbugua and Kimitei, before venturing into dairy goat farming, one ought to first consider the source of feeds. Goats are more of browsers than grazers, so it is important to establish browse forage species especially those rich in crude protein.
These include multipurpose tree forage species like colliandra, sesbania, lucaenia and mulberry. Others are Lucerne, desmodium and sweet potato vines. “Good housing helps to stop the spread of diseases such as pneumonia,” says Kimitei.