Dairy goat farming step by step by Wambugu Farmer
Dairy goat farming is an upcoming lucrative agribusiness venture, not only because of the huge prices that goat milk attracts but also because of the well-known health benefits of goat milk. My name is Wambugu Farmer, and I will take you through a few outlines that I have learnt about dairy goat farming during the past few years. I am not a direct dairy goat farmer, but my parents are. I visit them regularly and over the past five years that they have been practicing this farming, we have learnt a lot of lessons surrounding dairy goats that I am going to share with you in this article.
Read also: Wambugu Apple Farm in Nyeri Kenya
Watch Youtube Video: WAMBUGU Apples Farm
If you are looking forward to start dairy goats on a large scale or small scale farming, there will be something for you to learn from this article. My parents are small-scale dairy goat farmers doing around 6 goats at a time. They started this project because of their desire to tap into the health benefits of goat milk, but whenever there is a surplus, they sell to their neighborhood, whose demand they never meet fully.
For a smooth presentation of the lessons that I have learnt over the years, I suggest we adopt the outline below for easy flow:
- Introduction to dairy goat farming
- Health benefits of goat milk
- Price of dairy goat in Kenya
- Selection of a dairy goat
- Feeding dairy goats
- Breeding dairy goats
- Housing of dairy goat
1. Introduction to dairy goat farming
Dairy goat farming starts with acquiring the relevant knowledge regarding the right breed of dairy goat that you should stock. Once you get the right breed, the nest level of knowledge that you should desire to have is on how to take care of the goat in terms of feeding and nutrition, housing, health and disease control, and comfort of the animal. Dairy goat farming is a systemic process and you must get so many things right at the same time in order to reap the full benefits of dairy farming. You don’t just supply feed to dairy goats, there is a way they prefer that you serve them. That’s why many people say that goats are stubborn. Unfortunately, that’s who they are and we must learn to manage them.
2.Health benefits of goat milk
I understand that there are many breeds of dairy goat but in this article, I will focus more on the Alpine goat breed because it’s the one that I have more experience with, and also it is the most popular breed kept by most farmers in Kenya.
Alpine goat milk is healthier because of its low levels of fat content. That’s why it’s a popular choice for milk cheese and ice cream. Dairy goats only produce healthy milk if they receive proper nutrition management. Goats are also very sensitive during milking. As you milk them, you must ensure that they feel safe and calm otherwise they will retain the milk leading to loss for the farmer.
With proper nutrition, alpine can produce one of the best whole milk in the world.
3. Price of dairy goat in Kenya
The cost of raising and breeding a goat does not end with just buying the animal. You can get a healthy doe from around Ksh 10000-30000 although some farmers might ask for more or less depending on the goat itself or the market conditions. Before you buy the goat and bring it to the compound, you must ensure that their living space is ready as well. I came to realize that goats like company, therefore, never buy just one animal. Make sure that you more than one because goats are herd animals by nature. A lonely goat may feel frustrated and it may frustrate you in return which could be bad for the quality of milk and your peace of mind.
Other costs to factor in include the cost of erecting the goat house, milking shed, feed, and disease control. As mentioned, goats are natural grazers and hence they should be released freely in a well-fenced compound otherwise they will intrude into your neighbor’s farm.
4. Selection of a dairy goat
Now that you have a clear picture of what you may need to do with your alpine dairy goat, you might rush out to go and buy your a doe. But before you do that, you need to know what to look for. Unfortunately, not every farmer will be honest to tell you the true history and story of the animal before you buy. Therefore, it is paramount that you go to the market will a checklist of conditions that the animal must meet before you accept it.
Alpine goats are naturally friendly, graceful, and curious. Avoid buying any animal that shows signs of hostility. A change in temperament of the animal could be a potential sign of disease. Make sure you ask questions to ensure the animal is free from illness.
Alpine are large but never course. A mature alpine female should be around 30 inches tall and weigh around 60 kilograms.
5. Feeding dairy goats
If you decide to keep dairy goats, it would be wise to consult your local veterinarian and inquire which feed they would recommend. It is true that goats eat everything but that doesn’t mean that they should.
Alpine breed is the top dairy producer in the world putting it above all other dairy breeds. Never let your goat to eat left-over feeds, so be sure to supply them with fresh feed regularly. Goats need to be dewormed, so be sure to ask your veterinarian about the best deworming drugs.
6. Breeding dairy goats
If you are a large scale farmer, you may need to use the mass mating techniques whose standard ratio is one male to 25 females. On the other hand, if you are a smallholder farmer with only a few female goats, you can seek the services of mating from your neighbor’s male goat. Consult your veterinarian to understand how much time your goat should spend with the male to ensure mating happens. Also, make sure you confirm what type of feed you should give to your animal in order to increase the conception rate.
7. Housing of dairy goat
Even though goats are natural grazing animals, they require proper shelter to protect them from unconducive weather. Make sure that the house type you chose provides a warm environment for goats to spend the night. A simple structure should do the job, but you must ensure a few things which are:
- Make sure the door does not face the direction of the prevailing wind as this may disturb the animals as they feed.
- Goats hate wet places. Ensure the roof is watertight and that there are no leakages.
- Proper ventilation on the structure
- Goats thrive in a clean environment that has minimal noise pollution.
The above guidelines are just a few general stuff about dairy goat farming, especially the alpine breed. Make sure you visit several dairy farmers and learn their experiences before you start. From my side, I wish you all the best. Your truly Wambugu Farmer