This is the goat farming business guide in Kenya to answer all your questions regarding goat farming and to outline the basic steps to follow in rearing goats for business.
For the smallholder goat producers to run successful commercial goat enterprises they need:
- To understand that starting a business has some risks
- Access adequate knowledge and information
- To identify opportunities
- To commit time and resources
- To be ambitious and set goals that is achievable.
There following are the common breeds suited for commercial and profitable goat farming in Kenya: Small East African Goat Galla Goat, Anglo-Nubians, German Alpine, Boer, Toggenburg and Saanen
Management of males (bucks) Goats
- Male goats are known to be fertile at an earlier stage than females. In such circumstances males have to be raised separately from females to avoid unplanned mating.
- Bucks have to be kept in good condition and fed at all times.
- For breeding purposes bucks with horns have to be used, so as to avoid haemophrodism (incukubili/bisexual), which comes with the use of hornless/polled bucks.
- Bucks can be selected at an early age. A male kid born weighing about 2.5kg or more kg could be selected for future breeding. Heavier and fast growing bucks should be selected. Select bucks from twin births so as to increase the chances of twinning.
- Males not suitable for breeding should be castrated or culled
Management of female goats (does)
Young females should be mated as from the age of 12 months. Good nutrition ensures that the animal grows faster and ready for mating. It also increases fertility and litter size. If young animals are mated when they are very young (less than 8months) they will remain stunted the rest of their life and will have poor reproductive performance. A well-managed female can produce kids for about eight years. Pregnancy in goats lasts between 145 –150 days (five months). A mature female can only mate when she is ready (on” heat”). The heat period lasts between 24 –26 hours. During this time she should receive the male. The presence of the male in the flock triggers heat. Coming on heat also depends on the nutrition of the animal. Signs, which may indicate that the animal is on heat:
- Shaking of the tail
- Mounting other animals
Feeding requirements for goats
The quantity of feed consumed by a goat depends on: age; breed; sex, size and physiological status (pregnant /lactating.) Goats will consume about 3-5% of their own body weight in dry matter daily, Young goats will consume relatively more than mature goats, Pregnant and lactating animals will need more feed to produce milk and to enable the foetus to grow. Goats need a balanced diet comprising of water, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Types of feeds:
- Compound feeds
- Straight feeds
The flock can be kept healthy by applying these simple techniques:
- provision of clean fresh water
- adequate feeding
- provision of dry, warm and well ventilated housing
The general symptoms of an unhealthy animal are:
- Dullness of the coat;
- Ruffled hair;
- Loss of appetite
- Drooping ears
- Dull and pale eyes
- Difficult in movement
- Dropping tail;
- Going off feed.
Goat marketing and production
Understanding goat marketing
Identifying needs: Buyers require goats of different ages, size, breeds, etc. Some buyers such as the local traders are much concerned about the size while some buyers from the urban, high value markets emphasize on quality.
Specific group of customers: Some of the specific goat markets are individual traders, abattoirs, NGOs, ethnic groups and export market.
Product: In the goat business the products that we can sell to the market are live goats, goat meat, skins, milk, mohair and manure.
Right quantities: It is also important for farmers to be able to plan their production so that they consistently supply the required quantities at specified time intervals (e.g. 250 slaughter goats every month). This is key in business as this helps towards building longstanding and mutually beneficial (win-win) relationships with your buyers.
Right time and place: When we start our goats to organized high value markets, we need to plan our production and logistics to meet the market requirements
Is Goat farming profitable?
A healthy and well-matured goat could weigh about 35-40 Kg (So, for that Kilos, a goat should cost roughly Ksh 7,000 or even more . And let’s say you have about 100 goats in your goat farm, you would be selling for about Ksh 700,000.
Let’s assume that the cost of feeding and labour is even as high as Ksh 100,000, you could still be making as much as Ksh 600,000 every year.