Like a shepherd before his sheep, Pastor Robert Kayanja walks around one of his goat houses with a hint of satisfaction on his face. The farm, located about 5kms off Kiryandongo town has got over 600 goats.
The goats, in this specific house, are all crosses between local Mubende breeds and exotic boer and Savana breeds. In addition to goats, the farm has also got thousands of cattle, fruits, and bananas.
“Goats multiply faster and are less prone to diseases,” Kayanja says. When he started the farm he admits that he made some mistakes especially in the management of the herd.
“I lost 600 goats due to diseases. This was largely because I did not have permanent veterinary personnel to look after them,” he says. He has since got one and he stays at the farm, not just for the goats but also the cattle. “We vaccinate them on time in order to keep off diseases and because of this, there have not been any big losses,” he says.
With improved breeding, numbers do not only grow but also mature faster. “A cross can gain 15 to 20kgs a year, compared to an indigenous goat that takes three years to attain the same weight,” he says. The goats are fed on free-range, using part of the 600acres on which the farm sits.
What you need to start goat keeping
-Land, should be enough to provide grass for the goats. On free-range grazing, 20 goats are good for an acre. However, if it is zero-grazing, an acre can provide grass and feeds for 50 goats.
-You need money to stock up. Year old good crosses cost between sh150,000-sh220,000. The total amount depends on the numbers. So if you are starting with 10 goats, then set aside at least sh2.2m for the actual purchases. However, you can start with smaller numbers as they breed and multiply.
-You need knowledge: You can get this by visiting other farmers and attending goat-farming clinics. You can hire a visiting veterinary officer too.
-You need a market, markets for goats are not a big challenge, but you need to know where you are selling your goats. Advertise your goats if you have the numbers.
-Passion, passion drives everything, love your goats passionately, everything will be ok.
-Get security to keep off thieves. You can fence off using poles and non-sharp wires. Tagging the goats’ ears is also one way of dealing with thieves too.
-You need workers on the farm, depending on the number of goats. One worker, paid an average of about sh200,000 per month is good for 100 goats.
-A typical yearly timetable for goat farmers includes making sure that they are dewormed between March and May and September and November during the rainy seasons because they eat up a lot of dirt.
-The farm should have grass during the dry season. You can only ensure this by planting grass during the rainy season.
Aspects to consider when selecting rearing goats
-Goat skin with no wounds
-It has to stand upright and very active, this shows that it is free of diseases
-Droppings must be firm and not watery. Watery droppings are a sign of sickness
-The udder must be clearly visible and well-shaped with the teats visible
-It should be actively feeding, unless it is clearly satisfied
For more on this, read Grace Bwogi’s goat keeping story in Harvest Money this week.