Back in 2000, 93 year old Mr Justus Mwamba and his wife Evangeline Mwamba from Igane Location in Meru County received a gift of a Borana breed she-goat from a friend.
This marked the beginning of their venture into dairy goat keeping, which has seen them win accolades during regional agricultural shows and farmers’ field days.
The fact that his goats have been used as an example of good dairy goats is evident from several neck tags from the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK), with the name ‘champion’ on them, that adorn their living room.
Mr Mwamba says that he learnt that he could improve his local breed to produce more milk following the Njaa Marufuku programme where poor households were given dairy goats by the government.
GOOD FOR MILK PRODUCTION
“The Borana goat is fairly good in milk production. I learnt that our goat could produce more if I cross-bred it with the Toggenburg billy goat. I did cross breeding and realised the first generation and second generation goats and now I have a strong breed that has earned me good money,” Mr Mwamba explains.
He says that it is then that he discovered that dairy goats could earn him good money as many people started streaming into his home to book for kids.
Mr Mwamba has been owning tens of goats but recently, due to old age, he has reduced the number of his goats to a manageable number of 10 dairy goats.
He and his wife now get two to three litres of milk every day from one of their goats and they have played a big role in the establishment of a dairy goat milk buying centre in the area.
Mr Mwamba says he has enough feeds for his dairy goats from his farm.
SH65 PER LITRE
Dairy goat farmers in the area sell their milk at Sh65 per litre before it is ferried to Kaguru Agricultural Training Centre in Nkubu for processing.
“When people discovered that my goats were producing so much milk, everyone wanted a kid.
“Some were booked even before they were born. A day old kid goes for Sh1, 000 and the price increases with a similar amount every month.
“This is to mean that a one year old kid will go for Sh12, 000. That is good business for anyone who sees the sense,” he remarks.
The goats that he bred at his home have been showcased at the Nairobi International Trade Fair and groups of farmers have been coming from far and wide to learn from him.
One of the champion goats that Mr Mwamba rears on his farm.
BETTER VALUE THAN A COW
“A dairy goat has better value than a cow. It has good milk production and can produce four kids every year.
“I have made money from dairy goats and if anyone does it rightly, they will make more than those with priced dairy cows. Goat milk is also healthy for old people like us,” he says.
The dairy goat farmer says that any serious goat farmer should build an elevated house with a wooden floor for the goats in order to keep them from diseases and fleas.
Mr Mwamba says that those interested in dairy goats should grow enough fodder adding that this may not be a big problem because goats feed on most plants. Goats can be fed on hay, kitchen and garden waste, minerals as well as shrubs.
“Goats eat almost every shrub hence lowering the cost of feeding. They also give birth to as many as four kids every year and the milk has more value compared to cow milk.
“Goat keeping is not labour intensive hence it can be done by aged people. The droppings are also good for manure,” Mr Mwamba explains.
Mr Mwamba feeding his goats at his farm in Igane Location in Meru County.
KEEPS CLEAR RECORDS
Despite his age, Mr Mwamba keeps clear records of his goats from breeding, birth to daily production, health and feeding patterns.
He says that record keeping is vital because it helps in improving the market value of the goats as any buyer wants to know the history of the breeding of the goats.
“Record keeping is beneficial to the farmer in selling as well as establishing whether you are making profit.
“No buyer wants to buy a goat whose history of production and breeding is not known. It is record keeping that has made agricultural officers to choose my goats for agricultural shows,” remarks Mr Mwamba.
He also advises that constant deworming, provision of saltlicks, good housing and hygienic conditions will keep diseases away from the flock.
For breeding purposes, he advises that a farmer should have a separate house for kidding which should be warm and free from draught.
LEARN HOW TO MILK GOATS
“A goat can produce milk for a period of about 10 months. A farmer must learn how to milk using hands to avoid injuring the teats.
“Milking time should be kept consistent once or twice a day. Ensure that you use clean equipment and milk from a clean place,” he advises.
The former agricultural officer says he has had no major challenges in dairy goat farming because he has sufficient feed, clean water and a good house for his goats.
Out of the proceeds from dairy goat farming, he has been able to diversify into commercial banana farming.
“Due to my hard work, USAID through the Kenya Horticultural Competitiveness Programme (KHCP) gave me tissue culture bananas to plant on my shamba.
“I expect to make good money from the bananas besides getting more feed for my goats,” he says with satisfaction.
By DAVID MUCHUI