Women entrepreneurs in Samburu learn about the gem in dairy goat farming
“Dairy goat farming has had a big economic impact on my life”, says Mr. Kamotho, dairy goat farmer and trainer at the Dairy Goat Association of Kenya. “I keep four goats and each of them gives approximately 1 liter of milk per day, which I can sell for 1 US Dollar per liter at a market that is readily available.” During a learning event organised as part of the ‘Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises’ (EOWE) programme, Mr. Kamotho shared his knowledge and experience to inspire rural women in Samburu County in Kenya to invest in dairy goat farming.
The learning event, organised by Caritas Maralal with support from the Samburu County Department of Livestock Production, was attended by 27 women entrepreneurs from Samburu County, who currently focus on rearing chicken and growing vegetables and expressed their interest in exploring opportunities to start a dairy goat farming enterprise to diversify their income streams. During the learning event, the participants learned more about the economic opportunities and key aspects of dairy goat farming, including feeding, housing and disease control. “When starting a dairy goat enterprise, it is essential to gather practical knowledge and information from experts or individual producers”, explains Mr. Kamotho. “Knowledge on the potential income and expenditures and the dairy goat farming context in the area where you live will be helpful in starting and running a successful dairy goat business.”
Goat farming is a livelihood activity that can provide additional income when starting small and which can grow into a serious commercial enterprise over time. Both male and female goats can be bought for around 90 US Dollar, which is a relatively small investment. A dairy goat is capable of bearing offspring twice a year and sometimes it gives birth to a twin. Each goat gives approximately 1 liter of milk per day, which can be sold for around 1 US Dollar per liter. Mr. Kamotho inspired the women with these statistics and explained that Samburu has a ready market to which they can sell their goat milk. Samburu also has a good production environment, with good weather conditions for goats and to make feeds. He emphasised that goat milk is more nutritious and digestible than dairy cow milk, which makes it suitable for women to initiate it in their households to meet the nutritional demands of their families and turn it into a business.
Mr. Kamotho pointed out that rearing goats for milk production can be a serious enterprise in many areas of the country as the climate and weather conditions are very suitable for goat farming and because goat’s products, like meat and milk, are in high demand in Kenya. In Samburu County, women are less involved in the goat farming value chain than in other counties, like Njeri County, where goat farming forms a great source of income for rural women. The low investment required to start a dairy goat business in combination with easy care and management tasks and relatively high income, make dairy goat farming an opportunity to advance women’s economic empowerment. During the learning event, the women entrepreneurs had the opportunity to increase their technical knowledge of goat farming aspects, including feeding, housing and disease control.
“The milk production and health of dairy goats are defined by the feeding pattern you adopt, explains Mr. Ng’ang’a, Extension Officer at the Samburu County Livestock Production Department. Goats are naturally browsers and therefore should be fed balanced diets in energy, protein, minerals, vitamins and clean water. Variety of grasses, sweet potatoes vines and maize are good feed for goats. Energy feeds are required for the maintenance of all body functions. Energy sources comprise Napier grass, Rhodes grass, Kikuyu grass, molasses and cereals like maize, which can be locally grown or sourced. Proteins are required for growth and reproduction. Sources of protein include fodder trees and legumes, such as Lucerne, calliandra, leucaena, desmodium, mulberry, sweet potato vines, dairy meal, cotton seed cake, sunflower cake, soybean cake and other oil seed cakes.
Mr. Ng’ang’a explained that dairy goat housing should have raised floors to keep them dry, as goats fear dumpy places unlike cows. Fresh dry hay or straw could be used as bedding material. In addition, the housing should be easy to clean and adequately fenced due to the small size of goats. The direction of the wind also matters for ventilation. If space allows, an outside area for exercise could be made as goats enjoy to entertain themselves.
The women entrepreneurs also had an information session on disease control. Mr. Lekenit, the Samburu County Veterinary Officer, put forward that goats are highly susceptible to pneumonia and worms. “The presence of worms can be observed by worms or eggs in goat’s droppings, and/or by a thin and rough hair coat,” explains Mr. Lekenit. “Worms lead to general poor health of goats and can subsequently reduce milk production. As a control measure, regular deworming should be done, with the frequency depending on the type of drug used.” It is important to recognise the common signs of pneumonia, like sneezing, coughing, heavy breathing and withdrawal. Early diagnosis of sick goats is important for successful treatment. Therefore, if pneumonia is suspected it is important to quickly consult a veterinarian. Timely vaccination is also needed to keep goats free from diseases like Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP) and tetanus. In addition, it is advisable to spray the barns of the goats regularly, to keep them free from ticks and fleas.
After the learning event, the women entrepreneurs from Samburu agreed to engage the trainers in the future for more capacity building and technical support. They also expressed their interest to form a Samburu (women) Dairy Goat Association. In July 2018, the women entrepreneurs will go on a field visit to Njeri County, which is well-known for goat farming, to visit an established Dairy Goat Association that comprises of different dairy goat enterprises. Forming a Dairy Goat Association enables entrepreneurs to collectively sell the milk and create a better negotiating position because of the larger quantities they can reach as an association. In addition, forming an association provides opportunities for shared investments, sharing knowledge and gaining new/different capacities.