Communities across the country are beginning to appreciate the value of farming in all enterprises not only to provide food for their families but as an income-earning initiative to improve their livelihoods.
This is evidently seen by the interest people attach in attending the Seeds of Gold farm clinics in selected sites at the regional research institutes of the National Agriculture Research Organisation.
Last week, hundreds of farmers flocked Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute, Kabanyolo (MUARIK) to attend the 11th Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic.
Goat rearing was one of the enterprises on menu others being greenhouse farming, backyard technology, aquaculture and banana cultivation.
In the detailed analysis below, Dr Sadat Walusimbi explains the best practices to manage goats for cash.
Purpose of goat rearing
Goats are multi-functional animals. Farmers can produce them for meat and for milk but there are a wide variety of products which can be got from goats, such as fiber, manure and skins, among others.
Dr Walusimbi explains that there are a number of modern farmers using artificial insemination for breeding in commercial goat farming.
Although artificial insemination is suitable for large scale commercial goat farming, it may not apply for small scale farmers. If a farmer is a beginner with few goats then it is good to use natural breeding methods.
Most farmers in Uganda are encouraged to rear cross breeds bred using boar goats crossed with Mubende or Kigezi goats. Farmers intending to rear goats for purposes of milk production are encouraged to adopt Toggenberg and Saanen breeds.
These breeds are capable of producing three litres of milk per day depending on how they are fed.
Inducing the mating process
It is no longer the traditional way of expecting female goats referred to as does to get in heat on their own.
There are hormone drugs referred to as synchromate which must be administered to the doe goats and farmers must apply one millilitre per goat.
• Before administering the drugs, identify which does are pregnant and use gloves to establish its status.
• Once a pregnant doe is given synchromate, it will abort the fetus immediately.
• Upon giving the first dose, repeat the same after 11 days. The doe will get in heat in 72 hours. It is important to release the male goat referred to as a buck within this hour for mating. Once a farmer realises that some does have failed to come on heat, then they have a biological problem and should be sold off for meat.
How to go about with a doe giving birth
•It is important for a farmer to monitor a doe which is pregnant and determine when it will give birth.
•This entails the farmer attending to the doe when giving birth.
•You must prepare a simple bed which must be completely dry to avoid infection.
•Make sure the room is not cold because it will affect the health of the kid and in case of any infection use iodine.
•If the doe gives birth on pasture, remove the kid and take it into a warm room. •Make sure the young one begins consuming milk from the mother within 48 hours. During weaning time ensure they are not given feed which is infected.
Good housing is a must for commercial goat farming. A well designed house with all types of accommodation facilities influence the total production and profit from commercial goat farming.
On average, 1.5-2.0 square metre housing space is required per goat. So, build your house according to the number of goats.
Inside the house, create different segments for bucks, does and weaning goats.
For dairy goats it is important to construct a separate room for milking and ventilation since good aeration is a requirement.
It is important to keep the rooms always clean. It is better to construct a raised structure so that the droppings can fall under the structure.
Fencing and biosecurity concerns
• Building a fence around your farm area will keep your goats safe and free from other harmful animals like dogs.
•Fencing helps you to keep your farm land green and available pasture for the animals.
•Do not allow people to access the animals easily to avoid disease spread and provide an entry bath tap containing a disinfectant for any one intending to access the farm.
Feeding is the most important part of commercial goat farming.
High commercial production and maximum profit is mostly dependent on feeding the goats on high quality fresh and nutritious food.
Along with adequate regular green pasture you have to provide nutritious complementary food regularly.
These include legumes such as lablab, calliandra, grass such as Chloris Gayana, feed made out of maize bran and manual salt block. You can get this fodder at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) at a small cost.
Common diseases and pests
Goats suffer mainly from respiratory infections leading to coughing and diarrhoea which is common in young ones and adults.
Some suffer from caprine arthritis which affects the joints making them swollen and painful.
Sometimes the goat will have this without ever showing symptoms. Others might wobble when standing thereby causing paralysis.
Another disease is caseous lymphadentis which is a bacterial infection that can collect in the lymph nodes and spread to other organs making the goat become emaciated thereby losing weight.
Treatment and drug administration
For intestinal worms treat them with Albabast injectable and Invermectin injectable. Ensure it is administered to animals beyond one month.
Make sure such a treated animal is not slaughtered immediately for goat meat and the same applies to taking its milk because the drugs are toxic.
For the case of diarrhoea make sure you administer tetracycline and sulphur nordine and for respiratory challenges treat the goats using tylosin and penstrip.
Dr Walusimbi advices farmers to sell their goats at the winning stage when they are five months for further breeding.
But if a farmer prefers to sell the goats for meat, this must be after one and half years when they are mature.
The market for goats is enormous, it can be sold to fellow farmers and for meat the target is businessmen who supply them in butchers or those dealing in goat roasting and hotels.