Wednesday June 18 2014

Lessons from the Seeds of Gold farm clinic


Seed of Gold under the Daily Monitor has for its long existence educated farmers and aspiring farmers different skills of farming and animal rearing. Under its initiative known as Farm Clinic, its first edition was held on Saturday, 14th June, 2014 at Katende Harambe Rural-Urban Training Centre in Namungongo, Kiira town council Wakiso district where readers and agricultural fanatics were engaged in goat rearing discussions from experts and successful farmers.
The day started off with speeches from Paul Ssembeguya of Ssembeguya Estates from Sembabule who is one individual that has seen the value in goats and is minting money from rearing them as he addressed the audience about the wealth that is in goats before cautioning them against inbreeding of goats to control poor breeds.
Ssembeguya said cross breeding an exotic breed like the savannah goat with the local breed one has to ensure that climatic conditions and food are withstanding in order to get the best goats which are not only fat but also grow very fast and give birth to either twins or triplets. “A local goat, if cross bred with an exotic breed like the savanna goat, will give birth to fat healthy breeds of goats that have a 10% chance of giving birth to twins, five percent chance of producing triplets and only two percent chance of producing a single kid.” Adding that one savannah he-goat can mate with 15 to 20 goats which is the required number of goats to be held in an acre in a farm.
Other speakers like Katende Ssemwogere the proprietor of Katende Harambe farm, called upon other goat farmers to move to different farms and find out what their fellow farmers are doing. He also advised farmers to be strategic in their investments by cross breeding their goats so as to attract market.
Dr James Muwanga, a veterinary doctor from Sembabule shared his views on how one can benefit from rearing goats on a small piece of land and the aspects that are required for successful goat farming. He also advised the audience on the best international breeds and how to improve one’s quality of goats through cross breeding and also various management practices.
Management practices
The old traditional way of managing goats was mainly free range, however, Dr. Muwanga said, “Unless you have a huge piece of land, this method is no longer applicable.”
Lucy Akareut, a participant shared that she mainly uses the tethering method. This is commonly used method today given that people have limited land and the goats can easily eat up other people’s crops. Other people prefer to keep them in their backyard or on the verandahs of their houses.
The free range system, though best as Dr Muwanga suggests requires a large piece of land, at least an acre. He says “Unlike other animals, goats have a high adaptation that allows them to survive in their grazing styles.”
Other management types include;

Semi- intensive
It involves extensive management but usually with controlled grazing of fenced pasture. It consists of provision of stall feeding, shelter at night under shed and 3 to 5 hour daily grazing on pasture.

This is no longer applicable today as it requires shifting the animals from one location to another from time to time depending on the availability of pastures.

Stocking rates
The recommended number of goats per acre is six goats per acre under free range. However if it is enclosed, the one acre can hold up to 15 goats. Ssembeguya also adds that this is possible with cattle on the same land.
“With that, all flock should not be kept in the same flock. 150 animals is the maximum flock, however, this can go up to 210 animals,” he added.

Christine Nagawa, a goat farmer from Mubende shared that she constructed a structure to house her goats which she cemented; however, she also said that when the goats started sleeping in that structure, she started registering the highest number of deaths of her kids. This she explained was as result of the cold floor.

Dr Muwanga, in response to her discouraged the participants from putting up goats in structures with concrete floors. He advised them to use raised floors instead. A pen house he says is the best option for keeping goats not only because they help save on space but also because of the way it constructed.

Elevated floor
A pen house should be raised at least one meter above the ground. The elevated sheds will be clean and urine and dung will be collected in the floor and periodical removing is required because urine and dung produce ammonia gas which is harmful to the goats.

The vet Doctor argues that it’s best to use timber for the floor. The width of each plank should vary between 7.5 to 10 cm and the wood should be thick enough, at least 4cm. He further says the sides of the planks shall be well rounded and the clearance between two planks shall range between 1.0 cm and 1.5 cm to facilitate the disposal of dung and urine. The timber or wooden floor should also be constructed at a height of at least one meter above the ground level. A suitable staircase of wooden planks should be provided.

The roof can be made of galvanized iron sheets; however, you should make sure the goats have enough room/ space and ventilation. The roof should be at least five meters above the floor.

The farm clinic was a good learning experience for all the farmers who attended, many left satisfied after acquiring knowledge about goat rearing. Such gatherings are always a pool of knowledge from different experts and participants to share in their agricultural experiences.