Keeping dairy goats in Uganda can be as profitable as poultry and dairy cattle farming. Goat milk brings more income per litre than cow’s milk. Half an acre of Napier grass is needed to feed one dairy cow, while the same can feed five dairy goats.
In addition to keeping goats for milk, there are other value-added products such as goat milk yoghurt and cheese.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know so as to be a successful dairy goat farmer.
Reasons to get into dairy goat farming
Dairy goat farming requires less capital - It is easier to get into dairy goat farming since the capital requirements are less as compared to other animals that produce milk. The start-up capital and running expenses required in goat farming are less than the ones required in dairy cow farming.
Goat milk is nutritious - Dairy goat milk contains more calcium, phosphorus, and chlorine than cow’s milk, making it a better, more nutritious alternative. This means that goat milk is able to provide the much-needed nutrients for the development of children as well as the well-being of adults.
Goat milk has no known allergies - Some people, especially children react negatively to cow’s milk. Goat milk has been known not to cause any allergies in children as well as adults.
Dairy goat farming requires low maintenance - Caring for dairy goats is not as involving as caring for dairy cows. You will require one hour per day for cleaning, weathering, and feeding and 20 minutes for milking. Taking care of dairy cows is a fulltime job.
Dairy goats multiply faster - Dairy goats give birth twice a year. Sometimes they will give birth to twins or triplets. This means your flock will grow faster.
It is easy to sell a goat - It is easy to sell a goat than a cow since goats are cheaper.
Dairy goats can be easily reared in urban areas, as they are easier to manage, and handling their droppings is easy since they are solid in nature.
Dairy goats require less space - The same space used to keep one cow can be occupied by six goats. If you are growing Napier grass for your cows, half an acre is needed per cow while the same feed can be used to feed five goats. If you are grazing them, they will need less space as compared to cows.
Dairy goats are versatile feeders - Goats will feed on different plants, making it easier for the dairy goat farmer to get them fed, even during droughts.
Dairy goat production systems
Goats can be kept in multiple systems, depending on the availability of land and labour. These include intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive production systems.
Intensive system for keeping dairy goats
The intensive system, also known as zero-grazing is a system of keeping goats where the goats are housed.
Feed and water are provided to the goats. The bucks, does, and kids are kept in different compartments or houses.
In the intensive system, mating is controlled, where the farmer can decide which bucks and does mate and the time for mating. This ensures that there is no cross-breeding and flock multiplication is controlled.
Extensive system in dairy goat farming
Under the extensive system of dairy goat farming, goats are let to graze for their own feed, under the care of a herdsman.
This works well where land is not a problem and there is adequate vegetation for the goats.
To make sure the goats get a balanced diet, concentrate feeds and mineral salts are given to the goats.
The bucks, does and kids are grazed separately so at to avoid the kids from suckling during grazing and the bucks from mating (to control inbreeding).
Housing for the dairy goats is provided, so as to keep them safe and comfortable at night. Under this system, each goat required one square metres of space. This means a space of 20 by 10 metres can house 200 goats.
Semi-intensive system in dairy goat farming
The semi-intensive system of dairy goat farming is a mixture of both intensive and extensive systems. The goats are left to graze and also are provided feed and water. In some cases, the male goats are zero grazed, while the does (female goats) are grazed. The does are brought to the bucks for mating.
Housing for dairy goats
The reasons you should house your goats are to protect them from adverse weather, protect them from predators, protect them from getting sick, controlled mating and breeding, and make it easier to feed them. A good goat house helps you conserve goat feed. The goats are able to conserve energy, which can be directed towards milk production.
Housing for goats is simple and cost-effective. Whether you are housing your goats for the extensive, intensive, or semi-intensive system of goat farming, the principles remain the same. Good housing for goats should:-
Not have sharp-pointed objects that can harm the goat - this includes protruding nails, iron sheets or sticks.
Have enough space of two square metres for the intensive and semi-intensive system and one square metre for the intensive system.
Mud houses for dairy goats
These are the cheapest to construct, especially when starting. You will need mud, posts, rafters for the floor, nails, and grass to act as roof thatch.
The ventilation holes in a dairy goat mud house should be slanted, so as to prevent the goats from being blown by the direct wind.
Dairy goats using off-cuts
Using off-cuts, though a bit expensive than using mud, makes for a durable goat house. With this, you will need posts, off-cut planks, nails, iron sheets, or the root and rafters or planks for the floor.
Categories of dairy goat houses
Whichever construction materials you are using, housing for dairy goats is divided into two:-
Raised floor slat system.
Raised slopped floor system.
The slat system allows for goat droppings to fall to the ground through little spaces on the floor, while in the slopped system, the droppings roll over to one end. This allows for easier cleaning.
Components of a dairy goat house
There are two main areas for the goat house, the sleeping area, and the feeding area:
The sleeping area is covered all round but must be well ventilated.
The feeding area is an open roof area because goats need some sun. This where the dairy goats will access the feeding troughs, water troughs, and mineral salts
Floor for a dairy goat house
The floor for the goat house should be raised 1.5 feet above the ground. For the slat system, small spaces measuring half an inch should be left in between the floor planks.
A raised floor system with spaces (slats) helps let the droppings fall out of the house. It also helps dry any moisture from the house.
This helps keep the dairy goat house clean and dry, preventing diseases such as foot rot that thrive in damp conditions.
Food trough for a dairy goat house
The feeding trough area is where the dairy goats will be able to access feed. This area is at three feet above the raised floor.
It is easy to clean and able to hold hay and other goat food material.
Water trough for a dairy goat house
This is the main area where goats will have access to water. It is built one foot above the raised floor.
Other drinking areas can be situated at the door of the sleeping area, where the door has a small hole for goats to access water during the day and night.
Kid pen for a dairy goat house
Some goat breeds, for example, Toggenburg are known for giving birth to twins. The kids need an area where they can be kept away from their mothers.
The kid pen area should be able to fit six kids. This is half the area needed to keep four does, which translates to four square feet.
Hay store for a dairy goat house
The hay store should be next to the goat house. It is meant for storing hay for use in dry seasons when there are no other feeds available. The hay store area should be protected from rains, so as to keep the hay dry.
Mineral trough for a dairy goat house
The mineral trough is where the goats will be able to access the mineral salts. The trough should be placed in a box, for example, a long plastic container. Alternatively, the mineral blocks can be hung where goats can easily reach it.
Goat house tips
- Not be damp.
- Not have pests or let wild animals in.
- Protect the goats from rain.
- Protect the goats from direct wind.
- Have good ventilation.
- Additional reporting: Value.co.ke