Government, through the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Databank (NAGRC&DB) is in final stages of introducing the Toggenburg goat breed for adoption in Uganda.
At least 1,000 breeding goats are expected to be imported from Switzerland before the end of the year.
The arrangement, which has already been budgeted for in this financial year, will see livestock-rearing communities and commercial goat farmers availed the goats mostly for purposes of dairy milk rich in nutrients required for boosting the human immune system.
Early this week, Bright Rwamirama, the state minister for Animal Industry, said government intends to stock Toggenburg goats, a dairy breed that is highly efficient and can produce milk rich in nutrients required for boasting the human immune system.
He defended the decision saying Toggenburg goats produce milk which is highly soluble with less allergic proteins that are essential in boosting the immunity of people living with HIV/Aids. Meanwhile, Dr Peter Baine, the NAGRC&DB acting executive director, acknowledges the move but remains cagey about the details.
“On the recommendation of our scientists and researchers, we are bringing the Toggenburg breed, a dairy goat that has been found to withstand conditions here,” he noted.
Goat milk contains calcium, potassium, highly-soluble less-allergenic proteins, digestible fats and energy-producing riboflavin, all of which are essential in boosting the immunity of the people living with HIV/Aids.
The report further noted that NAGRC&DB will start making these special HIV treatment tablets from the goat milk. In Uganda dairy goat farming was first promoted in eastern Uganda by FARM Africa, an international NGO dedicated to serve the poorest of the poor. They introduced the Toggenburg which traces its origin in Switzerland.
The Toggenburg is highly productive. The breed standard calls for minimum milk yield of 740 litres per lactation, with a minimum fat content of 3.56 per cent and minimum protein content of 2.90 per cent.
“Five or six milk goats can be kept on the same feed and grazing as required for one cow. One goat will provide sufficient milk for a family, including such products as goat cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, soap and supplementation nutritional products.”
However, Dr Beine warns that dairy goats require the same careful attention as dairy cows, and a temperate breed such as Toggenburg needs shade to acclimatise with Uganda’s weather.
Having realised the benefits of dairy goats and the role they play in maintaining a healthy society, NAGRC&DB has introduced breeding stock of dairy goats at the centre farms in Njeru, Rubona and Bulago. These will be multiplied and availed to farmers for increased production and productivity. NAGRC & DB is also promoting goat breeders’ societies in different parts of the country. The societies serve as private sector organisations to multiply good quality parent stock for access by other farmers. “We are planning to further develop the dairy goat industry through working with the existing dairy goat breeders’ societies in Mount Elgon and Rwenzori sub-regions as well as the industry players to produce the much-needed products including the pharmaceutical supplements,” says Dr Beine.
Toggenburg at glance
The breed is brown, chocolate or fawn in colour with white markings occurring down each side of the face from above the eyes to the muzzle. The white markings also appear on the edges of the ears, on the rump and on or about the tail. The legs are white from the knees and hocks downwards. They are usually but not always hornless and have two wattles hanging down their chins. They have erect forward-pointing ears, big udders and can give two to three litres of milk per day.
This also originated from Switzerland and is pure white to off-white in colour. It produces an average of 1.8 litres of milk daily, and weighs an average of 70 kilogrammes.
Basically a tropical breed whose distinguishing features includes drooping and pendulous ears, and a brown hair or a combination of brown and black. It has a long body that usually weighs 70-90 kilograms at mature age and produces 1-2 liters of milk daily.
Also of European origin has a colour that ranges from off-white to red, to black. An alert breed of medium to large size, it weighs 70 kilogrammes at mature age. It possesses upright ears and straight face, the breed produces 1.5 litres of milk daily.
A typical Toggenburg goat can yield up to 740g of milk per lactation. Their milk has a minimum fact content of 3.56 per cent and a minimum protein content of 2.9 per cent. Their milk is flavourful and delicious, a favourite around the world. Their milk can be used to make all sorts of dairy products such as milk, butter, ice cream and others.
Benefits of goat milk
Goat milk is a very good source of calcium which is widely recognised for its role in maintaining the strength and density of bones. Calcium also plays a role in many other physiological activities, including blood clotting, nerve conduction, muscle contraction and blood pressure regulation.
Cardiovascular protection from potassium. 100 per cent goat milk is a good source of potassium an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function.
Goat’s milk has a more effective buffering capacity. Goat milk has long been used and recommended as an aid in the treatment of ulcers as it soothes the digestive tract. It also has been used as an aid in the treatment and management of eczema.
100 per cent goat milk compares very well with human milk and can be used as an alternative. Goat milk is closest to “Mum’s” milk. Energy producing riboflavin. The milk is a very good source of Riboflavin, a B vitamin important for energy production and protection of the energy producing cells.
Goat milk has fewer allergenic proteins. The protein clumps that are formed by the action of the stomach acids on the protein are called curds. The softer the curd, the quicker it passes through the stomach.