Free-range dairy goat earns farmer over Sh90,000 a year

An agripreneur, who shunned cattle because of limited land, is making more than Sh90,000 in a year from one dairy goat which he is rearing on a one-acre-mixed farm in Lurambi, Kakamega County.

Silvanus Shikanga chose to rear dairy goats in 2014 because they are non-selective in feeding. He started with one Alpine, but the number has risen to five.

The farmer rides on the higher nutritional value attached to goats’ milk than cows'. This factor is driving the demand high and he is unable to meet the demand.

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Shikanga sells the produce to locals at Sh60 per litre, earning him Sh180 per day. In 2015, the goat, which he calls Jane, gave birth twice to twin nannies.

“I grow maize, beans, vegetables, bananas and other short season crops. Not much land space is left to sustain a dairy cow, which demands a lot of feeds. One of the goats is giving three to four litres of milk daily after feeding on green farm waste,” he said.

Goat gestation

Gestation period for goats is five months or an average of 150 days. For the two seasons, he milked for eight months, earning him Sh28,800, according to the records.

In August the same year, he sold the first twins at Sh16,000 each at seven months. In January 2016, he sold the second twins at Sh17,000 each at eight months.

Jane has earned Shikanga a gross income of Sh94,800 in one year.

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The five goats feed on farm weeds, vegetable remains as well as grass growing long the fences.

Six goats to one cow

According to Patrick Nyauma, a Nyamira County-based animal health officer, resources needed to rear one dairy cow can support six goats.

Strict entry of farm records has helped him know the productivity of the five goats.  Jane has been his case study-and it has performed well even without commercial feeds, Shikanga said.

Nyauma says one may require a minimum of about Sh60,000 to start rearing a heifer for dairy milk production. With no special housing demands, the farmer bought the first goat at Sh11,000 in 2014.

Naming goats

Apart from feeds, goats are tolerant to harsh environments as well as pest and diseases.

He has a buck, nicknamed Benja, which was voted the best in the Kakamega Agricultural Society of Kenya Show 2016.

His other flock is Munia, Sambi and Mumia, and they are all registered with the Dairy Goats Association of Kenya, where the history of every animal can be traced from.

Besides the rich mineral content of calcium, potassium, among others, dieticians say it is an immune booster other than having ‘smaller’ fat content when compared to cattle milk.