Scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute, ILRI, have come up with a superior goat breed that produces 1.5 litres of milk daily and easily adapts to climate change, at a time when the livestock sector is emerging as among the hardest hit by vagaries of weather.
Dwindling pasture as a result of erratic rainfall coupled with emerging climate related diseases have taken a toll on goats’ productivity and numbers with farmers quickly discarding them before they die.
This has been occasioned by the numerous breeds that exist in the country with the majority of them having been introduced in the country by colonialists. They have not been well suited to local conditions. The situation has further been worsened by the changing weather patterns reducing their survival rates.
But scientists and animal geneticists, aware of the imminent danger, have swung to action. In the last two years, scientists at ILRI have successfully crossbred two of the most famous breeds in the country to produce a breed that can withstand changing weather and produce more milk than the local breeds.
The scientists and animal geneticists, led by Julie Ojango, have focused in Nyando area of Kisumu County where they have worked with 22 farmers and in the last two years have crossbred 1597 goats of the new breed.
The new breed, dubbed Nyando Composite Goat, is a cross breed of the Small East African goat, SEA, which is common in dry areas and survives in accustomed to harsh weather conditions, and Galla goat known for its prowess in milk production.
“This initiative was meant to look for the breeds that can be bred and give a final goat that can do comfortably well in the face of changing weather patterns,” said Julie.
SEA goat is small in size, but its body is tough having been used to surviving in dry areas. The male weighs between 30 and 40 kilos while females weigh somewhere between 25 and 30 kilos. They are economical to keep because they consume less pasture due to the nature of their body. However its milk capacity is minimal, producing one litre a day.
Galla goat on the other hand, predominantly available in the Northern part of Kenya and produces a minimum of two litres of milk each day. It is bigger, with the male weighing 45 to 55 kilos and the male 70 kilos.
The resultant breed, Nyando Composite Goat, resembles have a goat and half a sheep due to its big ears and fur. It is bigger in size, almost the size of Galla goat and easily adapts to the harsh climatic conditions.
According to Julie, although the new breed is being trialed in Nyando, the new breed can do better in virtually all areas in East Africa. The scientists are still monitoring its adaptability and traits to ensure it fits perfectly to the local environment. Every offspring is tagged to allow the scientists monitor their progress, growth and potential threats.
Farmers keeping the new goats have also been trained on how to monitor them, including recording when they fall sick and what treatment has been administered in order to determine the breeds’ market value.
For more information contacts below:
Contact: Julie Ojango