By Allan Kai & Gabriella Nashiva
Dairy farming has for ages been focused on cows’ milk and making products from it. However, though not a new concept, the rearing of goats for dairy farming is gradually gaining roots in Kenya today. Many farmers who find it difficult to come up with the large amount of capital required to start the traditional cow dairy farming have taken to this far less costly yet highly rewarding alternative.
In addition to the economic benefits of dairy goat rearing, goat milk itself has been proven to be of high nutritious value for humans and thus highly recommended by health professionals. Nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous from goat milk are easily digested and utilized by the body than they are with cow milk as studies have indicated. With this aspect in mind, the demand for goat milk is growing and it is a niche that needs to be ventured in to.
Kenya has a variety of options with regards to goat breeds that do well precisely for dairy farming. These include galla, saanen, toggenburg, and alpine breeds. Each of which varies in price, with the cheapest (galla) going for between Ksh.3000 and Ksh.6000 depending on the age and season whereas the most expensive breed being of the alpine variety, which goes for between Ksh.20000 to Ksh.30000 depending on the age.
However, the prices for the goats very much depends on individual breeders and goat farmers. It is common practice for farmers in Kenya to work out local arrangements that would allow them to crossbreed with other farmers’ flocks at mutually agreed upon prices. This further lowers the cost of undertaking this venture.
Many aspiring dairy goat farmers worry about the upkeep cost for these seemingly fragile breeds, but research done at Gashina and Family Farm Enterprises, Nyahururu has shown that dairy goats mostly require five food classes for their nutrition. These are energy giving foods, foods rich in proteins, foods with necessary vitamins, water and mineral salts. All the necessary foods for the well being of the goats are usually readily available from the farm and mostly got from foraging on the land.
Like any serious farmer, additional steps need to be taken to ensure the highest quality of production such as procuring of supplements which ensure the goats’ health and productivity.
Generally, goat rearing is quite an easy endeavour as the care and well-being is not as demanding as is with other cattle. At Gashina and Family Farm Enterprises,we found that the cost of rearing an in-doe alpine goat per month, removed from the total output brings in a return on investment of almost Ksh.24000 per month. Depending on the scale of production, the returns may only increase as you factor in the economies of scale since other factors of production stay constant.
As is the essence of every business endeavour profits are what people aim for. With dairy goat farming as a business, one gets to achieve this end without too great of a hustle. With the success of Gashina Farm and many more alike, a precedence has been set and the niche is still void of more entrepreneurs to fill.