Ten years ago, 71-year-old Nicerata Kaguna Njue received Sh4,000 from a local women group where she is a member to date.
Of the total amount, she used Sh3,500 to buy a mature she-goat of a local breed and used the other Sh500 on labour during construction of a simple goat-shed at her home place.
This marked the beginning of her venture into dairy goat rearing which is today’s the envy of her Kiathari village in Kanja sub-location, Embu North Sub County.
“As women, united by the virtue of being village mates, we started a group where we contributed Sh10 every week. After some years, however, we sub-divided the money that we had contributed and each member got Sh4, 000. I used mine to start this project,” she explains.
Kaguna says she thought of venturing into goat rearing because it is not a costly venture and that their milk was so scarce in the area though it was on high demand. Initially, she was just a simple farmer, growing maize and beans.
She adds that besides being an easy-to-venture into project, she learned that goat milk’s nutritional value was high and that it is a remedy for several diseases including coughs.
“Some parents had been advised to be giving goat milk to their children who had persistent coughs. They were finding it hard to get the milk so I thought if I reared goats I would be of great help to them and many others,” she says.
Kaguna says she bought a local goat breed at first as she did not have enough money to purchase a hybrid breed that costs between Sh6, 500 and Sh20, 000 depending with the age. But through determination and crossbreeding, she has since arrived there.
Today, she has 12 pure Alpine goats from where she is currently milking four, thus getting about six litres per day.
She sells the milk to neighbors with each litre fetching Sh75. Experts say goat milk has the ability to aid in weight loss, strengthen bones, strengthen immunity, reduce inflammation and optimize digestion among other health benefits.
Goat’s milk chemical composition is also said to be closer to that of human milk thus bodies of its (goat milk) consumers are able to get more nutrients out of the milk as it moves through the body system and courses less stress on the digestive processes.
Kaguna feeds her goat on dry grass that is plentiful in her farm and dairy meal. She reveals when feeds are scarce during drought seasons, the goats can also feed on shrubs.
The fact that goats can feed on almost all shrubs, helps in lowering the cost of feeding and save money. She says she likes selling her goats when they are mature since they fetch good money—at least Sh15, 000 each.
Selling when they are mature means she will first benefit with manure that she uses to grow crops such as maize, bananas, pineapples and arrowroots. “Goat manure is very good for farming.”
The dairy goat farmer says any serious goat farmer should construct an elevated shed with a wooden floor for the goat in order to keep them away from diseases and flees.
Suspended shed with wooden floor also helps the farmer to easily collect goat droppings which forms good manure.
The elderly farmer also advises constant deworming, good housing and hygienic conditions saying this would help keep away diseases from the flock.
For breeding purposes, she says a farmer should have a separate house for kidding which should be warm.