Trading fish for goat: Kisumu farmer finds gem in Saanen

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024 01:45 | By
Musa Ibrahim Juma has made a name for himself as an experienced goat farmer in Kisumu.
Musa Ibrahim Juma has made a name for himself as an experienced goat farmer in Kisumu. PHOTO/KNA

For over 20 years, Musa Ibrahim Juma, 45 years old, has been breeding dairy goats to eke out a living. But what started as hobby has set him to become the beacon of change in his community.

At his piece of land within his home compound tucked in Migosi ward, in Kisumu county,  a vivid picture of a hardworking farmer welcomes you.

Five men are performing different roles on the newly harvested bags of maize, which are spread for drying in the compound. This is besides his goat rearing venture.

Musa says he began this business with only 30 local goat breeds. One time, after they went out for grazing, only three came back that evening. This prompted him to abandon field grazing and shift to zero grazing within his compound.

“I used to look around for leaves to feed them because I didn’t want to see my goats loitering around and that’s when the idea of keeping dairy goats cropped up in my mind,’’ he reveals.

Breeds for profits

Determined to maximise on profits, he ditched the local breeds, which were less profitable and began mixing dairy goat breeds such as Alpines and Toggenburgs.

He later switched to purely saanen after receiving  samples from a non-profitable organisation that had imported them from South Africa and witnessing their abilities to produce more milk.

“I was selected to be a beneficiary of a programme that was targeting children. As a caregiver, I received two goats to support one child who was enrolled in the programme. I immediately sold the local breeds and fully embraced the dairy goats,”he says.

He said he did not want to cross breed because chances were that the new breed would produce low quantities of milk, something that he was trying to run away from. He then opted to only keep one breed, Saanen, a choice he is proud of making. Musa says that a typical saanen is white, and has pink skin. Its demand and milk production are very high.

Ready market available

 Musa notes that unlike alpines and toggenburgs, the exotic saanen produces between five to six litres of milk per day after normal milking in the morning and evening.

At the age of three to six months, quality saanen goes for Sh15,000, while those that are over six months fetches between Sh20,000 to Sh25,000.

Alongside the age which is used to determine the pricing, other factors include whether the females and males are already mature and served. Musa says there is a ready market for the goat and its products.

With years of experience in goat farming, Musa landed a deal with the agricultural development corporation (ADC-Kitale) to offer a good buck (male) for their new programme known as ‘goat artificial insemination’ where his goats were used in providing semen for other female goats.

“You know you can’t be selling semen and you don’t have the quality animal to showcase to the farmers. So, you have to get a mature buck which costs between Sh 30,000 to Sh50,000,” Musa observes.

With the right  he-goat, the experts extract semen from the buck before inseminating it to a she-goat. They do proper timing and through special equipment, they inseminate it into when the female goat is on its heat cycle.

Selling semen to fellow goat farmers is not the only achievement on his accolades. Musa has become a trainer on matters goat keeping. He has been invited by institutions and groups to train on the benefits of using saanen breed compared to any other breeds such as alpines which is the most common breed around his area.

His trainings has seen many farmers embracing goat rearing as a business venture, contrary to previous years where it was like a hobby.

Musa confesses to have learnt a lot from social platforms such as  the Kenya saanen breeders society of veterinarians and farmers where useful information about goating keeping and possible solutions to emerging complications in their dairy goat breeds is freely shared.

“Aside from the useful lessons I learn from there, I use the platform to post about my  excess milk and I normally get customers from different parts of the country where the demand is high,” Musa explains.

Musa shares that the secrets to a successful goat rearing business is having passion and commitment towards the animals.  He further notes that proper investments towards the animals is by ensuring they are well fed, and in return, they will give proper yields.

According to him, a mature female dairy goat should consume between 14 to 15 kilograms daily while for the males, a farmer needs to control their feeding in order not to be overweight because they need to perform.

“I feed them three times a day by adding water, salt and supplement the females with the commercial feeds. The young ones between two to three months are fed with calf pellets,” he advises.

Goat keeping benefits

Goat rearing has various benefits, among them their ability to produce milk that has high nutrition value and also meat.

According to the national center for biotechnology information (NCBI), compared to cow milk, goat milk contains proteins that have higher levels of amino acids such as tryptophan and cysteine which have several health benefits, including immunomodulatory effects, allergy management, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects, as well as antimicrobial and anticancer properties.

But Musa’s trade does not come without its own share of troubles.

One of the challenges that he faces is the unavailability of cheap feeds and diseases.

“Diseases such as pneumonia can at times turn out to be chronic. To address this, I normally practice good animal husbandry; proper housing and feeding, resulting in fewer droppings and urine, no external pests will interfere and the animal will remain clean ,’’ he notes.

But despite the challenges, Musa says goat rearing continues to be a great investment which people need to invest in.

Aside from the milk and meat he gets from goats, urine and droppings from the animals are also beneficial to them as they are a source of folia feeds and manure respectively.

“When I mix 10 litres of urine with 20 litres of water, I don’t need folia feeds from an agrovet for my top dressing needs in my small vegetable farm. Once you mix it and top dress, you will see the leaves turning fresh and green again. In short, everything from a goat is useable,’’ he concludes.

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