Insights on profitable dairy goat farming in Kenya:
The Small East African Goat
- These goats occur throughout East Africa from desert to urban and known in tribal or local names. Their colour ranges from pure white to pure black with various intermixes of roan and speckled brown. The tassels (toggles) occur in up to 30% of the population. Adult males can weigh 30- 40kg and female’s 25-30kg.They grow up to a height of 64cm at the shoulders. Both sexes have horns that sweep directly backwards and are often curved upwards at the tip. The horns vary from 2.5 cm to 20cm. The ears are of medium length (approximately 12cm), are slightly pendent and rarely pricked. 40% of the males under 14 months have beards. The coat is short and fine in both males and females but has longer hair on the hind quarters. The males often have a pronounced mane running the full length of the buck. They are mainly kept for meat as their milk is rarely enough for one kid. They are a useful animal to use as a base in an upgrading programme.
- The Galla goat is an indigenous to Northern Kenya. It is also known as the Boran or Somali goat. It’s the milk queen of the Kenyan arid and semi arid areas. The female is about 60cm wide at the shoulders and weighs 45-55kgs. The male weighs up to 70kgs. They are white haired with a black skin, on the nose (muzzle) feet and underneath the tail.
- Another subtype exists that has colour around the neck and lower legs and black stripe down the spine. The females are long-lived and will continue to breed and rear healthy kids up to 10 years of age. They carry better milk genes and give greater opportunity for genetic selection for this trait. The back is fairly long and slightly dipped. They are docile animals easy to handle but do not like cold wet climate, thriving best in low altitude preferably in acacia bush country. They have a higher compensatory growth rate after long dry season. The Galla produces about half litre of milk per day.
- This is the milk queen in the goat world. It originated from Switzerland. It’s all white or creamy coloured with pink skin pigmentation. The face is straight, the ears are upright and alert (pricked) the hair is short and fine and the body is long. As a rule Saanen does not carry tassels. Under good management it produces 3-5 litres of milk per day depending on management. They are prolific and have high twinning rate. Sometimes the kids are born with both male and female organs (hermaphrodite). This has been observed on polled goats. Mature male weighs 70-100 kg and mature female weighs 50-70 kg. The female measures 74 -80 cm in height while the mature buck measures 81-92cm. Udders are usually shapely and well attached.
- There are two breeds of Toggenburg one originating from Switzerland and the other one from Britain. The British breed is bigger than the Swiss breed with the female of the British type weighing up to 70kg and bucks up to 100 kg. With Swiss type, the female weights are in the range of 50kgs with bucks up to 70 kg. They are brown or greyish brown in colour with distinctive white stripes on the face and legs. They may be horned or naturally polled. Horns in male are long and curving back. They may have toggles (tassels) or not. They are very gentle and quiet in temperament. They are easily handled and can be trained. They have a long body and seem bony. They are bred for milk with average milk yield of 1-3lts per day depending on management. The breed is suited for the higher cooler regions where heat stress is not a problem and good quality fodder is freely available.
- The breed originated in French Alps. They are medium to large in size and are hardy and adaptable animals thriving in many climates. They have a varied coat colour with shades of grey, brown, black, redbuff and combinations. They have a pronounced mane in both male and female. They may or may not have horns. The goat is bred for milk with average milk yield ranging from 2.5-4lts subject to levels of management. The Female weighs from 50-60kgs while bucks weigh 65-80kg. The female ranges in height from 70-76.cm and the male 80-90cm when mature.
- There are many crosses depending on the breeds used. The exotic breeds have been crossed with the local breeds to get a better adapted and higher yielding animal than the local goats. This is the best starting point for those with the local goats wishing to keep dairy goats. The performance of the crosses has varying degree of success depending on environment and management. There are also crosses between the exotic breeds for instance Saanen and Alpine.