Goat farming has never been more lucrative than it is now in Kirinyaga County.
A few kilometers from the Sagana-Meru highway at Rukanga Sub-location, a model farmer literally laughs right up to the riverbank, thanks to his 50 purebred goats.
David Ndirangu’s farm is well maintained and has very high health standards demanded by authorities for anyone wishing to export meat overseas.
The enclosure of the small farm is enclosed in a wooden structure for the safety and good health of purebred goats which are in great demand both locally and internationally.
According to Ndirangu, his farm is a temporary refuge for healthy exotic goats waiting to be exported to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, where they fetch a good price.
This is an area that the government is promoting to stimulate the livestock sector and also earn foreign exchange.
“It has now been two years since I started raising improved goats and now I consider myself lucky because my goats have been approved for export,” Ndirangu proudly says.
“My farm has been selected as one of the waiting areas for improved goats in Kirinyaga County,” he said.
Farm worker Samson Muchiri says the shift to improved goat farming is paying off and setting a role model for pastoralists in the county and beyond.
“Mzee allowed me to have my own goats on her farm and I can say that my life has changed. I started with two goats and then moved on to five goats. So far I have sold three.
A one-year-old goat sells for between 10,000 and 20,000 Shs depending on whether it is sold locally or on the foreign market, ”explains Ndirangu.
A private company Agribiz Consult has partnered with dairy goat breeders to export high-yielding animals to Djibouti.
Goats aged 8-24 months and belonging to the best dairy breed have since been exported to the Horn of Africa country.
The animals come from farmers across the county who purposely breed them for milk production following a request from the government of Djibouti through the Kenya Dairy Goats Association.
County Director for Livestock Development, Veterinary Services and Fisheries Dr Richard Gichangi explains that the 45 recently exported goats had to be isolated for a period of time, immunized and tagged before sale to the foreigner.
He said the supply takes up to four months from the farmers who have the animals. “Animals should be placed in quarantine under the supervision of a qualified physician,” said the director.
The vet says the animals are then subjected to a series of vaccinations and other veterinary procedures (international procedures that apply on the African continent), to prevent diseases like bluetongue, foot-and-mouth disease, among others. .
The animals twenty-one days (’21) after the last vaccination are issued a Health Certificate to the exporter by the National Director of Veterinary Services who also issues an Export Movement Permit.
The animals must also be accompanied by our doctor in their new environment. The process is long but the farmers are willing to persevere because of the high yields.
“One animal is going to fetch up to Sh. 20,000 and that is certainly a good deal for our farmers when the animal population in the county is only 6,000,” he said.
Gichangi urged farmers to venture into dairy goat farming since even milk that goes to Sh. 120 per liter is in high demand due to its nutritional value while the market is under-supplied.
He said the county government has provided a 500-liter pasteurization tank that farmers can hardly fill due to the scarcity of the expensive commodity.
Julius Kangee, president of the Dairy Goats Association of Kenya, says improved goats ranging from 10 months to two years old are generally healthy and ready to be exported.
Kangee says about 75 percent of purebred goats have the ability to curl. Each goat can produce a minimum of 1.5 liters of milk depending on the breeding.
Zero grazing is recommended for health reasons and goats should not be exposed to a lot of heat to avoid stress.
“A male purebred goat matures for up to four years and can weigh around 100 kilograms while a female goat weighs 70 kilograms,” says Kangee.
By Irungu Mwangi