Inside Dr James Chelanga’s four-acre farm in Kesses, Eldoret, brown goats graze leisurely while others are caged in wooden pens.
The senior lecturer in the Department of Arts at the Moi University is among few farmers keeping goats in the area.
Dr Chelanga has partitioned the goat sheds into several small cubicles, where the animals in groups of three spend the night, the day and feed.
The barn cost him Sh100,000 to erect. The floor is made of wood, but has spaces where the droppings pass to the ground, where they are collected for manure.
“It’s important to build a raised structure (a metre high) to protect goats from contracting diseases like foot rot,” he says, adding, the animals need a very clean environment.
Away from the cowshed, Dr Chelanga grows Cto feed the goats. He has also planted napier grass, avocado and mango trees, whose leaves he prunes to feed the dairy goats.
He sells manure to crop farmers at a fee of Sh200 per 90kg bag.
Dr Chelanga started keeping livestock in 2010 while living in the university premises. He reared 10 dairy cows, but he encountered numerous challenges, including inadequate space to accommodate the animals.
The quest for space made him to relocate to Kesses, where he joined hands with 26 professional colleagues to form Kesses Goats Breeders.
Eight of the members managed to raise Sh114,000, which they used to buy goats.
“We bought two pairs (does and bucks) of white Saanen goats from a farm in Rongo.”
Later, they added 10 Alpine goats to the herd from a farmer in Murang’a. They later shared the goats.
However, while his colleagues went for milk production, Chelanga ventured into breeding.
“Since I had struggled to get the breeds, I decided to fill the gap in the market,” says the 54-year-old, who keeps up to 30 goats at any one time, and gets five litres of milk from two that he rears for his family’s needs.
He sells the goats at between five and 13 months for an average of Sh18,000 each. Mature goats go for Sh30,000.
“Most of farmers who buy my goats are from Uasin Gishu County, but the market is huge because few people keep goats,” says the lecturer, who uses the traditional serving method to breed the goats for lack of artificial insemination services.
He bought a pure Alpine pedigree buck, which he uses to serve the goats.
Dr Chelanga keeps Alpine goats mainly, but he also has Saanen and Toggenberg.
“They eat less food than what a dairy cow consumes. But the challenge is the changing weather pattern. I lost two goats recently to pneumonia, which is why it is always advisable to keep goats warm.”