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No kidding, goats mean good business

Saturday March 30 2019

Joseph Mathenge attends to his Alpine goats in his farm in Kiambu.

Joseph Mathenge attends to his Alpine goats in his farm in Kiambu. Each of his seven lactating goat offers him three to seven litres of milk a day. PHOTOS | SAMMY WAWERU | NMG 

SAMMY WAWERU
By SAMMY WAWERU
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On his quarter acre in Mwihoko, Kiambu County, Joseph Mathenge has set up a wooden pen where he keeps his 17 goats.

Measuring 30 feet long, 8 feet wide and 13.7 feet high, the cage is raised 3 feet high from the ground to curb pests like fleas.

Just below the iron sheets, there is a four- feet space where Mathenge stores his animal feeds such as Boma Rhodes and lucerne hay and dairy meal as the urban farmer seeks to maximise space.

“Space is always limited, therefore, we must utilise well all that is available by putting things like stores before the roof,” he offers.

Adjacent to the main pen there is a small cage that hosts Mathenge’s 10 kids.

“I have sold more than 100 goats since I began this project in 2011 because I cannot accommodate all of them in my compound,” he discloses, noting a mature doe fetches up to Sh40,000. Mathenge, an electrician, started the goat side hustle with Sh5,000, money he used to buy a doe from Nyeri. He then hired a buck to service the animal, increasing his herd over the years.

“Goats are one of the easiest animals to rear because they feed less, need little space and their milk fetches more money,” he notes as he takes Seeds of Gold through his day’s schedule.

He starts by ensuring the pens, water and feeding troughs are thoroughly cleaned.

BEST MILK PRODUCERS

“Hygiene is paramount as far as goat keeping is concerned. The pens should always be clean, water must be fresh and clean and food must be of good quality.”

Each of his seven lactating goat offers him three to seven litres of milk a day. In the morning, each of the animals offers one-and-a-half to two litres, and a similar amount in the evening.

“I sell the milk at Sh200 per litre to people in Ruiru and Kiambu, as well as institutions such as hospitals. Most people buy a quarter litre,” says Mathenge, who rears German Alpine goats and their crossbreeds, and also uses socal media to sell the animals.

Simon Wagura, who runs Country Farm, an agro-consultancy, says that as a good practice, goat kids should be bottle-fed to avoid overfeeding them.

“Alpine goats are the best milk producers,” he says, adding that, “Lactating does rarely reduce milk output until they are served. An Alpine goat can be milked for up to eight months after calving.”

Goat feeds, according to him, should be balanced for better growth and high production.

“It’s important to note that dry matter encourages them to consume a lot of water, which in turn helps in milk production. Further, dry matter is free of parasites.”