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Little upkeep, lucrative returns: Why galla goats are a perfect side venture

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By George Munene

Mcharo Mbogho’s word of ad­vice for any would be goat breeder is that they need an abid­ing pas­sion for the an­im­als and the art, without which they won’t weather the tough times that al­tern­ate with the good in goat farm­ing.

In three loc­a­tion in Taita-Taveta County, he has 450 heads of mostly fe­male galla goats­— at least 150 at each site. Hav­ing lost 300 goats in 2017 to CCP, Con­ta­gious Caprine Pleur­opneu­mo­nia, and acute drought, he’s opted to house them in dif­fer­ent loc­a­tions to spread out his risk.

His first herd con­sists of does who make up his breed­ing stock. They range in age 1-3 or 4 years at a push, be­fore he dis­poses of them. Every five months he has at least 100-200 kids. He lets them suckle for 3-4 months (the few weaker kids are left to stay with their moth­ers a bit longer) be­fore wean­ing them off. If you allow, some kids will suckle for up to six months. This pre­vents the mother from com­ing on heat once again and isn’t work­able in com­mer­cial goat farm­ing.

After the 3 months the ewes are usu­ally de­pleted, they lose a lot of weight ca­ter­ing to their kids and they be­come brittle due to cal­cium lost via co­lostrum. He leaves them free to graze and build up mass, free of any kids or bucks. He prac­tices oes­trus syn­chron­isa­tion, en­sur­ing all his goats come on heat at the same time.

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At month five, he in­tro­duces new bucks into the herd for the tup­ping sea­son (bor­rowed from sheep farm­ing) between June and July. This sets up his does to give birth over the rainy sea­son, Novem­ber and Decem­ber, when the pas­tures are lush and plen­ti­ful. One male buck caters to about 30 does; for his 150 does, he uses 5 bucks. He ro­tates them every mat­ing sea­son, sourced from across the coun­try to avoid any chance of in­breed­ing.

His second herd con­sists of 9-12 year olds. From here, he se­lects the very best as his next per­sonal breed­ing stock or to sell off to other breed­ers. Every week or so, he sells at least one goat to be butchered. These are usu­ally the goats he opts to dis­pose of be­cause of de­form­it­ies, i.e. hav­ing a single testicle, gimpy foot, poor tit form­a­tion, awk­ward horns, poor body form­a­tion or for aes­thet­ics—  his pre­ferred coat col­our­ing for gal­las is white with a bit of brown. He doesn’t settle on the goats he will use for breed­ing until they are at least 8-9 months old, as, at that age, they are ma­ture enough to de­term­ine which meet his strin­gent stand­ard to be chosen as fu­ture breed­ing stock. He usu­ally only sells yearlings as breed­ers.  

In his last herd, he houses goats that have been weened. The usu­ally range between 4-9 months in age.

His main costs of pro­duc­tion are dis­ease man­age­ment. He vac­cin­ates his an­im­als bi-an­nu­ally at a cost of Sh100 for every an­imal. His graz­ing land is also next to the Tsavo East Na­tional Park, which means that every once in a while he loses some goats to lion at­tacks The county gov­ern­ment also charges Sh50 for every goat that leaves the county. Ac­count­ing for all his over­heads—vac­cin­a­tion, staff pay­ment, weekly dip­ping costs, Mcharo says he will, at most, spend Sh3,000 on every goat yearly.

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After all his costs, he sells does at Sh8,000; bucks that are 9-12 months old for Sh12,000, and those that are 12-13 months old for Sh15,000.

His main cus­tomer base has come through word-of-mouth cus­tomer re­fer­rals, but he works in Nairobi and move­ment re­stric­tions aimed at curb­ing the spread of Covid-19 saw him ab­sent from his farm longer than he had an­ti­cip­ated. This proved a veiled bless­ing as he ad­vert­ised his busi­ness on­line and has sold 150 goats in just 3 weeks across the coun­try. The ad even brought him one order of 100 goats from a buyer in Uganda and in­terest from as far out as Sudan.

Mcharo says though he can keep up to 400 goats for every herd he is keen not to over­graze and de­grade the en­vir­on­ment. He has 165 acres of his own and ac­cess to 2,000 acres of com­munal land and has his sights set on ex­pand­ing his heard to at least 1000 goats.

Mcharo Mbogho: 0722368000

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