In Summary
  • But beaten by the harsh climate, farmers have embraced goat rearing, with the animals providing them plenty of milk. At Felista Nyaguthi’s home, which sits on a 40 by 80m land, a shed hosts 12 goats of the German Alpine breed.
  • Felista started with a goat, which was part of the five her Roka Dairy Group members received from the European Union in 2012 in a project to mitigate drought.
  • Dr Hezron Wesonga, a researcher at Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organisation, says for maximum profits, farmers must vaccinate against orf ( a disease caused by parapox virus and occurs primarily in sheep and goats) and administer clostridia to prevent diseases that affect kidneys and cause diarrhoea and goat pox.

The bumpy ride from Naro Moru to Kambura-ini village, about 25km off the Nyeri – Nanyuki Road, is a testimony to the hardship in Kieni sub–county, one of the driest regions in Central Kenya.

As we cruise past several farms, one sees shrubs for miles in this land dubbed the desert of Central Kenya.

Unlike in other parts of the region, one rarely sees the exotic dairy cows in Kieni because of the tough conditions.

But beaten by the harsh climate, farmers have embraced goat rearing, with the animals providing them plenty of milk. At Felista Nyaguthi’s home, which sits on a 40 by 80m land, a shed hosts 12 goats of the German Alpine breed.

“I used to keep the Small East African Goat for a year, but it was yielding little. This new breed has transformed my life and put more food on my table as it has a high milk production and when I sell them, they fetch good money,” says Nyaguthi as she pulls one of the goats from the barn.

The neatly constructed barn is raised about a metre from the ground and is divided into five spacious sections that allow her 12 goats to relax and feed.

Felista started with a goat, which was part of the five her Roka Dairy Group members received from the European Union in 2012 in a project to mitigate drought.

“I got a German Alpine doe, which calved down two kids that have since multiplied to 12,” says the mother of six, who rents the land she keeps the goats at Sh600 a month.

“It looks like a less profitable venture but these goats have transformed my life as I have sold six bucks earning Sh100,000,” adds the 38-year-old, who has been keeping goats for six years.

In a good month, she earns about Sh4,000 from selling milk, which is now being used in many homes.

“I get five litres every day and consume two and sell the remaining at Sh40 to the neighbours.”

The script is repeated at Veronica Gathoni’s farm few metres away. The farmer has 10 German Alpine dairy goats.

Besides selling milk, she sells a mature buck at between Sh8,000 and Sh16,000.

This is good money because all she feeds the goats after browsing is hay she buys from neighbouring farms.

Roka Group secretary Ephantus Maina says the goats have changed the lives of residents in Kieni sub-county as many members could not afford to keep dairy cattle.

“Keeping dairy goats is a good investment because a well-fed animal can calve eight kids in a year and when they mature, a farmer can sell them and earn up to Sh100,000.”

However, lack of market for their milk is their biggest challenge. This has led to exploitation by middlemen, who buy their produce at poor prices.

Dr Hezron Wesonga, a researcher at Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organisation, says for maximum profits, farmers must vaccinate against orf ( a disease caused by parapox virus and occurs primarily in sheep and goats) and administer clostridia to prevent diseases that affect kidneys and cause diarrhoea and goat pox.

“A farmer must also build a spacious barn to house the goats, keep it dry and clean and feed them with balanced concentrates.”

The goat shed should be about a metre from the surface to keep them safe from predators and harsh weather conditions.

“Farmers should also trim the animals’ horns every five to six weeks to keep them energetic and separate in-calf does from the other for healthy living.”