- The dairy farm is an initiative of Mr Kiringai Kamau, a programme lead at the Centre for Agricultural Networking and Information Sharing.
- According to Hellen Kamba, the farm's manager, to achieve maximum production from your goats, 50 per cent of your efforts should go to feeding, 25 per cent to their general care and 25 per cent to proper breeding.
- There are three main diseases and pests that are a constant threat to goats; Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), which is a livestock disease capable of killing the entire flock in a short time, Mastitis is also dangerous to lactating goats, while worms contribute to poor health.
Goats are much easier to invest in considering the initial capital investment and time you need to attend to them.
Some of the goats bleat, others munch the fodder placed in their feeding troughs endlessly oblivious of our presence.
Standing in the goat shed and dressed in a white overcoat and a pair of gumboots, Hellen Kamba, the manager of the farm named Shambah Dairies in Kangema, Murang’a, offers instruction to a worker on how to feed the animals.
“We keep 40 dairy goats in total,” says Hellen. “The adults are 22 and the rest are kids, two of which were born two days ago. Of the mature goats, we milk 15.”
The brainchild of Kiringai Kamau, a programme lead at the Centre for Agricultural Networking and Information Sharing, and his wife Jane, Shambah Farm is a thriving enterprise.
The couple based in Nairobi own the 5-acre venture that also hosts their second homestead.
The farm has three breeds of goats namely Alpine (German, British and French), Toggenbergs and Saanens.
“The Anglo-Nubians aren’t common in the region which is why we don’t have them at the moment,” says Hellen.
Their star goat is a German Alpine named Alice, who has Saanen genes in her lineage. She produces three litres of milk daily, a major feat.
Embu, another of their star goats, albeit less glamorous, averages 2.5 litres daily.
“Five of our 15 milkers are drying up in preparation for their next kidding, and sometimes those five produce a litre each. We get 16-20 litres of milk a day and sell each at Sh100.
We deliver 80 litres after every five days to Kibidav Dairies, which specialises in goat milk products such as yoghurt and fresh milk under the brand name, Toggs Dairy Goat Milk,” says Hellen.
TO ACHIEVE MAXIMUM PRODUCTION
The rest of the milk is sold fresh to locals and other customers in Nairobi.
“To achieve maximum production from your goats, 50 per cent of your efforts should go to feeding, 25 per cent to their general care and 25 per cent to proper breeding,” offers Hellen, adding that they feed their animals on hay and premix daily.
Other feeds they offer them include proteins such as desmodium, lucerne, calliandra, green leaves and nutritious salt lick, which is constantly in their cages.
“We grow these feeds ourselves and only have to buy the premix and salt lick,” says Hellen.
They plant the fodder seedlings first inside seedbeds in greenhouses and later put them in small plastic bags where they grow before they are moved to the main field.
“We have most of the seeds of the fodder on the farm, what we don’t have we buy from agrovets in Murang’a. The seedlings take five to seven days in the greenhouse, where we grow them due to the cold climate in the region. The greenhouse also helps to make the seeds germinate.”
They are harvested for the first time at four months after which weekly, and then dried and shredded and the premix added, then fed to the goats.
“Each goat eats a little over 3kg of all the feeds per day, showing how economical and easy it is to rear them. We feed them thrice a day.”