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    Taita Taveta farmer earning good money from Galla goat side venture

    WhatsApp Image 2020 08 14 at 15.34.10

    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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