How To Start Goat Farming
Raising goats can be exciting but challenging for a beginner who has not taken time to research about this livestock. Goats can be petted just as well as for commercial purposes.
Caring for goats is not time consuming. This type of livestock has widely diverse living habits and they can live in deserts, mountains, grasslands and lush tropics; however, this can be determined by your location and climate.
Some breeds can survive when there is a water shortage, variable temperatures, and food shortage and survive in hardy and rocky country.
For all farmers it is important to know the type of breed they would want to raise and the main produce they want. Goat produce can generate an income or feed for the family and also be educational to the children in the home.
Goats need shelter, fencing, basic health care and nutritional feed. These are the important and necessary things to consider in order being successful in raising goats.
Goat BreedsAs a beginner in goat farming, start out with the easiest breed to raise and this is the Saanen. It is a dairy goat breed and second milk producer among other breeds, the first being the Alpine goat breeds.
These popular goats are popular have short, white hair and they are easy-going temperament.
There are a wide variety of original breeds and crossbreeds that can be raised by a beginner, but it is wise to know which breed is favourable to your location.
Boer is the most popular meat breed, while Angora and Cashmere are the main fibre-producing breeds. A few dairy breeds, such as Saanen, Toggenburg, Alpine and Anglo-Nubian, are widespread and are frequently found in commercial herds.
Goat Pen Or Shed Standards
Goats are able to adapt to different types of housing. Proper dairy goat housing does not need to be expensive to be functional.
Whatever the husbandry system or climatic conditions for the animals, goats need to be protected from harmful elements such as predators and thieves.
If the goats are being allowed to graze during the daytime, then sheds should be built in the pastures providing shelter during the extremely hot periods.
The sheds will also protect the animals from rain, however, goats are able to tolerate getting wet and being cold, but should not have to endure these conditions for long periods as it can leave the goats susceptible to diseases like pneumonia and hoof rot.
Flooring must be smooth but not slippery; designed, constructed and maintained so as not to cause injury or suffering to animals housed in the pens.
There are a variety of flooring systems that can be used for rearing dairy goats. The most common system is the raised slatted floors floor system. Slatted flooring is a good choice for dairy goats; slats should ideally be 70 – 100 mm wide, 25 – 30 mm thick, with 25 mm spaces between them.
Flat flooring can also be used to rear goats. If the pens are on concrete or dirt, then they should be bedded with straw, saw dust or any other absorbent material (poor quality hay).
How To Raise Goats The bedding must be absorbent and should be changed regularly to prevent a build-up of harmful organisms. The depth of the bedding should be approximately 10 cm deep if the floor is concrete or dirt.
Some farmers also use wooden pallets which they place on the dirt or concrete floors.
This system may help with disease control, but the wooden pallets must be removed each time the pen is cleaned to effectively clean the pen. Concrete floors can be used without bedding but in cases like that; the pens would have to be cleaned daily.
Goat Care And Health
- Goats require grooming just like human beings having manicures and pedicures. Have your goat hooves trimmed and cleaned to remove manure which can cause infections.
- Use a brush or the pointy end of the trimming tool to clean out any manure or dirt that may be embedded in the hoof.
- Disbudding is another major grooming practice that is often done. If you do not know how to disbud you should consult a veterinarian since doing this incorrectly can lead to the death of your kids.
- Kid identification goes hand in hand with proper records. Many local farms source their replacement does from the kids that have been produced on the farm, therefore a protocol needs to be developed as to how these kids will be identified.
- Permanent identification also allows the tracking of animals for health and reproductive purposes. Another form of identification can be tattoos.
- Goats with long shaggy hair can become over heated in our climate and may require their hair to be clipped. Removing the excess hair also ensures that it does not get into the milk during milking.
- Electric hair clippers can be used to remove the excess hair but scissors also work well. A hair cut can help your goat to perform better under our hot climate conditions.
- Diseases and parasites affect the goat production which poses danger to human health even the animals as well.
- Know the signs and symptoms of sick goats, and quarantine if necessary to avert the spread of the sickness.
- Seek assistance from your local vet. The most common diseases to be on the lookout for are; foot and mouth, pneumonia, fever, and many more including parasites.
- Make sure that goats are taken for dipping to have external parasites removed from the body and this should be done at least fortnightly or once a month.
The dairy goat gives as much milk as it is given the right food and these are;
- Sweet potato vines – This is a very good feed that goats like very much and it is a good crop to plant because it gives tubers for the family to eat and the leaves can be fed to the goats.
- It can be planted beside river beds, steep parts of the shamba and roadside edges. Useful in feeding kids whose mothers die early in their life.
- Napier – plant along river beds, along soil terraces, road reserves etc. Where a farmer has a big shamba then plant as one crop near the home to save time and work when taking to the goats.
- Good napier needs manure and top dressing with a fertilizer and needs weeding. Cut napier often so it is easy for the goats to eat and digest
- Fodder trees and legumes – Good legumes are potato vines, and the trees and legumes, should be planted along the fences and terraces such as leuceana is good in fences.
- Maize – While maize is grown for farmer’s food, there is a lot of fodder which can be used for feeding the goat which will not stop the farmer getting a good maize yield.
- Stovers are sweeteners (molasses) added or sprinkle common salt after chopping. Broken grains are very nutritious especially after a heavy harvest but should be fed carefully to avoid grain overload.