Many questions have been sent to me asking on the basics of starting out in dairy goat farming.
While there are no major difference with the other types of goats they require more TLC to ensure they have the optimum production.
In the recent past more farmers have been venturing into this type of farming but due to lack of information they have experienced losses.
What should you expect:-
- Breed types
- What to look for in a breeding buck(male goat)
- Care for lactating doe(female goat)
- Feeding lactating doe
- Care for kids
- Record keeping
Many farmers look for alternative in boosting and diversifying their farm production needs with the aim of taking care of their families.
The three main breeds of dairy goats are:-
- Seanum and
The 3 breeds can be crossed with ease with the smaller east African and galla goats.
There are many reasons for you and I to venture into dairy goat farming if you haven t started yet.
These are the things that you should keep in mind as you start out in this journey.
The first step towards success is the choice of your breeding animals since the traits of the parent animal will easily be transferred to their off springs.
There are several items to look for and here are the top items I recommend you start with;-
- Check the legs for deformities
- Choose your male from high ilk producing mothers
- Maintain the ratio of 3:1 number of females per male
- Your buck should be free from any physical defects
- Pick a noisy one since it will attract the females with the almighty noise
- Decide on those with strong heads and a muscular neck
- Trim the hooves to the right size
- Check for healthy teeth. Broken teeth is one of the indications of old age and will reduce your production since it will feeding efficiency will be lowered
- Insist on well-developed sexual organs and well developed testicles.
- Have a keen eye for a good body frame
- Look out for worn out teeth as it reduces production as a result of poor feeding
- Ignore those with long pendulous udder. Large udders are a health risk to the animal since it can be easily infected or hurt by thorns due to its low hanging nature.
- The udders should be soft to touch. If not it might be a sign of a previous infection like mastitis.
- It should have at least two functional titys.
- Pick from a mother of high production
- It should be well built and healthy
- Look for high milk production and fertility
- Only mate when thee females are fit and healthy
- Thin females are not ideal for production this is because they don’t come to heat, those who do easily abort and if they reproduce are poor mothers
- Legs should be well formed and hooves trimmed if over grown
- Should have the ability to produce every 8-10 months
- Should be able to produce enough milk to sustain twins and leftover enough for the family or sales purposes.
For you to have even the list of achievement your farm should have proper housing systems.
This does not only protect the animals from the elements but also prevent and control the spread of disease and infections
A good housing also gives you and easy time in overall management.
Here are a few items to consider in your construction:
- The house should be well spaced for every goats comfort
- Have designated specious locations for feed, water, minerals troughs as well as feeds store, and a kid pen.
- It should provide strong protection against the weather and offer security.
- The housing unit should be easy to clean
- There should be good drainage of the water and waste from the animals.
Care for a pregnant doe (she goat)
Ensure you provide protein supplements during the non-lactating period commonly referred to as the dry period.
This is to ensure the kids are growing better and faster.
If you have been feed rich in calcium this is the time you switch this up with feed rich in energy.
This should be done on a timely basis at least 3 weeks before kidding.
Doing this helps greatly reduce milk fever and forces the doe to change its internal body structure in readiness for milk production in your desired quantity.
You need to deworm the animals 2 weeks close to the time they start kidding.
A goat requires 3% of its body weight.
Feeding a lactating doe
Provide amounts of concentrate feed to the proportion of the animal’s milk production.
Make sure you serve the concentrates on a daily basis.
This should be provided twice daily since it helps in the building of the body reserves and also helps in the development of the unborn kid.
Care for kids
You have already invested a lot of time and resources to get to this sweet spot. There are more challenges ahead but don’t lose hope.
What makes you leave a legendary life is not what you do once a year or month but he actions you take on a daily basis.
Here are a few resources you should do to keep your investments.
Prevent natural infections, clean the umbilical cord and disinfect with iodine, strong salt solution or traditional herbal remedy.
Keep the kids warm and away from strong winds to avoid draft and pneumonia.
Allow the kids to suckle their mother for the first 3 days.
The colostrum contains antibiotics that have the ability to protect against from diseases until the young animal develops it immune system.
Don’t regulate the amount of milk intake for the young kid.
Having enough milk makes sure that your animal inherits the desirable traits from the mother and will be of great interest once fully grown and selected for breeding.
I will recommend you only use fostering in a case where the mother dies or in the case of an illness and infections.
Bottle feeding is ideal for such events and very successful on several farms.
You can introduce green chops and water after a period of one week.
If you will be milking the mother goat you need to separate them from the kids during the evening period so you can milk in the morning.
At the age of 4 months, I recommend weaning of the kids and if you do it before the time farm of four months then provide protein supplements.
The main types of feeds that are good for goats are feed that provide the following value to the animals:-
- Water and
- Mineral salts
I provide a wide variety of feeds to my animals, they get grass, peelings, roots, husks, corn, bananas, citrus etc.
Goats are ruminants like cows and chew cud.
They have the ability to produce vitamins B and K plus protein from their rumen, thought you should know.
You are in luck since your flock will not die from drought any time soon.
Goats are fastidious feeders and in many cases are the last animals to die in case of a draught.
This ability gives them the advantage to survive in dry areas of countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.
You can source for feeds rich in protein from
- Sweet potatoes
- Lantana kamara
- Cliteria ternate
Most legumes have anti nutritional factors like tannis and cyanides.
There are recommendations I recommend you follow religiously talk to your vet officer or write to us.
Ensure they don’t constitute 25% of the animals total feeds requirements per day.
Wilt the legumes before providing them to your animals.
- Maize bran
- Sugar cane tips
- Maize germ
- Cenchrus spp
- Rhodes grass
- Napier grass
- Panicum spp
- Banana grass
- Sunflower heads
This is the only sure way to keep track of your farm.
Below are the basics of starting out.
- Birth dates
- Birth weight
- Treatment records
- Sire and dam
- Milk records
- Service dates
I believe you have gone through all the requirements of taking care of your goats.
The only way to avoid any losses is ensuring everything that the animals need are provided for in the right quantity.
It is a painful process to lose what took you so long to have.