Livestock Research for Rural Development 22 (1) 2010 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Dairy goat production practices in Kenya: Implications for a breeding programme

T D O Ogola*, W K Nguyo* and I S Kosgey**

* Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Management, Egerton University, P.O. Box 536, 20115 Egerton, Kenya.
** Animal Breeding and Genetics Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University, P.O. Box 536, 20115 Egerton, Kenya.
isaac_kosgey@yahoo.co.uk

Abstract

Smallholder dairy goat farming in Kenya is increasingly being promoted by development organizations and policy makers as an option to boost incomes of farmers and to improve rural livelihoods. Heifer Project International-Kenya (HPIK), a non-governmental organization, initiated a dairy goat multiplication programme in 1994 in three different agro-ecological zones in Kenya. However, production practices influencing the sustainability of the multiplication and future breeding programmes have hardly been studied. The present study aimed to document dairy goat management practices in order to better understand the potentials and constraints of the dairy goat multiplication and future breeding programmes. A total of 108 beneficiaries of the HPIK dairy goat project were interviewed in the Coast, Nyanza and the Rift Valley provinces using a set of pre-tested structured and semi-structured questionnaires. Information on socio-economic characteristics and management practices of the farmers were collected.

 

Results are presented in the form of descriptive statistics, and chi-square and t- tests done where appropriate to establish the statistical significance or otherwise of observations. Income generation and milk were ranked top as reasons for keeping dairy goats. Good management practices were evident, but high variation was found in feeding, health management and general husbandry practices, and this affected the overall performance of the multiplication programme. Average milk production at 1.9 litres per day was lower than or closer to that of crossbred goats. Twinning rate was favourable (51%) but mortality was relatively high (26%). Constraints were related to insufficient resources (e.g., land, feed and finances) and the external market rather than lack of technical information.

 

For sustainability of dairy goat multiplication and breeding programmes targeting poverty alleviation, the initiative should be commensurate with the farmer’s capacity to ensure success, i.e., appropriate messages and technologies based on the understanding of the farmer’s production objectives, options and constraints.

Key words: community-based, Heifer Project International-Kenya, multiplication and breeding programmes, output efficiency, pass-on


Introduction

Increased human population pressure, and the ensuing land demarcation in Kenya, have stimulated use of dairy goats in rural development efforts, which according to Josserand (1984), were previously ignored in favour of cattle as cow’s milk and beef constituted a larger share of consumption. Pure exotic or crossbred dairy goats and associated technologies are preferred as a fast means of improving animal production of smallholder farmers and, quickly their economic status and diet quality (Kosgey et al 2006).

 

Heifer Project International-Kenya (HPIK), one of the non-governmental organizations in Kenya, implemented a community-based dairy goat multiplication programme since the year 1994 using high value exotic genotypes (Saanen, British Alpine, Ango-Nubian and Toggenburg) to improve the nutrition and incomes of households adopting the technology. Goats were introduced on a “pass-on” model contract and dairy entrepreneurial skills imparted to the farmers. The model is a loaning system whereby a beneficiary of a doe pays in-kind by giving out the first two female offspring free to the next listed beneficiaries who will in turn do likewise. This was supposed to ensure sustainable spread of dairy goats in the communities involved.

 

Factors favouring the rearing of goats are that they generally thrive well across agro-ecological zones, which is reflected by the degree of their adaptation (i.e., survival under environmental stresses like diseases, parasites and high temperatures), functional contribution (i.e., meat, milk, fibre and skins) and socio-economic relevance (i.e., security and income generation) (Livestock in Development 1999; Devendra 2001; Peacock 2005). Other attributes of goats are multi-parity and multiple births, shorter generation interval, lower investment, higher digestive efficiency for roughage (Thirunavukkarasu and Prabaharan 1996) and lower feed requirements as compared to cattle (a doe is 0.17 LSU, i.e., raising one mature dairy cow is equivalent to raising five to six mature goats) (de Jong et al 1994; Braker et al 2002).

 

No study has been undertaken on the progress of the HPIK dairy goat project to date. The objective of the current study was to document management practices and performance of the dairy goat multiplication programme in selected HPIK project sites. This was important for identification of constraints, and opportunities for guidance and targeting of expansion of the dairy goat multiplication and future breeding programmes in Kenya.

 

Materials and methods 

Areas of study and sample selection

 

The data for this study was collected through a survey of 108 beneficiaries of the HPIK dairy goat project in three provinces of Kenya, namely, the Coast (Kwale district; lower agro-ecological zones 2 and 3), Nyanza (Homabay, Nyakach, Nyanza, Rongo, Siaya and Suba districts; low-medium potential agro-ecological zones 1 and 2) and the Rift Valley (Bomet district; lower agro-ecological zone 2). An agro-ecological zone refers to a land resource mapping unit, defined in terms of climate, landform and soils, and/or land cover, and having a specific range of potentials and constraints for land use (Jaetzold and Schmidt, 1983). Agro-ecological zone 1 is humid, 2 sub-humid, 3 semi-humid, 4 transitional, 5 semi-arid, 6 arid and 7 very arid. Zones refer to temperature belts, i.e., belts that have similar temperatures are put in one zone. The tropical highland zone has an annual mean temperature of 2-10C, upper highland zone 10-15C, lower highland zone 15-18C, upper midland zone 18-21C, lower midland zone 21-24C and lowland zone 24-31C.

 

From each district, farmers were randomly selected from a sampling frame obtained from the HPIK offices in the respective province, based on having reared the goats for at least one lactation period.> Informal discussions were also carried out with other key informants. Data was captured through personal interviews with the use of a structured questionnaire administered in the sampled farms. These included socio-demographic characteristics, landholding sizes, number and categories of dairy goats, husbandry practices and so on, reflecting farm practices from respondents with at least one dairy goat. The data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) software.

 

Household information and farming systems

 

Demographic characteristics

 

Of the 108 respondents, 13% were male and 87% female (Table 1).


Table 1.  Household demographics of the respondents who benefited from dairy goats

Parameter

Frequency

Percentage

Sex

 

 

Male

14.0

13.0

Female

94.0

87.0

Total

108.0

100.0

Relationship to household head

 

 

Household head

40.0

37.0

Spouse to household head

68.0

63.0

Total

108.0

100.0

Marital status

 

 

Single

3.0

2.8

Monogamous

75.0

69.4

Polygamous

3.0

2.8

Widowed, separated/ divorced

27.0

25.0

Total

108.0

100.0

Age structure

 

 

< 18 years

4.0

54.9

19-55 years

2.8

38.7

> 55+ years

0.5

6.3

Total

 

100.0

Average number of family members

 

 

Male

3.4

49.0

Female

3.8

51.0

Total

7.2

100.0


These statistics suggest the dairy goat multiplication programme mainly targeted women. About 72.2% of the respondents were married, 25 % widowed and a minority (2.8%) singles.

 

The average family size for the surveyed areas was 7.2 people, which may indicate a family composed of either a male head of the household, his wife and 5 to 6 children, or other relatives, or a widow with 7 to 8 children and other relatives. Desegregation of these data by province showed that the Coast had more members at 8.2 followed by Nyanza (7.4) and the Rift Valley (6.3). Figures from the National Population and Housing Census in 1999 (Statistical Abstracts 2000) found that the average family size for the region surveyed in the Coast was 4.9, Nyanza 4.3 and the Rift Valley 5.4, indicating an increase in the average family sizes in the current study.

 

For all provinces, household members in the age bracket below 18 years were more and those older than 55 years fewer. The respondents’ ages ranged between 23-80, and averaged 46.2 years. Generally, the average age of male respondents was higher than that of their female counterparts. Relatively elderly men were more likely to be engaged in dairy goat farming and vice-versa.

 

Education

 

Majority of the respondents (71.3%) had received formal education (Table 2), which suggested that communication of technical knowledge on goat farming would be easy.


Table 2.  Level of education attained by the respondents for all the three provinces combined

Education levela

Frequency

Percentage

None

31.0

28.7

Primary

56.0

51.9

Secondary

16.0

14.8

Post-Secondary

5.0

4.6

Total

108.0

100.0

aOn average, the respondents spent 8.1.years in school


However, those mostly involved in dairy goat farming were lowly educated (51.9%) and the illiterate (28.7%). Their education level may have limited opportunities to other forms of employment. Early marriages or deliberate focus on educating males were possible factors influencing education beyond primary school. Poverty could also be an important element here. On a provincial basis, 35.7% in the Coast had no formal education, 27.9% in Nyanza and 42.3% in the Rift Valley. The average number of years spent in school overall was 8.1, the highest being in the Rift Valley (8.6) followed by Nyanza (8.2) and, lastly, the Coast (6.8).

 

Occupation

 

About 88.9% of those interviewed were farmers. Out of these, 87% were women of which only 11% engaged in activities other than farming (e.g., teaching, petty trading and pottery making) (Table 3).


Table 3.  Occupation of the respondents for all the three provinces combined

Occupation

Frequency

Percentage

Farming only

96

88.9

Occasional work

1

0.9

Salaried employment

3

2.8

Petty trader

6

5.6

Pottery maker

1

0.9

Animal health assistant

1

0.9

Total

108

100.0


About 72% of the 11% women involved in other activities were found in Nyanza province, 28% in the Rift Valley, with none in the Coast. Most women engaged in farm activities as men went for off-farm work. About 57.5% of the husbands to the female respondents took up off-farm jobs. For greater success and sustainability, efforts to promote dairy goats should, therefore, mostly target women, which is in agreement with the findings of Verbeek et al (2007) and Kosgey et al (2008).

 

Overall, off-farm work was low and comprised less than 13% of all the respondents. Lack of alternative sources of income for majority of the respondents suggested strong reliance on agriculture. Farmers would, therefore, be expected to demonstrate a greater ability to participate and benefit from the dairy goat enterprise. Informal discussions with respondents indicated that they were unlikely to spend money from other sources on the dairy goat enterprise unless by an emergency such as sickness of a dairy goat. This behaviour is likely to limit the expansion of the dairy goat multiplication programme.

 

Land size

 

The average farm size was 2.06 hectares. Crops occupied more area than livestock in all the provinces. This indicated limited land allocation for fodder production. However, in the Rift Valley land under livestock and crops were not substantially different, reflecting an equal status of the two enterprises.

 

Nyanza province had the lowest farm area under pasture compared to the other provinces (Table 4).


Table 4.  Area in hectares (ha) under pasture among the three provinces

Province

Mean area under pastures

Mean area  under crops

Coast

0.76

2.61

Nyanza

0.20a

1.64

Rift Valley

1.21a,

1

Total

0.54

1.39

aSignificant differences between Nyanza and the Rift Valley provinces (P<0.01)


This indicated farm pressure due to split up of farms from generation to generation, due to high population growth and land tenure restrictions linked to cultural practices or tradition. Land in Nyanza was mostly communally-owned and use had to be agreed upon by family members. More land was placed under food crops than pasture in the Coast and Nyanza (Table 4). Onim (1992) established that small landholdings limited the farmer’s choice to cultivate improved forages as most available land was used for subsistence food crops, and suggested the use of more intensive technologies. Overall, land pressure favoured adoption of dairy goats, implying the multiplication programme may be sustainable under the prevailing production circumstances.

 

Dairy goat farming experience

 

Almost all the recipients had attended a training or two by HPIK on dairy goats (Table 5).


Table 5.  Farming experience of the respondents and how they learnt about the dairy goats in all the three province combined

Attribute

Frequency

Percentage

Made practical use of skills

 

 

Yes

27

25.0

No

1

0.9

Partly

80

74.1

Total

108

100.0

Reasons for not making practical usea

Could not afford

47

56.6

Not appropriate

3

3.6

Too demanding

29

34.9

Did not understand

11

13.3

Total

83

 

Problem with dairy goats

Labour intensive

13

12.0

Lacked market

9

8.3

Disease prone

52

48.1

Expensive to maintain

11

10.2

Delayed conception

19

17.6

Lack of extension advice

19

17.6

Same sex kid (males)

12

11.1

Inbreeding

3

2.8

Low production/ growth of kid

10

9.3

Total

108

 

Learnt about dairy goats*

 

 

Word of mouth

98

90.7

Farming magazines

9

8.3

Radio

6

5.5

a2 farmers gave more than two answers


Majority (74.1%) implemented partly what they were taught, 25% fully and 0.9% not at all. The reasons offered by partial or none implementers were costliness (56.6%), demanding (34.9%), complicated (3.6%) or inappropriate (1%). Purchase of concentrates, drugs and record keeping were more prominent. In Tanzania, Mtenga and Kifaro (1992) identified constraints in dairy goat farming to include lack of consistent management in healthcare and inadequate feeds as a consequence of limited financial base, unavailability of concentrates and general laxity of the extension workers. In India, Conroy and Rangnekar (2000) established that major constraints were insufficient resources (e.g., feed, water, labour and funds) rather than information needs per se. To enhance success of the multiplication programme, it is crucial to disseminate appropriate messages and technologies based on the understanding of the farmer’s objectives, options and constraints.

 

Most of the respondents (91.6%) cited word of mouth as the most common method through which they learnt about dairy goats (Table 5). Apparently, personal contact in the rural context was a more important method of reaching the farmers than either the electronic or the print media. This means that direct contact of the extension personnel with the farmers would greatly boost the adoption of the multiplication programme.

 

Reasons for keeping dairy goats

 

Farmers chose dairy goats because they occupied little space. All respondents kept goats for milk, with 90.7% expecting it would add secondary income to their families, mainly through sale of milk. A study by Teufel et al (1998) in Punjab (Pakistan)) reported similar findings. A study by Kosgey et al (2008), in general, strongly featured regular income and an insurance against emergencies as reasons for rearing goats. In the current study, 22% of the respondents felt that the dairy goats could also be used for meat. Overall, the goats were being raised for milk and income, a scenario that favoured adoption and easy sustainability of the multiplication programme.

 

Production practices

 

Flock structure

 

The goat flocks comprised different categories of sex and age groups (Table 6).


Table 6.  Average (s.d) number of dairy goats per farmer across the three provinces

Class of goat

Province

Total

Coast

Nyanza

Rift Valley

Mean

Standard deviation

Mean

Standard deviation

Mean

Standard deviation

Mean

Standard deviation

Male kids

1.33a

0.52

0.72a

0.69

1.20

0.45

0.84

0.63

Female kids

1.25

0.50

1.17

0.49

1.10

0.32

1.16

0.61

Bucks

1.83

1.33

1.33b

0.73

2.67b

1.53

1.57

1.01

Does

2.09a

0.83

1.62a

0.58

1.68

2.19

1.69

1.27

aSignificant differences between the Coast and Nyanza provinces (P<0.05).

bSignificant differences between Nyanza and the Rift Valley provinces (P<0.05).


Compared to the other two provinces, the Coast tended to have more goats per farmer in all categories apart from the bucks. Significant differences (P<0.05) were noted with male and female kids between Nyanza and the Coast, with the latter having more of both. This could be because the dairy goat multiplication programme was older in the Coast province than in Nyanza. Significant differences (P<0.05) were seen in the number of bucks between Nyanza and the Rift Valley, with the former having fewer bucks. The probable reasons were the existence of a market for the bucks, which were bought and introduced in other areas for breeding or a higher mortality or simply by chance.

 

There were 296 goats in total in the three provinces distributed as follows; male kids 43 (14.6%), female kids 42 (14.2%), bucks 47 (15.9%) and does 164 (55.4%). The number of exotic does per farmer was, therefore, averagely more than the other categories. This was expected because the project promoted dairy goats. Generally, there were more similarities among the provinces in terms of flock structure.

 

Feeding

 

Most farmers (82%) had established improved pastures of Napier grass and fodder trees to feed their dairy goat (Table 7).


Table 7.  Dairy goat feeding practices for all the three provinces combined

Attribute

Number n= 108

Percentage

Feed used

 

 

Improved pasture

89

82.0

Normal pasture

19

18.0

Total

108

100.0

Reasons for not using improved pasture

Difficult to grow

2

10.5

Non-conducive weather

2

10.5

Shortage of land

15

79

Total

19

100.0

Supplemented with other types of fodder

Yes

99

91.6

No

9

8.3

Total

108

100.0

Fed concentrates

Yes

35

38.0

No

67

62.0

Total

108

100.0

Reasons for not using concentrates

Considered not necessary

16

23.0

Too expensive

29

43.0

No reason given

22

32.0

Total

67

100.0


The 18% that had not attributed this to small land parcels (79%), unfavourable weather (10.5%) and difficulty in growing improved pastures (10.5%). Approximately 91.6% of the farmers used additional feeds like sweet potato vines, fodder trees, twigs and other pastures, and bean stalks; 60% provided twigs and only 49% used concentrates. Apparently, a substantial contribution to feeds came from shrubs, tree leaves, tender shoots and twigs from non-arable land by the roadside and public fields or wasteland. Utilization of a concoction of feeds may signal a strategy by the farmers to address feed constraints. Conversely, it may imply lack of a strategy for the feeding of a dairy goat and management of feeds. Accessibility to natural pastures influenced investment in maintenance, growing or conservation of improved pastures. Consequently, most farmers purchased fodder during dearth periods. Besides, high labour demands and lack of know-how discouraged fodder conservation. Most farmers (97%) undertook feeding more than three times a day.

 

Farmers used improved pasture for both goats and other animals. Consequently, a direct relationship between the amount of land and number of dairy goats reared could not be clearly established. Goats also competed with crops for land. A one-way analysis of variance indicated significant differences (P<0.05) among the producers in the amount of land allocated for pasture.

 

About 38% of the farmers fed concentrates but mainly during milking to calm down the goat. The quantities and frequency of concentrates fed depended on the farmer’s purchasing power and the distance to point of purchase. Apparently, supplementary feeding was a major cost item. Other factors linked to the purchase of concentrates were availability of markets for livestock products. Due to cost and the perception that feeds available were sufficient to provide the necessary nutrients, 62% of the farmers did not feed concentrates. Efficient utilization of the feed is, therefore, required to achieve maximum returns.

 

About 7% of the respondents did not use mineral supplements. Nearly 5.6% of them felt it was not necessary due to adequate minerals from the fodder, 2.8% felt it was too expensive and 1.4% did not know if minerals should be given. Overall, the adequacy and timeliness of feeding management was found wanting and could eventually contribute to performance below the potential. Farmers needed to understand the nutrient requirements of different classes of goats in order to match them with the chemical compositions of the forage which varied greatly during the year, with the stage of growth and rainfall. Flock management should fit with the fluctuations in nutrient production. One strategy to achieve this is to ensure kidding was seasonal and not spread throughout the year. Generally, proper feeding would enhance production of the dairy goats and, consequently, achieve a sustainable multiplication and future breeding programmes.

 

Housing

 

All the respondents confined their goats almost all the times, with feed and water brought to them. The stalls were constructed entirely from locally available materials. This assisted in clean milk production, prevented goats from eating crops, controlled flies and biting insects, and provided a good and clean physical environment (e.g., shelter against heat stress and rain, allowed for disposal of pellets, urine and remnant feed). Cases of broken legs due to poor construction were reported, especially for the kids. The open walls, together with the slatted floor, were beneficial in the ventilation of the house but also contributed to cases of pneumonia during cold seasons. Cardboards and/ or sacks could be used to reduce draught through the stalls.

 

The cost of a stall averaged Kenya shillings (KES) 10,356 ( US$ 149) (Table 8).


Table 8.  Average stall costs per province

Province

Mean

Na

Standard deviation

Coast

5,111a

9

1,364

Nyanza

11,472a

43

5,593

Rift Valley

10,316

19

7,580

*Total average

10,356

71

6,169

a Significant differences between the Coast and Nyanza provinces (P<0.05). b37 farmers could not give reliable figures on cost of construction and were omitted from the calculations.


A lot of variation was noted in the cost of construction, especially in the Rift Valley province. The cost of stalls in Nyanza were significantly (P<0.05) higher than in the Coast. This could be attributed to scarcity of timber in Nyanza compared to the Coast. The durability of the house depended on the materials used. Structures in Nyanza were mainly of fittos (wooden sticks); these required frequent repairs compared to the structures found in the other two provinces. In the Coast, the walls were of mud. Problems associated with the stalls included cost and poor construction due to use of unskilled carpenters. Optimal utilization and maintenance of properly constructed stalls was, therefore, desirable to improve safety and welfare of animals, and clean milk production, factors that would enhance sustainability in the multiplication programme.

 

Disposal of manure

 

Most farmers (84%) directed the manure from dairy goats to their kitchen gardens and only 23.2% to the fodder plots (Table 9).


Table 9.   Waste management and the effect of manure on purchase of inorganic fertilizer

Parameter

Number

Percentage

Waste destination

 

 

Fodder plot

17

15.7

Crop field

83

76.8

Crop and fodder plots

8

7.5

Total

108

100.0

Effect of  the manure on purchase of inorganic fertilizer

The same quantity

3

2.8

Less as a result of the dairy goat enterprise

22

20.4

Not using fertilizer

83

76.8

Total

108

100.0


Non-fertilization of the pasture would, in the long-term, lead to pasture damage and soil infertility and, consequently, a decline in animal productivity. This may eventually have cost implications with fodder production expected to decline due to poor sward growth. Purchases of fodder will increase thereafter and reduce the gross margin of the multiplication programme that would consequently decrease its sustainability.

 

About 20.4% of the respondents needed less inorganic fertilizer due to use of manure, and 2.8% used the same quantity. About 76.8% previously did not buy inorganic fertilizer, and had believed manure would spoil their soils. All farmers interviewed accepted that the organic fertilizer improved crop yields where it was applied. Similar findings were observed by Shirima (2005). Generally, application of goat manure enhanced food security from enhanced soil fertility through increased nutrient recycling. Farmers also made savings in less purchase of food rations and fertilizer. This was consistent with Onim (1992) who observed that manure had a positive environmental effect when used on either crop land or fodder. This aspect is promising for sustainability of the dairy goat multiplication programme.

 

Health management

 

Healthcare is essential to reduce production losses that arose from diseases or parasites and mortality of animals. Interventions like improving nutrition or genetic improvement would be effective only if infectious diseases were curbed through preventive and curative measures (Ayalew et al 2003). Most farmers applied proper healthcare practices, especially in the control of internal and external parasites. Only 4.3% of the respondents did not undertake the recommended deworming of four times a year. Spraying had the largest variation with 37.7% doing it according to the recommended weekly spraying, 52% spraying 26 times and 10.3% spraying 17 times or less in a year. About 67.7% of the respondents did not vaccinate their goats, the reason being lack of know-how. Most respondents were unable to identify causes of mortalities within their flocks. The variations in the recommended versus the applied protocol for disease and parasite control were an indication that cost was critical for most of the farmers. Onim (1992) found that although inputs for adoption of improved goat technologies, e.g., veterinary drugs, salt licks and concentrate feeds, were generally available, prices proved prohibitive for most farmers. In the current study, one commendable example is that one of the recipients took the initiative to train in livestock disease control and now served the other beneficiaries of the project. To ensure success of the multiplication programme, healthcare should be improved. Where there is shortage of veterinarians, community-based animal health workers need to be engaged (Mugunieri et al 2004).

 

Record keeping

 

Farmers used notebooks to record milk yields, which at the end of the month were summed up by the farmers and transferred to a doe card by the extension officer. Subsequently, the data was taken to the project office; this was useful in capturing the performance of individual animals as a basis for future enterprise improvements. Recording was, however, erratic and farmers inconsistently updated records as required; some even lost their notebooks. Inability to regularly keep and update farm records posed the greatest challenge in monitoring progress and on assessing economic performance of the goat enterprise. Lack of ownership and, therefore, poor record keeping was a production and a viability constraint. To ensure sustainability of the dairy goat multiplication programme, farmers should be trained on the importance of recording and use of simple recording systems emphasized.

 

Source of labour

 

Family labour was mostly (78.2%) used, with only 21.8% hiring it. The main tasks were cleaning the stall, milking and feeding. Most activities were carried out by women or children. Majority of the decisions on activities, however, had to be taken in consultation with the husbands. Families with inadequate land hired people to purchase fodder for them. This provided employment for some members of the community. The results agree with the findings of Sansoucy (1995) and Lebbie (2004) that backyard livestock production systems provided an important source of part-time employment, particularly for landless women and children. Overall, the dairy goat multiplication programme was not too labour demanding and, therefore, is likely to be easily adopted.

 

Milk production

 

One litre and 750ml bottles were used to measure milk production. The average dairy goat milk production at the start of dairy goat farming was 2.1 litres per day with an average lactation period of 6 months. Subsequently, milk production dropped to an average of 1.9 litres per day with an average lactation period of 5 months. Although not obvious from the study, it is possible that poor acclimatization of the goats and change in husbandry practices may have led to a drop in milk production in subsequent lactations.

 

The average milk production per lactation was 365 litres for the Coast, 322 for Nyanza and 281 for the Rift Valley. There were, however, no significant differences in the amount of milk produced per lactation across the provinces. The pooled average milk production per lactation for the provinces was about 323 litres. The production excluded the consumption by the kids because suckling was preferred to bucket feeding; suckling of the kid was deemed to be less labour intensive and reduced incidences of diarrhoea. Many farmers feared that bucket feeding would lead to underfeeding of the kid and, therefore, slowed growth.

 

The average milk production of pure breeds obtained in the current study was slightly higher than that recorded for crossbreds by Mtenga and Kifaro (1992) and Onim (1992), in the range of that reported by Shirima (2005), and lower than of pure breeds reported by Donkin and Boyazoglu (2000). The latter study found that crossbreds and the exotics produced larger amounts of milk, and sustained milk production for a longer period of 9 to 10 months. Low and reduced milk production could be related to changes occasioned by environmental and husbandry practices. Consequently, there was room for increased milk production of the animals.

 

Averagely, more milk (1.4 litres) was consumed at the household than sold (0.7 litres). Similar observations were made by Singh et al (1996). The larger home consumption could be due to existence of large family units or difficulties in marketing the milk as a result of non-acceptance by consumers. Further research would, therefore, be required to establish the exact course of this trend.

 

Marketing

 

About 47.9% of the farmers sold milk; 35.2% sold less than 1 litre, 9.9% sold 1 litre while 2.8% sold more than 2 litres, and 53.1% did not sell any milk. Seleka (2001) opined that the phenomenon where home use outstripped sales may be the cause of poor management due to lack of cash incentives. Sixty four percent of those who sold milk made sales at farm-gate, 24% at the market and 12% in other areas. Sales were mostly to outsiders (72%), and the rest (28%) to neighbours and friends. This skewed sale of milk could be a result of the low purchasing power of the local communities or production of a similar product, and even negative bias. Outsiders may have been aware of the good qualities of goat’s milk and, therefore, their acceptance for it. Farm-gate sales and the short average distance (<170 metres) to the market implied the demand for goat milk was high; possibilities for this were milk deficiency, preference for fresh to packed milk or fresh milk being cheaper than packed milk. It is important to note that the internal market capacity could be limiting to dispose of extra milk if farmers’ production were to increase. Only 18% of the total milk produced was sold. No value addition in form of products was made on the milk.

 

In the Coast, 32% of the milk was sold, 25% in Nyanza and less than 1% in the Rift Valley. Low sales in the Rift Valley were attributed to availability of cow’s milk, which was being sold more and the goat’s being retained. For the Coast and Nyanza, the amount of milk sold was a function of family size and production. The greatest challenge in marketing of milk was the competition from local cows, especially during rainy seasons. Most respondents indicated that the dairy goat milk supply was more consistent and denser than that of local cows, which favoured their rearing.

 

More respondents (64%) preferred to receive milk payments monthly to weekly (4%) and daily (12%); 20% were paid both monthly and daily. However, this could impact negatively on the farmer’s cash flow with respect to meeting some expenses. The average sale price of goat’s milk was KES 28 (US$ 0.37); this was more than that of cow’s milk at about KES 23 ( US$ 0.31).

 

About 21.3% of the respondents sold dairy goats as breeding stock to other farmers (Table 10).


Table 10.  Stock sales for all the three provinces combined

Attribute

Number

Percentage

Sales

 

 

Selling

23

21.3

Not selling

85

78.7

Total

108

100.0

Sex of goat sold

Male

34

91.9

Females

3

8.1

Total

37

100.0

Age of goat sold

Less than 1 year

32

86.5

More than 1 year

5

13.5

Total

37

100.0


The price was higher than that of indigenous goats, but lower than that of the exotic parent stock. The variation in the sales value was an indication of poor record keeping, lack of an organized market, or market organization with no standards. More male animals were sold compared to females, and farmers incurred no cost during sale. About 86.6% of the goats sold were less than one year old, implying a shortage of the dairy goats in the market or a quick need for cash. This was in agreement with Alam (2000) who found that landless and resource–constrained farmers sold their goats at an early age, and with low market weight as they largely depended on income from them. Overall, the farmers had a tendency to rear dairy goats for generation of savings, as a security against emergencies requiring quick cash, and/ or asset protection, implying a possibility of maximization of animal numbers even if individual productivity was low. This scenario would favour the multiplication programme, but farmers should be encouraged to boost productivity of individual animals.

 

Use of income from dairy goats

 

The money obtained from the dairy goat enterprise was used as follows: household needs, including medical bills (80.2%), school fees (16.7%) and infrastructural development or purchase of other livestock (2.8%). Kosgey et al (2008) established use of income from small ruminants as follows: fees 32%, purchase of food 22%, farm investment 18%, medical expenses 10%, off-farm investment 9%, social activities 5% and restocking 4%. Gihad and El-Bedawy (2000) reported that keeping goats lowered financial risks and overcame periods of cash shortage. The latter study inferred that goat keeping would remain attractive for the small-scale rural producer with limited alternative ways of earning cash income. This trend would sustain the dairy goat multiplication programme.

 

Indicators of output efficiency

 

The average litter size was 1.5, implying the twinning rate was high at 51%. The Coast had an average litter size of 1.7, Nyanza 1.5 and the Rift Valley 1.6, indicating good doe efficiency, i.e., the surveyed areas were capable of producing the desired one marketable unit per year. The overall pre-weaning mortality rate was 26%; it was relatively low in the Coast (16%), 26% in Nyanza and high in the Rift Valley (31%). The relatively high mortality could indicate inadequate nutrition or negligence in kid management. The irregular spread of kidding and milk harvesting signaled poor reproduction management. These weaknesses must be managed to ensure sustainability of the dairy goat multiplication programme.

 

Livestock credit programme

 

Of the 108 respondents, only 22.3% had sold the dairy goats and 21.3% had made a “pass-on”, which was a proxy for repayment. The farmers’ ability to achieve the expected levels of “pass-on” was, therefore, doubtful. This implied a limited net expansion of animal numbers that would significantly restrict the future impact of the multiplication programme. Low repayment-cum-“pass-on” could be due to poor reproductive performance of the animals because of environmental stresses and inadequate husbandry, farmers not understanding the credit system and inadequate supervision of the loan. The latter could be due to inadequate personnel or the project focused more on implementation than the overall support of the multiplication programme. If these shortcomings were tackled, there is potential for high gains in dairy goat output and, consequently, sustainability of the multiplication programme.

 

Implications for a sustainable dairy goat breeding programme

 

Dairy goat farming had a socio-economic impact through provision of income at opportune times for farmers and employment creation for community members, nutritional impact through increased milk consumption, and environmental impact through improvement of soil fertility, which led to crop productivity (also a nutritional impact). Onim (1992) found that the contribution of milk to the improvement of protein-poor diets of small-scale farmers was significant, particularly for children. The positive impacts would contribute greatly to the sustainability of the dairy goat multiplication and future breeding programmes.

 

Constraints in smallholder dairy goat farming were evident, and translated to difficulty to achieving high levels of performance. Farmers did not follow recommended regimes for feed supplementation or routine disease management practices due to the high costs normally associated with concentrates and drugs. It is possible that most of the beneficiaries were not capable of purchasing basic dairy goat inputs. The cost of housing was inhibitive to starting up a dairy goat enterprise, but it simultaneously contributed to a reduction in disease incidences if achieved.

 

Imparting dairy entrepreneurial skills was a challenge because the application of dairy goat technologies was influenced by farmers’ resource endowments and past experiences with local goats. Matching the technology being promoted with the resource and management capacity of the farmers is, therefore, desirable. The development of a crossbreed between the local goats and the exotics, where the local goat is the doe and exotic the buck, is recommended as this would easily fit in the management capabilities of the farmers.

 

Constant sensitization, monitoring and evaluation of records of both HPIK and farmers were crucial for success and sustainability of dairy goat farming. To improve record keeping, the development of a simple and easy recording and monitoring system was desirable. The purpose is to monitor pedigree and performance, and deaths of distributed animals for which repayment may no longer be required. This would guide the planning of field support for the dairy goat farmers and address the price variation between parent stocks and their offspring. Implementation of the credit system was poor due to deficient understanding by the beneficiaries and inadequate follow-up on repayments. Consequently, monitoring and supervision through use of adequate personnel were necessary.

 

Slow growth, low production, poor fertility and increased mortality of animals are usually indicators of food deficiency and diseases. Limited land offered little potential for expansion for fodder production. To counter this, the farmer has three strategies; supplementing feed on the farm, agistment, sale of part of the flock and crop-based dairying. The latter would provide crop by-products that could be used to formulate dairy goat rations on-farm. Of importance was the need for improved coordination within the groups in order to address issues of purchase of concentrates and drugs, and selling of stocks that were hitherto undertaken individually. Adoption of appropriate extension training models would be necessary to address all aspects of dairy goat farming to enhance the success of the multiplication and future breeding programmes.

 

Conclusions 

 

Acknowledgements  

The authors thank Heifer Project International – Kenya and the Higher Education Loans Board (Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya) for financial support to the first author. We greatly thank Egerton University (Njoro, Kenya) for provision of facilities and support to undertake the study. The Ministry of Livestock Development is deeply appreciated for granting the first author study leave during this study. We thank Dr. Robert S. Shivairo (Egerton University) for technical suggestions and support at various stages of the study. The farmers who participated in the project are greatly acknowledged.

 

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Received 13 July 2009; Accepted 27 November 2009; Published 1 January 2010

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