Improved goat breeds promise higher returns for farmers

Goats drink water at a point in northern Kenya.

The Laikipia County government has introduced improved breeds of goats to boost meat and milk production.

Agriculture and Livestock Chief Officer Emily Kioko said the programme entails introducing breeds that fit into the nomadic system of production that is dominant in the region and is aimed at improving farmers’ yields.

Some 50 superior Galla bucks have been distributed to 25 women’s community-based groups in marginal mixed farming wards, Ms Kioko said.

“The goats will interbreed with local ones to produce high-quality breeds that will produce more milk and quality meat. The objective of the programme is to increase food and nutrition security at the household level, provide better market access, and increase income,” she said.

The programme, she said, targets goat keepers in Umande, Segera, Nanyuki, Tigithi, Ngobit, Salama, Ol Moran and Rumuruti wards.

She said Galla bucks have a faster growth rate and can attain weights of 40-60kg within a year compared with 25-30kg for local breeds.

“They are preferred in the market and their crossbreeds with local breeds are disease-tolerant. Besides being mainly for meat, they are also higher milk producers,” she said.

With diminishing land for dairy cows, she said, goat rearing was on the uptick in several parts of the county and hence the need to help improve local breeds.

“Commercial goat keeping can obviously improve the incomes of many smallholder farmers, but most farmers still lack access to superior breeds. This is why this programme is very significant for our farmers,” Ms Kioko said.

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