opinionBy Patrick Luganda
The best place to obtain good breeding stock is from farmers.
Many farmers believe that little can be achieved without pouring in huge amounts of money, yet they can earn more from what they do if they learn to do it properly, rather than seek loans. Most loan schemes do not consider the unique problems farmers face. Farms could be confiscated if repayments fail. Several farming enterprises can succeed without big money.
Take goats for example. These are common, found in homes all over the country. By strictly following simple tips, your investment can be rapidly multiplied. A leading problem for potential goat-farmers is that goats are very destructive to crops. This is why they are usually tethered in areas where crop farming is dominant.
Goats do well when allowed roam about and browse on grass and shrubs. They love to feed on the leaves of small trees and nibble on small twigs. To allow your goats feed freely, surrender a chunk of land to them and fence it off. An acre is good enough for a start.
There are three main local goat breeds in this country. The East African goats are the commonest and are found all over the country. They are not very large but mature very quickly. At six months they are more than ready for mating. These goats come in a variety of colours. The mature live weight is between 20-30kg.
The Mubende goat breed is commonly found in the central region, to the north and north west of Lake Victoria. It is predominant in the former greater Mubende District. It is the largest local goat breed, with a live weight of 30-35 kgs in males and 25-30kgs in females. The breed has glossy fur with short straight hairs. The skins sells highly on the world market. They are commonly black, but other colours may occur.
The Kigezi goat is found in South-western Uganda. It has a relatively thick, hairy skin with sparse long hair around the hind part of the animal. It is smaller than the Mubende goat, weighing 25-30kgs at maturity. The are characterised by a black and grey coat.
The best source of breeding stock is from good farmers, not the livestock markets. The true history of the parents can be learnt from your fellow farmers.
The females should not exceed five months. Examine the animal critically. Experienced farmers can tell a good animal by looking at the way the animal moves. Make sure the animal is not blind, lame or deformed. It should have a good body size and good skin. A healthy goat is visibly agile.
A healthy she-goat (doe or nanny goat) is ready for mating from four months onwards. After collecting between 10-15 does, mount a search for a really good strong he-goat (buck). The buck, also known as a billy-goat, should not be related to any of the females.
Many farmers allow goats born from the same parents to mate. This is wrong and results in in-breeding. Sibling goats should not be allowed to breed. Even allowing cousins to mate can cause problems. Further down the road, the offspring of the female goats should not be allowed to be serviced by their father, nor should they be allowed to mate with their male brothers and cousins.
When the does deliver, the males can be castrated after two months to allow fattening. At three months, the female kids should be separated into their own enclosure and a new male from outside the farm is introduced to avoid incest. When closely related goats mate, they produce children of inferior size, which are very susceptible to disease. They are also weak and often develop abnormalities.
The goats should be given additional feeds including banana and tree leaves and other crop residues.
Maize bran and other grain bran and clean drinking water should be given at regular intervals. Give mineral supplements on advice from the local farm supply shop. Ensure that de-worming is carried out as advised by your local veterinary officer, who should be sought for regular consultation.