By Samuel Ouga
Recently President Yoweri Museveni said lecturers who do not want to go back to work can go and rear goats because there is no money to increase their salaries.
Many people have been worked up and are uttering all sorts of words because of the President’s statement. But have you heard the statement ‘there is a silver lining behind every cloud’?
Dear lecturers and fellow Ugandans, raising goats can be one of the most enjoyable farming experiences.
Goats are easy to rear because they do not have complicated feeding and medication requirement. In addition, goat meat is known to have inelastic demand locally and in the Middle East. Paul Sembeguya of Sembuguya Estates in Sembabule district is one farmer harvesting millions of shillings from goat rearing.
There are many ways of rearing goats. You actually do not have to stop lecturing or resign your other job to rear goats. You can do both.
Here are common ways to start your goat farm.
Pick the breed(s) you want. Decide if you want the goats for meat, milk or fiber or a variety of each.
Get a good goat book. Something that will teach you all the basics of goat care such as how to perform a health check, goat diseases, breeds of each variety of goats, recommended space per each animal and probably some handy first aid notes. Most of all, consider this an invaluable reference, even something to look back to in the future.
Buy some supplies. Shop around for food and water troughs; compare grains and be certain to pick out a balanced mineral meal to be fed to the goats as this will most certainly supplement the required minerals that could be missing. Also bear in mind that goats will get hurt every now and then and will need medical attention, make your own ‘goat’ first aid kit; your vet can recommend what to stock the kit with.
Build a fence. Buy fencing supplies for your farm. Be sure to get the services of a person who has built a fence before and bear in mind that goats will climb and rub themselves on even the toughest fences if not prevented. They may also try to squeeze through even the tiniest spaces even when it is obvious they cannot make it through, just make sure you build a separate strong buck pen in which the fences must be very strong, sturdy and very high. Keep in mind that this fence will keep your bucks in rut from your does especially during heat.
Build a shelter. The goats will need a place to shelter especially when the weather gets tough say during the rainy season and also during the dry spells. A small pole barn will work just fine, make sure the door is facing away from the weather. Goats can withstand the cold to a certain degree but they may need to be protected from the rain, having a draft free building will help them keep warm enormously. Make sure your buildings are compatible for renovation and provide the room for expansion, should your herd expand in future. Even if you don't think you will need the room, all too often you do and don't have the resources to do so with your current building if it was not factored in at the start.
Buy a couple of does and a buck. Get another goat owner's help here. Make sure to buy good quality goats, and not something someone is just trying to get off their hands. Your goat book will be helpful here, tell the seller what you’re looking for, honest breeders and owners will let you know if the goat is not for you, be discerning.
Breed your does! Watch your does carefully. When they go into heat, put them in with the buck for a couple of days, or until you think they have mated. The longer they have been with the buck, the larger range the expected due date will be, naturally this is important to some and not to others. A normal gestation period is 145 to 155 days, 150 being the average. Remember, bred and milking does need some extra care and may require you hire another hand.
Choose where to sell your product. Whether for meat, fiber, milk and cheese and even kids, it is important to have a market ready, just make sure you have somebody to buy.
Sell your product. Research what others are selling for in your area. You don't want to charge so much that you won't get business or so low that you lose money.
Build up your farm. As you get more customers, your demand will grow. Enlarge your pastures and buildings to accommodate the new additions and breed more goats.
You are now good to go. But if you need finer details please, do not miss you copy of the Harvest Money pullout published every Tuesday by the New Vision.