“We cannot satisfy both the local and international markets. This is why I will call upon more Ugandans to embrace goat farming,” he says.
For over 25 years, Paul Ssembeguya has bred, talked and sold goats. In every fora, he cannot speak five words without mentioning goats.
At his farm in Ntuusi, Ssembabule district, he maintains over 3,000 goats and over 1,000 cattle. Through the years however, he has breed and sold over 35,000 goats, mainly in Ssembabule and Masaka sub-region, but also across the country. “I understand the goats market inside out,” he says.
Ssembeguya says that goats have a limitless market. “We cannot satisfy both the local and international markets. This is why I will call upon more Ugandans to embrace goat farming,” he says.
According to various censuses, there are estimated 13.5million goats in Uganda. However, Ssembeguya says that to meet the market needs both locally and internationally, we need to grow the numbers to over 50million goats.
He said that and if the goat is white, then the market gets even bigger and better. White is related to cleanliness and purity. So since the savannah goat is purely white, it is the market leader for goat meat in the big Arabian market.
“Most Muslims prefer the white goat because they also believe that white is purity,” said Paul Ssembeguya. Ssembeguya reiterated that if Uganda is to ably join the big Arabian goat market, then the white savannah goat, some of which he breeds on his farm in Ssembabule is the way to go.
Hamiisi Ssemanda, a veterinary officer and goat farmer said that the Arabian market needs at least 50,000 goats every month from Uganda, which is on top of the big local demand.
“There is no way we can meet this demand if we continue keeping the indigenous breeds,” he said. “With the amount of success in Ssembabule, I am sure if this knowledge is implicated in other regions of the country, it will work out,” Ssembeguya says.
At the moment, a kilogram of goat meat costs between sh13,000-sh15,000 in Kampala. Most of the farmers sell goats on the farm; however you can reach out to the large goat market in Kisenyi and meat packers especially if you have large numbers.
Average prices for local breeds are sh100,000 for mature, however prices for crosses vary from sh150,000 for a year old. Mature boers or savannas go for as high as sh500,000.
Ssemanda was training farmers at Kentim, Kyanja on March 17th, 2018 during one of the days training sessions. Kentim holds farmers trainings on Saturdays of each month.
Status of goat keeping
According to estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), there were around 13.5 million goats in Uganda in 2015. This was however a tremendous growth in numbers from just 3.5million goats in 1990,
5.7 million in 1996 and around 7.6million in 2002. About 95% of goats in Uganda are indigenous breeds, while just 5% are cross breeds or pure exotic goats like the savannah, toggenberg and boer. These were imported to improve meat and milk production from cross breed off springs.
“However, the challenge is that most farmers cannot distinguish the various goat breeds hence leading to indiscriminate cross breeding, unsuccessful breeding programmes and reducing the intended benefits.
The Savana goats
The most profitable goats at the moment are the white savanna goat. Others include the Boer, togennberg and local breeds like the Mubende.
According to Ssembeguya, the white Savanna goat offers more opportunities because of its niche market Arabian market, especially for its meat.
The savanna breed was developed from indigenous goats of South Africa. Various farmers bred what was known as white Boer goats for a number of years in South Africa.
One of the advantages of these white goats was the fact that the white color is dominant over most other colors. The other reason is that there is a big demand for white goats for slaughter purposes for various reasons.
The savannah have large pendulous (floppy) ears and a convex face (‘Roman nose’). He says that not so many have been adopted in Uganda, but the current state of adopting them is very encouraging.
“The main reason for interest in them is the suggestion that in regard to export to the Middle- East, white goats would be more popular than pigmented goats,” he said. He also said that the savannah has a high reproductive rate of around 10% triplets and 50% twins in its lifetime.
The Boer goats
These also have their origins from South-Africa. They are characteristically white with chest-nut red head and white main body.
The horns are prominently rounded and set well apart, growing with a gradual backward curve. The head is strong with large eyes.
Ears are visibly broad, drooping and medium length. The coat is soft, smooth and glossy while the hairs are short to medium in length. Boer goats are excellent meat producers and produce good quality skin.
The females are ready to start kidding by eight months and can kid 3times in two years. They have high reproductive rates of 7% triplets and 50% twins.
Mature males can grow to 120kgs while females weigh 100kgs.
Saneen and Togenburg
These originate from Switzerland. The saneen is white while the togenburg is grayish. Both are excellent milk producers, with 3litres per day if they are well fed.
However, very few farmers are keeping them in Uganda because goat milk is not yet marketable.
Cross with local goats
According to Ssembeguya, a pure mature savannah male costs as much as sh1.7m, while a female goes for as much as sh600,000. But with the fast growth and multiple deliveries, the cost is easily recovered.
Ssembeguya said that with the savannah, a farmer has got a 50% chance of getting twins.
Comparatively, while a local goat takes over a year to reach meat maturity, a pure savannah takes five months to do so. “At that time, it will have at least 45kgs of live weight or at least 35kgs of carcass weight,” Ssembeguya explained. Since a kilogram goes for around sh10,000, a farmer can sell this five month old goat at sh300,000.
Ssembeguya said that because the pure savannah or boer breeds are still expensive in Uganda, farmers can improve their breeds by cross-breeding them with local breeds, for example the Mubende goat.
The Mubende goat, said to have originated from Mubende is one of the most popular local goats.
He explained that if you cross bred a savannah with another goat, you will get 50% savannah. And again, if you cross bred the off spring with a savannah, you will get 75% savannah or boer.
Further multiplication of the 75% with a pure savannah or boer will give you a pure savannah or boer goat.
“Gradually, you can build your stock into the pure savannah or boer through cross breeding,” he said. Crossed goats are more resilient to diseases compared to pure breeds.