By Prossy Nandudu
My Way:Stephen Nsubuga Bunjo
Stephen Nsubuga Bunjo ventured into dairy goat farming to give an alternative to people who are allergic to cow milk. His farm is about 8km from Namataba trading centre off Kampala-Jinja highway, to Nsubugaâ€™s farm in Kawaala village in Mukono. Visitors have to use boda boda to get to the farm.
Locally, residents of Kawaala respectfully look up to Nsubuga as the pioneer of commercial dairy goat farming in the area where rice growing is the main agricultural activity.
Nsubugaâ€™s compound is occupied by what looks like several rubbish heaps. These are actually bales of hay made out of rice husks collected from the village. Nsubuga stores them in huge wooden boxes and uses them as feeds for both his goats and local chicken.
One wooden box has rice hay, while the drum has a mixture of maize bran, cotton seed cake and sunflower cake.
On arrival at his home, you also notice a goat shelter which is raised off the ground with timber. Goat dung and urine collect under the shelter from where they flow steadily into Nsubugaâ€™s coffee garden.
His seven-acre piece of land accommodates goats, local chicken and a coffee garden. He plans to grow his farm by acquiring more land, to make 17 acres.
How he started
Nsubuga got into goat rearing to increase his income from selling goat meat. He started out as a coffee farmer but decided to buy one goat because there was a lot of free grass in his coffee plantation. Impressed by her sonâ€™s innovative spirit, Nsubugaâ€™s elderly mother bought him four more goats bringing the total number to five.
â€œI kept buying goats from nearby villages and by the end of 2003, I had acquired 60. By then goats were very cheap in the village, â€ recalls Nsubuga. But disaster was just waiting round the corner.
â€œThieves came at night with a truck and stole 40 goats leaving me with only 20. I had given up goat rearing, but one of my farm workers convinced me to continue with the project,â€ he admits .
â€œ I stopped buying goats and focused on multiplying the 20 goats that had survived the thieves,â€ he recalls.
In 2006, Nsubuga got a Boer buck goat from Entebbe animal genetic centre to breed with his local goats, however it failed to adjust to the local weather â€” so it became sickly and weak.
Nsubuga later returned to Entebbe, where he was given another buck, this time a cross of Tottenberg and Saneen breeds, which are good milk producers.
â€œThis was a double opportunity. So, in 2008, I officially ventured into milk production.
Currently, I sell both male goats for meat and milk. A male goat on my farm goes for sh100,000. In a day, I collect 20 litres of milk from the goats, and hope to increase to 50 litres within the next four to five months.â€
Being a marketer by profession, Nsubuga says there is a virgin market for goat milk in Uganda only that people are not yet aware of its vast benefits.
â€œGoat milk is more nutritious compared to cow milk and its highly medicinal. It is particularly good for children who are lactose-intolerant,â€ he explains.
Nsubuga sells his milk at selected retail outlets. He is currently working with the Uganda Industrial Research Institute to improve on the packaging.
Currently, the milk, which is sold under the brand name Meeh Goat Milk is packaged in 250ml bottles, at the Nakakwa-based research institute. Its shelf life is one month. Each half litre bottle sells at sh1,500, while a litre goes for sh3,000 in selected supermarkets in town. Nsubuga is currently negotiating with more shops and supermarkets to have his milk on their shelves. He is also planning to carry out an aggressive sensitisation campaign to teach the public the advantages of milk from goats, to encourage more farmers to embrace dairy goat farming.
Apart from milk, Nsubuga says there is also a high demand for white Seneen goats in the Arab world. This presents a double opportunity for farmers as they will be selling both milk and goats for meat.
Feeding dairy goats
According to Nsubuga, optimum growth, good health and high milk production are the results of sound feeding practices.
Young goats need to be fed to get enough energy for growth, while mature animals should also be fed well to maintain a fairly constant body weight. Provide enough protein, minerals and vitamins in a balanced feeding programe to maintain healthy animals. This gives a stable milk production and productivity during gestation and lactation for foetus development.
Nsubuga feeds his goats on rice hay, a special diet purposely meant to increase milk production now that there is a growing demand.
He has been collecting 20 litres from 25 lactating goats out of a of a total of 190 goats. His target is to collect 100 litres a day within the next five months.
Nsubuga says his biggest challenge at the moment is limited packaging material for the milk. When we visited his farm, he was waiting for the bottles for packaging.
â€œWe cannot start milking before we get the bottles,â€ Nsubuga adds.
Another challenge he has to live with is unskilled labour on the farm. â€œI do the mixing of the feeds myself. It is here that I can tell what is lacking, how the goats are responding, whether I should increase the amount or reduce, which some workers may not do.â€
Other challenges include disease outbreaks and theft.
Before starting business
First, you should start with local goats then introduce a milk Seneen goat or crossbreed, which must be sheltered in a clean, raised and well ventilated shelter.
Proper sheltering of goats prevents overcrowding, saves the kids from being crushed by the older goats and controls the spread of diseases.
Setting up a shed for goats costs between sh200,000 and sh300,000.
On buying goats, Nsubuga says: â€œImmediately identify the goat that can supply the milk. Goats with cross-bowed legs will not give you milk but goats with x-bowed hind legs will give more milk as there is enough space for the udder to grow.â€
He advises farmers to buy milk goats from genuine goat breeders. Each goat costs between sh70,000 and sh90,000 depending on the age. A farmer needs only one well fed buck to service about 100 does (females).
Nsubuga does not encourage anyone to go commercial before learning and understanding how to handle goats.
You should also never mix new goats with the rest of the herd. Put them together after the new goats have been examined by a veterinary doctor. This controls the importation of diseases such as worms and eye infections that are common among goats.
Advantages of goat milk
- It is naturally homogenised (cowâ€™s milk is chemically homogenised which sometimes makes it unhealthy)
- Goat milk has got more calcium and phosphate, which is good for bones and blood production
- It contains more tryptophan, an acid that gives the consumer a feeling of calm, relaxation and sleepiness.
- Good for adults as well.
Once the body lacks calcium,
it will make the blood run freely.
- It is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids with low fat content
There are six types of dairy goats which include;
-Nubians; have very long, floppy ears and they can be any colour. Their milk tends to be higher in protein and butter fat than other breeds.
- LaManchas; they are calmer and more gentle than other breeds.
- Alpines; are a medium-large breed and popular with dairies due to the amount of milk they produce.
- Oberhaslis; have a black dorsal strip, udder, belly and are black below the knees.
- Toggenburgs; have the smallest height requirements of all the breeds. They grow a shaggier coat than other dairy goat breeds.
- Saanens; they usually have a large udder capacity and are popular with dairies due to the quantity of milk they produce.