Recognise your goat market- Various products can be produced from goats such as meat, milk, leather, yogurt and cheese. The first stage involves identifying your product to market, based on market research. In most cases the market indicates what it requires. Goats can produce milk which is also beneficial to food security in most African villages. After identifying the market there is a need to consider the various food laws involved in the sale of milk, transportation of goats and slaughtering of goats. Most enterprises fail to adhere to laws and bye-laws and often are forced to exit the business venture early. Excess milk supply can be used to make yoghurt or cheese and as feed for animals. The farm should also have replacement doers and bucks to replace non-performing animals. At six months the goats are ready for the market.
Know the health status and genetics of the goats- A critical decision is when the farmer is required to choose a particular breed to perform on a particular farm setup. Proper choices may be the difference between profitability and going under. The African farmer needs to decide between exotic breeds which require higher levels of management and indigenous breeds which require lower levels of management. The farmer also needs to consider whether the farm will produce meat or milk or both. Check that the animals are normal when you buy them. A healthy goat should be bright-eyed and alert, walk with an easy-going gait, and have no abscess-indicating lumps on its body. The animals droppings should not be runny. The farmer should use Estimated Breeding Values and Breed Society standards to get the correct goats. Bulls should be selected for functional efficiency, conformation and good breeding values.
Ensure good animal welfare standards- Animals should have access to clean housing facilities, which prevent the adverse effects of cold and hot weather elements. The facility should keep out the wind, rain and sun. each goat should have approximately 1.5 square metres of internal space. Building goat fencing is not an easy task as the animals tend to escape.
Nutrition Management- Ensure that the bucks and does have access to good quality hay or some other forage crop alone. Nutrition management forms one of the key areas of goat production and should be monitored together with health and breeding programmes. Farmers should balance goat rations to make sure goats are neither underfed nor overfed.
Bookkeeping- Every successful goat project requires good bookkeeping. Bookkeeping should keep track of birthdays, breeding dates, heat cycles and dry periods. Also, keep a record of the health management and the medicines administered.
During the kidding season, the farmer should stick to the Three C’s: Cleanliness, Cord Care and Colostrum.
Following this guideline will ensure that one produces good quality goats for the market.