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Some of the veterinary medicines needed to keep pure dairy goats healthyDisease control in high-grade dairy goats

Pure dairy goats in Uganda, can give 3 to 5 litres of milk a day. We have done it at JOY Youth Training Centre, and others have done it elsewhere. But, to keep the goats healthy it is necessary to isolate them from other goats to minimise the risk of introducing disease. Even then, good veterinary cover is needed.

Maintaining milk production

Dairy goats have been bred to produce large amounts of milk. But in order to do so their diet must provide sufficient protein, energy and minerals. If the diet is purely green roughage, which is what is available to most farmers, it is too bulky for the goats to eat enough to produce more than 2½ litres per day.

For more than this, the feed has to include some concentrate - usually a mixture of a cereal bran and oil-seed cake.  They also need a balanced mineral supplement. Both of these are expensive, and are only feasible if the farmer is regularly selling most of the milk produced.

If the goat’s diet is insufficient, then there are two possibilities.The milk yield may reduce, in which case the effort of caring for a high-grade animal is wasted. The other possibility is worse - the goat will still produce a lot of milk but will become increasingly thin and is likely to fall sick very easily.

75% Crosses

FARM-Africa have successfully used 75% Toggenburgs in Tanzania and Kenya, and have introduced them to Uganda. The milk production from this grade of goat is good, but is not normally so high as to make feeding a big problem. They are also more disease resistant than pure dairy goats, but not sufficiently so. These programmes have been possible because, along with the improved goats, they also introduced a system for improved delivery of veterinary services.

50% Crosses

For small NGOs, community based organisations (CBOs) and individual farmers, 50% crosses are often the only feasible option. These are normally tough enough to survive if managed like local goats. (Although productivity improves if they are given some extra care.) However, the milk yield is generally much less than 2 litres a day at the peak, and drops to only around ½ litre after 6 months.

Lower grade crosses would not normally be considered as dairy animals. The are even more disease resistant, but the milk yield would be so low that few would be milked. One possible exception is in Karamoja where the very high disease challenge means that 25% crosses may be the most suitable.

The Future

The low grade crosses are clearly not as productive as most people would like. While this is the case, organisations that want to get adequate amounts of milk into poor families have no option but to use the high grade crosses or pure dairy goats; and to find solutions for the associated problems.

But we believe that if we can establish a suitable selection process then it will be possible to develop a new breed that will give a better option in the future - not just for us, but for other organisations as well.

We are looking for progressive farmers who will partner with us in this process. If you are interested, please look at the Kabulya Goat Traders website for more more information

Why Crossbreeds