Except for pastoral communities in Northern Kenya many people in the country do not like goat milk. Farmers keep or buy goats for meat. But goat milk is nutritious and unlike cow milk, it contains fats and proteins in a more refined form that is easily digested by children and adults.
That is why it is recommended for infants, sick people and those recovering from illness. Indeed many children are often weaned on goat milk when they reject cow milk.
Unlike cow milk, goat milk is said to be free from most of the disease causing pathogens which are responsible for tuberculosis.
The most common dairy goat breed in the country is the Swiss or British Toggenburg. The British type is bigger and can attain up to 70 kg with some males growing to 100 kg. The Swiss type is smaller, ranging between 50-70 kg. The goats are brown or grayish brown with white stripes on the face and legs. The Swiss type is longhaired.
The Toggenburgs are intelligent and are easy to handle and train. However they must be well fed to produce milk.
The other popular breed is the German Alpine. Farmers wishing to buy these hybrid goats are advised to do so from breeders who are registered with the Kenya Stud Book (KSB). This is a secretariat of the Kenya Livestock Breeders Organisation (KLBO) that maintains records of farmers who own hybrid goats and other livestock.
The goats are inspected regularly and farmers issued with certificates to show the animals meet set standards.
Farmers are advised to avoid keeping the goats on free range. They should be properly housed in well-ventilated sheds with slanted floor to allow flow of urine and other waste. The shed must be kept clean. Structures made of cedar posts or any strong material are recommended. The farmer should use corrugated iron sheets for the roof and timber offcuts for the walls.
The farmer should ensure the goats are regularly de-wormed. They should also be de-horned and their hooves trimmed regularly with a sharp knife.
Good husbandry practice involves the maintenance of records on each goat to help in their management. Details such as the name of goat, breed, date of birth, parent information, date of
service in case of does, including milk records are important. The goats also need branding with tattoos, ear tags or notches. This depends on methods of identification recommended by the rules of the Kenya Stud Book.