Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
MATABELELAND Goat Sheep and Poultry Trust (MGSP) is working on encouraging goat farmers to realise optimum benefits from their agricultural enterprise through venturing into goat dairy production.
MGSPT board chairperson Mr Dingaan Ndlovu who is also the director of Health Excellence said the farmers’ grouping has organised a workshop aimed at capacitating goat farmers to enhance their returns from the animal through embarking on milk production instead of relying on its meat and skin.
“We are going to hold a goat dairy production workshop at Matopo Research Station, which will be facilitated by Henderson Research Institution as they are the experts and are much more knowledgeable in goat milk production while we will facilitate the venue, logistics and screening of farmers for the workshop.
“We are still to set a date for the workshop but it will be next month. We want to diversify from goat production as an industry of producing meat only and instead focus on goat milk production as well. There are a lot of farmers yearning to move from goat meat production to something which is much specialised,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Henderson Research Institute is a Government institution under the Department of Research and Specialist Services in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.
Mr Moyo said there was a need for farmers to venture into goat dairy as it was a potentially lucrative enterprise.
“There are very few farmers that are into goat milk production and as such we intend to invite them to share their experiences and to further capacitate them to produce more in the process. You will realise that in the southern part of the country, mostly in Matabeleland South, we are using goat milk as food.
“In other areas they can’t afford to rear goat for milk because their goats are so small to the extent that the animals aren’t capable to feed their kids and have excess for human consumption. Thus there is need to improve on animal production to ensure improved milk yield through cross breeding indigenous breeds with the exotic ones such as the Saanen goat.
Saanens are the largest of the goat dairy breeds, and one of the largest milk producers. Does typically weigh at least 61 kilogrammes and stand 76 centimetres tall, with bucks weighing at least 73kg and standing 81 cm. Their milk generally has a butterfat content of three to four percent.
He said there was also a need for cultural shift to ensure enhanced consumption of goat milk by the general populace in the country.
“Culturally goat milk isn’t consumed much than cow milk yet it’s more nutritious. The other advantage of embarking in goat milk production is that one doesn’t necessarily need big numbers and it can be practiced in a small piece of land thus meaning one is assured of returns within a more confined area,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Goats milk is a good source of protein, contains less sugar (lactose), 13 percent more calcium, 25 percent more vitamin B6, 47 percent more vitamin A, and 134 percent more potassium than regular cow’s milk.
Mr Ndlovu said after the workshop a group of farmers would visit Limpopo Dairy on a feasibility study tour.