LTHT seeks to establish types of interventions that improve the livelihoods of girls and women from rural villages in Itojo Sub-County, where Ruhanga parish is located and this programme is part of that broader strategy.
Working in collaboration with the NGO Joy Goat Development, we will introduce a new breed of dairy goats into Ruhanga parish, where a limited number of participants (in this instance widows who are struggling to get an income) will receive a 50% cross breed female dairy goat as a loan and they will need to be able to care for it, have a suitable compound in which the goat is safe and has access to grazing. They will be responsible to care for the goat until it produces the first kid.
Once the first births are weaned, the off springs will be returned to LTHT and the women at that point will be given sole ownership over the initial goat. This goat will then become an asset that the woman can use to generate income, support herself and her family through continuous sale of the goat’s offspring, sale of goat’s milk or improve the nutritional intake of their family if they opt for personal consumption. Once the kids have been returned to LTHT, the female goats will be given to the next widow, while the male goats will be sold, using the profits to purchase more female goats so the cycle continues even if on-going sponsorship is unavailable.
On top of that, the whole community will also benefit from this program, as they will have the opportunity to get their local female goats (which don’t produce enough milk for household consumption) to mate with pure male dairy goats. Their off-springs will produce a meaningful amount for at least 6 months (1.5 litres/day) so the community nutritional intake will be radically improved.
Why a crossbreed dairy goat model?
Dairy goats are exotic breeds that were brought to Uganda with the purpose of providing an alternative source of milk to locals due to the fact that raising goats is easier and less expensive than raising cows.
Unfortunately, the exotic breeds introduced were not resistant to diseases so they required intensive care in a zero grazing model, where animals are kept indoors at all times. Ultimately, this made raising dairy goats a lot harder (as the farmer had to grow the plants to feed them, chop the grass, transport it back to the farm, etc.) and way too expensive (building a zero grazing house, providing diet supplements, medicines, etc.).
For all the above, interventions which target a crossbreed model, where pure breeds males mate with local female goats to get 50% cross breed goats are more sustainable in the long term than interventions targeting solely pure breed.
The 50% cross breed goats produce less milk than the pure breeds but still enough to be meaningful (about 1.5 litres of milk per day) and are resistant to diseases so they can be raised as local goats (extensive grazing, no medical treatment required except for deworming tablets and a locally made hut to spend the night).
A project like this is aimed at benefiting the whole community in Ruhanga parish (750 households) as the genetic pool of the goats needs to be as wide as possible to avoid in breeding in the long term, given we will be introducing a new breed into the community with a limited initial number of pure breed individuals.
If LTHT decided to bring only pure breed males in to the community to mate the local female goats and produce 50% cross breed off-springs, it would take 1 year and 10 months to get any goat’s milk for consumption:
Therefore, we suggest to get 3 pure breed males to mate with local goats to get 50% crossbreed goats among the community and increase the genetic pool for the future generations (as goats should not mate with related individuals) and also get 3 50% crossbreed males and 9 50% crossbreed females to be used as demonstration stations where milk will be produced within 5 months from the beginning of the project and will help the rest of the community to become used to the idea of dairy goats and learn about the benefits of cross-breeding.
The initial 9 50% crossbreed females will be distributed among 9 widows who already have experience raising goats, are willing to drink their milk and are fully committed and ready to be Ambassadors of the Programme across the whole community.
These 9 widows will receive the 50% cross breed female goat as a loan. They will take it to the closer 50% cross breed buck station to mate and they will be responsible to care for it until its first kid (also 50% cross breed) is weaned. At that point, the offspring will be returned to LTHT and the woman will be given sole ownership of the initial goat. The female young goats will be given to the next widow as a loan and the young male goats will be sold to purchase more female goats (50% cross breed born in the community) so the cycle continues even if on-going sponsorship is unavailable.
The 3 pure breed and 3 50% cross breed males will need to be hosted by community members who already have experience raising goats and these 6 “buck-stations” will need to be within 2-4 km of each other which seems to be the distance people are willing to walk to mate his/her goats.
The males will rotate every year and a half from one buck station to another to avoid in breeding.
The 3 50% cross breed males will live like a local goat: grazing out during the day and spending the nights in a locally made hut.
However, the 3 pure breed males will require a zero grazing model as they are not disease resistant and required a special diet. A 3-meter by 3-meter house will need to be built to host the pure breed buck and a small pot of money should be available for medical treatment (deworming and emergencies in case the animal gets sick).
Therefore, it is very important that the community member hosting a pure breed buck is prepared to do something which is not traditional in this community; has extensive experience raising goats; is willing to commit to take care of this new “community asset” (providing fresh water at all times and nutritious feeds twice a day, deworming it every 3 months, access to a mineral lick, etc.); has the space to build a house for it; and spends lots of time around his/her compound as he/she will need to keep records of every mating (so some literacy level will be required).
Once we reach out to the community to introduce the program, we will get them to propose the buck keepers given the criteria mentioned above. That way, community members will be involved in the decision process from the very beginning.
Partnership with JOY Goat Development
We have selected Joy Goat Development (JGD) as our partner to implement this project as they have 23 years of experience implementing dairy goat community projects in Uganda.
JGD will help us source the pure breed males and cross breed males and females. The 3 pure breed males will be sourced from Heiffer International in Kasese and they will be Saanen goats: large in size (80-100 kg), white and short fur, pink skin, no horns and high prolificacy (2 kids per birth). The crossbreed goats will be sourced from a previous JGD’s community project in Massaka and the goats will be 50% Toggenburgh cross breed: large size (males: 70-110kg & females: 60-70kg) brown in colour with a white line in face, legs, and tail and high milk production (2.5 litres per day).
JGD will also deliver 3 general training sessions (2-4 hours) per village involved in the project and 1 session specific for the buck keepers and first widows receiving the crossbreed females (about 4-6 hours in one day).
- The first one before the goats arrive
- The second one when the goats arrive
- The third one 6 months after the goats arrive
The training sessions will cover topics such as housing, feeding, health and disease management, husbandry techniques and milking. There will be an annual follow up session to monitor the effectiveness of the programme and support the community with any issues/challenges they may be facing.