Dairy goat breeding

Many of the families we work with have young children who are under-nourished, and are unable to send their older children to secondary school (all secondary schools in Kenya are fee-paying). Following discussion with the community, Sadiki introduced a dairy goat breeding programme through one of its women's groups. The group members each receive a goat, initially on loan. The member gives the first two kids born to Sadiki (these kids are loaned to those members still awaiting a goat). The goat, and all future offspring, then becomes the property of the group member.

The goats are specially bred to provide up to 4L of milk per day, far more than produced by local goats or cows. Because of its high butter fat content, the goat's milk is more easily digested than cow's milk, and is particularly suitable for young children and those with HIV/AIDS.

The goats kid twice a year, producing one or two kids at a time. A kid reaches maturity at 12 months, at which point they can be sold for a very high price, just short of what it costs to send a child to secondary school for a year. This is an enormous help families who previously struggled to send any, let alone all, of their numerous children to secondary school.

The goats are zero-grazed in comfortably-sized goat houses built off the ground, thus avoiding the need for children to miss school to graze them. The goats eat a mixture of fodder which grows locally, or which is grown on the edge of the families' field, so as not to take up valuable crop space. The goat droppings are collected daily and placed on the fields as fertiliser, resulting in higher crop yields.

The dairy goat breeding project also benefits the wider community. Goat milk is highly desirable, and what is not drunk by the family is sold for income. Sadiki has trained several of the group members as "vets", whose skills are now in demand by others in the community with sick animals. Sale of the goats outside the group also improves the local goat breeding stock.

Unlike cows, the goats are small enough to be handled by women (particularly widows), children, the elderly and those who are sick. The project has also affected the community's perception of women: one of our members, Naomi, reported her husband's amazement when he saw her spraying her goat for ticks, and that now sees her in a new light.