Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
ONE of the most successful investors of all time, American business magnate and philanthropist Warren Buffett once said, it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
In the case of a stud breeder, one inferior gene can actually diminish the quality of an entire herd and erase all the hard work of previous years.
Mr Christ Grant (46), owner of Mzilikazi Kalahari Red Goat Breeders in Umguza District in Matabeleland North, understands the importance of laying a strong genetic foundation right from the start.
Having grown up at a farm in Ntabazinduna where his father was a cattle farmer, Mr Grant is not new to livestock farming. He started off as a cattle breeder before he decided to switch to commercial goat farming.
In 2012, Mr Grant visited a farm in South Africa where the gleaming auburn coats of Kalahari Red goats caught his eye. Mesmerised by their colour and appearance, he decided to switch to goat breeding, starting with four animals to build his Kalahari Red stud breeding project.
Today, he has a herd of 280 does (female goats) comprising of the indigenous Matabele/Kalahari Reds cross-breed, pure Kalahari Reds and Boer-goat cross breeds and 10 bucks.
“I used to do commercial cattle ranching until I decided to switch to goats because they are faster in terms of rewards. I bought my first four goats at a farm in South Africa after I got attracted to shiny red coats of Kalahari Red goats,” he said.
“Unlike cattle, which can take you up to three years to realise profits, you can actually breed goats and then sell them in one year or even six months. Farming is a business and the sooner we look at it as a business the more profitable it becomes.”
In the 10 years that he has been in goat farming business, Mr Grant has transformed Mzilikazi Kalahari Red Goat Breeders into a strong genetic foundation for goat breeders.
“Developing a successful stud breeding farm takes time, because you’re building not just the quality of your herd, but also your reputation.
In fact, without a good reputation, you can’t really make a success of stud farming, because people want to know that they’re getting what they paid for,” said Mr Grant.
“As goat breeders, we need to put in place a system of genetic traceability that you can be trusted by farmers.”
Mr Grant said there are two kidding seasons that is April and November achieves a kidding percentage of 180 percent, with a weaning weight of 35kg for both bucks and does.
All animals are sold at six months having reached between 40-45kg, along with any old female animals that do not meet the selection criteria.
Mr Grant said goat farmers should pay particular attention to feeding to increase likelihood of producing twins.
“Nutrition affects fertility and weaning percentage, and the sooner the kids are weaned, the sooner the does can get back to good condition and kid again.
First-time mothers are kept in a separate camp where we monitor them as well as ensuring that they and their kids remain in good condition,” he said.
Mr Grant sells his goats mostly for breeding with cross-breeds going for US$150 while the younger female ones, which will be at least three-quarter Kalahari Reds and one quarter indigenous Matabele, fetch up to US$180.
“For males we sell Kalahari Red bucks for US$500 and the cross for about US$300. There is great demand because people want to improve on the genetics.
The demand for goat meat is high and every year we have religious festivals and there is a demand for goats because it is a healthier and leaner meat,” he said.
“We bring males every two years because you need to change all the time because you need to keep lifting your average up by bringing new genetics every two years for you to continue breeding.”
Mr Grant also manufactures 100 percent organic nutritious goat stockfeed made out of acacia pots and bush meal, which he mixes with maize, sorghum, salt and lime.
“Goat are selective feeders and if you put feed in their feeding trough, they will only eat the mealies and what we do is that we pelletise it. We are currently using lucerne and also add salt, lime and maize bran, which we mix and pelletise it,” he said.
“When I started it was just a feed for my own goats and people started showing interest in my stock feed that I was making and soon there was huge market for goat feed.
We did research on what is nutritious for goats and discovered that that if we use those ingredients, there are highly digestible.” Mzilikazi Kalahari Red Goat Breeders also offers training programmes to goat farmers.
“We teach farmers on nutrition, goat management and how to select a good buck as well as looking for good traits.
Each goat must give you twins every single time, which is why feeding and fertility go hand in hand,” he said.
“When we train our farmers, we emphasise a lot on that so that people understand the importance of feeding goats.
Mr Grant said Matabele goats are critical for breeders in the region given the suitable environment.
“We have good genetics in our country and we need to look after them and nurture and promote them. With climate change and the way goat production is going in Zimbabwe, the demand for goat meat.
I am sure if we could just promote the indigenous Matabele goats which have just been registered as a breed, we will have breeders from Ethiopia and Australia, the biggest producers of goat in the world, coming to buy those genetics from our Matabele goats,” he said. — @mashnets
Article Source: The Chronicle