Galla goat, the king of milk and meat in Kenya
The white long-legged indigenous African Galla goat is commonly associated with the pastoral communities of Northern Kenya.
It is also commonly referred to as the Borana or Somali goat. This breed has two main sub-types, the Degyir and Degun. The goats are docile and easy to handle unlike their jumpy cousins, the East African Goat.
Goats are culturally important in several communities. However, they take a secondary role in the provision of meat in the country and across Africa. Unfortunately, minimal investments on breed improvement strategies have been laid out, yet these small ruminants continue to dominate most African households. Rearing goats primarily for meat is a viable venture especially if one invests in the right breed.
The Galla goat is a perfect breed for small and large-scale farmers. Its characteristic long and tall body, typical of most meat-producing animals is advantageous. This goat, if reared and managed well, has the ability to support a future rich in goat meat production.
These goats are best-suited for arid and semi-arid areas. They are hardy animals and, being browsers, can feed on different types of vegetation, making feeding a venture within the reach of the average farmer. In most villages, the ‘open access’ grazing system is mostly practised where the herders move along the grazed lands with their animals without much restriction. The Galla buck can grow to up to 75cm in height and weigh up to 70Kgs while the doe can weigh up to 55kgs. This is quite huge for an indigenous goat breed.
It is a relatively large breed compared to other East African indigenous breeds. Its large body allows for the packing of more meat to the bone. Their characteristic long bodies and relatively high height give them an added advantage while browsing as this phenotypic attribute enables them access twigs far-off the ground. That is why they thrive in dry ecosystems.
This goat breed exhibits exceptional traits such as resistance to gastro-intestinal parasites and some infectious diseases. Heat or drought tolerance and rapid body weight gain are key traits that are important in the development of sustainable populations.
The Galla goat is known to exhibit remarkable prowess in regaining weight after dry spells. It produces relatively higher amounts of milk compared to the East African Goat and has heavier yearlings.
The Galla goat does quite well when crossbred with other breeds. There are numerous crossbreeds with the Boer and the East African Goat.
Selection practices within the herd by farmers can increase the meat output of the animals. This is a practice that will require the farmer to dedicatedly keep the herds’ productivity records to be able to select ideal candidates that can be used for breeding purposes.
To reap the benefits of goat meat production, there is a need for farmers to form associations and market their produce collectively to institutions such as the Kenya Meat Commission.
Galla goats can be purchased within the country from local farmers as well as at Gicheha Farms in different parts of the country.
– Dr Muchunguh is a livestock expert
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