This project, instigated and supported by Damien Nicolay and Andrew Bartholomew, is starting to bear fruit. The aim is to improve the local breed of goats, which are often small and produce little milk. By artificially inseminating adult females with the sperm of a pedigree milk-buck, her half-bred offspring is the first step in improving the local breed. Further controlled insemination can either maintain this status or improve on it further, thus creating ¾ bred milk goats. There is a balance to be struck, as highly bred animals require more care and better feeding which is not always possible.
Veterinarian Fredrick Kalyango was selected to receive special training at a goat breeding centre in Masaka, Uganda. Since then he constructed an enclosure next to his home and the buck arrived. The next step was to get the buck accustomed to sperm collection using an artificial vagina. At first the buck proved to be a bit shy and headstrong and did not perform despite the presence of an attractive female on heat. It was only after another male was brought in that competition got the better of him and he obliged.
Semen collection has now got easier and Fredrick was able to artificially inseminate a number of female goats of farmers in microcredit groups near his home. To date the buck has produced nine offspring which to my untrained eye look beautiful and healthy. The time has come for Fredrick to work with microcredit groups further afield, many of which are also interested in the scheme. Covid restrictions have meant that he could not travel by bodaboda (hire motorcycle) to these villages. It takes several visits to a village to prepare and inseminate a group of female goats. Not having his own means of transport, it is hoped that this transport problem will be solved in the near future.
Goats' milk is very healthy and digestible even by small babies. It is therefore expected that a ready market will develop. If available at schools and added to the maize porridge served there, it would greatly enhance its nutritional value. Let us hope that the program can develop it full potential soon.