Esdras Tsongo | December 23, 2018
After a fierce rain, Bahati Assani waits hours until the sun is shining brightly before bringing his goats to pasture, a five-kilometre walk from his house. He holds a stick in his right hand to lead his troop, and a bottle in his left hand to quench his thirst. He is 58 years old and has been rearing goats for 13 years.
Mr. Assani lives in Sake, a city west of Goma, a town near the volcanic Mount Nyiragongo in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. He feeds his 60 goats on a hectare of pasture on a little hill called Macha.
For the past five years, Mr. Assani has been following some simple practices to ensure the good health and hygiene of his herd and avoid the need for a veterinarian. He castrates a dozen of his goats to fatten them quicker, keeps the stable clean, and doesn’t take his goats to pasture immediately after the rain so they don’t eat wet plants.
Mr. Assani explains why he adopted these methods: “Many times, I use these methods that do not require medical intervention so that I can prevent or eradicate certain diseases. For example, I do not give my animals wet plants or take them to pasture [immediately] after the rain so that I can avoid swelling of the animal’s stomach.”
He says that keeping the stable clean is important. A dirty stable attracts flies that can carry diseases, which may harm the kids and affect the ability of the females to reproduce.
Mr. Assani takes his goats to a flower and shrub pasture in order to feel them with enough protein. He needs to give his goats sufficient amounts of forage for energy, and 100 grams of concentrated protein each week. He purchases feed and mixes it in an empty tomato box. The feed enables the goats to grow vigourously and be less vulnerable to diseases like kibagarira or foot-and-mouth disease.
Mr. Assani practices a rigorous hygiene regime every three days, particularly in the rainy season. He washes the feeders, troughs, and even the walls of the stable.
His healthy herd grew from 37 to 60 goats between 2017 and 2018. He can earn nearly $500 US a year from selling goats, not to mention the two goats he kills for his family to celebrate the end of the year. His goat breeding has allowed him to pay off half his dowry as well as the school fees for two children.
Mr. Assani has succeeded through the good advice of Makasi Kubuya, a zoologist from the Association of agronomists and veterinarians of Kivu. Mr. Kubuya advises several herders when their animals are pregnant. He says: “I advised him to feed his pregnant goats in flower pastures to improve the good digestion of these animals. In addition, I trained them how to identify the signs of birth and what to do in case of a difficult birth.”
Muhindo Dieudonné is another goat breeder in the area. He lives two kilometres from Mr. Assani, which allows him to copy some of Mr. Assani’s methods. He explains: “I actually have 20 goats, thanks to this smart plagiarism. To proceed more quickly in my production, I castrate certain goats. This makes them profitable and more valuable in the market.” He can sell an adult male goat for $110 US.
Mr. Dieudonné avoids crowding his animals in the stable to reduced the risk of ticks. In the rainy season, he disinfects the stable each week, using a sprayer for better efficiency.
He says: “After two months of practising these principles of hygiene, I take my goats to a shrub pasture, and my herd has grown from 20 to 30 goats. Breeding goats will pay my school fees.”