Researchers are in the planning stages to develop a single vaccine that seeks to control four diseases common in goats.
This will help cut the cost of buying many vaccines and ensure efficiency in controlling the spread of diseases that affects most livestock keepers.
Dr Hezron Wesonga, senior researcher from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) said they are currently collecting data on the common diseases affecting small ruminants including goats and sheep in the pastoral regions. \
We want to ensure that common diseases including Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), heart water, acute viral disease/goat plague (PPR), sheep and goat pox become priority because they contribute to low production in livestock, said Wesonga.
The scientist who was speaking during a tour of Kajiado county to engage livestock keepers activities in goat farming said goat farmers should also be able to follow marketing structure that involves depopulation of livestock
We think as technical people goats are less understood when it comes to diseases, he said adding that livestock keepers lose up to half of the goat and sheep population before three months to diseases yet they are controllable.
Wesonga added they will develop a four in one vaccine which will help control the diseases by delivering one single vaccine instead of a combination of the vaccine.
The vaccine will also help to reduce the cost of labour and money in administering four different vaccines which is expensive for many livestock keepers.
It costs a livestock keeper about KshSh50 to buy one vaccine and with a population of over 300 stocks, it will cost him S5,000. To administer four vaccines, a farmer will have to spend Sh 60,000.
This Wesonga said will soon change and one will only need one vaccine to control against the four diseases. He noted that small ruminants (goat and sheep) are less understood when it comes to animal diseases.
He stated that lack of veterinary services is also a big challenge in delivering vaccines and this has forced farmers to administer vaccines themselves yet they do not have enough information on what vaccines are available for a particular disease.
Most farmers vaccinate their animals based on their observation of lesions and postmortem since they do have the knowhow, said Wesonga.
He cautioned farmers against vaccinating their animals for themselves as the treatment lacks professional and could lead to low livestock productivity.
We will work with the County Government to ensure that farmers get vaccines on time, said Wesonga adding that the county government can also come up with a subsidy plan that livestock keepers can adopt and contribute to pay for vaccines rather than relying on government only.
Livestock Keeper from Enarasha area in Kajiado Elijah silangoi said since cattle keeping has become difficult because of drought, most of them in the area are leaning towards goat and sheep for their upkeep.
Now we rely on our goats and personally even milk we have shifted and use goat milk which is not only good but even healthier| she said.
Out of the many goats I have, Each goat gives me half a litre in the morning and another one in the evening and this sustains my family because I also sell ‘ he says ..
On diseases, he acknowledged that they have been medicating their own animals with Penicillin when they see symptoms of illness .
Most of the time he said they loose their goats before they reach three months and asked the experts to ensure they come up with a good plan of vaccinating their flock who multiply fast with the right vaccinations
Eric Mungube , Centre Institute Director from the Veterinary Research Centre in KALRO-Muguga said the absence of government veterinary personnel on the ground has led to vaccinations not being successful. He said the government stopped recruiting veterinary personnel and those providing the services have either retired or are about to retire.
This has forced farmers from the pastoral areas to deliver vaccines for livestock for themselves. There is a high concentration of vets in areas like Central unlike in the pastoral regions. Many of the government employees that deal with vaccination are either retired or a retiring, said Mungube.
According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics last census, Kajiado north has 314,080.00 and Kajiado central 218, 961.00 goats.
The bulk of sheep and goats are reared in the Arid and Semi-arid areas and their industry contributes about 30 percent of the total red meat consumed in the country.
Source: Kenya News Agency