Butcher men display goat meat at Riosiri market Kisii County,a kilo of goat meat cost ksh 400,they slaughter more than 70 goats on a market day which is on every Sunday PHOTO BY SAMMY OMINGO
Mr Igolo is a sad shoats (goats and sheep) farmer. He had a flock of about 150 shoats on his ten acre farm in Isinya in the outskirts of Nairobi. A good percentage of the herd was composed of male goats and sheep, which was by coincidence.
The flock had lambs, kids, ram lambs, buckling, ewes and yearlings among others. But his problem was this — when he approached buyers they offered a bad price. Reason? The mutton (meat) had a bad smell.
He has no idea why this was happening. Most farmers end up in this situation because they don’t consult animal health experts at the foundation level but rather when they have hit a dead end.
Igolo falls under this category of farmers. Operating like this can be costly at times. Let’s delve and see how this farmer got himself in this situation:
First, Mr Igolo never had a plan of rearing such a huge herd of shoats from the very start.
He was an ‘incidental” or “accidental” farmer — the kind that just finds themselves in farming with no solid plan.
This is how it started; he bought a 10-acres piece of land years back, but he hadn’t planned on how to use it. Next, he put up some temporary farm structures for the caretaker.
On realising the caretaker was free most of the time he decided to turn him into a shepherd, so he bought goats and sheep.
With abundant pasture and good health the flock reproduced so fast that just after two years the flock had tripled.
He had surveyed the market for the mature sheep and goats and found that the prices were good. He knew he was going to make a killing. But now, all his hopes had been crushed because the meat of the mature male goats and sheep, was smelly.
Uncastrated sheep and goats
And the sad thing was that, he had called me too late— there was nothing much I could do to salvage the situation.
There is no treatment for goaty or ram smell, an more so mature males. Goaty smell an unpleasant odour that occurs in uncastrated mature goats and sheep.
When to castrate
However, the smell can only be prevented at an early age through castration.
Castrated sheep and goats have more fat tissue and are less aggressive making them easier to handle on the farm. But this should be timed well late castrations over six months will result in retarded growth and reduce the quantity of lean meat.
Late castrations will lengthen the healing process and increase chances of wound complication. The best time to castrate lambs and kids is when they are between one and three weeks old. At this stage this exercise is less stressful and the wound heals fast.
Entire male goats and sheep produce a scent which has a musky odour the production of this scent peaks at maturity and is more pronounced during rut (when the females are on heat). The scent which is also present in urine will be sprayed on the billy goats front legs, face and beards to attract the females. The females love this scent they find it sexy and submit to such males. Unfortunately the smell lowers value of mutton.
– The writer is the 2016 winner of Vet of the Year award. He works at Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council –KENTTEC