Despite losing 200 million naira from a ranch he established in Abia State to poisoning and theft a few years ago, Dr John Abraham Godson was determined to change the narrative of livestock production in Nigeria .
In an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday at his model Pilgrim Ranch property in Abuja, he said that prior to these investments he had lived in Poland for 25 years and was the first black senator ever elected in Poland; and after his two terms, he returned home.
During his stay in Poland, he associated with many farmers and, in fact, the party in which he won the elections was a party of agricultural farmers. His years in Poland brought him to meet many farmers, where he saw and learned how they practiced their agriculture.
But his career in agriculture did not start there since he comes from a family of farmers. Her father studied agriculture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He also read agriculture in his first degree. After graduation, he worked at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan as a research director before leaving Nigeria.
With what he saw in Poland, he came to the “conclusion that what we are doing is not agriculture. What we are doing here is archaic, laborious and unproductive. For example, our cattle here would give you maybe 1.5 liters of milk a day while the cattle in Poland would give you 25 liters.
How did his idea of raising goats come about?
“When I thought of what to do in Nigeria, agriculture was number one and number two, why goat? I know in the north people prefer rams or sheep and so on , but in the South we prefer goats. That’s the main thing. Most of the goats we eat there are brought from the north to the south, and most of them were doing goats at a subsistence level, all like they allowed them to walk around. So my question was, why not do this commercially? I’ve been to South Africa, America and seen how the farms do this. Specifically, the ones in the North don’t do it. do not do commercially in a modern way. That’s how the idea came about.
To achieve his goals, Dr. Godson first traveled to South Africa, trained in goat herding with Wild Boar and Red Calahari, and then decided to set up his farm. And as he progressed, it turned out that many would-be farmers were interested in the exotic breed of goats he owned, and that prompted him to start a modern commercial goat farm there. three years old.
breeds on the farm
“Our main breeds here are wild boar and calahari. They are meat breeds. We have four types of breeds: meat breeds, dairy breeds, we have skin and fiber breeds and pet breeds.
“In Nigeria, we’re not really into dairy when it comes to goats. Few people even think it is better or better than cow’s milk.
It is the meat that interests us the most, which is why we focus on these two breeds. There is another third race that we are about to introduce, it is the savannah white. These are all meat breeds that are very huge. And because they are exorbitant, the prices are expensive, especially for good quality breeders. So we have to try to cross-breed with local products so that it is more affordable for local farmers,” he said.
Why do we sell pregnant goats
He said the reason for selling pregnant goats was demand, which he said was high, adding, “We don’t want to wait for them to deliver. What we do is source local goats and cross them with foreign breeds that we have in stock. As soon as we can confirm that they are pregnant, those who ordered them will pick them up and take care of them. Second, it’s because we don’t have big facilities here.
“If we had a big facility like I had a ranch in Abia State where we have 608 hectares – in such a place you can allow them to deliver and then sell the cross breeds. But here we don’t have that; and we have to close the facility there due to insecurity.
“We are trying to get a place in Kuje. If our goats give birth to 100 kids all of a sudden, we have no place to take care of them. So we prefer to get them, treat them, stabilize them and get them pregnant. And as soon as we can confirm that they are pregnant, we sell them.
Starting a goat farm
He advised every beginner who doesn’t have a lot of money to start with the local goat, according to one of three breeding systems.
“We have the intensive, which we do with imported goats. We have the semi-intensive, which we will do with the local goat, and then we have the extensive, which you see people doing.
“The extensive one is the cheapest because the goats manage almost on their own. But we don’t encourage an extensive system because there are a lot of things you can’t control, like what they eat. So we recommend at least semi-intensive,” he said.
Cost and Profitability
In terms of cost, if a farmer wants to do semi-intensive, he has to take care of his accommodation. A dwelling that houses 100 goats will cost the farmer about 1 million naira, but the prices for materials keep changing these days. A farmer can use wood or iron, which lasts longer.
“The most important thing is that the floor is off the ground and that there is about a centimeter of space between the 2×4 lumber. It makes cleaning easier. ‘ectoparasites. That’s why it’s like that. If you went there now, you’d see it’s very easy when it sinks. If you look underneath, that’s where you see the feces. It makes them healthy and there are no problems with ticks, fleas or lice etc.
“If you buy goats from us, the cost of West African dwarfs is between 40,000 and 45,000 naira. The reason for this is that it is cheaper to go to a village market and get them at N15,000, N10,000 and N20,000, but many people who have done this have found that these goats suffered from mortality.
“But as experts, what we do is get these goats and stabilize them. We increase immunity through a series of treatments that we give them, then we vaccinate them against PPR and mark them.
“There are five conditions for evaluating goats: one is very fine and so on. Condition number five is very oily. So make sure they hit condition score number three, which is sturdy, good; and they are fine. Then at the stage, that’s when we can sell them as breeding stock to other farmers. So you should be looking at N40,000, N50,000 or N55,000, depending on the breed,” he said.
Exotic Race Cost
The exotic breed costs more, depending on the class of goats. There are four classes of goats. The first class is that of purebred goats (stallion). They are the most expensive. They are accompanied by a genealogical certificate. Some have been seen sold at auction for over $53,000 (about 30 million naira).
“In our own herd, these goats cost between 2 million naira and 3 million naira. The second classes of goats are pure-blood commercial. Commercial grade goats maybe go for a N1.8m to N2.4m, depending on its quality. Purebred Boer goats and field goats will go from 600,000 N and 700,000 N to even up to 1.5 million N.
“Field goats are those whose history and genetic heritage are unknown. They may be purebred or may have been crossed with other goats, etc. The last class are meat goats, which are the last class, usually eliminated from stock due to age (too old to breed), defects and disease.
“For a breeder who wants to set up a good herd, I recommend classes 1 and 2 because the genetic quality of your goats – your breeding stock – will determine the quality of your entire herd. So if you have poor quality breeding stock, the rest of your herd will be very poor,” he said.
I will not sell “King George” at N10m
In the farm, he has a huge goat named “King George”, with which he crosses with other breeds.
“If you give me 10 million naira, I won’t sell ‘King George’ because he is a top quality stallion. Look at the children: the males weigh 4.8kg and the female 3.6kg at birth. When they come from a good quality farm they grow faster.You can see others that have wild boar but they are not that big because maybe they are a mix of goats fields, so they are of poor quality.
King George’s offspring sell for between 1.7 and 2.4 million naira at three months of weaning.
Advice to farmers
He advised farmers to start small and learn, saying it is wise to start small as it costs little. Number two is that you can make your mistakes on a small scale. You can start with 10 local goats and a male (goat), then learn and use the opportunities.