Saturday, May 25, 2024

Different Breeds of Goats and their Importance

In this article, we will be looking into the classification and breeds of goats while emphasis will be placed on the goat breeds. A brief mention of some goat breeds found in other places will however be made.

Interest in the values of goats as domestic livestock is presently widespread. This is a result of the recognition of their role in food production, their economic importance in the topics, and the fact that they constitute an important component of traditional farming systems.

About 94 percent of the total world goat population is found in developing countries. Africa accounts for about 32.9 percent. Within Africa, large populations of goats are found in Nigeria. Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. These four countries account for the percent of the total goat population in the African continent.

Nigeria has about 34 million goats. Most of these are found in the Sahel, Sudan, and Guinea Savanna Zones of the country. The dwarf goats are however adapted to the humid tropics.

Importance of Goats

Goats are multi-purpose animals, producing meat, milk, skin and hair. Their primary function is meat production, although in temperate countries milk has become of greater importance.

1. Source of Meat

Goat meat is relished in all countries where there is a tradition for meat consumption from both sheep and goats. Meat from goats is divided into 3 categories:

1. Cabrito meat from goats 8-12 weeks of age.

2. Meat from young goats 1-2 years of age.

3. Meat from old goats 2-6 years of age.

The first type of meat is very popular in Latin America and the Caribbean. The second category is possibly the most widely produced while the third group generally produces tougher meat. Presently the demand for goat meat is more than supply. This has contributed to the high price of meat and live animals.

2. Source of Milk

Goat milk is widely consumed wherever it is produced. It is usually consumed fresh recent goats milk is being processed into other products. Goats as a supplier of milk serve a most useful function in producing valuable animal protein for rural communities. 

For the peasant farmers and the average family who are unable to maintain a cow or a buffalo, the goat justifies its designation as the poor man’s cow.

3. Source of Hair and Skin

The skin of the maradi (Red Sokoto) goat in Nigeria is well known for its superior quality and the premium it commands in world markets, equally. well-known is the Mubende skin from Uganda. Hair from goats is extensively used in making bags, ropes, and carpets.

4. Source of Income

To rural households, nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralist goats offer employment and are a major source of ready income to meet daily cash needs.

5. Security

To the traditional arable farmer, small ruminants offer the security of continued food supply during periods of crop failure. Other contributions of goats include the prestige inherent in their ownership and their place in custom, religion, and festive occasions.

Of recent goats have been used as experimental animals. Much of what is known today about milk fat synthesis and the physiological mechanisms that are involved relates to the goat on account of its convenience in research. Goats also assist in the economic utilization of non-marketable crop resources, adding to them.

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Breeds of Goats

Different Breeds of Goats and their Importance

There are approximately 300 breeds and types of goats in the world, the majority of which are found in the tropics and sub-tropics. Of these, Epstein (1971) distinguished about 70 breeds and varieties in Africa Masaon (1981) Deventra, and Burns (1983) have reviewed most of the important breeds of goats. For further information on breeds, you are advised to refer to these references.

Nigerian’s Indigenous Goat Breeds

1. Sahel/Desert Goat: This breed is common in the arid or Sahel region in Nigeria. The breed is medium to large, long-legged, and covered with a coat of short fine hair. The breed is highly adapted to nomadic life and a wide range of vegetation in desert to semi-desert conditions.

It is tolerant of hot, dry environments but unsuited to humid regions. Many produce grade skins. All are used for meat and skin production, and a few can be described as good milkers. Ears are short, males are horned. There is little information on fertility, but indications are that it may be lower than in the West African dwarf goat.

2. Maradi (Red Sokoto)Goat: This is one of the few well-defined breeds of goat in Africa. It is the most numerous goat breed in Nigeria originally confined to the Niger Republic and Sokoto province but has originally spread throughout the Savannah and forest belt.

Ears are short and carved horizontally both sexes are horned, and it is uniformly dark red. The legs are shorter than the Sahel breed. The skin of the maradis is among the most valuable of all goat skins. The breed is a good meat animal. In Niger, it is commonly milk yielding about 0.5 kg in dry season and up to 1.5kg in wet season. Birth weight varies from 1.0 – 2.5kg. It is a relatively small animal; at maternity (23 – 30 kg).

3. West Africa Dwarf Goat: This breed is confined to the tropical forest belt of Southern Nigeria and other West African countries such as Cameroon. They are of small size and short-legged hardly higher than 50cm in height at withers. This breed has a variety of goat colours but black and brown colours predominate. Mature females have tassels.

It is not uncommon for both mature males and females to have a beard. The breed is rated high for its hardiness and tolerance to trypanosomiasis. The breed is highly prolific with a high percentage of twining and triplets.

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Some Important Goat breeds in the tropics

1. Nubian Goat: This breed is associated particularly with the Sudan but is now widespread in North-East Africa and the Mediterranean Coastal belt. This is the only African breed specialized for milk production. The Nubian is a large, long-legged with long pendulous ears and a pronounced Roman node.

Horns are present in both sexes in some strains, but absent in others. Some strains are predominantly black, others brown. Height at withers is about 70 – 80cm mature live-weight is 27-60kg.   Milk yield ranges from between 1-2kg daily or 120-140kg annually in two locations.

2. Boar Goat: This breed is mainly found in South Africa of recent it has been intensively selected for color pattern and meat conformation. Improved boars are white with red head markings fertility is high and good milk yield. 

The boar goat resembles the Nubian goat in having lop ears and a co-vex nose. They are very hardy under tropical or sub-subtropical conditions but are not suited to humid regions. Milk yield is average.

3. Saanen: This breed originated from Swaziland. The breed is polled, ears are erect, and forward-pointing. They are very good milkers Saanen breed is essentially a diary breed. The Saanen is particularly vulnerable in environments where there is no shade and poor nutrition.  

A daily milk yield of   3.3kg/day has been obtained. An increasing number of this breed is found in Australia, Kenya, India Israel, and Venezuela.

4. Angora: The Angora goat originated in Central Asia and was introduced into South Africa and the United States. Angora thrives best in hot, dry sub-tropical climates. Although they are bred mainly for the mohair, meat and milk, and subsidiary products.

Angora goats are found to be hardy and well-adapted to the local conditions. The breed has a slow growth rate and poor carcass conformation. Angora is completely covered with white mohair.

In summary, goats are regarded essentially as tropical species. Their number and distribution have shown that goats have the widest ecological range. Many of the breeds have not been accurately described or have been described only superficially. Present knowledge about the value of many breeds and types is therefore limited.

Goats have a wide ecological distribution in Nigeria spreading from the SahelianZone in the North to the humid coastal belt in the Southern part of the country. There are three major breeds of goats indigenous to Nigeria. Worldwide, there exist very many other breeds.

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Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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