Sunday, May 19, 2024
Ruminants

Goats Farming Complete Practical Guide

Goats, often called the “unsung heroes” of agriculture, are remarkable animals with a rich history of companionship with humans. These four-legged marvels are known for their adaptability, intelligence, and friendly demeanor.

This article will treat the classification and breeds of goats with emphasis being placed on the popular goat breeds. Interest in the values of goats as domestic livestock is presently widespread.

This is as 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.

Goats typically sport a set of cloven hooves, which aid in their exceptional agility. Their distinctive horns vary in shape and size among breeds. It’s fascinating to observe how these features contribute to their survival in different environments.

Goats are true connoisseurs when it comes to food. Known as browsers, they prefer to nibble on a variety of plants, bushes, and even trees. Their eclectic palate makes them excellent at clearing out unwanted vegetation, providing a natural and eco-friendly solution to weed control.

Beyond their practical uses, goats are remarkably social animals. They thrive in the company of their herd, displaying a strong sense of community. This social nature makes them not only pleasant companions for other goats but also for farmers who take the time to understand and appreciate their interconnected relationships.

Understanding the reproductive cycle of goats is key for those looking to raise these animals. Female goats, or does, undergo a gestation period of about five months and give birth to adorable kids. Witnessing the nurturing instincts of mother goats is heartwarming, as they provide care and guidance to their young ones.

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Population and Distribution of Goats

Goats Farming Complete Practical Guide

About 94 percent of the total world goat population is found in the 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 accounts for the percent of the total goat population in the Africa continent.

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

Importance and Benefits of Goats to Mankind

While many associate goats with milk production, their utility goes beyond that. Goat meat, known as chevon or goat’s meat, is a lean and nutritious alternative to traditional meats. Additionally, their fleece, known as mohair, has unique qualities that cater to various textile needs.

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:

Cabrito meat from goats 8-12 weeks of age.

Meat from young goats 1-2 years of age.

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 in excess of supply. This has contributed to high price of the meat and live animals.

2. Source of Milk: Goat milk is widely consumed where ever it is produced. It is usually consumed fresh recent goats milk is being processed into other products.

Goat as a supplier of milk serve a most useful function in producing valuable animal protein for rural community. 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 are extensively used in making bags, ropes and carpets.

4. Source of Income: To rural house-hole, 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 ruminant offer security of continued food supply during periods of crop failure. Other contribution of goats include the prestige inherent in their ownership and their place in custom, religion and testive occasions. Of recent goats have been used as experimental animals.

Much of what is known today about milk fat synthesis and the physiological mechanism 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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Popular Breeds of Goats

Goats Farming Complete Practical Guide

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 advice to refer to these references.

Firstly, it’s important to note that goats come in a delightful array of breeds, each with its unique characteristics. From the sturdy and efficient Nubians to the hardy and adaptable Boers, the diversity among goat breeds allows farmers and enthusiasts to choose a goat that best suits their specific needs.

For the purpose of this article, we shall study mainly the Nigerian goat breeds. Special mention will however be made on the role of some European breeds in the tropics.

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 in size, long legged, covered with coat of short fine hair. The breed is highly adapted to nomadic life and wide range of vegetation in desert to semi-desert condition. It is tolerant of hot, dry environment 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 milker. 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, it is uniformly dark red in colour.

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 0.5kg in dry season and up to 1.5kg in wet season. Birth weight varies from 1.0 – 2.5kg. It is 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 the Cameroom. They are of small size and short legged harolly higher than 50cm height at withers. These breed has a variety of goat colour but black and brown colours predominate.

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

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 colour pattern and meat conformation. Improved boars are white with red head markings fertility in high and good milk yield.

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

3. Saanen: This breed originated from Swaziland. The breed is polled, ear are erect and forward pointing. They are very good milker Saanen breed are essentially a diary breed.

The Saanen is particularly vulnerable in environments where there is no shade and poor nutrition. Daily milk yield of 3.3kg/day have been obtained. An increasing number of this breed is found in Australia, Kenya, India Isreal 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 breed 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 conclusion, 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.

Goat have a wide ecological distribution in Nigeria spreading from the Sahelian Zone 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. World wide, there exist very many other breeds.

Goats are not just charming additions to a farm; they are essential contributors to sustainable agriculture. Their versatility, intelligence, and amicable nature make them an invaluable asset for farmers and a delightful subject for those interested in the intricate world of agriculture.

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Agric4Profits

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. Agric4Profits.com - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. WealthinWastes.com - 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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