Goat is a hollow horned small ruminant also belonging to the family Bovidae of the genus Capra. Goat is reared for its meat, milk and hide and skin, e.g, morocco leather from Sokoto Red. Goat milk is the richest of all the milk produced by animals including man.
Breeds of Goat
- Sokoto Red.
- Bornu Red.
- West African long legged goat.
- West African dwarf goat.
- Kano Brown.
- Bauchi type.
- East African Small Goat.
Terminologies Used in Goat
- Buck (Billy) – Adult male goat.
- Doe (Nanny) – Adult female goat.
- Kid – A young or baby goat.
- Wether – A castrated male goat.
- Kidding – Act of giving birth (parturition) in goat.
- Chevon – Meat of goat.
Reasons for rearing Goats in West Africa
Reasons for rearing goats in West Africa are: for meat (food) production, for skin production, for milk production, highly prolific; producing twins and triplets two times a year, hardy animals which are exceptionally healthy, easier to keep, high economic value/feeding cost is low, for festivals and sacrificial offerings, for prestige purposes, for income, for employment, for educational purposes e.g. teaching and research.
General Characteristics of Goat
- Goats are tough and hardy animals that can survive unfavourable environmental conditions.
- They are small bodied animals.
- They can produce kids twice in a year.
- Goats are reared mainly for. skin, meat, milk and fibre.
- Male goats are often bearded.
- Goats are very inquisitive animals.
- Both male and female goats have horns.
- They are mostly reared on the extensive system of management.
- They have a gestation period of between 145-154 days or four to five months.
- They can browse on many forage plants. Hence, the cost of producing goats is cheap.
Systems of Rearing Goat
There are three main systems of rearing goat. These are extensive, semi-intensive and intensive systems.
1) Extensive System: Under this system, the goat is allowed to roam about in search of pasture and water. A goat can thrive on any edible material and browses even in extreme condition of drought and rain. It can fend for itself under any condition. It requires very little care as no good housing, feeding and health care are provided. Although the system is cheap, the animals are exposed to adverse weather conditions and thieves.
Advantages of the Extensive System of Rearing Goats
- Low cost of labour.
- Low cost of feeding.
- Low capital investment e.g. housing.
- Ensures fair distribution of manure (waste) which is used for fertilizer.
Disadvantages of the extensive system of rearing goats
- It is difficult to implement a planned breeding programme.
- There is little effort to control pests.
- Animals fall victim to thieves and predators.
- It is difficult to control disease outbreak.
- Lots of effort needed in controlling the animals.
- Productivity of animal is low i.e. low growth in meat and milk production.
2) Semi-intensive System: In this system, goats are provided with house which protects them against adverse weather conditions like heat, cold, rain, etc. However, they are allowed to come out and graze in the pasture which is fenced round the goat house. In some cases, feed is provided for the goats in the house which includes grass, household waste and other remnants. The system needs little initial capital outlay but large labour requirement. Disease and parasite incidence are slightly high.
3) Intensive System: In this system, the goats are confined within the stall in a building with limited access to grazing. As a result of this confinement, medications, water, balanced feed in terms of concentrates, forage plants (soilage) as well as salt licks to provide the necessary minerals and vitamins are provided. This system saves labour, increases production, maintains good records, and reduces mortality. It however requires high capital expenditure in terms of housing, medication and feeding.
Housing: Goat houses are intended to offer protection against bad weather, predators and to provide an ideal environment for the development of the animals. Common features of the goat house are:
- It must provide shade from the sun and protection against rain.
- It must be well ventilated and kept dry.
- The shape may vary from the circular type to rectangular structures with series of stalls.
- Walls can be made of bricks, mud or wood.
- The roof could be made with metal sheets, asbestos sheets or plant materials (thatched).
- Bedding materials could be straw, wood shavings, etc. The materials chosen must be very absorbent.
- Under confined management system, loose housing system is preferred. Animals are not tied and can therefore move about freely within the building.
- Each housing unit should be provided with a hay-rack or manger for feeding hay or silage.
- Gates should be strong and the fence should be made with woven wires, barbed wires or chain link.
- The feed for goat must be a balanced diet, i.e, it should contain protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to promote growth and production.
- A goat feeds mainly on roughages, i.e ., grasses, brouse plants and fodder plants.
- Common grasses that can be fed on by goat include giant star grass, carpet grass, etc and some fodder crops like groundnut, cowpea and Stylosanthes spp.
- Goat can also feed on concentrate feeds to provide the required nutrients for fast growth and high production.
- Goat can feed on household and kitchen waste as they are capable of converting these waste into meat.
- Zero-grazing (soilage) can be practised for goat – a system where grasses and legumes are cut and taken to the goats in their pens.
- Rotational grazing can also be practised, whereby goats are moved about in paddocks as they graze on the pasture.
- Feeds should be provided in accordance with production, e.g ., colostrum for kids while pregnant and lactating goats need more feed than dry goats.
Health Care and Sanitation
Common routine measures that can be adopted for goat health care and sanitation include:
- The goat pens and stalls should be washed and cleaned daily.
- Sick animals should be isolated and treated urgently.
- Dead animals should be buried.
- Goats should be dewormed on regular basis.
- They should be dipped into solution containing chemicals to get rid of ectoparasites.
- Rotational grazing should be practised to avoid parasites build-up.
- The environment ought to be clean at all times.
Common diseases of goat include anthrax, brucellosis, tuberculosis, rinderpest, red water fever, etc. Drugs and vaccines should be administered at the appropriate time to prevent the outbreak of these diseases.
Management of Goat
The management of goat from breeding to market weight or size is grouped into three phases. These are:
- from breeding to kidding;
- from kidding (birth of kid) to weaning;
- from weaning to finishing (market size).
a) Breeding to Kidding or Birth
Buck and doe meant for breeding are kept in a building which is well ventilated. railed and walled. The floors should be made with concrete and the roof with corrugated iron sheets.
Buck and doe should be at least 12 months of age before they are used for breeding. Seven to ten days of mating, the doe should be given a high plane of nutrition in order to increase the number of eggs ovulated, and consequently, an increase in the number of kids to be given birth to. This process of increasing the feed intake of goat is called flushing.
Before flushing, it is advisable to deworm the goats to get rid of endoparasites. The buck is brought to mate the doe (hand mating) during the heat period.
The gestation period of the doe is about 145-150 days. During the gestation period, the doe should be allowed to graze in the pasture and supplementary feeds in form of concentrates should be fed to the doe. Clean drinkable water should also be provided for the doe.
Few days to parturition, adequate sanitation, comfortable bedding and clean water should be provided. Signs of approaching parturition include mucus discharge from vulva, undue noise making, frequent urination and restlessness. At kidding, the doe should not be disturbed unless in case of difficult kidding during which the attendant can render some help to save the doe and the kid.
b) Birth of Kid to Weaning: When the kid is born, mucus membrane is wiped from their nose to enhance normal breathing and prevent suffocation. The navel cord which can break off on its own is dipped in iodine solution to prevent infection and to promote fast healing. The doe is allowed to lick up the mucus from the body of the kid because it derives satisfaction from it and it also promotes milk let-down. The placenta, which should come out few hours after birth should be disposed of and the pen cleaned. The udder should be washed and disinfected.
The kids, where possible, should be helped to suckle colostrum produced by the dam for the first three days of birth. Colostrum provides immunity against disease infection to the kid. It is also rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. The feed intake of the doe should be increased to promote easy production of milk to feed the kid. At about two weeks of age, creep feed, which is rich in protein, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins should be given to the kid. This promotes rapid growth of the kid and early weaning.
Kids not required for breeding are castrated to prevent indiscriminate mating Identification marks, either by branding, tattooing or ear notching, should be given to the kids when they are about four weeks old. The kids should also be vaccinated against foot and mouth disease, rinderpest and anthrax diseases. During weaning, the kids should be introduced to roughages in order to promote the functioning of the rumen. Throughout this period, high level of sanitation has to be maintained to prevent diseases and parasitic infection.
c) Weaning to Finishing or Market Size: The kids are weaned and separated from the doe at about eight weeks of age. They are kept in the growing house from where they can go out to browse and graze on grasses and legumes.
The semi-intensive system is the best method of rearing goat in Nigeria. In addition to the roughages they feed on by rotational grazing, supplementary yam and banana peelings and other household wastes can be given to the goat to feed on. Salt licks, which is rich in minerals and vitamins as well as cool and clean water should be provided regularly.
In order to prevent parasitic infestation, good sanitary conditions has to be maintained through regular dipping of the animals in chemical solution, to eradicate ectoparasites, and regular deworming with lead arsenate or phenothiazine using drenching gun to administer the dewormer which kills endoparasites like tapeworm and ascaris. The vaccination programmes on rinderpest, brucellosis, foot and mouth, and anthrax diseases should be repeated.
With good housing, feeding and healthcare, the goat will mature within four tosix months.