Introduction – The Importance of Goat Keeping
Goats play an important role in food production systems in developing countries. Their great popularity can be explained by their good adaptation to many different climates (ecological adaptation) and the many uses for which they can be kept.
Goats are especially important in developing countries: in 1981. 96% of the world’s goal population of 496 million goals was to be found there (476 million). In those countries, goats make up 20% of the ru-rninants uhich are kept as livestock. Goats are particularly important in Africa and the Indian subcontinent (see table 1).
Table 1: Division of goals in the tropics and the subtropics Source: Production Yearbook, Vol 33. FAO Rome
|West Asia||52.7||15 1 %|
|Indian Sub-continent||109.8||31.4 %|
|Central America||10.9||31 %|
The Importance of Goats
Goats are of high importance to people because of the many functions they provide:
- They serves as bank account which can be drawn upon when cash money is needed,
- Kids are the interest given: they are used as gifts to strengthen relationships:
- They are used as sacrificial animal.
- Furthermore goats provide milk and meal which are high-grade food-stuffs for people.
Goats are much tougher than cattle, they are small animals and cost less per animal. Each farmer usually owns a number of goats. Goat keeping therefore touches on many people’s lives.
For the small-scale farmer, the goat has a number of attractive properties:
- The goat is a small animal. Compared to the big animals as cows its
value is not very high. This means keeping goats is not too risky.
- It is easier to find feed for a small animal.
- Even small children can control them.
- It is a quickly maturing animal with a high fertility.
- Animals are regularly available for sale or other uses. Restoration of
the herd size is also quickly done.
- Goats can maintain themselves well in poor and dry areas, where
other ruminants do not succeed.
- In places where sleeping sickness is present, goats can still be kept
where cows cannot survive, because there are resistant goat breeds.
For the breeding of goats, a good reproduction is of immediate importance to the goat keeper. Good reproduction is the capability of a group of goats to produce many young in a year. Goats can have up to three litters in two years: one litter a year is usual. If more kids mature, you can sell, slaughter or give away more goats. For milking goats, giving birth to more litters also means a greater milk production.
The topics we will discuss here are:
- the sexual maturity cf goat and billy-goat.
- the physical condition of both.
- being in heat.
- servicing of a goat.
- gestation (pregnancy)
In a herd, a billy-goat services a young goat as soon as she is sexually mature and the first time she is in heat. At that stage the young goals themselves are still growing. If they get with young, they must divide their energy between their own growth and the development of the kids growing in their womb. The milk production to raise these kids also competes with their own growth. As a result, the goat herself remains smaller and the kids born are smaller and weaker. The death among these kids will therefore be higher.
When can a young goat best be serviced?
For this you should look at the weight and not al the age of the goal. You should only let young goats be serviced when they have reached three-quarters cf the normal, mature weight for that breed. With good nutrition and care, that weight will quickly be reached.
If a goat is not in good health, she will get in heat less regularly and less obviously. That makes it difficult for the goat keeper to control the mating period. To avoid this problem, it is better to first ensure that the animals are in good condition. Good nutrition and the prevention and timely treatment of disease and parasites will help. Of course it is also important that there is sufficient feed available during the gestation and suckling period. By correctly planning the delivery date (5 months after servicing) through planning of the servicing you avoid problems.
After about 4 months of age. a billy-goat is sexually mature. What you should look for is that both testicles have dropped into place. If that is not the case, the sperm production will be insufficient and perhaps even nonexistent.
One billy-goat can sen ice 10 to 20 goats. Young billy-goats should not be offered too many goats; the quantity of the services will decline and the billy-goat becomes exhausted. On the other hand, if you have an exceptionally virile billy-goat then it is possible to share him with your neighbors should both of you have small herds of goats. The same applies here: the billy-goat must be healthy and not too fat. If he is too fat. then his rutting desire will decline and the quality of his sperm will decrease.
In hornless breeds, so-called ‘intersexes’ can occur. These are animals which look like males but are completely infertile. They occur because their sex changes during their development in the womb. Usually they are females which become males. The female sexual organs do not develop and the male sexual organs develop incompletely; thus an infertile animal is created. Should you discover after some time that you are trying to “breed” with such a “billy-coat”, then the best solution is to slaughter the animal.
Also in breeds which normally do have horns, hornless billy-goats do sometimes occur. Even if the; are fertile and produce offspring, it is better not to use them for breeding purposes as there is a chance of getting ‘intersex’ offspring.
Goat Keeping in Tropics: The Importance of Goat Keeping, Breeding Goats