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In Goatery Article:
1. Introduction
2. Goat Rearing
3. What Do Goat Eat?
4. Goat Management

1. Introduction

Small stock farming is not only one of the oldest branches of farming, but for many years has also been one of the largest agricultural industries in Botswana.

2. Goat Rearing

Goat is a multi functional animal and plays a significant role in the economy and nutrition of small and marginal farmers in the country. Goat rearing is an enterprise which has been practiced by a large section of population in rural areas. Goats can efficiently survive on available shrubs and trees in adverse harsh environment in low fertility lands where no other crop can be grown. In rural areas of Botswana, most societies keep goats as the major source of income and are highly dependant on this. The advantages of goat rearing are :
  • The initial investment needed for Goat farming is low.
  • Due to small body size and docile nature, housing requirements and managemental problems with goats are less.
  • Goats are friendly animals and enjoy being with the people.
  • Goats are prolific breeders and achieve sexual maturity at the age of 10-12 months gestation period in goats is short and at the age of 16-17 months it starts giving milk. Twinning is very common and triplets and quadruplets are rare.
  • In drought prone areas risk of goat farming is very much less as compared to other livestock species.
  • Unlike large animals in commercial farm conditions both male and female goats have equal value.
  • Goats are ideal for mixed species grazing, they can thrive well on wide variety of thorny bushes, weeds, crop residues, agricultural by-products unsuitable for human consumption.
  • Under proper management, goats can improve and maintain grazing land and reduce bush encroachment (biological control) without causing harm to the environment.
  • Slaughter and dressing operation and meat disposal can be carried without much environmental problems.
  • The goat meat is more lean (low cholesterol) and relatively good for people who prefer low energy diet
  • Goat milk is easy to digest than cow milk because of small fat globules and is naturally homogenised. Goat milk is said to play a role in improving appetite and digestive efficiency. Goat milk is non allergic as compared to cow milk and it has anti-fungal and anti bacterial properties and can be used for treating urogenital diseases of fungal origin.
  • Goat creates employment to the rural poor besides effectively utilising unpaid family labour.
  • Goat can be milked number of times in a day.

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3. What Do Goat Eat?

Goats are herbivores, which means that their diet consists of plant matter. Like sheep and cows they are also known as ruminants: instead of having just one stomach like humans they have a four-chambered stomach that allow specialized digestion of different components of the feed.
In more intensive husbandry situations goats, like all farm animals, are catered to with a diet balanced for energy, protein, calcium and other essential nutrients from a mixture of sources including pasture, hay and commercial feeds to support their increased production requirements.

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4. Goat Management

Modern and well established scientific principles, practices and skills should be used to obtain maximum economic benefits from goat rearing. Some of the recommended practices are given here under:
Housing management
Goat are well adapted to the Botswana climate, but they do require shelter for shade in the summer and a dry, draft-free shed in the winter. Goats, like sheep, may be easy prey to predators and they must be kept guarded from harm whether a farmer decides to construct housing or not. Dairy goats and their offspring are housed and cared for just like dairy cows.
When considering housing for goat one should construct a shed on dry and properly raised ground and avoid water-logging, marshy areas. In low lying and heavy rainfall areas the floors should be preferably elevated to avoid flooding which would endanger the animals. The shed should have good ventilation and bucks should be housed in individual pens, while does can be housed in groups up to 60 per pen. Proper shade and drinking water should be provided and over stocking or crowding should be avoided.
Selection of breeding stock and it's management
Farmers should target buying stock from reliable breeders or from nearest livestock market to avoid supply inconsistency and high transportation costs. Animals in good health and having good physical features must be purchased in consultation with Veterinarian to ensure quality. It is recommended to purchase animals which are ready to breed and in prime stage of production, farmers can identify the newly purchased animals by suitable identification mark.Farmers should vaccinate the newly purchased animals against diseases and newly purchased stock should be be kept under observation for about 15 days before mixing with the general flock. Unproductive animals should be culled promptly and should be replaced by the newly purchased animals or farm born ones. To ensure maximum productivity, animals should be bred at the interval of 8-9 months and old animals at the age of 6 years and above should be culled.
Feeding management
Natural veld is a valuable resource of Botswana, which is a good and economical feed for ruminant animals. Natural grazing consists of many plants such as trees, shrubs, bush and grass. However, grasses can be palatable, unpalatable, useless or poisonous and to ensure optimum use of the veld farmers should do the following;
  1. Do not allow grazing on eroded areas
  2. Give special attention to water course veld
  3. Divide veld into enough camps according to the type of veld
  4. Supply enough drinking water in all camps
  5. Reclaim eroded areas
  6. Graze according to area and veld type
As an alternative to above, or in addition, supply of cultivated fodder from own farm or from surrounding farms may be ensured. As a thumb rule 2/3 of the energy requirements should be met through roughages. Half of the roughages should be leguminous green fodders and rest half should be grasses/tender tree leaves. In the absence of good quality green fodders, concentrates must be considered to replace them. Kids should be fed colostrum upto 5 days of age, later on they can be put on Kid starter rations.Green leguminous fodders should be offered adlib. to kids from 15 days onwards. Provide salt and water to kids at all times. Additional concentrates should be given to bucks and does during breeding season.
Protection against diseases
Farmers must be on the alert for signs of illness such as reduced feed intake, fever, abnormal discharge or unusual behaviour. Consult the nearest veterinary aid centre for help if illness is suspected. Protect the animals against common diseases by giving necessary vaccinations such as deworming the animals regularly. In case of outbreak of contagious diseases, immediately segregate the sick animals from healthy stock and take necessary disease control measures. Provide clean and uncontaminated feed and water for minimising the health disorders.
Breeding care
It should be planned to obtain 3 kiddings in 2 years period by adopting optimal management conditions. The ratio for the animals should be one buck for every 25 does in one breeding season. Breed the animals 12 hours after the onset of the first symptoms of heat for maximum conception. Unbreedable animals must be examined thoroughly as directed by veterinary doctor for prompt elimination of causes for anoestrum or cull them if necessary. In advanced stage of pregnancy the does must be transferred to either kidding pens or separately earmarked space for kidding with in the main shed after thoroughly disinfecting it. After kidding, the does should be provided with warm bran mash for two days. Take care of new born kids by providing guard rails. The naval cord should be treated / disinfected with tincture of iodine as soon as it is cut with a sharp knife. Protect the kids from extreme weather conditions, particularly during the first two months to ensure survival. Kids should be dehorned during first two weeks of age, and male kids should be castrated for better quality meat production. Vaccinate the kids as per the recommended schedule. The kids should be weaned at the age of 8 weeks. Proper selection of kids on the basis of initial body weight and weaning weight should be initiated by maintaining appropriate records for replacing the culled adult stock as breeders.
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Bag 0032, Gaborone
Tel: 395 0500

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