Basics of goat keeping
Indigenous breeds, which have been naturally chosen for resilience to severe situations and are typically used for meat production, are also significant for cultural reasons.
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Breeds developed particularly for their ability to produce meat. Boer goats, Savanna goats, and Kalahari red goats are just a few of the goat breeds you may find in South Africa. It’s often believed that these goats are more susceptible to illness than their non-improved counterparts.
Goats used for milking are mostly of the Saanen and Toggenburg varieties, both of which are imported. These animals are specifically bred to produce milk, and their milk is used to make cheese and yoghurt, among other dairy products.
Nutrition and stress
A single infected animal has the potential to infect a whole herd. This may also result in the ill animal being re-infected after it has healed. When a farmer or a neighbour has a lot of ill animals, it might indicate a significant concentration of disease in the region. When there is widespread sickness, it is challenging to maintain the health of individual animals.
Farmers who are familiar with regional animal illnesses should coordinate community-wide responses rather than focusing just on protecting their own herds. Disease-causing parasites like ticks and worms are in the same boat. It is challenging to prevent ticks and worms from spreading across a herd if certain animals in the herd have an abundance of these parasites.
Protection and vaccination
Stress, which may contribute to illness, can be avoided by providing shelter from the rain and snow. If the animal isn’t already overburdened with parasites, dipping and deworming may help it fend off sickness. The only non-natural technique to make an animal immune to illness is vaccination. Do this before exposing the animal to the sickness.
Diseases cannot be diagnosed just by external signs (physical appearance, medical history, diet, body temperature, pulse, etc.). Antibiotics are often and increasingly being misused for illnesses that do not respond to them. Worms and flukes are the most typical and troublesome forms of internal parasites. In most cases, doctors will prescribe an oral dewormer.
Different dewormers are used to treat different types of worms and flukes. For maximum efficiency, a farmer should take dung samples to identify the specific species of worm that is causing the issue. Drenching, in which the whole herd is dosed independently of its worm load, is a leading source of worm resistance to several of these actives. Some injectable remedies are effective against worms as well.
Whether a drug is administered orally or intravenously, it must be given at the appropriate dose rate, which is often determined by the animal’s weight. The dosage must be adjusted according to the animal’s weight. A failure to adhere to the recommended dosage will result in the drug’s ineffectiveness and, in the long run, in the development of resistance in the organisms you’re trying to eradicate.
Farmers should learn about the most prevalent illnesses that strike goats in their region so they can create a vaccination schedule that will protect their herd. Only a subset of illnesses may be prevented with vaccination. Injecting a healthy animal with a vaccine may prevent it from getting a disease. This is distinct from helping an animal that has already become ill.
Because of their usefulness in so many contexts, goats have a prominent place in society. Goats may be raised for their meat and milk, which are both good sources of animal protein. Families of low-income farmers and the landless, who lack the means to raise a cow and hence cannot afford to buy meat and milk, will find this to be of critical importance. Due to factors like land fragmentation, ineffective land policy implementation, and erratic land sales and allocations, smallholders’ access to land is becoming more fragile.
Advantages of goatkeeping
The offspring are like interest on an inflation-proof savings account, and the parents may sell the goats when they need cash.
They know vast climate adaptability by browsing, not fighting for roughage with other ruminants, and making optimal use of fibrous foods.
They may fill the role of the “poor man’s cow” for farmers with smaller plots of land.
Goats are tiny, inexpensive, and versatile because of their adaptability to domestic slaughter, ritual sacrifice, and gift giving.
Goats, as opposed to cattle or other big animals, have fewer cultural constraints placed on their ownership and handling by women and young people.
There is a rapid reproductive rate: early maturing, short kidding interval, twins prevalent, quick returns on investments, and quick building up of flocks.
There is no such thing as a religious taboo.
While the initial outlay for quality housing may appear exorbitant, it really ends up being rather little when weighed against other expenses. Feed, labour, lost or stolen animals, and medical care for sick animals may all be reduced with a high-quality shed’s extended lifespan.
Goats are often kept in herds rather than individually, since doing so reduces the amount of time and money needed to care for the animals. Goats are genuine herd animals that thrive in communal settings. The herd size should be moderated to prevent disturbances. A minimum of 1.5–2 square metres of floor space is required for each adult goat if they are not allowed to graze. If they do graze, one square metre per goat is plenty.
The shed may be smaller for temporary habitation, and you won’t have to worry about sourcing all the feed and water yourself. This can only be done if there is sufficient grassland and/or browse nearby. Since pasture is scarce in high-population, high-crop-production regions, keeping your goats inside year-round is a common need.
The value of water cannot be overstated. Goats can go without water for up to three days, making them one of the domestic animals with the greatest water endurance (camels are better). Those who are lactating or pregnant need access to plenty of clean water 24 hours a day.
Energy is essential for goats since they require it to live, move, develop, and have offspring. Carbohydrates (starch, sugars, and digestible fibres) and fats are the primary nutrients in feedstuffs that provide energy. Concentrates (cereals, oil seeds and their by-products, molasses) and high-quality roughages are examples of high-energy feedstuffs. Straws and mature grasses have a low calorie and protein content and are slowly digested since they contain considerable indigestible fibre.
Milk and meat contain a lot of protein since it is a necessary structural component of the animal body. Goats need protein for general health, development, and, most importantly, milk and kid production.
Minimal quantities of minerals and table salt are required for goats. Animals who are given a wide range of foods are more likely to get all of the necessary minerals. However, when grazing rangeland or feeding on restricted quantities of concentrates, mineral shortages may emerge. Salt, calcium, and phosphorus are just a few of the minerals essential to maintaining life.
The goal of pure breeding is to produce children that are genetically identical to the parent animals. Good performance cannot be assured without the additional step of selecting male and female breeding animals. Weak points, especially in female animals, may be amenable to correction by selection. Where there is a high demand for purebred breeding goats or where the breed performs best in the current environment, pure breeding may be the best option.
When two distinct species of animals are bred together, this is called cross-breeding. Some hybrid vigour (an animal that is both more productive and healthier) is present in most offspring of a cross. The female progeny of a dairy-meat hybrid are more likely to have larger offspring than either parent breed would normally have.
It’s best to do all of the milking by hand. Stripping is a less efficient alternative to the ‘full-hand’ approach and may be harmful to the teats and mammary tissue, increasing the likelihood of mastitis. When milking with a “full-hand,” the thumb and index finger are closed over the teat, and the milk is extracted by gradually squeezing each finger in turn, beginning with the index finger, while tugging as little as possible. The milk is extracted from the teat in this manner.
The drying-off process will be hastened if the udder is not milked out entirely. This suggests that the goat’s milk output and lactation period will decrease with time. Thus, the goat is milked dry,’ as her milk output drops to match the quantity that is being taken from her. When milking, the dry approach is preferable. This indicates that the milker shouldn’t moisten the teats with his or her fingers before milking. Because of the lack of cleanliness, this is unacceptable. Udder cream is often used to make the teats soft; however, it is more effective if applied after milking than before.
Farmers may recall major events and statistics, but they typically forget the specifics. Animal, input, and pricing data, however, are invaluable management tools. Recording and administration on the farm are crucial but should be kept simple and effective. The farm’s financial status, production factors, and cash flow should all be detailed.
When paired with pricing and cost data, technical details like the quantity of concentrates supplied provide invaluable insight to managers. Decisions made by management are based on records of factors including fertility, kidding interval, and illness prevalence. When a farmer and an extension officer combine their technical and economic records, they have access to crucial data regarding the farm’s current state and its potential future.
Tips for goatkeeping
- Keep your goats in tip-top shape.
- Select commercially viable, high-yield goat breeds.
- Herds of goats are common. Therefore, make sure they have a lot of space to move about in.
- Goat farms should have access to all the necessary equipment.
- The quality of the goat’s milk, meat, and health may all be improved with proper breeding.
- Supply them with plenty of clean water, food, and new grass as needed throughout the day.
- Goats should never be given food or water that has been tainted in any way.
- The pregnant doe, the breeding buck, and the young need special attention.
- During mating season, the buck needs more nourishment.
- Get your goat to the vet on a regular basis to keep it healthy.
- In the summertime, give them plenty of water with salt and minerals.
- Protect them from the elements if you care about their survival.