Goat is a small ruminant reared in various parts of the world. In African countries, including Nigeria, goats are kept by farmers and families especially in the rural areas. Goat breeds vary from location to location and in Nigeria the breeds that thrive in the North are different from those in the South.
Goat meat has a unique taste that is very difficult to describe but very appealing to the taste bud and the smell sense. There are other products that can be derived from goat, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and butter. Anything that cow milk can offer, goat milk can also do. These are the reasons rearing goat is considered by wise farmers as a very lucrative business and it’s increasingly becoming very popular among modern farmers.
BREEDS of goats that can be found in Nigeria include Sokoto Red, Bornu Red, West African long-legged goat, West African Dwarf (WAD) goat, Kano Brown, Bauchi type, etc, and lately, Kalahari Red, originally imported from South Africa by the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB).
Goat farming requirements
THE number to start a small-scale goat farm is about thirty goats, five males and twenty five females. The female goats should be more than the males because the females are majorly used for breeding. The male goats mate with the females to produce more goats. However, for raise-and-sell farmers, males only could be procured because breeding is not in focus.
The facilities required for proper and effective goat rearing are fencing, shelter or pen, feeding racks, water, loafing sheds, feeds or silage storage, animal sick bay, and manure handing bay. The shelter can be in the form of a fence or a goat pen. A goat pen is a closed space used to keep goats, while a fence is structure built around the pen to prevent straying and poaching.
Goats do not necessarily require a huge expanse of land. However, they like moving around. While moving, a farmer should ensure they are not at the same time eating plants that are too near to the ground to avoid them eating up food or ornamental plants. They like keeping enough space from each other.
Goat don’t care for a regulated environmental condition, guaranteed that you have enough portions of land for your goats to wander about freely while feeding on the grass at the same time.The feeding of goat is relatively cheap because the major feeds they eat are green grass, but formulated feeds could be compounded to enhance fattening, while tuber and roots peels could be used due to the herbivorous nature of the animal.
GESTATION period in goats lasts from one to 150 days, a goat farmer said, adding that goats attain market size that is fully mature between eight and 12 months, but could get up to 18 months if not properly fed.Veterinary treatment is needed to control infertility and stunting. This could occur due to drinking water contaminated with salmonella.
Goats also have a lot of diseases which can spread easily and can kill the animals. Diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, ketosis, anemia, anorexia, arthritis, anthrax, bronchitis and coccidiosis do affect goats.The feed should be checked regularly. If the feed is contaminated, the animals could come down with diarrhea, he said.Some of the symptoms of pneumonia include mucus discharge from their noses and eyes, fever, anorexia, inflammation of the nasal and buccal cavities and respiratory difficulty.
The farmer said that proper health care and sanitation, in addition to good management, must not be overlooked if any goat farmer wants to excel in the business. He pointed out that it is better to start small and expand as one gets more experience in the business to avoid unnecessary losses.
Return on investments
A goat’s worth is usually according to its weight. In the abattoir, a goat is weighed and the price is based on the weight of the goat or the size depending on the buyer. Goat farming is a good agricultural business because apart from housing, cost of stocking is less capital intensive than cattle, and can bring good returns on investments with full understanding of the market. A full market size goat can be sold from N20, 000 and above.