~Dr. Pranjal Borah
Goats have always been the species of choice for in-house rearing for innumerable small, marginal and landless farmers because of their hardiness, versatile, feeding habits and prolificacy. The meat and milk of this species is accepted universally. The animals have ready and liquidity cash value.
Besides being in high demand of goat meat, commercialization of goat farming has not taken pace in this part of the country. Farmers in this region rear goats in primitive way and in small numbers especially as a source of subsidiary income.
The 19th Livestock Census, (2012) shows that Assam holds highest number of goat amongst the other NER states.
It is a well known fact that genetic improvement of any species should follow the improve management to get desired benefits. An effective goat management should have the following consideration and requirements:
- MANAGEMENT SYSTEM :-
- Semi – intensive system of management: In this system goats are allowed browsing along with supplementary feeding in daytime and in the night shelters are provided. This method is largely being used in this part of the country, but the trend in populations growth, both human and livestock, may not permit this in future and we may have to go in for the intensive system of goat production and management.
- FLOCK SIZE: For livelihood support 5-10 numbers of goat can be easily managed by a small family. But to grasp the market demand and prevent the inflow of goat meat from the other states large scale commercial operations may be an option. However, the smaller land holding in this region limits this type of venture, hence community level farming with smaller units distributed throughout the community members may yield better results.
Chang ghar (Slatted floor): This type of housing is very suitable in this North Eastern Region because of high humidity and heavy rainfall. Goats need protection against possible water logging. In this type of housing the slatted floor is elevated approximately 3 to 3.5 ft. (0.9 to 1.05 m) above ground to facilitate easy cleaning. Another floor underneath the slatted one may be provided where the dung and urine will fall.
Bamboo slats or wooden slats 3” thick and 1” wide (7.5 cm and 2.5 cm respectively) may be used as flooring material which are laid one after another leaving about 1” gap in between. In this system, a space of 2 ft. 6 inch X 4 ft. 6 inch (0.75 m x 1.35 m) is required for each goat.
The walls may be constructed with bamboo or timber with provision for adequate ventilation.
The roof may be constructed with thatch or asbestos sheets which can maintain more or less equitable temperature in all season. Attached with the goat house an open fenced are should be provided for exercises. Arrangement for feeding rack and water trough should be made in the house.
Following sheds for different group of animals can be constructed in commercial operations:
- General Flock Shed: For adult breeding does: Each shed should accommodate about 50-60 does. Each shed should be partitioned and made into pens to accommodate 10-12 does in each. Space required 1.7. M2 per does.
- Shed For Buck: Bucks are housed individually. For each buck an area of 3.4 M2 is required for larger breed for AHG 1 sq.m is sufficient.
- Kidding Shed: Pregnant animals are housed individually in this sheds. Kidding Boxes of 1.5 meter square with wall of 1 M height are made to accommodate each pregnant doe. In winter season, some warming device like room heater should be provided here. These pens should be protected from entry of birds like crows, etc.
- Kid Shed: Kids from weaning up to attaining maturity are housed in these sheds, preferably in groups. In order to accommodate 20 kids, a loose stall with a pen area of 17 M2 is required.
- Segregation Shed: Provision for small segregation shed (sick animals shed) about 3.6 m X is very desirable when the herd is large.FEEDING: While feeding has little importance under extensive system of management, however, it has paramount importance in intensive and semi – intensive systems of goat production. In the later two situations, the different classes and categories of animals need to be separately fed and the arrangement of feeding must ensure that each animal gets its due share of concentrates and roughage. The weaker ones should not be ousted by the stronger ones.
Tupping time, late pregnancy, and lactation are the most crucial times in the nutrition of goat and must be effectively taken care of. If possible, their concentrate feeding should be individually arranged and the roughage be provided in the mangers.
MANGEMENT OF GOAT:
- Identification and Data Recording: Identification of animal (ear tag, tattoo etc.) is an important husbandry practice to be carried out together with proper maintenance of performance records of the animals. These recording of the performances of animals ultimately help in the selection procedures.
- Castration: It is the most important practice in respect of meat production as well as breeding practices.
- To get a higher body-weight gain as well as good quality meat, castration of male kids is an important management practice.
- Male kids which are not to be allowed to produce the next generation after they are found to be inferior in the selection procedure should be castrated.
- Castration is best carried out when the kid is 3 months old.
- Culling: Culling of animals is important from the economic point of view of the farm. Animals with the following deficiencies should be culled :-
- Animal showing slower growth rates, with stunted growth and lower body-weight in relation to age.
- Animals with congenital defects or any other physical deformity.
- Animals showing lower productive and reproductive performances.
- Bucks which are excluded in the selection programme.
- Animals of older age which become less productive.
- Diseased animals – Animals suffering from chronic debilitating diseases like Tuberculosis, Chronic mange, Liver diseases, Johne’s disease and some other diseases of zoonotic importance etc.
- Care and Management of Kids:For the production of well grown goats, excellent care from birth and adequate feeding are important factors. Following points should be kept in mind.
- Immediately after birth, the nose of the kid should be cleared of any entangling membrane or mucous to prevent suffocation.
- Extra mucous membrane that may adhere to the body may be removed and the newborn should be cleaned dry.
- Kid’s navel should be dipped in tincture of iodine or swabbed with any antiseptic solution to prevent navel ill. In case of intact umbilical cord, it should be severed with a sterile knife at a distance of about 4-7 cm from the umbilicus. The cut end should be swabbed with tincture of iodine.
- If there is breathing trouble, artificial means of breathing should be resorted to.
- The kid should get the first drink of colostrum within 30 minutes of birth to provide energy, immunity against diseases during early life and to expel the first fecal material (meconium).
- Always warm the milk substitute to about 1030 – 1050F, if kids are not allowed to suck mother’s milk directly.
- Always wash and sterilizes the bottle, nipple, etc. after each feeding.
- When the kids are 3 weeks to a month old, gradually add a good kid starter to the kids and increase the amount at a rate the kids can take without upsetting digestion.
- Start offering the kid chaffed greens, hay and grains (concentrate).
- Milk can be discontinued by 3 or 4 months of age or possibly sooner if the kids are eating grass or hay and concentrate.
- Record the weight of the kid at birth.
- Give every kid an identification number at an early age.
- Care should be taken not to overfeed or underfeed as this can cause digestive and growth problems.
- First deworming should be done at the fourth week of age.
- Care of Young Stock:
- Protect the kids from being butted by other animals.
- Provide good and clean drinking water.
- Keep the kids in a well ventilated place.
- Avoid dampness and protect them from cold and chilly weather. Sometimes warming or artificial heating of the pens is required in cold months.
- Give adequate exercise to grown-up kids.
- Supply of good quality concentrate mixture as well as fodder will help in early development of the rumen.
- Periodic de-worming is advocated.
- Male kids, not required for breeding purpose, should be castrated.
Kids should be weaned at 90 days of age.
- Care and Management of Doe:
The does come into heat every 18-24 days on an average of 21 days. The duration of heat period is 2-3 days. Generally, the breeding season is spread throughout the year and under good feeding and management condition, two pregnancies in a year are possible.
- Care and Management of Pregnant Doe:
The care of the pregnant doe is important as the growth and development of foetus during this period determines the rate of growth of the kid after birth. A well looked after, properly maintained doe during pregnancy will have a good flow of milk when the kid is born and will be able to develop and maintain good health in later life.
Diet during pregnancy markedly influence the birth weight of kids and when this is depressed the kids lack in vigour and heavy losses of does and kids are likely to occur at kidding time. Adequate nutrition of does after the 90th day of gestation is essential for the development of foetus.
Pregnant does should not be subject to fight and should not be crowded together nor allowed to jump over hedges or ditches. They should be housed individually with least disturbance. A kidding box of size 1.25 m by1.25 m should be provided inside the pen.
As the pregnant doe completes the gestation period (145 ± 5 days), it should be observed for visible sings of parturition. The signs usually noticed are :
- Enlargement of the udder which becomes light and shiny.
- Loosening of the vulva about 3 days prior to parturition.
- Distinct depression on either side of the tail.
- Hollow appearance in the flank region.
- The doe any paw on the ground lie down and get up at frequent interval.
- The doe will become restless and nervous and frequently make a low bleating sound.
- Slight opaque yellowish discharge from the vagina. This will indicate that parturition has started.
- Care and Management at kidding:
- Prepare the kidding pen by cleaning, disinfecting and using fine bedding to prevent the kids from getting any infection.
- If there are any water troughs, keep them high enough of the floor so that the kids do not get dropped into the water.
- The day before kidding, substitute part of the grain with a warm wet wheat bran mash, which is laxative and will clean out the digestive tract, and will also help in kidding.
- Keep the animal in a pen and let her alone. Check the doe every half an hour and give her chance to kid without assistance.
- The “after-birth” will usually be passed out in 30 minutes to 4 hours after the kids are born. If this does not happen within six hours of parturition call the Veterinarian.
- Care and management of Buck:
- Male goats become fertile at an early age. At about 7 months they are capable of breeding. The male goats which are not wroth retaining should be castrated.
- The buck, to be in good condition and well suited for breeding, should be provided sufficient exercise.
- Generally one male is considered sufficient for about 20 females. But when breeding season is restricted, more males may be needed in order to ensure high conception rate.
- The buck’s hooves should be trimmed regularly to avoid lameness or foot-rot.
- Buck should always be kept separate from the does.
- Provision of health coverage:
The flocking tendency of goats may lead to spread of diseases and parasites which need to be seriously guarded against and their prevention is to be emphasized more than their treatment. An elaborate timely treatment schedule is, therefore to be developed for different situations depending upon the local conditions of time temperature rainfall and season. Timely vaccination for enterotoxaemia, goat pox and PPR along with administration of anthelmentics for the different gut parasites must be strictly adhered to. Their dipping and foot bathing should also be regularly followed to combat the infestation of external parasites.
FUTURE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
The only way to cope up with the increasing demands of quantity and quality of meat and other products from goat is to adopt modern scientific technologies extensively. Technology adoption is enhanced when the production system is organized and has onward linkage to processing; value addition and marketing. There are many aspects for research and development – production of superior germplasm, conservation of the indigenous goat breeds by producing more elite breeding bucks in their home tract and storage of their semen and embryos and adoption and stabilization of Artificial Insemination are some aspects which require attention.
Intensive Commercial Production System, onward linkages for processing through scientific modern slaughterhouses and quality assured marketing can go a long way in improving productivity substantially. Contract farming and entrepreneurship can bring about employment generation and income to many youths.
Dr. Pranjal Borah
Goat Research Station, AAU, Burnihat, Assam
*(This article has been re-published with due consent of the author, from a handbook on “Bigyansanmata Sagoli Palon” (Scientific Goat Rearing) published by Lakhimpur College of Veterinary Science, on the occasion of a two days training programme held on 16th and 17th March, 2019 in commemoration with the Golden Jubilee Year of Assam Agricultural University.- Editor, Pashu Samriddhi).