GOAT meat has become a favourite delicacy for many Zambian. This has become the most liked meat second to beef.
Under traditional level goats are kept under extensive management, that is little is paid to any individual goat. Since they are reared under an extensive system with such conditions goats usually convert otherwise useless browse plants into meat and some milk and at this they are better than other domestic animals.
Still under the traditional system of rearing them breeding takes place throughout the year because the bucks (males) are permanently with the does and nannies (breeding females). However, this kind of production is characterised with low nutrition because management is poor and mortality is high due to diseases and parasites.
The goodness with goats is that they easily contribute effectively in food production through meat and milk production. For this category of livestock, the encouragement from the government and in particular the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock is to make the rural livestock farmer, especially those rearing goats to increase meat supply by improving the feeding and management.
Better feeding and management will result in a greater rate of growth and hence, in more meat.
The goat farmer should equally be taught that this animal is very destructive, hence, avoid overgrazing as one step in increasing feed.
Zambia as at now imported the Boer goat from South Africa. These can equally be used to cross with the local breeds, since they have the ability to improve meat production as well as for higher production to be passed on.
Within the local breed our extension staff can help select and establish a good breed. Apart from this, teach or train owners to avoid indiscriminate breeding in the flock. Therefore, owners should make it a habit to inspect and check their flock regularly. This should involve:
Checking the health of goats and treat them if necessary.
Castrate the males not wanted for breeding, they can be reared together with the females without fear of random breeding.
Select the animals that are ready for slaughter.
With improved goat management, milk production can be encouraged. For the sake of the milk consuming public, goat milk has certain special qualities which are of particular significance in human nutrition.
Both the fat and milk are easily digested and therefore, it is very good for infants and the sick. Furthermore, it is often a suitable alternative for those people who cannot stand cow milk. In addition to this, Tubercular bacilli are rare in goat milk (this is on the health part) but brucellosis is fairly common.
Since the country wants to see its citizens to be healthy, the government should expand the introduction of dairy goats such as those found at Batoka Goat Ranch in Choma.
These can equally be crossed with the local breeds to increase milk yield. Factors, which play a role, are genetic differences, levels of nutrition, size, milking practices, the climate, parasites and diseases.
Therefore, keeping goats are an alternative for the farmer who has not enough land to support more than one cow. Their use can only be advocated to farmers who can provide a high level or improved management. This can be done through a different approach towards browsing and for maximum profit give the milking goat maximum attention.
For those interested to go into goat production it can either be for meat or for milk. They can look at different grazing systems, weighing their advantages and disadvantages.
Zero grazing – advantages include control of mating, protection from thieves and other enemies. Kidding can easily be supervised, manure can easily be collected and applied alse where.
The destruction tendencies of goats would be in check and so have a complete control over the feeding of goats,
Disadvantages – feeding and cleaning are rather labour demanding and has higher capital investment that is building.
Tethering – here a full time herder is not needed and it is a flexible method that can be used in many different circumstances. The other advantage is it does not require fencing or other expensive inputs.
Disadvantages – the goat cannot run away from predators and would need frequent movement to make sure the goat has enough feed and shade. Under this system the goat is likely to strangle itself by the ropes it is tied to a tree.
From the few highlights mentioned or shown here it is up to the would-be goat farmer to choose the system to take after weighing the pros and cons of each system.
Rearing the goats is a lucrative business. Currently, there is an issue of supplying goats to the Middle East. Otherwise, we have a ready market at Kasumbalesa, anything goes especially livestock and goats are the easiest to sale across the border.
Goats are a real livestock product in the waiting that can easily substitute cattle.
Note; goat milk may have a very strong and unpleasant flavour which is also found in white cheese, cream, butter, and other products manufactured from such milk.
It will not disappear during heat treatment. The fat of strongly flavoured goat milk has a comparatively high acidity.
Boiling the milk immediately after milking and separating the bucks from the goats may help to minimise the risk of these off- favour occurring in the milk.