Goats are mammalian farm animals. They are reared all over Nigeria. From the North down to the south. Hausa call it Akuya, igbo call it Ewu, Yoruba call it Ewure. One very important fact about goats is that they are the cheapest farm animals to maintain. Goats are able to live predominantly on grasses which we consider weeds on the farm when allowed to range freely. Research also suggests that goat meat and milk are more nutritious than cow’s.
If kept in confinement, you can feed them on leaves, cut grasses for them, they feed well on kitchen waste like cassava peelings, plantain peelings, maize husk, maize bran or chaff. If you feed them with table remnants like left over rice, gari or bread they will consider themselves lucky. This is why they are considered scavengers among the farm animals.
What Breed to Stock?
There are different breeds of goat available in Nigeria . Each breed is well adapted to its local area of origin. If there are traits you like in other breeds which are not local to where you propose to set up your goat farm, the best thing to do is cross bread the ‘imported’ goat with a breed that is local to you.
Sokoto Red Goat – From Sokoto to Kano down to Kwara state the Sokoto red goat is well adapted hence it thrives well in the aforementioned states and around them.
Kanuri White – Bornu, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa that is, North eastern part of Nigeria, the Kanuri white goat thrives well.
West African Dwarf – In the southern parts, we have the common west African dwarf.
The gestation period of goats is less than 4 months hence the female goat is able to kid two times in a year. The following factors should be considered when selecting goat
for breeding. The goat must be from a set of twins or triplet. This is very important because the trait of multiple ovulation is hereditary .If the stock is from a set of twins it will also produce twins though it may not be on the first kidding.
The stock should be a breed that is well adapted to the local environment, It may not be good if you buy kanuri white to rear in the south . If you want some traits of Kanuri
white to manifest among your goat, you can buy a male kanuri and crossbreed with the parent stock. Parent stock should be healthy, buy them after weaning from their mother. Do not buy the one that is still suckling for it may develop nutritional disease if you wean suddenly. Buy the one that is weaned and able to feed on roughage.
Feed the stock as described on grasses leaves rice or maize bran rice hulls cassava or plantain peelings if you are able to add very little table salt to the food it triggers their appetite and makes them eat more, .Maturity takes up to eight months .At maturity select a good buck considering the parameters we mentioned earlier to crossbreed your goat. The gestation period is not more than four months so expect the nanny to kid four months after mating.
Caring for The Kids
After parturition the kids gets up to start suckling under two hours. It will feed absolutely on the mother’s milk until it is able to nibble on tender grasses gradually. It will follow the mother if they are allowed to range freely.
The goats reared on free range grows faster and healthier than those in confinement. They are able to feed on wide range of grasses and to exercise their body. Goats like a lot of body exercise . you will see them running about jumping even climbing walls where possible . After weaning you can sell the goat or rear them to maturity before
selling .The price of a weaned goat is 3500 Naira for both male and female, if you rear them to maturity at eight months, the price of the male is 7000 Naira while the female is 5000 Naira. It is very important to know that the price of both male and female appreciates with age. I have witnessed where a male goat was sold for 35000 Naira. The price of a medium size goat during the last Eid kabir festival was not less than 30000 Naira in Lagos
Goats are prone to bovine diseases but I have never experienced or hear of any attack of epidemic level among oats. The common diseases are:
Bloat This occurs when they feed on weeds that are poisonous or if you feed them on beans [cow pea] and allow them to drink excess water on top. The symptom is that the stomach will swell up like ball and make the goat uncomfortable if you don’t take care the goat may die. Treatment is to give the goat palm oil . Feed on dry food like cassava or plantain peels and reduce the water intake until the condition comes to normal.
Scabies and dandruff This are skin diseases . Treat by rubbing palm oil or engine oil on the body of the goat. Under no condition should you give antibiotics to goats orally If there is need for antibiotics it must be injected intra muscular.
Cultural and Religious Values
The male goat is very important traditionally among Igbos and Yorubas. The meat is required for sacrifice to gods and oracles including Ifa and Sango in Yoruba land. It is required to prepare barbecue [ASUN]. In Ondo and Ekiti states during festivals and ceremonies. Many people enjoy the aroma of matured male goat in the soup. In Igbo land the male goat [unwampi] is the preferred meat for Christmas and also for sacrifice to the oracle amadiora. The female goat is forbidden in some parts of oyo and ogun states and cherished in many other parts. As for me I don’t have any limitation for there are no taboos in Lagos where I grew up. Gbogbo eran ni jije.