Goats play an important role in food production systems in developing countries. Their great popularity can be explained by their good adaptation to many different climates (ecological adaptation) and the many uses for which they can be kept.
Goats are especially important in developing countries: in 1981, 96% of the world’s goat population of 496 million goats was to be found there (476 million). In those countries, goats make up 20% of the ruminants which are kept as livestock.
Goats are of high importance to people because of the many functions they provide: they serve as bank account which can be drawn upon when cash money is needed, kids are the interest given; they are used as gifts to strengthen relationships; they are used as sacrificial animal.
Furthermore goats provide milk and meat which are high-grade foodstuffs for people.
Goats are much tougher than cattle, they are small animals and cost less per animal. Each farmer usually owns a number of goats. Goat keeping therefore touches on many people’s lives.
For the small-scale farmer, the goat has a number of attractive properties:
- The goat is a small animal. Compared to the big animals as cows its value is not very high. This means keeping goats is not too risky.
- It is easier to find feed for a small animal.
- Even small children can control them.
- It is a quickly maturing animal with a high fertility.
- Animals are regularly available for sale or other uses. Restoration of the herd size is also quickly done.
- Goats can maintain themselves well in poor and dry areas, where other ruminants do not succeed.
- In places where sleeping sickness is present, goats can still be kept where cows cannot survive, because there are resistant goat breeds.
- Goat breeding
- Raising and selection
- Nutrition and feeding
- Health, disease and parasites
- Goat products
- Record keeping
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source: www.practicalaction.org, photo from tugupahlawan.com