Rasing Goats

>> Ahad, 30 November 2008

The goat is one of the smallest domesticated ruminants which has served mankind earlier and longer than cattle and sheep. It is managed for the production of milk, meat and wool, particularly in arid, semitropical or mountainous countries. In temperate zones, goats are kept often rather as supplementary animals by small holders, while commercially cows or buffaloes are kept for milk, cheese and meat, and sheep for wool and meat production. Nonetheless, there are more than 460 million goats worldwide presently producing more than 4.5 million tons of milk and 1.2 million tons of meat besides mohair, cashmere, leather and dung; and more people consume milk and milk products from goats worldwide than from any other animal. Cheese production from goat milk, even in France, Greece, Norway and Italy, is of economic importance. Goat herds, on the other hand low producing though, are an expression of capital assets and wealth in Africa and Asia where they are found in large numbers. In the United States, there are between 2 and 4 million head; with Texas leading in Angora, meat and bush goats; and California leading in dairy goats.
Goats can survive on bushes, trees, desert scrub and aromatic herbs when sheep and cattle would starve to death. Goat herders often have neglected a rational numerical balance between goat numbers and sparse vegetation. Over-grazing has destroyed many tree and woodland areas which was blamed then on goats rather than man, and this has caused widespread ecological and political concerns, erosion, desertification and even ban on freely grazing goats in some areas. On the other hand, goats are valued by cattle and sheepmen in the fight against brush encroachment on millions of acres of open rangeland.
Swiss goat breeds are the world's leaders in milk production. Indian and Nubian derived goat breeds are dual-purpose meat and milk producers. Spanish and South African goats are best known for meat producing ability. The Turkish Angora, Asian Cashmere and the Russian Don goats are kept for mohair and cashmere wool production. In addition, there are Pygmy goats from Western Africa of increasing interest as laboratory and pet animals.
Goat milk casein and goat milk fat are more easily digested than from cow milk. Goat milk is valued for the elderly, sick, babies, children with cow milk allergies, patients with ulcers, and even preferred for raising orphan foals or puppies. Fat globules in goat milk are smaller than in cow milk and remain dispersed longer. Goat milk is higher in vitamin A, niacin, choline and inositol than cow milk, but it is lower in vitamin B6, B12, C and carotenoids. The shorter chain fatty acids (C6, C8, C10, C12) are characteristically higher in goat milk than in cow milk. Otherwise milk gross composition from goats or cows is similar except for differences due to breeds, climate, stage of lactation and feeds.
Breeds of goats vary from as little as 20 lb mature female bodyweight and 18 inches female withers for dwarf goats for meat production up to 250 lb and 42 inches withers height for Indian Jamnapari, Swiss Saanen, Alpine and AngloNubian for milk production. Some Jamnapari males may be as tall as 50 inches at withers. Angora goats weigh between 70 to 110 lb for mature females and are approximately 25 inches tall. Birthweights of female singles are between 3 and 9 lb; twins being often a pound lighter and males 1/2 lb heavier. Twinning is normal in goats with a high percentage of triplets thus giving several breeds an average annual litter size above 2 per doe and more than 200 reproduction rate. Females are called doe, young are kids, males are bucks; one speaks of buck and doe kids, and doelings, and of wethers or castrates.
Differentiation Morphologically, goats may have horns of the scimitar or corkscrew types, but many are dehorned in early age with a heated iron, caustic or later on with a rubber band or surgical saw. Goats may also be hornless genetically. They can be short haired, long haired, have curled hair, are silky or coarse wooled. They may have wattles on the neck and beards. Some breeds, particularly the European, have straight noses, others have convex noses, e.g., the Jamnapari and Nubian breeds or slightly dished noses (Swiss). Swiss and other European breeds have erect ears, while pendulous, drooping, large ears characterize Indian and Nubian goats. The American LaMancha breed has no external ear. A ''gopher'' ear rudiment in LaMancha is less than 1 inch long with little or no cartilage; an ''elf'' ear is less than 2 inches long, but bucks can be registered only with gopher ears. The responsible gene for rudimentary ears is dominant, thus sires with gopher ears will always have gopher or elf-eared offspring, no matter what the genotype of the dam is to which he was mated.
Goats come in almost any color, solid black, white, red, brown, spotted, two and three colored, blended shades, distinct facial stripes, black and white saddles, depending on breeds.
Teeth in goats are a good guide to age. Six lower incisors are found at birth and a set of 20 ''milk teeth'' are complete at 4 weeks of age consisting of the eight incisors in the front of the lower jaw, and 12 molars, three on each side in each jaw. Instead of incisors in the upper jaw there is a hard dental pad against which the lower incisors bite and cut. Some goats have an undesirable inherited recessive condition of ''parrot'' (overshot upper jaw) or ''carp'' mouth (undershot upper jaw) which does not interfere with barn feeding conditions but handicaps the goat severely in pasturing and browsing, because the lower incisor teeth cannot cut correctly against the upper dental pad. With progressing age, the permanent teeth wear down from the rectangular crossectional shape and cores to the round stem which is a further distinguishing mark of age. Furthermore, there are pregnancy rings marking horns and telling age.
The digestive tract of the goat after nursing has the typical four stomach compartments of ruminants consisting of the rumen (paunch) (4-6 gallon), the reticulum (honeycomb) (1-2 liters), the omasum (maniply) (1 liter), and the abomasum (true stomach) (3.5 liters). The intestinal canal is about 100 feet long (11 liters), or 25 times the length of a goat. The total blood volume of the goat approximates 1/12-1/13 of bodyweight; it takes about 14 seconds for goat blood to complete one circulation.
Among diseases, goats are not too different from cattle and sheep in the same regions. Goats tend to have more internal parasites than dairy cows, especially in confined management. They tend to have less tuberculosis, milk fever, post partum ketosis and brucellosis than dairy cows and their milk tends to be of lower bacteria counts than cow milk. They have more prepartum pregnancy toxemia than dairy cows, and are known to have laminitis, infectious arthritis, Johne's disease, listeriosis, pneumonia, coccidiosis, scours, scabies, pediculosis, liver fluke disease and mastitis

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