Goat farming plays a prominent role in the rural economy in supplementing the income of rural household particularly the landless, marginal and small farmers. Goat is considered as poor man's cow and it can be profitably be reared with low investment under semi-intensive as well as the extensive systems of management.
They provide quick return on account of their short generation intervals, high rate of prolificacy and making the related products. Goats' importance is indicated by various functional contributions like milk, meat, skin, socio-economic relevance, security, income generation, human nutrition and stability of farming system.
Goats are the backbone of rural people's economy of arid, semi-arid and hilly regions of our country.
Advantages of goat farming:-
- Goat has been a ready cash riding dependence on high cost private credit
- Increase share of income from goat to family's total income
- Increase profit/goat/annum
- Increase awareness about commercial goat farming and its' advantages
- Increase access to goat milk for family consumption
- Increase in employment generation through goats
- Goat providing an opportunity for efficient utilization of family labour
- Goats have crucial role in livelihood security of resource poor rural households
Goats have become steadily important in the rural economy particularly in the arid, semi-arid and mountainous regions of the country. Goats are among the main meat producing animals in India, whose meat (chevon) is one of the choicest meats and has huge domestic demand.
Due to its good economic prospects, goat rearing under intensive and semi-intensive system for commercial production has been gaining momentum for the past couple of years. High demand for goat and its products with potential of good economic returns have been inviting many progressive farmers, businessmen, professionals, ex-servicemen and educated youths to make up the goat enterprise on a commercial scale.
The emerging favourable market conditions and easy accessibility to improve goat technologies are also catching the attention of entrepreneurs. A number of commercial goat farms have been established in different regions of the country.
Goats in integrated farming system: -
Integrated Farming System (IFS) is a judicious mix of one or more enterprises with cropping, There is a complementary effect through effective recycling of wastes/residues and encompasses additional source of income.
Other than providing meat and other animal produce, the animals are important for the recycling of residues and wastes, converting these from sources of pollution to valuable inputs such as organic manure.
These small animals are cheaper to buy, compared to cow or buffalo, require less space, water and fodder and can be easily grazed even on tiny grasses and many varieties of leaves and weeds. The browsing habits of goats make them especially suited to consume stems and branches of tree species.
They do not need costly external inputs like wheat bran and oil cakes those are required for cows and buffaloes. This type of small animals could be taken care even by aged persons and young children. Usually agricultural labourers who work on others fields, take 2-3 goats, tie them at the edge of the farms and take them back with them in the evening.
Without expensive inputs on these animals, they earn more in a year. Small animals are always more suitable than cows or buffaloes in integrated farming system, as they are cheap and less risky.
By optimizing the management of the animals, the total production of the farm can be increased considerably. Raising of small animals also offers opportunities for regular cash income throughout the year.
How to start a goat farming: -
The different steps are the following:-
- Selecting goats- a) check local zoning regulations; your local government may not allow goats, especially, if you live in an urban area.
- Plan on getting atleast two goats: - Goats are social animals, and are more likely to be uncooperative or try to escape if kept alone. Always keep atleast two goats in each enclosure.
- Decide how many male and female goats to purchase: - There are three main types of goats divided by sex- females (called does), uncastrated males (called bucks) and castrated males (called wethers). Does need to be impregnated by a buck before they produce milk.
- Select the age of the goats:-Young goats are called kids or bucklings or doelings depending on sex. When around 8 weeks old, they are typically cheaper than older goats, and may be friendlier, if raised around humans, but they require one to two years of care before they can be bred, produce milk, or be sold as meat.
- Choose a goat breed: - Some breeds are suited for milk production, others are usually raised for meat. Some farms raise Angora or Cashmere goats to sell their hair for fabric.
- Plan out costs: - The costs of raising a goat varies over time and from region to region. If you are planning to raise goats for commercial purposes, it needs to get a good idea of costs and expected profit.
Precautions in Goat rearing:-
- Rear breed those are best suited for the prevailing environment conditions.
- Purchase the animals from reputed organizations and other societies after satisfying with the purity of the breed.
- Farmers should organize their flock in such a way that at least 15-20 percent breedable females could be added every years as a replacement of old and low producer animals.
- The flock should not be more than 150 or so as it becomes difficult to manage in availability of inputs and proper care.
- During summer, flock should be grazed early in the morning and late in evening.
- Graze the flock near the water source, so that they may get water easily.
- During crucial stages (growth, pregnancy and lactation etc.) animals should be granted on fresh pastures.
- If feed is not available farmers should make arrangements for supplement feeding.
- Sufficient bedding materials like bhusa, dry grasses or leaves should be provided in the pan during lambing/kidding.
- Pregnant animals expected to lambing within 3-4 days should not be sent for grazing at longer distance to avoid risk,
- New born kid should be cleaned with cloth to ensure proper respiration and blood circulation and should be fed colostrums within half an hour.
- After 2-3 days of birth, lamb should kept separately and allowed suckling at 6 hours intervals upto 15 days from the birth.
- The animals of different age groups should be kept in different flock for their proper care and management.
- Timely and effective prophylactic measures should be followed to ensure disease free flock.
- During monsoon the animals should be passed through copper sulphate solution for both foot. This will prevent foot rot.
A general advantage of small livestock species is that their housing needs are simple. Small livestock make valuable contributions to farming systems and to people’s livelihood.
Quantity of feed requirement for goat in different growth periods:-
Upto 3 months
20 days (before)
Last 30 days
First 60 days
Skill improvement practices for goat production:-
- Use lime for sanitation
- Use of vaccine like PPR, ET, FMD etc.
- Proper housing management for keeping goats
- Use of salt in diet
- Deworming of goats
- Feeding of colostrums to kids in time
- Keeping improved bucks
- Plantation/keeping of fodder trees/grasses
- Use of mineral mixture
- Dipping of goats to control ectoparasite
- Preparation of ghee from goat milk.
- Use of Berseem culture
- Keeping of appropriate proportion between male and female
- Making of pelleted feed
- Weeding in fodder crops
Preparing an enclosure: -
- Build fencing: - Goats are excellent at crawling through small gaps or climbing over fencing. Therefore, proper fencing is necessary.
- Build a goat shelter: - Yours goats will need a place to go in the winter and when it’s raining.
- Remove poisonous or strong smelling plants.
- Acquire supplies: - Shop around for food and water buckets. Compare various grains to determine which will be nutritious and cost effective for feeding your goats.
Other goat care measures: -
- Remove the horn stubs of young goats- Most goat species grow horns, and if allowed to grow, these horns have the potential to seriously injure other animals or humans. Anytime, after the young goat is two weeks old, remove the horn stubs.
- Castrate most young males: - Even if you have breeding goats, you typically only need one buck per 25-50 does. Young male goats that you do not intend to breed should be castrated at two weeks old or later, but only if they are healthy.
- Breed your does: - If you wish your does to produce milk or kids, you will need to breed them with a buck once the doe has reached breeding age,
- Milk goats daily.
- Find experts to consult in case of serious problems: - Know who you can consult if one of your goats develops a health problem or escapes its enclosure.
- Find out where to sell your products: - Whether you are selling meat, fibre, dairy products, or goat kids, you will need to find a market to sell them.
Diseases of Goats: -
Among the several diseases of goats, goat plague is most harmful disease. The goat owners must give prime importance to control this disease specifically, otherwise, there will have huge loss in their production level.
Goat plague: -
Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) is an acute viral disease of small ruminants characterized by fever, oculonasal discharges, stomatitis, diarrhoea and pneumonia with foul offensive breath.
It is caused by Morbillivirus, a member of Paramyxoviridae family. Goats and sheeps are the natural hosts of PPR with goats being more susceptible and suffer a more severe clinical disease than sheep. PPR virus survives poorly outside the host.
Spread of infection to new areas is largely by the movement of infected animals. Transmission is usually by direct contact via aerosols. Virus is also present in semen and embryos. Feeding milk from infected animals to kids or lambs can spread infection. The transmission of the disease is usually very rapid and can affect the whole herd in a short period of time.
Important points to remember: -
- The affected animal should be separated from the healthy stock.
- Proper vaccination schedule should be followed.
- Clean fodder and water should be provided to the animals.
- Contact nearest veterinary doctor if the disease is suspected.
Estimated income from goat farming: -
Annual gross revenue of the goat farm (180 goats) is Rs. 4 to 5 lakhs and total annual expenditure is Rs. 1.5 to 2 lakhs giving an annual net income of Rs. 2.5 to 3 lakhs (year 2014).
Unemployment now-a-days is a burning problem. Unemployed youths either literate or illiterate are directionless. Therefore, there is an urgent need to motivate the youths in particular and other unemployed persons in general to develop income generating attitude.
Out of several sources of income –which source of income suits for an individual person according to his socio-economic condition and capability- that should be identified carefully. Out of several low investment enterprises, goat farming is dominant one.
Previously, goat farming was considered as a neglected occupation, but the time has come to reconsider it as occupation for smoothening the way of life. Since, it is generally told that if there is a will there is a way.
Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Extension,
College of Agriculture, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya,
P.O. Agricultural Farm; Kalna Road, Burdwan; West Bengal-713101