Domestic livestock meat production is low and amounted to 66,283 metric tons in the year 2000 of which beef contributed about 27 percent, mutton about 18 percent, goat meat and pig meat about 17 percent each, and poultry meat about 21 percent (SRID, 2001) According to FAO data there were also 57,000 metric tons of game meat produced in 2000.
Domestic milk production is estimated at 13,700 metric tons for the same period. Both the meat and milk production represent about 30 percent of the national animal protein requirements.
Ghana depends on imports of livestock, meat and milk to meet the animal protein shortfall.
The shortfall implies there is a local market for goat meat. Some of the advantages of rearing goats are the following.
- Starting a goat farming business requires low initial investment or capital.
- Goats don’t require huge area for housing because their body size is comparatively smaller than other livestock animals.
- Usually goats are very friendly in nature and very lovable.
- Goats are good breeders and they reach sexual maturity within their 7-12 months of age and give birth within a short time. Some goat breed produce numerous kids per kidding.
- Risks are less for goat farming (even in drought prone areas) than any other livestock farming business.
- Both male and female goats have almost equal value/price in the market.
- Goat meat and milk are low in cholesterol and easily digestible.
- Goat milk is used for making various types of foods and it’s very easy to digest than milk of cows.
Breeds of Goats
There are different types of goat breeds available around the world for rearing in the goat farm like Pygmy goats, West African Dwarf goats, Cashmere goats, Black Bengal goat, Mountain goats, Boer goats etc.
Some of the available goat breeds are famous for tasty and nutritious meat and some breeds are famous for milk production. Some Indian goats are also highly meat and milk productive. Pygmy/Dwarf goats originated in Africa.
Dwarf goats are of different colors like black, chocolate, gold, color, etc. Wide variety of colors is a major factor that makes them so popular. Dairy goats are raised mainly for commercial milk production or for family milk consumption. They can also be displayed at trade shows. According to the association of dairy goats Nubians, Lamanchas, Alper, Oberhasli, Saanen and Togenburgs are the world famous dairy goat breed.
Cashmere goats are popular for wool production. Mountain goats are blunt, square looking covered with soft white, woolly, dense undercoat.
The main breeds in Ghana are
- West African Dwarf goats
- West African Long-Legged goats (found mostly in Northern and Upper Regions)
In addition to the above, Boar goats (sourced from South Africa) are also available. The different breeds are usually crossed to produce a hybrid breed.
Housing your Goats
Commercial goat farming needs suitable house for profitable production. Good house keeps the goat healthy and free from diseases.
A good goat house should be
• Rain proof
• Damp proof
• Well ventilated
• Free from direct wind
• Free from sharp objects that might cut the goat
• Pest and wild animal proof
• Slats on floor for free fall of droppings
• With an area of at least 2 meters per animal
In accordance with increasing the body size and weight of goats, they require more space. A house of 1.8 meter *1.8 meter* 2.5 meter (5.5 ft * 5.5 ft * 8.5 ft) is suitable enough for housing 10 small goats.
Every adult goat needs about 0.75 meter * 4.5 meter * 4.8 meter housing space. Every billy goat needs 2.4 meter * 1.8 meter housing space. It will be better, if you can keep the nursing and pregnant goats separately.
You can extend or decrease the area of goat house according to the number of goat in your farm. But keep in mind that, every goat needs their required space for proper growing and better production.
You can use local materials to build the goat house in order to save cost, particularly at the start up phase.
This is the cheapest house to build because it uses local materials:
• Rafters for floor
• Grass for thatch roof
• When placing mud,make holes in the wall slanting down so that,the air does not land directly on the goats
“Off cuts” houses
This house costs a little more but it will last longer.
• Off-cut planks
• Iron sheets or grass for thatching
• Wood – rafters or planks for the floor
Feeding your goats
A goat does not like to graze on the ground like a sheep or cow. They are referred to as ‘browsers’ and they like feeding at knee/head height.
They like to feed above the ground often standing on their hind legs and resting their fore legs up on the bush or goat house wall.
The most efficient source of nutrients which is urgent for goat is pasture and browse. Pasture contains a high amount of energy and protein.
Pasture plants also increase the tastiness and digestibility. Bahia grass, Sudan grass, millet, a mixture of a grain grass, sorghum, grass and clover form a good pasture for goats.
Pasture and browsing.
Goats need a lot of minerals. Salt, phosphorus and calcium contain minerals which is useful for goats. Farmer should provide a pre-mix of loose minerals that goats prefer so much.
Goats don’t need a lot of vitamins. Goats need vitamins A, D and E.
If a man cannot find good feed of goats, he can provide a good 12%-16% course grain for goats. To increase the growth weight farmer should provide creep feeding and complementary feeding to kids goat.
Grain gives two elements which are Carbons and protein. Corn, rye, moil, oats, barley, corn are known as cereal grains that provide Carbons or energy. Protein supplements originate from animals and plants that include soybean meal, fish meal, cotton meal etc.
Fresh water should be available to the goats at all times.
Be mindful of the following when you feed your goats:
• Feed only clean, fresh and dry fodder.
• Always have fresh water for goats to drink at any time.
• Clean the feeding trough and water bucket every day.
• Give lots of different feeds such as grasses and legumes,tree and leaves.
• Give chopped mixed feeds to make sure the goats eat everything and does not waste feed.
• Feed goats at least 3 times a day and at the same time every day
• Put some feed in the feed trough or rack or hang up some feed to be eaten overnight
• If you use molasses to make feed taste better do not use too much it will make feed sticky
• Dusty feeds and concentrates should be wetted a little.
• Provide a Mineral Lick [block] always to all goats.
• Do not feed too much leguminous feed such as desmodium
• Mix feeds with grass,hay, straw or napier to balance
• Only 1/3 of the days feed can be leucenea, Do not feed too much leucenea, it can poison the goats
Source: Animal Production & Health Department, Ghana, roysfarm, letstalkagric, FAO