Livestocks are domestic animals on a farm, especially those kept for profit. Our forefathers relied on primitive game hunting for their supply of meat. The reliance of man on meat from livestock to meet his protein needs made it necessary for him to learn the proper and modern management of farm animals. There are four major reasons for livestock production. They are as follows: Economic, Social, Religious and Food production.
Many people who raise livestock do so because livestock rearing produces ready source of income for them. The sale of animals provides employment and income for many. Examples here are breeders of live goats, sheep, cattle, chicken, grasscutter, fresh meat and fish processors.
The number of heads of cattle that a man possesses is an indication of his wealth. For an example in the Northern part of West Africa, some people keep some animals for prestige purpose i.e the Muturu Bull or Cow.
Muslims need rams and goats to perform their religious rites. At Christmas time people buy a lot of goats, fowls and turkeys to celebrate the season.
So many people depend on animals and animal products for their protein supply. To reduce the cases of mal-nutrition in the country, the people’s diet should contain the minimum amount of animal protein so that the amount of protein deficiency in the diet is reduced.
Types Of Livestock
The two major classes of farm animals based on their digestive systems are ruminant and non-ruminant.
Ruminants: are animals having rumen. They have stomach divided into four compartments i.e. the rumen, reticulum, omasun, and abomasun. Example of ruminant animals are Cattle, Sheep and Goats. They are raised mostly on pasture; they endure tougher handling than the simple gutted animals. When ruminants take in grasses, they are not chewed; they remain raw in the rumen for sometime.
The food is regurgitated back into the mouth and chewed before it is swallowed again. This is called "chewing the cud." Animals not having rumen are called non-ruminants. They are simple gutted animals called monogastrics. They have a simple alimentary system, which is unable to digest fibre or cellulose. They eat less fibrous cereal grain and other carbohydrate. Their food is concentrate. They do not chew cud, they are mostly confined on floors and require careful handling. Examples of non-ruminants are rabbits and pigs.
The sheep is raised for its fleece, meat and skin. The three well known breeds of sheep in West Africa are the Ouda, Yankasa and the West African dwarf sheep.
Goat farming in Nigeria has always been in the fringes of agricultural activities. This might not be unconnected with the fact that resource-poor people in the rural, peri-urban and even urban areas are involved in its production. This is an indication that goat farming is synonymous with alleviation of under-development and poverty. Goat farming is poor-resource friendly because it requires little or no input. Its breeding yields considerable amount of output within a short period, if adequately supported with technical services such as veterinary care, good management and marketing.
Goats are among the first animals to be domesticated by man for the production of meat, milk, skin and fibre. In addition, leather from goat is of high quality. The goat is the most popular and the most common domestic animal. A goat can be owned by anybody of any age because it requires very little care and can normally fend for itself if free range system of rearing is adopted. The young female is called the Doe kid and the matured female is the Doe, the young male is Buck kid and the matured male is the Buck.
Goat Breeding In Nigeria
Three main breeds of goats in Nigeria, namely West Africa Dwarf (WAD), Red Sokoto (Maradi) and Borno White (Sahel White). The WAD goats is found in the South-Eastern, South-South, South-West and some parts of the middle belt of the country. It has the potential of good quality meat and milk. It is also trypanotolerant (resists trypanosomiasis), with a good reproductive performance.
The Red Sokoto (Maradi), found in the Northern part of the country is well adapted to arid conditions. This breed produces good milk and meat and is highly notable for production of high quality leather materials.
The Borno White ( Sahel White), also found in the semi-arid area in Northern Nigeria, is highly prolific, a good producer of meat and milk, but highly susceptible to trypanosomiasis.
Goat meat is low in fat and widely acceptable as a source of food nutrient across ethnic and religious persuasions; has excellent quality and does not trigger allergic reactions when consumed, as it is sometimes the case with cow milk. Skin from the Red Sokoto goats provides the best leather material for the tannery industry. This, if properly harnessed for international trade, has a great potential as a foreign exchange earner and is capable of putting Nigeria in an enviable position in the global leather industry.
Goat eat wide range of vegetable, grass, leaves, pasture, fruit, grain, bran of maize, wheat or rice, cassava peeling, hay, tubers etc. In fact, a goat can thrive on any edible material if allowed to forage freely. Supplement food is highly needed for good health, fast and good growth.Today, very good feed-mix can be formulated from feed mill centres to boost fast and good growth.
Goat farming if well supervised can act as a poverty alleviation measure, offer food security and enhancement of the quality of life for the rural dwellers who are the mostly involved in goat farming. It would contribute significantly to the transformation of the life of millions of Nigerians and reduce drift from rural to urban centres.