Goats! Goats! Goats!

By DR. L. HUNGWE

This is the first in a series of articles about goat production. We will discuss breeds and breeding, nutrition and management. Before we do that we are going to talk about a few terms used in livestock production with a special focus on goat production. It is important for a new goat farmer to know and understand terms commonly used by goat producers so as to avoid confusion.

Kid – young one of a goat,

Doeling – young female goat,

Doe –a mature female goat. There are geographical preferences though, in the use of terms. I have noticed South Africans and Namibians prefer to use the word “ewe” instead of doe.

Buckling- young male goat.

Buck – a mature male goat.  

Stud goat – an animal which has been bred to certain breed specifications, inspected and registered.

Commercial goat – a pure bred goat which is not registered or does not qualify to be registered. Others call it flock goat.

The difference between a stud and a flock or commercial goat must be understood. Some new goat farmers have lost a lot of money when they paid huge sums of money for animals which were no were near stud animals. Stud animals meet the highest standards of the breed in terms of physical appearance and performance; are of known parentage; are inspected and get registered by the Zimbabwe Herd Book though a recognized breeders’ association.

Breed standards are set by the breed’s association. Every recognized breed has an association which promotes and protects the interest of that particular breed. In Zimbabwe, the Boer Goat Breeders Association of Zimbabwe (BGBAZ) plays the role and is affiliated to the Zimbabwe Herd Book (ZBH). A farmer cannot directly register an animal but must first join a recognized association which is affiliated to ZBH.  It is not necessary for a goat farmer to have his goats registered unless he wants to be a stud breeder.

Stud breeders are specialized farmers who produce breeding stock of highest quality for other farmers. Taking an analogy from crop breeding, we have farmers who produce seed maize, the seed is sold to commercial producers who grow commercial maize for Millers and Grain Marketing board.

Stud animals are much more expensive than commercial animals. When you decide to buy stud animals it is advisable to buy from reliable sources – registered stud breeders. The BGBAZ will assist you in this regard. In our coming instalments we will look closely at the roles and functions of BGBAZ and ZHB.

Stud breeding is a rewarding business venture but a serious endeavour. It requires a lot of investment not only in terms of quality breeding animals but also in terms of skills, knowledge, rigorous record keeping, patience and time. If you are new in goat production, I suggest you start by commercial production whilst you get the hang of it before you move to stud breeding. 

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