O Level Notes : Agriculture - Ruminants : Goats Production

Proper management skills of indigenous and exotic breeds of cattle, sheep and goats is important. The farmer should be able to select breeds of animals that are suitable for his / her environmental conditions basing on the traits of breeds of the animal.

Goat production

In Zimbabwe, goats are mostly kept by communal farmers. They are hardy animals and can survive during dry weather on quite poor grazing. Goats are browsers that is they like to eat the leaves of trees and bushes. Goats are kept for meat production and a few farmers milk goats in Zimbabwe.


Breeds of goats


Angora goat

This goat is kept for its valuable mohair which can give a good income to farmers.

Characteristic features of Angora goat

  • Angora goat has a small body as compared to Boer goat.
  • They have long curly silky hair
  • They are not good breeders.


Boer goat

The Boer goat is another hardy breed kept mainly for meat production although its milk and skin are also used. It was developed in South Africa from local breeds.


 Characteristic features of a Boer goat

  • The breed can live in hot and dry areas.
  • Main coat colour is white with red on shoulders and head.
  • The breed has short hair coat.
  • This is the largest breed of all the indigenous goats.
  • The breed is resistant to diseases and internal parasites.
  • The she- goat has a good mothering ability.


Saanen goats

Saanen goats are widely kept in communal areas of Zimbabwe.

Characteristic features of Saanen goat

  • They are a small breed as compared to other breeds common in Zimbabwe.
  • Originate from Switzerland.
  • Produce high milk yield.
  • Normally reared on research stations and commercial farms.
  • The breed is so docile.
  • The Saanen breed is suitable in dry and hot areas.


Management practices for goats

The management practices for goats are just the same as those of sheep


(i) Housing

  • The housing of goats should have a shelter for protection against sun and rain.
  • After giving birth, it is advisable to have small pens where mother and young are kept together for a few days to prevent the mother from abandoning her kid.
  • The kraal should be large enough and hygienic to prevent diseases.


(ii) Feeding management

Farmers can make more money from their flocks by giving extra feed at certain times.

  • During the dry season to prevent loss of weight.
  • Just before the breeding season to improve fertility.
  • During the last six weeks of pregnancy when the fetus is growing quickly.
  • During such times goats can be fed with hay, crop remains, or should be given processed feeds.


(iii) Breeding goats

In well managed flocks the farmer chooses a season for breeding and the common seasons are autumn and spring.


Autumn (at the end of the rains) or spring time (at the start of the rains). With large flocks, kids can be managed better if all are born at the same time of the year. A mature he-goat can serve 40-50 female goats and in flocks where there is no breeding season both male and female are kept together.

Definitions of terms used in this topic

  • Prolific breeder - good breeder.
  • Pedigree selection - when bulls are evaluated and selected on the bases of performance of their parents and their grandparents.
  • Polled - lacking horns, either naturally or because they have been dehorned.
  • Weaning - separation of a young animal from its mother so that it no longer has access to the mother's supply of milk.
  • Breed - a group of animals having the same characteristic.
  • Castrate - to remove or stop the functioning of the testicles so that the animal can not reproduce.