Cross-breeding European and African goats
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CTA. 2006. Cross-breeding European and African goats. Rural Radio Resource Pack 06/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/57452
The value of cross-breeding, how a community-based breeding programme works, care of kids, and the importance of goat development.
Cross-breeding European and African goats Cue: For livestock keepers who only have access to small amounts of land for grazing or feed production, rearing the fittest and healthiest animals that will earn the highest price possible in the marketplace is vital. One way of doing this is through careful breeding. For example, by only allowing the strongest male animals to mate with the females, farmers improve the chances that the offspring will also be strong and healthy. This is known as breeding by selection. Another way of breeding better quality animals is cross-breeding ? that is using a male animal from a different breed. In Kenya, for example, the NGO Farm-Africa has been working with goat farmers to improve the quality of their animals by cross-breeding with a European breed of goat, the British Toggenburg. This is a type of goat developed in Europe for its high milk production. By cross-breeding female African goats with the male Toggenburg buck farmers can achieve a cross-bred animal which combines the high milk production of the European goat with the hardiness of the African goat. To be successful however, cross-breeding must be very carefully organised. To find out more about the systems that the Kenyan farmers are using, Eric Kadenge spoke to Camillus Ahuya, Farm-Africa?s breeding adviser in East Africa. He first asked Camillus to explain the background to animal breeding. IN: ?Breeding is simply the way the farmers ? OUT: ? help the small scale poor farmers.? DUR?N 6?18? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Camillus Ahuya of the NGO Farm-Africa, emphasising the importance of goat development programmes in areas where land-holdings are decreasing in size. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Ahuya Breeding is simply the way the farmers can select which animals they want to be the parents of the future generation. This is done mainly on the farm, it is a slow process but it is worth taking. At the moment we also use one of the quickest ways of improvement and that is cross breeding. Cross breeding simply means mating animals of the same species but different breeds so that the resultant offspring is an improved one, can perform better than the local one. Kadenge So one of the reasons for breeding then is to improve the quality of the animal. What are the other reasons that make breeding important? Ahuya Apart from improving the quality of the animals you also improve the productivity and this is what is most important because you want the farmer to keep few but high quality animals, that they can be able to get more products out of it. The products in terms of milk, the products in terms of the growth rates - these animals grow very fast and therefore they can reach the market age at an early age and therefore the farmers can easily get more money quickly. Kadenge Now let?s talk about the breeding itself, what does it take - what do you need to do during cross breeding? Ahuya First of all I should emphasize that the kind of breeding that we are promoting here is what we call community based breeding program. That means that farmers themselves organize, supervise and carry out their breeding activities and the set up is such that we have a buck station where the farmers maintain one pure bred male goat for the local people to bring in the indigenous animals for mating. What comes out there are the cross breds and these are the improved animals. And another component that is very important is for the farmers to maintain another breeding unit which is mainly to produce the pure improver breeds that they will be using in expanding the programme. With that kind of arrangement where you have the buck station for cross breeding and the breeding unit for the production of the pure breds makes sure that the breeding programme is sustainable and can go on for a long time without any problems of in-breeding. Kadenge So what are the details, what do the farmers do as they go about breeding goats? Ahuya First of all to maintain this buck in a proper condition. That means that it has to be fed very well, it must be housed very well, it must be taken care of in terms of health ? veterinary services must be provided so that the animal remains healthy. Also they must keep records, particularly what happens, how many animals are bred, how many animals are brought each day, how long it can stay there, because they buck is allowed only to stay there for a maximum of 18 months. This is because within that 18 months, its offspring particularly the female ones will be mature enough to be mated and you don?t want the offspring to be mated back to their father. So the farmers organize to rotate or to move this buck to the next buck station to avoid in-breeding. They have also organized themselves so that they work through farmer groups. So each group will nominate one of them who takes care of this male goat. They will also nominate another person who takes care of the breeding unit whose main purpose is to produce the pure breds that are used in expanding the programme. Kadenge And the little kids, just take us through a little bit of what happens from the time that they are born. Ahuya When the kids are born the first step is to weigh them. You will also ensure that when they are born they get colostrum ? colostrum is the first milk that the animal produces after delivery and this is important because it is the milk that helps the young kid to establish immunity in the new world that it has just joined. After that you make sure that this animal is identified; normally identification is very important particularly in a breeding program because if you do not identify the animal you might not be able to know what kind of animal you are dealing with, particularly when you are trying to evaluate them. After identification, you will always make sure that this animal gets enough milk. Once that one is done, we monitor the progress of this kid and normally weaning ? that is when you separate it completely from the mother and actually stop it from getting the milk ? this happens at 120 days. I think at 120 days you also need to weigh that animal so that you know the weaning weight. The weaning weight and the birth weight, these are weights that can help you now to even estimate or find out at what rate this animal was growing. This is important because you could use that information to select which of the sires have got kids that grow very fast. Kadenge And is there anything else that you would like to add regarding breeding of goats? Ahuya The dairy goat is the only alternative source of milk for the small scale farmers. This is because our land sizes as you know decreasing with every generation inheriting land following subdivision. What that means is that most of the small scale farmers in the near future will not be able to keep large ruminants so I would really urge particularly the livestock production experts and the government to ensure that there is a well defined, a well supported goat development programme in the country that can help the small scale poor farmers. End of track.
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