agriculture पशुपालन

Black Bengal Goat as ATM for Poor Farmers in India

Black Bengal Goat

Among the ruminant animal goat is one of the most useful animals because of its multifunctional utility. It gives us not only milk, meat and skin but also it is easy to rear. The success of goat farming depends on food management. For this reason, a farmer should know goat food management and how to manage it.

Black Bengal Goat

Basically goat food management means providing food for the proper and desired growth in different ages and in different seasons. Besides, the natural food goats also need vitamins, energy, protein etc. Imbalance of vitamins, minerals may be a cause of great harm. For this reason, a farmer should know a well thought and scientific feeding system of the goat.

Goat often regarded as ‘poor man’s cow’ was the first domesticated ruminant. Small in size, easy to take care of, requiring least amount of resources and giving high returns has lead to its constant increase in population. Official records and statistics often undermine the overall contribution by animals, as they overlook the multi-purpose role that animal resource have in agricultural production .

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Livestock has immense role to meet the nutritional gap and play a major role in overcoming seasonal income variability and availability. People with limited resources get benefit by rearing goats or other small ruminants .

In India, incomes from livestock farming account for 15-40% of total farm household earnings . Supporting the economically weak and specially women to properly raise goats can have a good impact on their income, social status and the local environment .

Livestock rearing is mostly traditional in India and based on socioeconomic considerations due to dearth of quality feeds and poor feeding practices. Livestock rearing is very important for rural economy and supplements a farmer’s income and often act as a support in times of agricultural crop failure. According to the latest Economic Survey, livestock accounts for nearly 5% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Livestock sector not only does the subsector provide the much needed animal protein for the ever-growing human population, but it also offers employment opportunities for millions of rural and urban dwellers involved in some form of livestock production and marketing . Considering goats in particular, they have a great role in the economy of farming community.

Sale of goats and goat products (meat, skin and milk) by farmers is the major source of cash for purchase of clothes, grains and other essential household commodities.

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In addition, goats are raised mostly to safeguard against crop failure and unfavourable crop prices in intensive cropping areas. Goats represent a more liquid form of capital than cattle and are readily tradable . Despite high goat population in India, the productivity per unit of animal and share of this sector to the national economy is relatively low. This might be due to different factors such as poor nutrition, prevalence of diseases, lack of appropriate breed and breeding strategies and poor understanding of the production system as a whole. Environmental pressure also maintains a wide range of genotypes, each adapted to a specific set of circumstances.

Poor grazing and low quality feeds especially in terms of energy or protein leads to undernourishment and low productivity.

Under such circumstances, the concept of utilizing locally available agro-industrial by-products as a supplementary feed may be a feasible feeding system for farmers. Lack of up-to-date and location-specific information on production and marketing systems is often a major limitation to productivity and production improvement endeavours in goats .

Goat rearing is an important occupation and provides livelihood to many arid areas of the country. The goats are known to be especially useful to people in semi-arid zones, where goats can sustain themselves on limited forage and extreme climate where other species food animal generally find difficult to sustain except sheep. Goats are multi-purpose animals, producing meat, milk, skin, and hair. Their primary function is meat production, although in temperate countries milk has become of greater importance; skins are a valuable by-product, especially in those countries with large goat population.

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Goat meat known as ‘chevon’ is relished in all countries of Asia, Africa and the Middle East where there is a tradition for meat consumption from both sheep and goats. Chevon is often preferred than mutton.

In India, 95% of goat meat produced is consumed locally and the per capita availability is far below the requirement. Thus, there is a considerable potential for developing goat production not only for meat for internal consumption but also for export, for quality leather production in which India ranks high among the goatskin exporting countries. Goat is an important species of livestock in Asia and contributes as a great source of protein in the form of meat and often milk, leather, hair, manure etc.

Goat rearing is one of the important agricultural enterprises particularly in rural parts of this country and has proved very useful to man throughout the ages, largely because of their adaptability to varying environmental conditions under which the breeds and strain types have evolved and in which they are maintained.

They have tremendous ability to survive and often thrive on sparse vegetation unsuitable for the feeding of other livestock. Goats can be profitably raised with low investment under intensive and most extensive forms of nomadic grazing. The vast majority of this poorer section of the rural population depends on goat rearing for income and a certain amount of meat and milk for home consumption. Goat rearing involves lower investment and hence suited even to the landless laborers and marginal farmers.

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The goat is a versatile animal and often regarded as wet nurse of infants in Europe. Goats provide a dependable source of income to 40 percent of the rural population below the poverty line in India and to many who do not possess any land. There has been a lot of controversy over the role of goats in ecological degradation and in desertification. Contrary to cattle and sheep, goats are mainly browsers and would seldom go for grown-up trees.T hey dislike the leaves of timber trees.

They also do not prevent the establishment and spread of grasses which are so essential for soil conservation. Goats spend more than 90% time on browsing and hardly graze for 10% time on surface vegetation and that too only when bushy plants are not available.

In several behavioral studies conducted at the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur (India), goats have been found to reclaim saline soils by consuming salt-laden leaves of range plants and contribute fertility to the soil by even distribution of essential manure on the lands they graze.

Cattle exploit 3-5 times more of phytomass than goats. As per report intensity of grazing of 2 to 4 goats/hac had no effect on runoff and soil loss in hot arid regions of India in normal rainfall years. Yet the vast majority of the poorer section of the rural population depends on the goat rearing for subsistence and to meet the household occasional needs for meat and milk. In spite of about 42 percent annual slaughter of goats, the population continues to increase at an average rate of about 3.4 percent per year.

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The scarcity of income has often lead to outmigration of men from rural areas which has lead to greater involvement of women in rearing domestic animals and birds and in particular goats. Goats can be handled and cared by almost all family members. Black Bengal goats possess the unique characteristics of high prolificacy (avg. 2.8 kidding rate), short kidding interval, early slaughter weight, delicious lean meat and superfine skin quality.

About 75% of the population of our country lives in the rural area. Their livelihood is characterized by either small holdings or landlessness, illiteracy, unemployment, and malnutrition. Many of these people resort to goat production to assist in reaching self-sufficiency.

Therefore, more than 98% of goats are owned by the small, marginal and landless farmers in the villages. Women and teenagers employ their labor in goat rearing as a subsidiary occupation. Because many of the farmers are essentially landless, goats in India mainly live on grazing on bushes, shrubs , collected roadside grasses, tree leaves and kitchen vegetable wastes. Goat keepers, in general, invest practically nothing to rear their animal.

Flock size ranges from 2 to 5. Male kids are castrated at early age, fattened and then marketed between 1 and 2 years of age. Wethers of this age are in high demand during the time of religious festival and social occasions. Farmers sell their goat at their doorstep whenever they need of money & getting instant money from hawkers or whole seller.

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The Black Bengal is a dwarf meat–type, highly prolific breed of goat (see photo). Wethers (castrated males) weigh typically weigh around 16 kg at one year of age and does of the same age weigh 12 Kg. Both sexes have short cylindrical horns. Older bucks and does have beards. The Black Bengal has several very desirable characteristics. They mature sexually quite early, at 6-8 months of age, and breed around the year.

They are reported to have resistance against common diseases, can produce and reproduce in very low plane of nutrition and are well adapted to the local environment. this kid twice a year or more commonly thrice in two year giving a mean litter size of 2.2. Meat and skin obtained from the Black Bengal are of excellent quality and fetch high prices, even in the local market. Finally, research shows that there exists substantial genetic variation among individuals in the production traits, indicating scope for increasing productivity through breeding approaches.

Despite the above mentioned merits, the Black Bengal does have some limitations. For example, they are said to be suboptimal in traits related to performance early in life.

For birth weight is generally low (800-900g), as is growth rate (40-45g/day). This low growth rate is tied to relatively low milk yield (400-700ml/day). All of these factors contribute to relatively poor pre-weaning kid survival rate (85 %). Another limitation is not directly due to genetics of the breed, but rather the system of breeding.

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For many livestock species, genetic improvement relies on spreading the germplasm of the most superior males. Unfortunately, due to market conditions, almost the opposite is occurring with the Black Bengal. Because meat production is so important, the ideal situation would have the largest, fastest growing males being used to father the next generation. The animals, however, also tend to fetch the highest prices on the meat market and are thus sold prior to having a genetic impact. In fact, often the poorest males are used for breeding, leading to negative selection response.

In animal husbandry sector, goat is one of the most profitable one, yet there are some constrains of goattery farming development on scientific basis for better production due to:-

  1. Due to urbanization, industrialization and population pressure there is limited or non-availability of grazing land for goat rearing.
  2. Goat is blamed for deforestation that ultimately leads to soil erosion. So from ecological point of view grazing is prohibited in some country like Cyprus, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, Pakistan and many other countries. But without grazing proper growth development not possible in goats.
  3. Inadequate supply of quality green fodder as well as concentrate. In India, there is 95% shortage of green fodder and 85% shortage of concentrate. Until, unless sufficient protein feed supplement offered to goat, optimum growth cannot be obtained.
  4. High kid mortality (approx 60% in farm condition) due to error managemental practices and lack of nutrients (optimum milk cannot obtained from under fed does).
  5. Lack of proper breeding management (inbreeding depression mostly observed in field condition).
  6. Marketing system of goat is not organized (middle man dependent) at village level.

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System of Feeding Management of goat for better production:-

Extensive Grazing:-

  • Grazing the sheep and goat in the entire pasture and leaving them there for the whole season is the extensive system of rearing.
  • In this method feed cost is very much reduced.
  • It is not conducive to making the best use of the whole grasses. So we can preferably practice the rotational grazing method.

Rotational grazing method:-

  • • Rotational grazing should be practiced under which the pasture land should be divided by temporary fences into several sections.
  • The animals are then moved from one section to another section. By the time the entire pasture is grazed, the first section will have sufficient grass cover to provide second grazing.
  • Parasitic infestations can be controlled to a great extent.
  • Further, it helps to provide quality fodder (immature) for most part of the year.
  • Under this system, it is advisable to graze the lambs first on a section and then bring in ewes to finish up the feed left by the lambs.

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  • Semi-intensive system of goat production is an intermediate compromise between extensive and intensive system followed in some flocks having limited grazing.
  • It involves extensive management but usually with controlled grazing of fenced pasture.
    • It consists of provision of stall feeding, shelter at night under shed and 3 to 5 hour daily grazing and browsing on pasture and range.
  • In this method the feed cost somewhat increased.

This system has the advantage of:-

  • Meeting the nutrient requirement both from grazing and stall feeding.
  • Managing medium to large flock of 50 to 350 heads and above.
  • Utilizing cultivated forage during lean period.
  • Harvesting good crop of kids both for meat and milk.
  • Making a profitable gain due to less labour input.

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Intensive system-zero grazing-system:-

  • It is a system in which goats are continuously kept under housing in confinement with limited access to land or otherwise so called zero grazing system of goat production in which they are stall fed.
  • It implies a system where goats are not left to fend for themselves with only minimum care.
  • Intensive operation of medium sized herd of 50 to 250 heads or more oriented towards commercial milk production goes well with this system particularly of dairy goats.
  • It merits exploitation of the system of feeding agro-industrial by products as on pangola grass (Digitaria Decumbens) with carrying capacity of 37 to 45 goats per hectare.
  • This system of management requires more labour and high cash input.
  • However, this has the advantage of close supervision and control over the animals.
  • In this method the dung is collected in one place and used as a good fertilizer.
  • Less space is sufficient for more number of animals.

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Rearing in mud floor:-

  • In this method, once in a year 1-2 inches of mud surface should be removed.
  • Application of lime powder once in a month will reduce the disease occurrence in the shed.
  • The shed should be constructed in elevated area to prevent water stagnation.

Deep litter shed:-

  • In this method the litter materials ground nut husk, sugarcane tops etc. are spread on the floor for a depth of ½ feet and animals are reared in it.
  • The urine and dung mixed with the litter materials and used as fertilizer.
  • The litter materials should be removed once in six months.
  • In heavy rain seasons, the litter materials should not be over wet to prevent ammonia gas production.

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Elevated floor shed:-

  • Its initial investment is high.
  • In the wooden floor sheds, in a distance of 3m from the floor, the animals are reared.
  • This requires less labour and more irrigation land for the fodder production.
    The elevated sheds will be clean and urine and dung will be collected in the floor and periodical removing required once in six months.
  • NB–
    Intensive goat farming is the future of the goat industry due to shrinking grazing lands and low productivity of grazing goats. However it is imperative to think that high genetic grade animals with high growth rates will be economical under intensive conditions.

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Now a days new entrepreneurs and goat farmers does not bother about genetic potential and growth rates of animals they just purchase the heterogeneous and non descript stock from mandis and start stall feeding to grazing goats.

This type of system never works properly and it has inherent mistake. Experience says that bringing goats less than 6months of age to the farms is not suggested and disease outbreak is likely to occur soon in the farm because of weak immunity. Second, if farmer brought goats more than 6 months of age to the farm than it not wise to keep the stock for meat purpose because they have already spend their best time of growth (birth to 8 month) when growth hormone is at its peak.

Now these goats have to keep for breeding purpose according to their phenotypic worth.


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About the author

Rajesh Kumar Singh

I am a Veterinary Doctor presently working as vet officer in Jharkhand gov.
, graduated in 2000, from Veterinary College-BHUBANESWAR. Since October-2000 to 20O6 I have worked for Poultry Industry of India. During my job period, I have worked for, VENKYS Group, SAGUNA Group Coimbatore & JAPFA Group.
I work as a freelance consultant for integrated poultry, dairy, sheep n goat farms ... I prepare project reports also for bank loan purpose.
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