Goats are important to man for their meat and milk. Being small animals, goats are commonly known as "poor man's cow" because their upkeep entails only a small initial investment and correspondingly small risk of loss. Generally, goats are easy to raise, can subsist on vegetation unpalatable to other ruminants, mature early, have high fertility, capable to multiply and undergo short gestation period (can be bred as early as 8 months old). Goats in the foundation herd could yield milk five months after conception. The first carcass or kid crop can be sold in less than a year.
Production of goat meat is highly seasonal which resulted to fluctuating prices. The output is usually low during the fourth quarter of the year, and then peaks up slightly in the first quarter. Production peaks up during the second quarter then start to decline on the onset of the third quarter. The fall on the fourth quarter maybe attributed to the influx of meat substitutes during the Christmas season. The peak season coincides with the celebration of town fiestas especially in May and June. Prices are usually high during this period.
The optimum potential of goat as one of the main sources of milk and meat has not been fully tapped in the Philippines. Aside from being cheap, goat's milk is more digestible compared to cow's milk.
The goat is a clean animal and its male odor is only present during the breeding season. Female goat does not smell. Contrary to myth, goats do not eat trash. They do, however, lick the labels of tin cans to taste glue on the label's back.
(Source: Department of Agricutlure, Date accessed: 21 march 2014)
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Whether on range or confined feeding, housing provisions are necessary. A goat house or shed must be built to provide shelter. Goats are afraid of rain and wetness as these make them prone to pneumonia. They also prefer sleeping in elevated flat forms like a stair type arrangement. It must be well ventilated and drained and easy to clean. Feeding racks (silage, water, mineral and concentrate) should be accessible to both animals and caretaker, preferably in the front of the aisle. Flooring should be provided and elevated at least 15 degrees to facilitate cleaning and drainage.
Separate pens should be provided for lactating and dry does, kids, growers and bucks. The buck pen should be visible to breeding does yet far enough to avoid transfer of the typical goat smell especially to lactating does when milk is to be sold.
A fenced loafing area beside the goat house must be provided (100 to 150 sqm/250 head), complete with feeding racks and water troughs to allow animals to loaf freely. Flooring of the area must be cemented to facilitate drying. Cogon and nipa as roof materials are preferred in hot and humid areas.
Ventilation is of outmost importance. Majority of pneumonia cases can be traced to excessively warm and humid interior and sudden changes in temperature. Allow a 0.5 to 1 feet clearance between floor to wall and wall to beam to create an adequate circulation and to lower draft. It is desirable to maintain an interior temperature of 28 to 30°C. It has been established that above 30°C ruminants are inhibited from eating.
Lighting may also be provided in the barns during the night. Goats consume up to 30% of the day's intake during the night when light is provided.
Nine-eye hog wire is the cheapest and most effective fencing available locally. Posts must be staked every 2 meters. Goats are fond of pounding their feet and scraping their bodies on the fences so it must be sturdily built. Barbwire fencing requires a minimum of four strands so it becomes more costly besides making goats prone to wounds.
Selection and Mating
Does Selection Criteria
• Does should be purchased from a locality or area with similar climatic conditions;
• Native or graded does should not be less than 25 kilograms;
• Udder should be palpated for size, detection of lumps and other abnormalities;
• Teats should be uniform at length and large enough for easy milking;
• It must have a good appetite, possessing alert eyes and well formed pupils; and
• Do not buy breeders from markets.
Bucks Selection Criteria
• One year old breeder or buck that have successfully mated once is desirable;
• Acquired buck should be accompanied by pedigree records;
• It must have a good producing line based from farm records;
• Muck must come from doe with high twinning rate;
• Buck must be active and ready to breed in-heat doe; and
• Replace buck, preferably, every three (3) years.
Does reach puberty from 4 to 18 months. Best breeding age will be 10 to 12 months, depending on desired weight. Limit yearling buck services to 25 doe services/year. Older bucks can cover up to 75/year. Buck to doe ratio is 1:25.
Breeding – Reproductive Characteristics of Goats
|Age of Puberty||4-8 months|
|Cycle of type||Polyestrus|
|Cycle length||18-21 days|
|Duration of heat||2-3 days (secondary heat: 8-12 days after)|
|Gestation period||150(+/-) 5 days|
|Best breeding time||Daily during estrus|
Breeding – signs of Heat or Estrus
• Mucus discharge from the vulva, causing matting of tail hair.
• Uneasiness, constant urination, lack of appetite and bleating.
• Seeks out or stays near the buck and lets herself be mounted.
When breeding, always introduce the doe to the buck, not to the doe herd particularly when bucks have not been used for a long time. It will be dangerous to mix the buck with an herd of pregnant does for they will breed indiscriminately. Two or four breedings during the heat period will suffice.
It is highly impractical if not economical to raise pure breed goats, unless the main purpose is to sell breeders. The preferred method will be to upgrade local native or grade does with pure bucks. Crossbreeds usually perform better than pure ones under local conditions. Infusion of two or more bloodlines into the native doe will elicit a better product due to hybrid vigor. Three-way crosses between the native, any of three Occidental breeds and the Nubian has produced a greatly superior animal than any of the three under our conditions.
Higher milk production should be the main consideration for it will not only mean bigger kid but also more milk for human consumption. A maximum infusion of 75% foreign bloodline must be observed to retain the natural resistance of the native. Never practice inbreeding unless fully knowledgeable in breeding techniques. On the other hand, intensive culling especially in milking herds, will largely be beneficial.
Dystocia is very common in crossing natives with large pure breeds due to the invariably large size of the unborn kids. Crossbreed birthweights of up to four (4) kilos for multiple births and up to six (6) kilos for single births have been observed while native birthweights reach only 2 to 4 kilos for multiple and single births, respectively. Thus, in crossbreeding, large native does with a minimum weight of 25 kilos or more and those that have given birth at least once, should be used. Providing human assistance during birth will also be of help in saving kids, but this should be done only when necessary.
Anestrus or failure to come in heat, is a common problem most particularly with high-producing does. Vitamin, mineral and other nutrient deficiencies, infections of the genital tract and hormone deficiencies are some of the various and implants and pregnant mare serum (PMS have been used with varying rates of success.
Routine administration of oxytocin, right after kidding and before weaning (5 days) aids in faster expulsion of the placenta, uterine fluids and in the rapid regression of the uterus. Routine Vitamin A, D and E injections to breeding herds also contribute to reproductive well-being.
Fifty percent of breeding problems can be traced to the buck used. Routine checkup of the bucks' health condition, especially of the genito-urinary tract, should be done. Preputial scraping, blood tests and sperm motility tests are some very useful procedures to follow in successful buck management. Always consult a trained veterinarian to do these tests.
Breeding – Procedures in Artificial Insemination
Keep the semen warm for it is extremely temperature sensitive and will be irrevocably damaged if improperly handled. Never allow the temperature of semen thawed in 95°F water to drop below 80°F. If at all possible, perform your insemination in a heated environment. Thoroughly pre-warm the inseminating gun before inserting the straw. If no heated facility is available, use a heating pad or hot water bottle to keep the semen and related equipment at the proper temperature before use.
Inseminate at the proper time, as most successful inseminators agree that conception rates are generally highest when breeding during the later third of standing heat. In our experience, breeding a doe approximately 6 – 10 hours before she goes out of standing heat has yielded the best results. During the main part of the breeding season and with most does, this means breeding approximately 24-30 hours after the onset of estrus.
Always deposit semen deep intracervically by measuring the depth of penetration of the breeding gun. After passing through several cervical rings, place a clean breeding sheath in the speculum alongside the gun with its tip against the back wall of the does' vagina. Compare the difference between the length of the two breeding sheaths. Ideal depth of penetration is approximately 1 ½ inches.
Use only one straw per breeding as research in goat production indicates that sperm cells introduced into the does' reproductive tract tend to form "colonies" in the mucous present in the folds of the cervix. After undergoing a short maturation process, they migrate in fairly constant number from the cervix into the uterus and ultimately on to the oviduct, where union of the egg actually occurs. Quantities of viable sperm cells sufficient for adequate fertilization should remain in the reproductive tract for up to 18 hours after the first insemination.
The use of a second straw of semen later in heat can cause a disruption in the orderly migration of mature sperm cells from the colonies already established in the cervix and actually reduces the chance of conception.
Avoid attempting to AI does who remain in standing heat longer than 48 hours for reasons not fully understood, does exhibiting extremely lengthy standing estrus generally fail to conceive when artificially inseminated. Abnormally long heats are more common early in the breeding season, and occur more frequently in some areas than others. Fortunately in most cases the condition is transitory and most does begin to exhibit more normal estrus behavior as the breeding season progresses.
Use of hormones to synchronize does, though successful and useful, may result in lowered conception rates. Many breeders have reported disappointing AI conception rates after having used hormones to induce estrus in goats. If it is necessary to synchronize a group of does in this way, wait until the first natural heat after the drug induced estrus before artificially inseminating. Be aware that the use of prostaglandins may cause erratic estrus behavior in some animals, which can persist for several months.
Deposit semen very slowly because rapid expulsion of semen from the breeding gun can damage sperm cells and cause irritation of the does' reproductive tract. Count to fifteen very slowly while depressing the plunger on the breeding gun.
Don't haul a doe in heat to have her bred via AI. If you do not have your own equipment or storage tank and must transport your does to have them bred, plan to board them several days before they are due to come into heat. It is probably preferable if you cannot breed your own does yourself to have an AI technician come to your farm to perform the insemination. You can do your own inseminating even if you do not own your own tank. Small quantities of semen can be transported and stored for a half day or longer in a stainless steel thermos bottle. Make sure that you do not screw the lid onto the thermos as possible rupture can occur as a result of nitrogen gas pressure.
For best conception rates, inseminate only does with regularly occurring heats and no history of breeding or kidding problems. Does that are difficult to settle by natural service are not good AI candidates. Proper nutritional management also pays a big role in reproductive efficiency. Does that are overly fat or thin are less than ideal prospects for AI breeding. Virgin does should present no problem so long as they weigh at least 75 lbs.
Don't attempt to AI a doe on her first heat cycle of the season – the first heat cycle of the year is often infertile and is frequently followed by a second heat 5 to 8 days later. Conception rates will usually be higher if you wait until the second or later heats to do your breeding. Likewise, conception rates may drop off if you attempt AI towards the very end of the normal breeding season.
Watch your does carefully 17 to 22 days after breeding them by AI for some reason that some does who conceive by AI experience a false heat three weeks later. Although they may exhibit otherwise typical estrus behavior, such does will seldom allow a buck to mount them. If in doubt, submit a milk or blood sample to a testing laboratory for a progesterone assay.
Keep detailed records of your AI breeding. Note such factors as color and consistency of cervical mucus, depth and relative difficulty or cervical penetration, length of standing heat both before and after inseminating, weather conditions, time required to complete the insemination, and other pertinent information. These records will often be of great help in explaining why some does settle and others did not.
Know your does. Chart the heat cycles of each of your animals on a calendar. Observe them at least three times daily during the breeding seasons for signs of estrus behavior. Note the number of hours that each does remains in standing heat, and the relative intensity of estrus activities such as flagging, fighting and mounting other does.
Observe proper sanitary procedures. Specula should be thoroughly washed and sanitized between use. Scrub the doe's external genitalia with soap and water and dry completely before inserting the speculum. Do not use iodine-based products, as iodine is spermicidal. Take care not to touch the part of the speculum or breeding sheath which is inserted in the doe's vagina.
Attend an AI school. Attendance at an AI school taught by a competent and knowledgeable instructor can increase your chances of success with AI. As with any other acquired skill, hands-on experience is the best way to develop the confidence and correct techniques necessary to use AI effectively.
Do your homework. Artificial insemination is only a tool, albeit a powerful one. To be really successful with AI, you have to do more than just put kids on the ground. Only through intelligent selection of sires compatible with the objectives of a carefully thought out breeding program can AI benefit you, the breeder, or the meat and dairy goat industry.
Care and Health Practices
Care of Dry and Pregnant Doe
If the doe is being milked, dry (stop milking) at least 1 to 2 months before kidding date. This will give her enough reserve for the next lactation.
Put all dry does in one compartment. One week before kidding, place her in a separate kidding pen. This can be predicted by swelling and discharge from the vulva, engorgement and waxing of the teats and constant laying down of the doe.
Avoid any form of noise in the kidding area. Sometimes it is necessary to help the pregnant doe during kidding, especially native does bred with pure bucks, because the kids are bigger. Dystocia or difficult delivery is common in these cases. Be sure that the presentation is right before attempting to pullout the kid. In anterior presentation, both front legs and heads are presented and in posterior presentation, both hind limbs come out at the same time. Oversized kids should be pulled out with an even, continuous pressure. In difficult cases, it is best a practicing veterinarian.
Care of the Lactating Doe and Newborn Kids
Immediately after delivery, wipe the kid's mouth, nose and body with a clean, dry cloth and massage the thoracic area to initiate breathing.
Normally, the mother does this, but sometimes the mother is too weak to do it. Be sure no mucus is clogging the airways. The kids must be able to suck within one hour. For very weak kids, feeding colostrum through a stomach tube usually produces dramatic results.
First time mother some time are reluctant to suckle their young due to udder pain caused by over engorgement of milk. Restraining the doe for the first suckling will usually relieve udder pain. If colostrum in the udder is not fully consumed by the kid, stripping (manually milking out excess) will be necessary to prevent mastitis. The placenta must come out within 24 hours from expulsion of the fetus.
Tie the umbilical cord with a sterile string and apply disinfectant. Allow the kids to suckle for the first 4 to 5 days.
If the doe is to be milked, separate the kids from the mother and start feeding using a baby bottle (8 oz. size) and refer to feeding guide for dosage.
If the doe is not to be milked, the doe can be taken out of the pen for feeding and returned to the kid three times a day and the whole night. This method will ensure greater livability to the kid by not exposing it to the elements, and proper feeding of the doe. Does weaned early (4 to 5 days) usually return to heat after 1 to 2 months.
When the doe comes into heat, introduce it to the buck, not vice-versa. Two services a day for two days is an optimum. If the doe does not conceive, heat may return in 8 to 12 days. Higher conception is accomplished in the secondary heat. If breeding is successful, milk production drops after one month and the right side of the abdomen starts to fill up.
Milking periods must be established and strictly adhered. If milking is done twice a day, e.g. 6 AM and 6 PM, the process should not be delayed or advanced. Possibly, same personnel should be used. Goats can withhold milk, so unnecessary changes in the routine should be avoided
Milk quickly and continuously
Milk let down can be initiated by washing the udder with lukewarm water and wiping with a clean towel. All milking utensils, especially the milkers' hands must be thoroughly cleaned.
Feed concentrates during milking
This serves as incentive to the goats for them to enjoy and look forward. Contrary to popular belief, properly drawn and processed goat milk has no offending smell. During milking, the buck should not be near the doe to avoid transfer of the typical goat smell to the milk.
Care of the Weanling and the Growing Kids
Place all weaned kids in a separate pen, and if possible, according to size. If male kids are to be raised for meat, castrate as early as possible, preferably within the first month. If females are to be raised for milking, check for excess teats and have them removed. Horn buds usually appear within the first to third month. De-horn when buds reach the size of a fingernail. Separate males and females at the age of four months. Goats sometimes reach puberty at this age.
Start breeding females at 8 to 10 months. Bucks can start breeding at the same age.
Care of the Breeding Buck
The breeding buck must always be confined separately but always visible to the does. The buck is the source of the typical goat smell such that direct contact with the doe must be avoided. Provide a loafing area. One to two years old buck can make 25 to 50 doe services a year, an older buck more.
Source: Bureau of Agricultural Research, Date accessed: 21 March 2014
NAGA CITY GOAT FARM
Office: Ramaida Centrum #121 Elias Angeles St. Naga City
Farm: San Felipe, Naga City
Dr. Rufo T. Llorin Jr.
Farm: Cataingan, Masbate
JSJ GOAT FARM
Farm: Brgy. Caturay, Gerona, Tarlac
Mr. Jeffry Lim
0918 908 0488