Assessment of production objective and breeding practices of rural goat keepers and implications for a breeding programme in north central Nigeria
Keywords:Goats, management, breeding, productivity, Nigeria
Goat farming is a veritable source of livelihood of many rural families in Africa. This study aimed at determining prevailing production systems and breeding objectives of rural goat producers in north central Nigeria. A total of 180 rural goat keepers corresponding to 60 per State (Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau) were randomly sampled. Primary data (socioeconomics of respondents, reasons for keeping goats, flock structure, management system, productivity and breeding practices) were collected through individual structured questionnaire administration. Cross tabulations and Chi square (÷2) statistics were used to compare categorical variables, while rank means, arithmetic means and standard deviations were calculated for within- and between-state comparisons of the continuous variables. While more goat producers were involved in crop farming in Benue State (43.6%), only 34.5 and 21.8% engaged in farming in Plateau and Nasarawa State, respectively. Goats were kept for income generation, milk, meat and cultural/religious functions by about 61.1, 12.8, 15.0 and 6.1% of the producers while the relative importance given by respondents to the different objectives varied significantly (Chi-square=6.62; P< 0.05) across the States. The average flock sizes of goats for Nasarawa (9.68±5.63), Benue (8.25±4.73) and Plateau (8.80±3.98) were not significantly (P>0.05) different. Semi-intensive system predominated (P<0.01). Productivity indices showed that for age of parturition, number of kids of Sahel doe and lifespan of goats, there was no significant difference (P>0.05). Among all the breeding traits across the three States, only disease resistance varied (P<0.01). Disease resistance, survival, fertility, number of offspring and body size appeared similar (P>0.05) as preference for production traits. However, growth (83.52-97.68 mean ranks) (Plateau State) and cultural importance (75.28-104.70 mean ranks) (Benue State) varied across the States (P<0.05 and P<0.01, respectively). The present information will be useful in understanding the farmers' production objectives, management and breeding practices as a first step in designing a sustainable breeding programme for rural farmers in the study areas.