Management practices, morphometric body measurements and diseases of local Zambian goats

Thumbnail Image
Ahmadu, Babagana
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The management practices, morphometric body measurements and disease profiles of local Zambian goats were studied with the main objectives of assessing the existing production system. The study was also aimed at gaining better understanding of: 1)socio-economic characteristics of the goat keepers and their management practices 2)identification of important physical characteristics 3)biometry of body parts of local Zambian goats and 4)profile of important diseases of goats.The flock population dynamics and the pattern of some selected production parameters for goats kept and maintained under traditional management in the Luangwa valley were studied using a monthly questionnaire survey between August 1996 and July 1997. This allowed monitoring of the flock inventory, kidding rate, mortality, slaughter, sales and purchases pattern in a group of twenty-five randomly selected farmers. All the investigated parameters appeared to have been influenced by seasonal effects. The average annual flock composition was 516 goats which consisted of 26% suckling animals, 34% rearing animals, 35% breeding females, 1% breeding males and 4% castrated males. The breeding male to breeding female ratio was 1: 36. Two peaks in kidding rates (31%, 30%) were observed during the hot, dry part of the year (August to October) and the warm, rainy season (February to April) respectively. The least kidding rates (15% and 18%) were in the hot, rainy season and the cool, dry season respectively. The average flock prolificacy and fecundity for the whole period was 1.36 and 1.28 respectively. The risk rate for seasonal mortality was highest (15.1%) for all classes of animals during the hot, wet part of the year. The overall average mortality risk rate for all classes of animals during the study period was 5.9%. The animals were at least risk (0.9%) during the hot and dry season.The seasonal selling pattern of the animals suggested that most farmers prefer selling the biggest animal in the flock and about 16.5% of the animals at risk of being sold were breeding males. This was followed by the rearing males (7.9%), castrates (2.6%), rearing females (1.5%) and breeding females (0.8%) with the suckling animals being at least risk (0.4%). Similarly, the seasonal slaughter pattern suggested rearing males as being the most affected class with risk rate of 17.5%. This was followed by castrated males (14.7%), rearing females (3.5%) and breeding males (2.8%).A survey of 130 randomly selected goat keeping households was carried out in Luangwa and Sinazongwe districts in an attempt to highlight the main features of goat management and husbandry practices in the area. The socio-economic characteristics of the goat keepers and their husbandry practices were investigated in order to identify any association between the socio-economic variables and flock size. Nearly 77% of the households were male headed while 23% were headed by females with no statistically significant difference (P<0.05) in herd size between male and female headed households. Mean family size was 8.40 + 4.4 members. The average age of the head of household, who in most cases (78%) was the owner of the goats, v/as 45 years. Almost 43% of the respondents possessed 1-5 years of experience in goat keeping. The primary reason for goat keeping was as a source of income and food. Goat acquisition methods were mainly through direct purchase (45%) and inheritance (27%). Average herd size per household was 13 ± 7.5 with about 75% of the respondents having 11-15 animals per household and 13% with more than 20 goats per household. About 23% of the respondents invested cash amounting to between Zambian Kwacha 12,000 to 75,000 in the goat enterprise in the last one year, 42% of the households sold between 1-10 goats while 11%) sold more than ten in the last one year.Family size, age of head of household, investment on goat rearing activities, goat keeping experience and number of goats sold in the last one year as well as the distance and number of visits to the veterinary clinic were all positively correlated with herd size. Management practices such as herding, tethering, provision of feeds, shelter, and water were the major tasks for women and children in goat rearing while the men and children were mainly responsible for the provision of security at night and maintenance of goat houses. 80% and 79% of the households practiced castration and milking respectively. In the opinion of the goat keepers, disease problems such as mange, diarrhea and heartwater constituted the major constraints to goat keeping in the area. Some implications of these findings are highlighted.The physical features and morphological characteristics of local Zambian goats were studied using 1568 marketed goats brought to Lusaka urban goat markets from the southern province of Zambia. The physical features studied were the coat colour, presence or absence of horns, wattles and beard. Other features observed were the shape and size of the horns, the head profile as well as the form and size of the ears. The body weight of the animals was measured together with heart girth, body length, distance between the eyes, rump length and width.The observations revealed that the single most predominant (27%) coat colour was brown followed by black (19%), white (9%) and grey (0.05%), with the majority of the goats being mixed coloured (44%). The horns, majority (97%)) of which were less than 15 cm in length were either twisted (45%) or plain (55%)) and were in all cases directed backwards with no differences between male and female animals. The wattles and beard, which did not seem to be influenced by sex, were encountered in 22% and 71% of the goats respectively. The regression and correlation analysis revealed that the body weight was highly correlated to withers height, bodies length and heart girth. The live weight of the goats could be predicted in a regression equation using these body measurements as independent variables and the body weight as the dependent variable.The infection and prevalence rates of economically important diseases of goats were studied between February and June 1999 in abattoir surveys in which goats originating from southern province of Zambia were utilised. The conditions investigated were gastrointestinal nematodosis, coccidiosis, tick infestation, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, heartwater and trypanosomosis.Eggs per gram (EPG) and oocysts per gram (OPG), differential larval counts, and routine clinical haematological parameters were monitored routinely throughout the period. The total monthly rainfall and mean temperature of the areas where the animals originated was obtained. The faecal egg and oocyst counts showed a marked seasonal variation, being highest (EPG 51,300) in the rainy season (Febmarj' - March) and falling to low levels of below 100 during the dry season (May - June). Moderate levels of infestation (>500 for both EPG and OPG) persisted in individual animals for most part of the study period.The major gastrointestinal nematodes identified by differential counts were in order of importance Haemonchus spp, Trichostrongylus spp and Oesophagostomum spp. The erythrogram of mean haematological values for PCV%, RBC, Hb, MCV, MCHC and MCVC revealed that they were within the normal range reported in the literature with no strong evidence of anaemia. Some individual animals were however anaemic.A total of 224 ticks were collected and identified from 305 out of 1036 goats examined. Amblyoma variegatum and Hyalomma species were identified to be the main genera occurring in the order of 42.4% and 33.5% respectively. Other genera identified were Rhipicephalus species (12%) and Boophilus species (12%). The resultant infestation rate was 29.4% while the mean number of ticks per goat was 1.4, which was considered to be low. Blood samples were collected from each of the 150 goats brought for slaughter at the Lusaka abattoir. Examination of thin blood smears revealed an infection rate of 2.7% for Anaplasma spp and Babesia parasite.The Major Antigenic Protein-IB (MAP-IB) indirect ELISA technique was used to establish the infection rates of Heartwater in 451 serum samples collected from goats brought to the Lusaka abattoir from six villages in southern province. The assay revealed a sero-prevalence rate of 40.2% with no significant difference between the six villages, indicating the evidence of the prevalence of Cowdria ruminantium. The status of trypanosomosis was determined using Haematocrit Centrifiage Technique (HCT) and also Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) techniques in 120 goat blood spots on filter paper. Both techniques failed to detect any positive reaction implying that, factors such as adult age, healthy appearance and small sample size not withstanding, trypanosomosis does not seem to pose a serious threat to goat health in the districts where the animals originated.
Goats -- Diseases -- Zambia