Goat is known as ‘Poor man’s cow’ in India and is a very important component in dry land farming system. Marginal or undulating lands unsuitable for other types of animals like cow or buffalo, goat is the best alternative. With very low investments goat farming can be made in to a profitable venture for small and marginal farmers.
Goats are reared for milk and meat. Goat is a multi functional animal and plays a significant role in the economy and nutrition of landless, small and marginal farmers in the country. Goat farming is an enterprise, which has been practiced by a large section of population in rural areas. Goats can efficiently survive on available shrubs and trees in adverse harsh environment in low fertility lands where no other crop can be grown. Around the world, more people drink goat milk than cow milk. Also, more people eat chevon (goat meat) than beef. The World Health Organization says that more than 70% of the world’s population has some allergy to cow milk. The allergic symptoms could be stomachaches, gas, skin rashes and ear infections. An allergy to goat milk is very rare. According to many historians, goats were the first animals to be domesticated. For thousands of years, they have been utilized for their milk, meat, hair, and skins all over the world.
Advantages of rearing goat
- The initial investment needed for Goat farming is low.
- Due to small body size and docile nature, housing requirements and managemental problems with goats are less.
- Goats are prolific breeders and achieve sexual maturity at the age of 10-12 months gestation period in goats is short and at the age of 16-17 months it starts giving milk. Twinning is very common and triplets and quadruplets are rare.
- In drought prone areas risk of goat farming is very much less as compared to other livestock species.
- Goats are ideal for mixed species grazing. The animal can thrive well on wide variety of thorny bushes, weeds, crop residues, and agricultural by-products unsuitable for human consumption.
- The goat meat is more lean (low cholesterol) and relatively good for people who prefer low energy diet especially in summer and sometimes goat meat (chevon) is preferred over mutton because of its “chewability”.
- Goat milk is easy to digest than cow milk because of small fat globules and is naturally homogenized. Goat milk is said to play a role in improving appetite and digestive efficiency. Goat milk is non allergic as compared to cow milk and it has anti-fungal and anti bacterial properties and can be used for treating urogenital diseases of fungal origin.
- Unlike large animals in commercial farm conditions both male and female goats have equal value.
- Goats are 2.5 times more economical than sheep on free range grazing under semi arid conditions.
- Under proper management, goats can improve and maintain grazing land and reduce bush encroachment (biological control) without causing harm to the environment.
- Goat is termed as walking refrigerator for the storage of milk and can be milked number of times in a day.
- Goat creates employment to the rural poor besides effectively utilizing unpaid family labour. There is ample scope for establishing cottage industries based on goat meat and milk products and value addition to skin and fibre.
- Kerala Agricultural University, India