Steve Agbota [email protected] 08033302331
Goat farming has been playing important roles in the economy of the traditional smallholder farming system.
The demand for goat meat and other related products are increasing daily in Nigeria. Several businessmen are now considering establishing goat farming, with focus on high yielding breeds.
This is because goat is one of the main meat and milk producing animals. Goat’s milk and meat have huge domestic demand and goat is one of the choicest meat and milk source. The demand for goat meat is enormous among health conscious people because it has low cholesterol content of the meat and the growth in human population.
Choosing the right goat breed for your commercial farm is however very important. There are numerous breeds around the world. While others are famous for milk production. Some goat breeds produce quality skins and fiber. However, one of the best breeds that gives export opportunities is West African Dwarf (WAD) goats. Apart from producing meat and milk, its leather is good for export market. The demand for leather, both local and international, is increasing and the price is on the rise.
Today’s improved WAD goat has most of the qualities that the modern farmer looks for in livestock, including high profitability. WAD goats can breed year round. The gestation period for a doe is 145 to 153 days.
Starting a WAD goat farming business requires low initial investment capital. WAD goats don’t require huge area for housing because their body size is comparatively smaller than other livestock animals.
Investors should embrace goat farming for quick returns and produce surplus food in Nigeria to bring about the diversification of the Nigerian economy rather than expending billions of dollars annually on importation of frozen fish and meat.
Speaking with Daily Sun, the Managing Director of Jovanna Farms, Prince Arinze Onebunne, said the improved WAD goat is an outstanding and prolific goat breed that can add real value to goat farming in the country.
He added: “A quality goat isn’t built up overnight. We select the best possible breeding animals and genetic lines to incorporate in our flock. That takes time.”
Speaking of breeding, he said cross breeding is mating two stocks from different breeds thus introducing into the progeny, a gene combination that is different from that existing in either parents or in the breed of either parent. He added that the sole purpose of cross breeding is to take advantage of the observed improvement in performance of the progeny above that of either parents – hybrid vigour or heterosis.
He said: “The WAD goat is one of the few goat breeds to produce kids that can be marketed directly from their mothers. Kids mature early and are market-ready from as early as 12 to 14 weeks. The females are excellent mothers; the WAD goat’s strong maternal drive means that we seldom encounter problems with breastfeeding.”
He said WAD goat is one of the most underestimated goat breeds in Nigeria, and has the potential to add enormous value to the breeding industry. It has all the characteristics needed for goat farming under extensive and intensive conditions, including hardiness, adaptability, growth and carcass quality.
He explained: “We fatten our own bucks for market up to 40kg live weight to generate maximum profit. If a doe fails to conceive, we fatten her for slaughter.”
He said to have a profitable goat operation on a small piece of land, “we must maximise the genetic potential of the flock. The WAD goat has high genetic reproduction and production potential. But this must be utilised through selection, good management and feeding.
“If we don’t feed them well, the goat won’t perform. Maximising meat, leather and milk production by weaning more and heavier kids is our most important driver of profit. But goat farming really becomes economically efficient when one starts selling pregnant females.”
He said animal theft, vaccinations and financial pressure are a challenge for goat farmers. Flocks are becoming smaller, with some farmers even opting out of farming goat. But I feel the industry is in a good place, with meat prices increasing and leather prices currently high.
With current shortages, the goat industry can contribute immensely. “We were afraid of buying a large piece of land.
Now there isn’t any adjoining land available for expansion and the price of land is high. But we’re expanding vertically and improving the quality of our animals.
“We have a great relationship with our workers who also love the animals and tell us if anything is amiss. We also have a sound relationship with our neighbours and keep an eye out for each other. Good fences make good neighbours, and ours is fixed the moment we see a problem.”
According to him, WAD goat has much to offer goat breeders in foreign countries. We have our sights set on exporting as soon as feasible.
But there’s no such thing as cutting corners in stud breeding. It takes time, and the learning curve is initially steep. We advise new breeders to learn more about the breed before setting out. Rather, start small and follow the correct process from the onset. We pay for the mistakes we make. I always encourage new goat breeders to choose the improved WAD goats from a reliable source like Jovana farms– it’s a no-nonsense breed that offers maximum profit for farmers.
To help prospective goat farmers avoid unnecessary mistakes, Jovana Farms has embarked on nationwide seminars on animal farming for Nigerians to learn the nitty-gritty of the business in their environment.