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Systems of Goat Production

A number of different of goat production systems exist, including subsistence, extensive and intensive. The number of goats kept is often a helpful factor that indicates the type of system. 

 Subsistence goat farming 

Subsistent farmer usually keep small number of animal and manage to use whatever feed resource are available at village level. This may involve feeding crop or household residues to stall-fed goats, tethering individual animals to verges or allowing goats to scavenge. 
Tethering is common in parts of South East Asia, South America and the Caribbean where crops are grown and the goat must be prevented from damaging feed or cash crops. Goats are tied with ropes or chains to pegs, trees or post to constrain their movement. They are moved to a fresh area of grazing once the current patch is eaten down. 
Supplementary feeding with crop residues or household waste may be given, but not usually concentrate. Water is provided at night, when the goat is returned to its home. Goat may be tethered in small groups or even led by ropes held by children or woman. 
In the middle East, where there is little groundcover for goat to graze, especially in the summer, small groups of goat owned by farmers growing dates and catching fish are kept in tiny shaded corrals. There they exist on a combination of cut grass legumes and leftovers from the house meals. 
Also in the same region are to be found small flock of scavenging goats that, during hours, forage in dustbins, on rubbish dumps, in urban building sites, unguarded gardens and on low growing trees. Only at night do they make their own way back to their owner’s home. 

 Extensive Goat farming

Under extensive production systems, goats graze and browse large areas 
of land that are usually of a marginal nature, and unsuitable for other agricultural use. This is usually because rainfall is low or unreliable. 
Goats can make good use of these areas provided the number of animals is controlled to match the carrying capacity of the land. The carrying capacity is the amount of forage available to sustain a set number of animals in a given area. The size of flock within this system is often 
large, and other species, such as sheep, may also be grazed at the same time. 
Under sedentary systems the grazing available to a flock is limited by the distance it can travel daily to reach water, shelter at night and the pastures themselves. A sedentary system is one with a fixed homestead and set grazing area. Some flocks may be moved to grazing area in different part of the country to utilize seasonal grazing or crop residues that are available only for limited period of the year. This is a migratory 
system which in some part of the tropics has developed over many centuries to become a very efficient way of using marginal agricultural hands. 
In parts of African, Asia and India there are two traditional systems of extensive production which have utilized marginal area very successfully over long periods. These are nomadism and transhumance. 
Nomadism was widespread in the Sahel region of Africa and in the middle and near East but it is now becoming less common. Nomads have camps which they move depending upon the amount of water and 
pasture available within an area. As traditional livestock keepers they follow set routes within what are considered tribal lands. Modern day national boundaries are often ignored. 
Transhumance involves the movement of flocks between permanent settlement and temporary and seasonal pastures as well as between settlement and temporary and seasonal pastures as well as between 
different regional areas. 
In Europe the flocks are kept in the lower plains during a winter period and moved to higher mountainous area when the climate is warm enough to allow vegetation to grow and be accessed. 
Apart from altitude, transhumance also occurs between different areas with the change of season, as in the north- south movement in the Sahel. 
Transhumance is found in Africa, S.E. Asia; the near and Middle East and also in the Mediterranean, Europe and S. America. Animal from different families may be grouped together for the summer as one large flock and goat keepers may be hired if the families have other duties. 
Goats are often moved to pastures at higher altitudes than cattle because they are more agile and can better use the sparser vegetable that grows at these heights. 
 

Intensive 

Intensive systems of goat production are those where the goats are confined and so not allowed to forage for themselves. In Oman, large numbers of goats are reared for meat production in small group of 10-15 animals of similar ages and separated into males and female. Two hundred goats may be kept on one hectare of land with no access to grazing. These feed lot or zero grazing systems involve feeding cut 
grasses (Rhodes, Buffel, and Signal) and cut legumes (leucaena, gliricidia, stylos) as well as concentrates, mineral and vitamins. 
Other system include grazing improved pastures where may be used to boost yield, supplementary feeding of agricultural by products and supervise grazing of animal on limited areas. In South India and parts of S.E Asia stall feeding of goats in crop growing areas is a very efficient method of converting poor value crop residues and tree leaves into 
useful feed production for humans. It also avoids damage by the goats to growing crops. 
Most intensive management involves high cost resulting from high labour cost, expensive feed, or a large investment in the inputs such as land or animals. It may be a combination of several factors to which there must be a high priced product. 
Keeping number of goats confined in a limited area requires meticulous health care if disease, particularly parasite problems, are to be avoided. 
Care must also be taken to see that all animal are properly fed, have access to clean water and are regularly cleaned out. 
Many methods of goat keeping combine the different systems of management as described here. It is, for example, common in parts of Africa to use children, on returning from school, to shepherd goats that are confined to stall during the day. 

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