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Small ruminants, their importance and classifications (Goats and Sheep).

Small ruminants, their importance and classifications (Goats and Sheep).


Ruminants are animals are animals with four stomach chambers, namely; rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasums.

Ruminant species can further be classified as grazers, browsers or intermediates

Importance of small ruminants

Small ruminants play an important role in;

. Human nutrition.

· Food security

· Household income

·  Social and cultural functions

·  Provide useful products such as milk, meat and skin

· Provide manure for crop fields and fish production

· They are of great components of an integrated production system

Objectives farmers should focus on when rearing goats/ sheep

Getting increased number of kids and to raise kids for sale

To raising kids for breeding by self or by other breeders

To fatten goats for slaughter

To produce quality meat for market

To produce milk for home consumption or for sale to get income

Advantages of keeping small ruminants

· High reproductive rates. Small ruminants have a high fertility rate and high prolificacy ranging from 120% - 135%.tweenining is generally high in goats is about 55% - 60% while in sheep is about 20% to 22%. Estrus cycle and estrus period is shot about 18days. Estrus period ranges 24-72hours.Kidding/lambing interval is about 8months while generation interval is about 2years.

· Less feeds needed. Goats and sheep eat law quality food, particularly fibrous vegetation which cannot be eaten by human beings and non ruminants such as poultry and pigs. While up to 70% of production costs in monogastrics go to feed, small ruminants can be completely raised on browse, pasture and agricultural waste products.

· Provide products in manageable quantities. Finished products from goats and sheep provide less storage problems hence they are suitable for rural communities with low level of technology.

·  Less risk of total loss of arable farmers in Sahelian countries, drought has demonstrated the greater resistance of goats and sheep over cattle and small ruminants have survived and have been able to make up for the meat shortage caused by cattle losses. To the traditional arable farmers, small ruminants offer security of continued food supply during periods of crop failure.

·       Low initial cost. The raising of small ruminants is less capital intensive. The cost of sheep is much less than the cost of a cow and a small house holder maybe able to afford to have one or two ewes (female sheep) but not a cow (female cattle).

·  No cultural barriers. There are almost no cultural barriers against keeping goats and meat or eating there meat. In contrast Muslims and Jews don’t keep pigs nor eat pork and the Hindus don’t slaughter cattle. Poor people as well as rich people own goats and sheep well as it is usually only the rich who own cattle.

Advantages of keeping small Ruminates.

·  They are hardy animals and do not easily succumb to diseases.

·  They can withstand harsh environmental conditions

·  They feed on vegetations not used by other domestic species of animals since they are browers.

·  They can be kept by people living in marginal Agricultural areas.

·  They are easy to handle and can and can be looked after by children and women.

·  They are economic advantage because are a cheap to buy.

·  They multiply very easy and flocks expand in a relatively short time farming a major part of the family capital assets.

·  Twinning is common in exotic and other improved breeds and even in local goats if well selected from three goats (1male and 3famale) a resource poor farmer can easily accumulate 39goats in four years.

· Goats and sheep are small in size which makes them convenient to provide meat for family celebrations, social functions, religious and cultural rituals.

· They can quickly and easily be sold off for cash to meet family emergency needs like health costs education needs, in terms of death and therefore are the first step of poverty and insecurity in terms of climates.

·  There are no or few social, religious and cultural taboos associated with keeping goats mostly in Africa.

  Classification of goats

Several methods methods of the classification have been advocated based on origin, color, coat type, body size ear shape and ear length and formation. Each of these has its special attributes and limitations.

Goat breed originated from a number of countries from within Africa, Asia and Europe. These goats’ breeds include;

Small east African goats.

·  A color range from white to pure black with intermixes of roan and speckled brown.

·  Fine short hair coat, small horns, small and forward pointing ears.

·  Average with height is 60cm.

·  Adult male weighs 25-30kg, female weighs 21-23kg.

·  Edible and saleable proportion after dressing is 48% of the line body weight (12-14kg).

·  Sexual maturity is 7months but a relatively slow growth rate.

·  Age at first kidding maybe up to 18months.

·  Goats are mainly kept for meat.

Mubende goats

·  Pure black or black and white mixture of hair coat with straight hair coat (short/ long). The skin is of high quality.

·   An adult male weighs 25-35kg live weight and a female weighs 22-28kg live weight.

·  Edible and saleable proportion after dressing is 56% of live body weight.

·  Male have mames and are commonly polled.

Kigezi goats.

·  Originated from highland areas of Kabala and Bundibugyo distract in Uganda.

·   Color is black and has long hairs at hind quarters.

·   Average lines weight, males 30kg, females 25kg.

·  Small compact, short lagged body.

Sebei goats.

·  Originated from highlands areas of mountain Elgon in Kachorwa distract.

·  Goat is nondescript.

·  Suitable for upland areas and south western Uganda.

Karamoja goats

·  They are adopted from the rid areas of Kotido and Moroto districts in Uganda.

·  They are short haired.

· They have a white color and is near relatively to Gralla goat of Kenya.