Characterisation of Goat production systems and productivity in Rushinga Communal area, Zimbabwe
Chikwanda, Allen T.
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One monitoring and 2 on-farm experimental studies were undertaken using goats that belonged to smallholder farmers in Rushinga communal area, Zimbabwe. The objectives of these studies were to investigate the effect(s) of management system, supplementary feeding, provision of housing and antihelminthic treatment on overall flock productivity, doe fertility, pre-weaning kid mortality and worm burden, respectively. The effects of tethering or herding on flock productivity were investigated, from March 2001 to March 2003, using 24 goat flocks which were selected from 3 flock sizes (i.e. 1 to 5, 6 to 10 and > 10 goats/flock). Productivity was analysed in terms of kidding pattern, kidding rates, prolificacy, kidding interval, off-take and death rates. The major findings were that kidding patterns were similar under both management systems with two major peaks from March to April and from September to December and kidding rates were low and were not affected by management system (P> 0.05). Prolificacy was also not affected by management system (P> 0.05). Kidding intervals were long but similar (P> 0.05) between the 2 management systems. The sales, slaughters and death rates were low for both systems. It was concluded that the productivity of goats reared under herding or tethering was similar. However, there was a need to reduce reproductive wastage and form goat marketing centres so as to increase sales. In the second study, the effect of supplementary feeding, with sunflower cake, on doe fertility was investigated using 36 goat flocks which were randomly allocated to 3 treatment groups (i.e. Group 1 no supplementary feed, in Group 2 the does were offered 270 g/ day of hand pressed sunflower cake during the first 60 days of lactation and in Group 3 the does received 270 g/ day of the sunflower cake from late pregnancy and continued through the first 60 days of lactation). Fertility was analysed in terms of kidding rate, kidding interval, prolificacy and age at first kidding. The major findings were that kidding rates were low and not affected by the treatments (P> 0.05). The kidding rates ranged from 2.84 „b 1.21 to 5.08 „b 1.21 and from 1.61 „b 1.21 to 5.60 „b 1.40 parturitions/100 does/doe year in the control and supplemented flocks, respectively. Age at first kidding was not affected by treatment group (P> 0.05). Prolificacy was significantly affected by the interaction of flock size and season of mating (P < 0.05). It was concluded that the level of supplementary feed that was offered during pregnancy and lactation resulted in minor improvements in the reproductive performance of the does. In the third study, the effect of the type of goat housing and provision of antihelminthic treatment on kid mortality and the prevalence and predominance of internal parasites was investigated. Thirty six goat flocks were selected from the 3 flock sizes and were randomly allocated to 2 types of goat housing (i.e. pole walled and an improved housing) and were further put on 2 antihelminthic treatments (untreated and de-wormed with Valbazen). The major findings were that death rate of kids was low across all treatments and was not affected (P> 0.05) by type of housing or the antihelminthic drug. Low egg numbers of Coccidia, Strongyle and occasionally Moniezia species were observed in the faecal samples. The most prevalent nematode larvae in the faecal cultures were Haemonchus contortus, Cooperia, Trichostrongylus and Strongyloides. The prevalence of Haemonchus contortus was significantly affected (P < 0.05) by a three- way interaction of type of housing, antihelminthic treatment and season. It was concluded that kid death rate and the prevalence of internal parasites was low and not affected by type of housing. In addition, the use of antihelminthics in the area was not necessary.