Selection of buck and does for breeding in commercial goat farming

Divyanshu Pandey1, Kumar Govil2, Anjali Gautam3, Shailendra Singh4, Monalisa Sahoo5 and Alok Kumar Singh6

1Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana
2Department of Animal Nutrition, College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Rewa, M.P.
3Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of Madhya Pradesh
4Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Rewa, M.P.
5ICAR-DFMD-International Centre for Foot and Mouth Disease, Arugul, Jatani, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
6Department of Veterinary Parasitology, College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Rewa, M.P.

Goats are among the oldest animals domesticated around ten to eleven thousand years ago. They constitute an important species of livestock in the country as they produce meat, milk, skin and fiber, generate employment and trade. Total Goat Population in the country is 148.88 Million during 2019.Total Goat has increased by 10.14% over previous Livestock Census (2012). About 27.8% of the total livestock is contributed by goats.This species is of economic importance to the people living in arid and semi-arid, hilly and heavy rain fall and tribal area. Goats are selective over a broad dietary range, and have the capacity to adapt to harsh environments and production purposes. Goat farming in India and other tropical regions has been pasture based since ages, but in the recent past grazing resources is diminishing due to land reclamation for conventional crop production or nonagricultural uses. The goat is one of the most important meat animal in the country.

Although meat and skins are the major products, milk, fiber, manure and other by-products contribute substantially to the agriculture economy. Goat meat, though costliest of all the meats in the country, is the most preferred and in high demand. Goat rearing is a traditional occupation of economically weaker section of the society especially small and marginal farmers and landless labors, particularly in semi-arid and arid regions of the country. Due to increase importance of goats, particularly in rain fed ecosystems, goat keepers are going for intensive production, and there is need to look into their nutrient availability and requirement of the species. Goat is considered to be major source of economic sustenance for these categories of population in rural area. Comparatively lower body size and their adaptability to wide range of agro climatic conditions have rendered them favorite with poor farmers. Goats are predominantly maintained under extensive range management on community range land, cropped land after harvesting and forest land in mixed grazing with other livestock species employing self or family labors (unpaid and unorganized). Management of small ruminants does not require specialized skills hence the surplus family labor is gainfully employed for management and up keep of the animals. Organized breeding program, feeding management, husbandry practices, and health coverage and marketing structure are required to be developed.

General life span of goat is about 12 -13 years, but in normal husbandry practices, female goats are retained only up to 6-8 years of age, whereas males are retained until 4-6 years to get efficient production. The most viable offspring are produced between 2-5 years of age. Female goats come in first heat at the age of 6-7 months. At this stage the physical development is not proper this may be detrimental for female. The growth and development of reproductive system takes place gradually. Therefore, breeding age of female is supposed to be 9-12 months. Rearing of goats is mainly done by the landless, small/marginal farmers especially rural illiterate women. Hence, they are unable to maintain production records like births, breeding records, feed and fodder, health coverage, mortality etc. Hence age is decided by dentition.

Animal selection involves standards or criteria used to identify desired breed traits that parent animals can pass to their offspring. The goal of animal selection is to identify does and bucks that will improve herd hardiness and productivity. During the selection process goat producers must focus on reproductive, growth, and carcass characteristics.

Some common goat selection tools are:­­

  • General visual appraisal
  • Pedigree data
  • Performance data
  • Genetic animal evaluation
  • Respective breed standards
  • Animal records

A. Selection of Bucks:

In the absence of breeding values and data in the form of farm records, visual selection remains the only convenient method for selecting breeding bucks. It is a popular saying that a breeding male is ‘half of the herd’. The genetic improvement in any herd or flock depends upon the kind of male we select and in light of which, the following tips can help farmers in choosing the right breeding male for your flock. A herd sire or buck is the most important animal in the herd. The buck contributes 50 percent of the genetic makeup of every kid born and is a key factor in determining the overall pregnancy rate of the herd. The choice of quality breeding stock is an important factor and fundamental in a meat and dairy goat operation. A replacement herd sire or buckling can be selected from the contemporary at weaning (3 to 4 months of age), based on weaning weight. Subsequently, a post-weaning growth evaluation can be made by 6 to 8 months of age. At 8 months of age, a buckling can begin servicing a small number of females. At two years of age, bucks are considered adults capable of servicing many does. These are the following criteria on which selection of bucks should be preferred.

  1. The buck should possess all the breed characteristics.
  2. The age should be more than one year.
  3. The buck should be a twin / triplets.
  4. The buck should be the heaviest in the flock. Body weight should be more than 30-35 kg.
  5. There should not be any physical defects and disease.
  6. The buck should be aggressive.
  7. The buck should be healthy and with straight body and legs.
  8. The buck should be rugged on the neck and shoulders as this reflects breeding ability.
  9. The chest should be wide.
  10. The body coat should be shiny one.
  11. The buck should have good semen characteristics.

Criteria for Culling Bucks

  • Eliminate buckling from the herd that displays poor conformation such as cryptorchidism (a genetic malformation where only one or no testicles descend in the scrotum).
  • Remove a buckling with hypoplasia or undeveloped testicles. These conditions are usually signs of genetic abnormalities.
  • In addition, watch for orchitis, an inflammation of the testicle(s). These conditions can cause sterility.

B. Selection of Doe:

The maintenance of mature breeding does should be based on reproductive performance. Does are expected to wean kids annually. A doe should also exhibit good structure. The udder must be of good structure, not pendulous. It must also have good ligaments, with one functional teat on each half, to facilitate nursing of the kids. Having oversized teats is a cull factor.

  1. The doe should possess all the breed characteristics.
    1. The doe should be a twin / triplets
    1. The age of the doe should be between 1-2 years.
    1. The doe should be healthy and free from disease.
    1. The body coat of the doe should be lustrous and shiny one.
    1. The conjunctiva of the doe should be pinkish and not pale or yellow (Anemic).
    1. The udder of the doe should be well developed and not pendulous.
    1. There should be no supernumerary (rudimentary) teats.
    1. The temperament should be good; particularly docility and mothering ability are good features.
    1. The doe should be a good milker.
    1. Conceive in first service, no abortion, good mothering ability, giving births to more twins, increase in weight and milk are supposed to be characters of good doe.

Other Valuable Doe Traits

  • Capability of breeding with no more than two services (rate to achieve pregnancy). Required to conceive in a breeding season
  • Ability to carry out a pregnancy to term.
  • Good milk production, which is indicated by the weaning weight of the kids.

Criteria for Culling Does

  • Cull poor reproductive performers with low profitability.
  • Avoid does that present frequent uterine, vaginal or cervico-vaginal prolapse.

General Management Tips

  • Always remove the excess hairs from the body of breeding animal for efficient breeding.
  • Extra allowance of 100 to 200 gram of grains should be fed to breeding animals.
  • The feeding for breeding should commence 2 weeks prior to mating till the end of breeding season.
  • The grains should be fed gradually to the animals as sudden ingestion of grains in high quantities may be lead to bloat and acidosis.
  • Regularly deworm your animals and provide them with mineral mixture for efficient breeding.