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Modeling herd development and revenues for Jabal Akhdar goats under current and intensified management practices

Dickhoefer, Uta, Nagieb, Maher, dos Santos Neutzling, Aline, Buerkert, Andreas, Schlecht, Eva
Agricultural systems 2012 v.110 pp. 131-141
bucks, farm income, farmers, farms, feeds, goats, growth retardation, herds, household income, households, interviews, kidding, labor, meat, models, nutritive value, parturition interval, pastures, progeny, reproductive performance, vegetation, villages, weight gain, Oman
Pastoral goat husbandry supplies meat and income to farm households in villages of Al Jabal al Akhdar, Oman. However, the nutritive value of the pasture vegetation is low and farmers offer only little supplement feeds at the homestead. Hence, the objectives were to determine growth and reproductive rates of the animals, to estimate farmers’ revenues from goat husbandry, and to evaluate to which extent they can be increased by an improved feeding at the homestead or the conversion to zero-grazing systems. During November 2006–October 2007, daily weight gain of goats of two different types of livestock farms was measured on six farms each. Progeny history interviews were conducted on does (n=114) of these and three additional households to determine age at first parturition (AFP, months), kidding interval (KI, months), and prolificacy (PR, n of kids parturition⁻¹). Annual revenues (€ head⁻¹) from traditionally managed goat herds were estimated using the herd model PRY. They were also simulated for a semi-intensive system (i.e. increased homestead feeding of grazing goats) and a zero-grazing management assuming higher growth and reproductive rates. Irrespective of farm type, post-weaning weight gains of traditionally managed bucks (73gd⁻¹, SD 34.6) and does (48gd⁻¹, SD 25.7) were lower than growth rates observed in goats of the same breed under feedlot conditions. In particular young does were not able to compensate for growth retardation with advancing maturity. Together with late AFP (22, SD 9.7), prolonged KI (12, SD 4.3), and small PR (1.1, SD 0.20), the slow growth resulted in low annual revenues of 38 € head⁻¹. Simulated annual revenues were 51 € head⁻¹ for the semi-intensive and 66 € head⁻¹ for the zero-grazing system. Nevertheless, revenues per dry matter (DM) of feed offered at the homestead (i.e. feed use efficiency) were similar or higher for the two traditional farm types (0.20 and 0.27€kg⁻¹DM) and the semi-intensive system (0.33€kg⁻¹DM) compared to zero-grazing management (0.22€kg⁻¹DM). Improved homestead feeding of grazing goats, in particular of young does, according to their specific requirements can increase their growth and reproductive performance and thus overall herd productivity without reducing use efficiency of feeds offered at the homestead. It might therefore be a valuable alternative to the introduction of zero-grazing systems. However, further research on expenses and labor input into goat husbandry are needed to allow for a final evaluation of its contribution to total household income.