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Closing yield gaps in smallholder goat production systems in Ethiopia and India

Mayberry, Dianne, Ash, Andrew, Prestwidge, Di, Herrero, Mario
Livestock science 2018 v.214 pp. 238-244
arid zones, buffaloes, cattle, farmers, flocks, genetics, goat breeds, goat meat, goats, grazing, health services, household income, liveweight gain, meat production, models, nutrition, production technology, profitability, profits and margins, reproduction, survival rate, Ethiopia, India
Small ruminants such as goats are an important source of income for smallholder farmers in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa: they may be kept as a stepping stone to owning larger and higher-value animals such as cattle or buffalo, or provide a more-profitable and less-risky alternative in marginal or densely populated areas where access to feed resources are limited. However, smallholder goat production in these areas is often low due to low growth and reproduction rates and high animal mortality. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential for different intervention packages to increase yields and profitability of goat meat production in Ethiopia and India. Packages were based on improved nutrition, reduced flock mortality from improved control of health and diseases, and replacing indigenous livestock with improved goat breeds. Household modelling was used to simulate the effects of interventions on goat production and household income in the extensive lowland grazing zone and highland mixed crop-livestock zones of Ethiopia, and the extensive arid zone of India. Our analysis showed that there are opportunities to increase goat meat production in both countries. Reproduction, liveweight gain and survival rates can be increased through better nutrition, genetics and healthcare, but the biggest increase in production and profits occurred when multiple interventions were combined. Importantly, interventions resulting in the biggest increases in goat meat production or number of animals sold did not always give the highest profits.