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Abstract

Our objective was to characterize feeding practices and nutritional status of goats in the Jhadol block, Udaipur district (Rajasthan) in northwestern India. Goat owners (n=64) were interviewed in 10 villages of Jhadol block. The questionnaire targeted aspects of the livestock system including socio-economic characteristics, livestock management, goat feeding and physical assessment of goat condition, and was broken into general household data, goat husbandry practices, goat diet composition, feeding habits, feed shortage mitigation, crop residue use and lactation. Local inhabitants relied heavily on their own land (77%) for subsistence and many depended on income as wage labourers (38%). Households owned between one and 22 goats, with an average of 6.59 goats. Goat health was assessed with body condition scoring, which was significantly correlated with geographic cluster (P=0.0049), household forage cultivation (P=0.0238) and rainy season lopping of tree branches for goat feed (P=0.0275). Goat management practices were defined by the total number of seasons that households took goats foraging away from home. Seasons foraged correlated with geographic cluster (P=0.0004), goat herd size (P=0.0055) and total number of other livestock owned (P=0.013). These aspects of the semi-intensive goat system in Udaipur district improve understanding of household characteristics and practices impacting nutritional management and goat condition. Information presented here advances knowledge of goat farming systems in rural northwestern India and can direct future goat nutrition research initiatives.
Goats constitute 26% of Indian livestock
(Livestock Census, 2012) and owned by poor or
underprivileged families contribute an estimated 70 to
80% of Indian livestock product sales (Kurup, 2004).
Goat ownership is strongly associated with extreme
poverty, particularly in harsh, arid environments
(Devendra, 2005). For marginalized and smallholder
farmers, goats make critical contributions (e.g. meat,
milk, manure, fibre, skins) to nutritional and financial
security that increase farm stability and survival of the
rural poor (Devendra, 2013). Households commonly
invest in goats as a coping mechanism to mitigate risk.
Degradation of Indian grazing lands has hampered
feed availability and shifted ownership trends toward
resilient animals like goats that are able to survive on
less biomass than larger ruminants, which has
resulted in a near doubling of India's goat population
between 1961 and 1993 (World Bank, 1996; Ghotge,
2004). Goats are generally less harmful to ecologically
fragile areas than larger animals (IFAD, 2001), and
goat adoption typically follows land desertification
rather than goats causing degradation (Ghotge,
2004). Goats are better able to thrive in semi-arid or
arid regions than more demanding species, but their
productivity under challenging conditions is low
compared with genetic potential (Kumar, 2007). Goat
productivity gains through improved nutrition can
increase financial and food security for smallholder
farmers (Devendra, 2005).
FORAGING ANDBODY CONDITIONCHARACTERIZATIONOFGOATSIN
NORTHWESTERNINDIA
M.E.Valentine*,K.C.McRoberts,andD.J.Cherney
ABSTRACT
CornellUniversity,MorrisonHall,Ithaca,NY,USA
*E-mailaddress:mev53@cornell.edu
Manuscriptreceivedon13.03.2015,acceptedon19.04.2015
DOI:10.5958/0973-9718.2015.00077.X
Our objective was to characterize feeding practices and nutritional status of goats in the
Jhadol block, Udaipur district (Rajasthan) in northwestern India. Goat owners (n=64) were
interviewed in 10 villages of Jhadol block. The questionnaire targeted aspects of the livestock
system including socio-economic characteristics, livestock management, goat feeding and
physical assessment of goat condition, and was broken into general household data, goat
husbandry practices, goat diet composition, feeding habits, feed shortage mitigation, crop residue
use and lactation. Local inhabitants relied heavily on their own land (77%) for subsistence and
many depended on income as wage labourers (38%). Households owned between one and 22
goats, with an average of 6.59 goats. Goat health was assessed with body condition scoring,
which was significantly correlated with geographic cluster (P=0.0049), household forage
cultivation (P=0.0238) and rainy season lopping of tree branches for goat feed (P=0.0275). Goat
management practices were defined by the total number of seasons that households took goats
foraging away from home. Seasons foraged correlated with geographic cluster (P=0.0004), goat
herd size (P=0.0055) and total number of other livestock owned (P=0.013). These aspects of the
semi-intensive goat system in Udaipur district improve understanding of household
characteristics and practices impacting nutritional management and goat condition. Information
presented here advances knowledge of goat farming systems in rural northwestern India and can
direct future goat nutrition research initiatives.
Feeding, Goat, Semi-intensive, Smallholder farmerKey words:
Indian Journal of
SmallRuminants
245
TheIndianJournalofSmallRuminants2015,21(2):245-252
M.E.Valentineetal.
Fodder scarcity is a major obstacle for Indian
livestock production (Roy and Singh, 2008).
Physiological functions suffer (e.g., onset of puberty,
growth, fertility, milk production, disease resistance,
and absorption of essential nutrients) when energy
supply is inadequate (Kearl, 1982). Devendra's (2013)
analysis of successful and unsuccessful goat
development projects identified feeding and nutrition
as major constraints to animal productivity. A deficit of
67% in green fodder, 32% in dry fodder and 22% in
concentrates is expected for Indian livestock in 2015
(Roy and Singh, 2008). Wise use of available fodder
and feed resources is required to sustain India's
growing livestock population (Roy and Singh, 2008).
Consequently, the objectives of this study were to
characterize household goat feeding practices and
assess goat nutrition and health with body condition
scoring. We highlight opportunities to improve goat
nutrition and health in the Jhadol block of Udaipur
district (Rajasthan). Our assessment is best viewed as
a first-stage characterization study that can improve
understanding of goat management, including
nutritional opportunities and constraints to goat
production in the study area, and help identify key
areas for subsequent research.
Research was conducted in western Udaipur
district (Rajasthan), India. Jhadol block, the study's
central research base, is located 60 km southwest of
Udaipur city. Udaipur experiences three main
seasons: rainy (July to September), winter (October to
mid-March), and summer (mid-March to June). We
focused on four clusters (Ogna, Jhadol, Kantharia and
Baghpura) in Jhadol block. All survey respondents
were considered below the poverty line according to
Rajasthan State government household census and
scoring system. Goat keepers operated in a semi-
intensive system with both free-browsing and stall-
feeding, which depended on season and biomass
availability. Most goat owners had minimal knowledge
of best management practices (e.g., planned
breeding, deworming and vaccinations) (ILRI, 2012a).
Interviews (n=64) were completed with farm
families in August and September 2013. Interviews
were supplemented by researcher observations, goat
MATERIALS ANDMETHODS
body condition scoring, and animal tracking to
foraging areas. Our questionnaire consisted of 49
questions addressing socioeconomic status, goat
husbandry practices, goat diets, feeding habits, feed
shortage mitigation, crop residue use and lactation.
Interviewed farmers were randomly selected within
villages to generate a diverse, geographically
representative sample from clusters in Jhadol block.
Two villages were randomly selected in three clusters,
while four villages were selected in a fourth cluster
(Ogna) because Ogna village populations were low.
Eight households were randomly selected in each
village in the first three clusters, and four participants
were selected in each Ogna village. Thus, 16
households were interviewed in each cluster for a total
sample population of 64 participants. Household
interview duration was approximately one hour.
Missing and abnormal data were addressed with
follow-up discussions in person or by phone. Available
goats in surveyed households (n=419) were
individually photographed and body condition scored
by applying a 9-point palpation and observation-based
scale from 1 to 5 with 0.5-point increments, according
to Langston University guidelines (Detweiler et al.,
2008).
Statistical analysis was executed in JMP 9.0.2
(SAS Institute). Thirty-one variables from the total
survey were used in statistical data analysis (Tables 1
and 2). As with all recall surveys, responses represent
farmer perceptions about biological and economic
realities (excluding researcher-measured body
condition scores). Selected variables with low
variation and those that were not answered
consistently were removed. Body condition score and
number of seasons foraged, were targeted with
ANOVA statistical analyses to assess goat health and
household goat foraging decisions. Significant mean
differences were declared at P 0.05 with Tukey's
adjustment for multiple comparisons. Retrospective
power of tests was calculated for fixed effects models.
Body condition score was analyzed in a linear mixed
model with cluster as a fixed effect and household as a
random effect to determine significantly different
geographic regions.
Factor Bodyweight(kg)
Birth 3months 6months 9months 12months
Overall 2.55±0.05(3551) 13.30±0.47(3073) 16.96±0.52(2194) 20.98±1.05(1642) 25.80±0.49(1144)
Sire ** ** ** ** **
Cluster
Vallabhnagar
Railmagra
Devgarh
Nathdwara
Bhadsoda
**
2.45±0.06a(278)
2.41±0.06a(650)
2.64±0.06b(1584)
2.47±0.14a(37)
2.80±0.06c(1002)
**
11.42±0.51a(214)
13.22±0.50b(593)
13.56±0.50c(1439)
13.33±0.85bc (15)
15.00±0.50d(812)
**
14.71±0.60a(123)
16.99±0.58b(504)
17.71±0.58c(1184)
14.33±1.11a(12)
21.05±0.59d(371)
**
19.15±1.12a(59)
20.61±1.09b(396)
21.68±1.09c(943)
17.14±1.95a(3)
26.30±1.10d(241)
**
19.93±1.35a(36)
26.33±0.71c(229)
25.04±0.73b(715)
-
31.90±0.80d(164)
Season
Rainy
Winter
Summer
NS
2.58±0.05(1303)
2.55±0.05(1723)
2.53±0.06(525)
**
13.08±0.47a(1171)
13.63±0.47b(1443)
13.20±0.48a(459)
NS
16.95±0.52(795)
17.06±0.53(1021)
16.87±0.53(378)
**
21.50±1.06c(507)
20.92±1.06b(829)
20.51±1.06a(306)
*
25.89±0.50b(377)
25.42±0.50a(589)
26.09±0.53b(178)
Yearofbirth
Yr1(07-08)
Yr2(08-09)
Yr3(09-10)
Yr4(10-11)
Yr5(11-12)
Yr6(12-13)
**
2.66±0.06e(491)
2.53±0.06b(586)
2.43±0.05a(624)
2.54±0.06bc(531)
2.59±0.05d(668)
2.58±0.06cd (651)
**
12.83±0.50a(453)
12.77±0.50a(530)
12.88±0.48a(525)
13.40±0.49b(467)
14.06±0.48c(570)
13.88±0.49c(528)
**
16.01±0.56b(404)
15.60±0.56a(412)
16.61±0.53c(394)
17.25±0.54d(376)
18.27±0.54e(406)
18.02±0.56e(202)
**
19.78±1.09b(350)
19.24±1.09a(316)
19.83±1.06b(320)
21.28±1.07c(308)
22.69±1.07d(301)
23.04±1.15d(47)
**
25.01±0.62ab (310)
25.10±0.61b(209)
24.50±0.56a(186)
26.23±0.60c(218)
28.16±0.60d(221)
-
Parity
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th =
NS
2.52±0.06(779)
2.57±0.06(678)
2.56±0.06(610)
2.55±0.05(530)
2.58±0.05(954)
NS
13.24±0.48(664)
13.30±0.48(589)
13.34±0.48(553)
13.31±0.47(461)
13.34±0.47(806)
NS
16.89±0.53(507)
17.11±0.53(455)
16.94±0.53(411)
17.03±0.54(317)
16.82±0.53(504)
NS
20.91±1.07(393)
21.02±1.06(348)
21.14±1.06(303)
21.07±1.07(218)
20.74±1.06(380)
NS
25.88±0.54(276)
26.01±0.52(243)
25.94±0.52(220)
25.60±0.54(152)
25.58±0.52(253)
Typeofbirth
Single
Multiples
**
2.95±0.05(2080)
2.16±0.05(1471)
**
13.99±0.47 (1842)
12.62±0.47 (1231)
**
17.71±0.52(1386)
16.20±0.53 (808)
**
21.62±1.05 (1049)
20.33±1.06(593)
**
26.55±0.49(752)
25.05±0.50 (392)
Sex
Male
Female
**
2.67±0.05(1768)
2.44±0.05(1783)
**
13.95±0.47 (1536)
12.66±0.47 (1537)
**
17.73±0.52(1023)
16.18±0.52(1171)
**
21.97±1.06(679)
19.98±1.05(963)
**
27.05±0.51(372)
24.55±0.49(772)
Regressionondam’s
weight atkidding
(bkg/kg)
**
0.011±0.004
**
0.048±0.02
NS
0.002±0.027
NS
0.004±0.037
*
0.116±0.053
TheIndianJournalofSmallRuminants2015,21(2):245-252
246
Goatforagingandbodycondition
RESULTS ANDDISCUSSION
Local inhabitants were heavily reliant on their own
land for subsistence, and many inhabitants depended
on income as wage labourers (38%). Majority of
participants (54%) identified goats as their most
important livestock asset. Popular reasons for owning
goats as a percentage of total respondents were live
animal sales (100%), sales in case of emergency
(100%), milk consumption (98%) and manure as a soil
amendment (95%). Less frequent reasons for owning
goats were sacrifice (28%) and meat consumption
(9%). Goat milk was primarily used for home
consumption or left for goat kid consumption. A few
respondents (3%) reported goat milk sales. Goat milk
production estimates ranged from 488 g/d during peak
lactation to 165 g/d in late lactation.
Elder women (grandmothers no longer rearing
their own children) acted as primary goat caretakers in
most households (73%). Other primary caretakers
reported by respondents included elder males (14%)
and female children (8%). Adult females, adult males,
and male children were the main caretakers in 5% of
households. Caretakers fed grasses and shrubs on
the ground (50%) or by hanging (50%). A quarter of
respondents practiced drying leaves for alternative
livestock feed during times of scarcity. Descriptive
statistics for other variables of interest provide further
background information on household, goat, and goat
management characteristics (Table 1 and 2).
Table 1. Descriptive statistics for continuous survey variables
Table 2. Descriptive statistics for categorical survey variables
Variables Description n Mean SEM Min Max
Bodyconditionscore BodyconditionbasedonLangstonUniversity5 -point
scale(Detweileretal.,2008)
419 1.78 0.0176 1 2.5
Totalgoatsowned Numberofgoatsownedbyhousehold 64 6.59 0.515 1 22
Annualhourswalked Estimatedhourswalkedperseasontotaled 64 2029 103 0 3650
Annualkmwalked Estimatedkmwalkedperseasontotaled 64 2213 185 0 6211
Totalanimalsowned Totalanimalsownedbyhousehold 64 11.6 0.765 3 34
Adultwomeninhousehold Numberofadultwomeninsurveyedhousehold 64 1.72 0.116 1 4
Adultmeninhousehold Numberofadultmeninsurveyedhousehold 64 1.63 0.122 0 4
Totalmembersinhousehold Totalpeopleinsurveyedhousehold 64 6.73 0.301 2 13
Land Amountofland (ha) 64 0.512 0.031 0.08 1.12
Education Household'shighestlevelofeducation(yearsstudied) 64 7.03 0.469 0 13
Variable Description n %oftotal
Household Individualhouseholdsurvey ed 64 -
Village Villageswheresurveyed 10 -
Cluster Geographicareacontainingvillages 4 -
Foragedduring
Rainyseason
Winterseason
Summerseason
Numberofparticipantsthattookgoats
foragingineachseason 45
52
61
70.3
81.3
95.3
Numberofseasonsforaged
0-1
2
3
Numberofseasonshouseholdtook
goatsforagingoutsideofhome 10
13
41
15.6
20.3
64.1
Loppedrainyseason
Yes
No
Ifhouseholdloppedbranchesinrainy
season 14
50
21.9
78.1
Cultivatedforages
Yes
No
Ifhouseholdcultivated forages
43
21
67.2
32.8
Electricity
Hadelectricity
Didnothaveelectricity
42
22
65.6
34.4
TheIndianJournalofSmallRuminants2015,21(2):245-252 247
Seeds and saplings of (L.) Merr
and (Lam) de Wit were
distributed to farmers locally based on their highly
palatable characteristics and the ability to combine
with roughages in goat rations (Orwa et al., 2009b, c).
nutritive value has been
analyzed in India at 22% crude protein, 56% neutral
detergent fibre and 37% acid detergent fibre and is
considered a nutritious livestock feed (Bakshi and
Wadhwa, 2004). Local village representatives voiced
support for promotion of
(Basantilal Ahari, personal communication, August 25,
2013), because it is a local plant species.
nutritive value was analyzed at 16% crude
protein, 60% neutral detergent fibre and 44% acid
detergent fibre (Bakshi and Wadhwa, 2004),
demonstrating nutritive potential as tropical fodder.
(is an important fodder species in
the region, but green pods contains high hydrocyanic
acid that can poison goats when consumed in large
quantities (Orwa et al., 2009a). Project participants
voiced concerns and enlisted advice for cyanide
poisoning of their goats from pods
(ILRI, 2012b). Consideration of farmer adoption
potential for agroforestry tree species is important to
development projects. Our field observations suggest
that adoption of local tree species could be higher than
introduced species due to management and
cultivation familiarity, and that some of these species
have high nutritive value potential.
Body condition score was first analyzed with
cluster while controlling for household as a random
effect (Table 3). Body condition scores in rainy season
were relatively poor, ranging from 1 to 2.5, with most
scores between 1 and 2 (Plate 1).
Sesbania sesban
Leucaena leucocephala
Leucaena leucocephala
Ziziphus mauritiana
Ziziphus
mauritiana
Acacia leucophloea
Acacia leucophloea
Respondents reported lopping 46 different tree
species. The most common species reported were
Lam (61% of respondents),
(Roxb. ex DC.) Wallich ex
Bedome (39%), Benth (23%),
(Roxb.) Willd (17%),
(Roxb.) Hook f. (13%) and
Brandis (11%). Most lopping was conducted in the
forest, but some lopping of cultivated fodder trees was
also reported. Fodder trees were grown by 42% of
respondents, with the following popular species:
Lam (34%), Benth
(6%) and (Lam.) de Wit (6%).
Majority of households cultivated fodder (67.2%), and
50% of households that cultivated fodder grew
multiple species. Grass and/or legume forages were
cultivated by 45% of total households. Commonly
cultivated grass and legume species were
L. (30%) and L. (16%).
Average land size allocated for tree and forage
cultivation was 0.067 ha. The household decision to
cultivate fodder was not significantly correlated with
land (P= 0.6187), total goats owned (P= 0.6765) or
education (P= 0.5427).
Several results from our study are comparable to
findings in a 2012-2013 International Livestock
Research Institute (ILRI) baseline study in the same
region (ILRI, 2012a). Popularly lopped trees in ILRI's
baseline study were ,
(L.) Del, and
A. Juss (ILRI, 2012a). Results of our study
included additional trees such as ,
, . and
. These plant species may vary depending on
the diverse ecology near specific villages in Udaipur
district. For example, commonly fed plants in Ranpur
village differed from plants in Barlipara village, though
these villages were only 50 km apart.
Ziziphus mauritiana
Anogeissus latifolia
Albizia lebbeck Acacia
leucophloea Adina cordifolia
Anogeissus sericea
Ziziphus mauritiana Albizia lebbeck
Leucaena leucocephala
Medicago
sativa Echinochloa colonum
Ziziphus mauritiana Acacia
nilotica Acacia leucophloea Azadiracta
indica
Anogeissus latifolia
Albizia lebbeck Adina cordifolia Anogeissus
sericea
Table3.Cluster-wisebodyconditionscoreofgoats
ClusteraLeastsquares
mean
SEM Tukey’sHSD bP value
Ogna 1.94 0.00582 a 0.0049
Jhadol 1.76 0.00617 a,b
Kantharia 1.72 0.00472 b
Baghpura 1.67 0.00494 b
a b
- Householdasrandomeffect;-Tukey'sHSDlevelsnotconnectedbysameletteraresignificantlydifferent
M.E.Valentineetal.
TheIndianJournalofSmallRuminants2015,21(2):245-252
248
hay and an over-grazed pasture mixture, each
additional kilometer walked per day increases a goat's
metabolizable energy requirement by 0.033 Mcal/d,
and each additional 100 m in elevation change
in c r e ases the goa t ' s m etaboliz a b l e energy
requirement by 0.026 Mcal/d. Thus, a goat that walks
10 km with an altitude change of 200 m would have a
metabolizable energy requirement 0.382 Mcal/d
higher than a stall-fed animal. Households with access
to additional fresh biomass from cultivated forages can
offer more feed at home while reducing energy
expenditures relative to animals that spend more time
foraging. Time spent foraging on common lands may
increase household risk because poor households are
increasingly losing access to common property
resources (Jodha, 1985; Beck and Nesmith, 2001).
Livestock fed near the household using cultivated
forages could help mitigate fluctuations in biomass
availability in common property resources. Research
targeting the impact of these management changes on
sustainability of the local crop-livestock system could
help improve goat health, goat nutrition, and
understanding about household decision tradeoffs
between forage cultivation and cash or food crop
cultivation on limited landholdings.
Goat body condition score was significantly higher
for households that cultivated forages (1.83) than
households that did not cultivate forages (1.69),
because potentially more forage of higher nutritive
value was fed. Potential for higher dry matter intake
and higher digestibility could contribute to observed
body c ond ition score differences (Table 4).
Households supplemented goat diets with forages
near the household when forages were cultivated.
Thus, adoption of fodder cultivation could improve
overall goat nutrition and health. Households that did
not cultivate forages would be more susceptible to
forage availability in common property resources,
which varies with rainfall and livestock stocking rates
from common land users.
Body condition score was also significantly higher
for respondents that lopped branches in the rainy
season (1.9) than respondents that did not lop
branches (1.74). Body condition score was not
affected by annual hours walked or annual km walked
(Table 4). Higher dry matter intake relative to more
stationary goats may have offset energy expenditures
from walking. According to calculations made with the
small ruminant nutrition system (Tedeschi et al., 2010)
based on a diet of whole barley, corn cobs, long alfalfa
Plate1.Bodyconditionscoreexamples.Leftgoatbodyconditionscoreis1andrightgoatbodyconditionscoreis 2
Table4.Mixedmodelcomparisonsforbodyconditionscore(Eachlinerepresentsasinglemodel)
Fixedeffect aEstimate SEM P value
Cultivatedforages(referencegroup=yes) b-0.069 0.00374 0.0238
Loppedrainyseason(referencegroup=yes) b-0.078 0.00429 0.0275
Adultwomeninhousehold 0.066 0.00386 0.0369
Adultmeninhousehold 0.589 0.0361 0.0463
Annualhourswalked 2.25E-5 0.00 0.5567
Annualkmwalked -5.87E- 6 0.00 0.7739
a b
-Householdasrandomeffect; -Effectcodingusedforcategoricalvariables
Goatforagingandbodycondition
TheIndianJournalofSmallRuminants2015,21(2):245-252 249
Dependentvariable 0or1season
(n=10)
2seasons(n=13) 3seasons(n=41) Power P value
Mean SEM Mean SEM Mean SEM
Totalanimalsowned 10.7 0.579 7.62 0.445 13.2 0.141 0.77 0.0130
Totalgoatsowned 4.3 0.385 4.54 0.296 7.81 0.0938 0.85 0.0055
Adultwomeninhousehold 1.3 0.0904 1.39 0.0696 1.93 0.0221 0.57 0.0551
Cluster 0or1season 2seasons 3seasons P value
Ogna 1 1 14 0.0004
Jhadol 0 3 13
Kantharia 3 2 11
Baghpura 6 7 3
M.E.Valentineetal.
TheIndianJournalofSmallRuminants2015,21(2):245-252
250
Goatforagingandbodycondition
TheIndianJournalofSmallRuminants2015,21(2):245-252 251
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