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  • Writer's pictureDr. P.K. Shrivastava


Updated: Nov 19, 2021

A. Introduction:

Goat farming is raising & breeding of all domestic goats. Goats are called “Poor Man’s Cow”, due to the fact that it is reared on less valuable land, less resources, even by poor people and provides good returns. Even landless also can rear the goats. It is multi-functional animal and boon for marginal, landless & laborers’ livelihood in India. Raising goats for meat purposes is more profitable, however, now a days the goat milk is sold as a valuable item @ Rs 140-160/= per litre. Goat farming needs minimal care & investment, compared to other livestock (refer quick facts below).

The goat population in India was 148.88 million (Livestock census 2019). It increased by 10.14% over previous (Livestock Census 2012), which makes about 27.8% of the total livestock of the country (Figure-1).

In India, states like Rajasthan, WB, UP, MP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are very much suitable for goat breeding. Even goats are reared in hilly terrain. The success breeds in southern India are Osmanabadi, Thalaseri/Malabari, Sanganeri, Kanni aadu, Kodi aadu, etc., which can sustain in southern India’s climate. Bengal Black, Barberi, Jamnapari, Jhakrana, Sirohi, Marwari are the sustainable breeds in northern India climate.

Goat population was highest 20.84 million in Rajasthan, 16.28 in West Bengal, 14.48 million in UP, 12.82 in Bihar, 11.06 in MP. The goat population has increased over previous census 2012 in WB, Bihar, MP, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Karnataka (Figure-2 above).


India follows, three types of goat rearing (farming) systems; (1) Extensive (one example-Nomad’s system) (2) Intensive and (3) semi-intensive system. The details as follows:

1. Extensive rearing of Goats:

Here goats are left for complete season in a single un-sown pasture (which is not divided into parts). In this system of rearing the feed cost is minimal, however, not conducive to make use of the whole grasses, besides having frequent chances of parasitic infestation.

Variation of Extensive system (Rotational grazing method):

Here the pasture land is divided into parts by temporary fences. Animals moves from one part to another part. By the time the entire pasture is grazed, the first part will have sufficient grass cover to provide second grazing. Parasitic infestation is controlled to a great extent. It helps to provide quality (soft succulent) fodder for most of the time in a year. Under this system, it is advisable to graze the young ones first on a section and then bring in adults to finish up the grasses left by the kids.

2. Semi-intensive (grazing + stall feeding) rearing of goats:

This system is very common in India. This is an intermediate system between extensive and intensive system, having limited grazing/ browsing in fenced and controlled pastures. It involves extensive management, consist of built-up sheds and provision of stall feeding. Concentrate feed cost is an additional expense here. However, the total feeding cost is less than the intensive system of goat rearing, as the grazing (pasture) helps reduce the cost of concentrate & forage.

Figure-3: Un-sown pasture with varied varieties of grasses

3. Intensive system, zero-grazing-system

In this system the goats are continuously kept under housing in confinement with limited access to land and complete feeding is done on stalls (so it is called zero grazing system). This system is good for medium sized herd (50 to 500 heads), generally for commercial milk production by dairy goats. Though this system requires more labour and high cash input, however, this has the advantage of close supervision and control over the animals & products. Here dung management is easy to collect and convert into manure. It involves less space for holding a greater number of animals.


Sound feeding practices (intensive or semi-intensive) and good housing facilities result in optimum growth and high milk & meat production and contribute to the good health and comfort of goats. Quality of feed having bulk, palatability, availability, price, digestibility and nutritive quality should be the basis for feeding schedule for goats.

However, goats can thrive on various kind of tree leaves; however, the good feed conversion is achieved with high quality fodder + concentrated feed and leaves (of fodder tree, bushes and shrubs)-see Table-1.

Goats convert low quality grazing material into quality protein -meat and milk (Table-2). Goats generally produce more milk than a cow from the same quantity of nutrients. The nutrient conversion efficiency for the production of milk in goats is 45.71 per cent, whereas a dairy cow average 38 per cent. It has been observed that goats are 4.04 per cent superior to sheep, 7.90 per cent superior to buffaloes, and 8.60 per cent superior to cows in crude fiber utilization.

Concentrate feed formula for Goat farm: For intensive feeding (stall feeding), the concentrate feed may be manufactured at farm by using various farm available materials as given in Table 3. However, for better health, production and growth of the goats, pasturing for 5-6 hrs is essential along with stall feeding. This can save on the cost of concentrate feed and improve health of goats. The pasturing provides various essential carotenoids and phyto-chemicals for better growth and production.

Feeding habits of goats:

1. Goats are finicky and fastidious about cleanliness and varieties of leaves & plants

2. Goat loves nibbling & browsing the field. They prefer riding and nibbling directly from the branches of bushes and shrubs.

3. They can nibble on small herbage, diverse pastures, aromatic plants, directly from bushes and shrubs. The pasturing for 5-6 hrs has benefits;

o Improves health due to exposer to sun light

o Provides exercise to animals

o Varieties of carotenoids & phyto-chemicals available at diverse (un-managed) pastures

o Reduces cost of feeding

4. Goats avoid dirty, smelling, wet, trampled and spoil forage

5. They need clean drinking water at least 3-4 times a day (change water twice a day and clean the troughs every week).

6. Leaves of trees, bushes and shrubs are the best preferred feed for goats (Table-1)

Ration for different age-group of goats:

The ration needed for goats may be divided into (1) young stock ration (2) maintenance ration for dry & growing stock (3) production ration for lactating and pregnant goats (4) feed additives. If the pasture condition and availability diverse pasture is available for 5-6 hrs grazing, no need to supplement any concentrate feed to the growing goats at maintenance ration. However, for the pregnant and lactating goats the concentrate mixture is essential.

(1) Feeding of young stock: Performance of the adult stock depends on how they are reared when young. Feeding schedule for kids should be such that a weekly growth rate of 0.6 kg is obtained. The kids should be fed 56-112 gm of colostrum 4-5 times a day, depending on its birth weight, for three days. From the 4th day onwards, they may be fed the following ration (Table-4, 5 & 6):

(2) Maintenance ration: As goats have a higher BMR than cattle, their maintenance requirements are higher. The maintenance requirement is 0.09 DCP and 0.09 % TDN. For its size, a goat can consume substantially more feed than cattle or sheep, viz. 6.5-11% of its body weight in dry matter when compared with 2.5-3 % for cattle or sheep. This means that the goat can satisfy its maintenance requirement and produce milk from forage alone.

(3) Production ration: Requirements for the production of 1 litre of milk with 3 % and 4.5 % fat is 43 gm of DCP and 200 gm of starch equivalent (SE), and 60 gm of DCP and 285 gm of SE, respectively. The nutritional requirement of a goat weighing 50 kg and yielding 2 litres of milk with 4% fat may be met by feeding 400 gm of concentrate mixture and 5 kg of berseem or lucerne. The ration should have 12-15 % protein content.

(4) Pregnancy ration: The foetal growth in the last 2 months of pregnancy is rapid and the metabolic rate of the goat rises rapidly. During this period, the content of ration should be increased to the level of production ration. A week before she kids, the doe should be provided with more succulent type of food. For three or four days after kidding, the level of diet should be lowered and made more fibrous. This is necessary to minimize the shock to the goat’s udder. After this period, the feeding should be done at a normal rate (Table-6).

(5) Feed additives:

(i) Mineral mixture: the requirements of calcium and phosphorous for maintenance are 6.5 and 3.5 gm, respectively, per 50 kg body weight. Goats require slightly larger quantities of calcium than sheep. The mineral mixture may be included in the concentrate ration at the rate of 2 per cent.

(ii) Salt: Salt licks or lumps of rock salt of fairly good size should be hung up in some suitable place where the goats can easily get them. This is important as goats secrete a good amount of sodium and chloride ions in the milk.

(iii) Vitamins and antibiotics: Goats particularly need vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin A can be supplied by feeding green forage and yellow maize; 1 kg of lush-green fodder will provide 1500 IU. Vitamin D can be obtained by exposure to sunlight. Vitamin E is present in adequate amounts in most normal rations. Synthetic vitamins A and D may be supplemented in the ration of growing kids. Feeding of aureomycin or Terramycin increases the growth rate of young kids, reduced the incidence of scours and other infectious diseases and improves the general appearance of the kids.

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