Full Length Research Paper
A farmer participatory survey was conducted in four communities, Mount Frere, Mount Ayliff, Maluti A and Maluti B, to establish reproductive performance, goat production and marketing constraints, and to examine the selection criteria for replacement goat does and bucks. Goat flock sizes ranged from 5 to 200 goats per household across the communities. Kidding rate varied with the community and also with the feed availability and incidence of diseases. Kidding interval ranged between 7 and 9 months. Early weaning (3 months) was reported in Mt Frere and Mt Ayliff respectively. In Maluti A and B weaning was done at 3 to 4 months post partum. Weaned kids reached puberty at the age of 8 to 12 months. On average, in Maluti A and B mortality rates of up to 35% were reported while farmers in Mt Frere and Mt Ayliff reported average mortality rates of 25 and 30%, respectively. Farmers’ decisions on selection criteria for replacement does and bucks in their goat flocks differed with communities. Odds ratios showed that farmers in Mt Frere and Mt Ayliff were biased towards selecting for reproductive and physical aspects. In contrast farmers in Maluti A and B rated adaptive aspects as the most critical. Average market weights of goats differed significantly with community. Goats in Mat Ayliff and Mt Frere had higher markets weights than those in Maluti A and B and were fetching higher sales rates at the market. Umzimvubu Goat Project was offering lower prices than the local market and hence famers now preferred the local market. Poor reproduction efficiency, low goat numbers, high goat mortalities, poor management practices and unfavourable offers at the market were mentioned as major constraints to goat production and marketing. It is therefore necessary to take into consideration the various constraints and factors peculiar to different groups of farmers in different regions which may influence their decisions making processes in implementing selection and breeding strategies to improve goat production and marketing.
Key words: Reproductive performance, mortality rates, selection criteria, flock sizes, goat marketing.
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