Characterization of Goat Foraging and Body Condition in Jhadol Block, Udaipur, India
India contains 125.7 million goats, 14.6% of the global goat population. Smallholder farmers own the majority of Indian goats, and animal productivity ranks far below goats’ genetic potential. Our objective was to characterize the feeding practices of goat owners and the nutrition of goats in the Jhadol Block of the Udaipur District in Rajasthan, India. Sixty-four goat owners were surveyed in 10 villages of the Jhadol Block. The questionnaire focused on various aspects of the livestock system including socio-economic characteristics, livestock management, goat consumption and physical assessment of goat condition. The survey was broken into general household data, goat husbandry practices, goat diet composition, feeding habits, feed shortage mitigation, crop residue use and lactation. Most interviewees received the majority of their income as wage laborers and subsisted on their own land. Mean household landholdings were 0.52 ha with SD ± 0.248. Households owned from 1 to 22 goats with an average of 6.59 ± 4.12 goats. The highest level of education averaged 7.03 ± 3.75 years, and 65.6% of households had electricity. Linear regression models and bivariate tables were used to compare data. Goat health was assessed using body condition scoring, which was measured by applying a 5-point palpation and observation-based scale. Body condition was related to socio-economic factors, geographic location, and management practices. Body condition was significantly correlated with the household and village, in addition to whether the household cultivated forages (p=0.0076) or lopped tree branches in the rainy season (p=0.0385). The target population was also stratified by how many of the 3 local seasons (rainy, winter and summer) households took goats foraging outside of the home as a way to characterize goats’ feeding regiment. Number of seasons foraged was compared to household parameters such as number of persons, number of goats, education and land. Seasons foraged was correlated with the total number of goats (p=0.0105) and total number of other livestock owned (p=0.0196). Aspects of the semi-extensive goat system in the Udaipur district were characterized to better understand household characteristics and practices that contribute to sound nutritional management practices and healthier goats. Information generated from these analyses advances knowledge of goat farming systems in rural Rajasthan, where there is currently limited published information to support caprine management or direct future caprine research initiatives.
India, goat systems, semi-extensive farming