|"Goats By Breed - Tswana"|
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A survey study was conducted in two districts of Botswana to obtain data on the morphological characteristics of Tswana goats. There were five different locations chosen, namely Oodi, Artesia and Mochudu in the Kgatleng District and Kopong and Thamaga in Kweneng district. In each location, 16 to 20 farmers with goats were randomly selected and records taken on a random sample of 10 goats from each farmer. The different body dimensions that were measured included heart girth (HG), diagonal body length (BL), height at withers (HW), body weight (BOO) and rump height (RH). Records were also taken on presence of horns (HO), wattles (Wa) and beards (Bd), coat colours (white, black, black and white, brown, brown and white) and hair structure (short coarse, long coarse, short smooth and long smooth). The results showed age-dependent sexual differences in the body dimensions that were measured. The apparent wide variation in coat colours and hair structure among Tswana goats observed in this study is indicative of the fact that the breed has not yet been purified through selection breeding and therefore great opportunities exist for its improvement. The propensity toward white coat colour and/or white in combination with other colours especially black and brown, appears to be an adaptive characteristic of Tswana goats to withstand pronounced seasonal fluctuations in the intensity and duration of light, heat and cold. Finally the Tswana goat can be classified as a multicoloured, medium size breed with long lopping ears, short coarse hair structure, predominantly bearded and horned.
The importance of goats in Botswana cannot be over-emphasised. They provide protein food (meat and milk) and quick cash incomes for rural farmers. They are in fact the "small man's cattle". Their adaptive features such as feeding behaviour, and disease and heat tolerance enables them to effectively cope with the stressful nature of the vast marginal lands of Botswana. Also the recovery capacity of goats from drought is very remarkable due to their efficient reproductive behaviour (twinning coupled with shorter kidding intervals) and variable body size with low maintenance requirements in unfavourable environments (Horst 1984). Although the indigenous goat breeds have been broadly classified into two main groups, the long-eared and short-eared (Mason and Maule 1960), more broad meaningful breed documentation on Tswana goats based on their physical body characteristics is rather lacking. Therefore this study, which is part of a multidisciplinary research programme on the Tswana goat, provides data on the physical body characteristics of indigenous goats of Botswana.
Materials and methods
Location of study
The surveys to record the different goat body characteristics were carried out in five different locations, namely Oodi, Artesia and Mochudi in the Kgatleng District, and Kopong and Thamaga in the Kweneng district. The total number of goats surveyed in each location varied between 120 and 160 with female goats comprising the greatest number.
Data collection and analysis
In each of the five locations, 16 to 20 farmers with goats were randomly selected and records taken on a randomly selected sample of 10 goats from each farmer.
The different body dimensions that were recorded included heart girth (cm), diagonal body length (cm), height at withers (cm) and rump height as shown in Figure 1.
Records were also taken on presence of horns, wattles and beards; coat colours (1. white, 2. black, 3. black and white, 4. brown, 5. brown and white and 6. mixed colours), hair structure (1. short coarse, 2. long coarse, 3. short smooth and 4. long smooth) and ear types (1. long lopping and 2. reduced ear length). All data collected were analysed by the help of an SAS computer statistical package.
Table 1 is the summary of the population structure of sampled goats in different locations of Botswana. For each location there were more female goats sampled and measured than male goats. Generally over 50% of the female goats were adults in the 37-48 months age group. For males more than 50% were less than three years old with most being between 1-12 months.
Figure 1. Positions of measured body dimensions.
Table 1. Structure of the goat population sampled and measured in different locations in Botswana.
F = female;
Body measurements are summarised in Table 2. It can be noted that there is an age-dependent sexual difference in body weights among Tswana goats. The males were heavier than the females after 12 months of age. Like body weight, other body measurements increased with age in both sexes. However, there were no differences between sexes below three years of age.
Results on the incidence of different coat colours are presented in Table 3 The most common coat colours are a combination of white with either black or brown; pure colours of black and brown, and mixed colours have the lowest frequencies in Tswana goats. The sex of the goat had no influence on its coat colour.
The most favoured hairs are the short coarse (SC) ones except in Kopong location where 63% of all goats sampled had long coarse hairs (Table 3). Goats with long smooth hairs (LS) were the least frequent in all locations followed by those with short smooth hairs (SS). Variation in hair structures shows similar patterns in both male and female goats.
Information on the incidences of wattles (Wa), beards (Bd), horns (Ho) and ear length (El) among Tswana goats can be found in Table 4. Both sexes of Tswana goats are bearded, horned, and have a very noticeable property towards long-lopping earedness. The wattled (Wa) and reduced ear-length (Elr) conditions exist among Tswana goats but at low frequency (15%) in both sexes. Generally there are slightly more male goats affected by the reduced ear-length condition than the female.
Table 2. Body measurements (means + standard deviations) of Tswana goats of different sex and age groups.
*F = female; M = male.
Table 3. Incidence of coat colours and hair structures in Tswana goats from different locations in Botswana.
Table 4. Incidence (%) of wattles, beards, horns and ear types in different sexes of Tswana goats from different locations.
* F = female; M = male.
This study sampled more female Tswana goats (69%) than males (31%) and most of the females were adults in the 37-48-month age group. This is the reflection of the structure of goat population generally kept by subsistence peasant farmers in the rural areas. Generally, rural farmers are artistic breeders who naturally and traditionally know that a constant flock size essentially depends on a large number of reproductively active females that must be kept for long periods of time.
Results obtained in the present study on body weight (BW) and other conformational traits (HW, HG, RH and BL) are concurrent with those obtained by other researchers (Mazumder et al 1983; Ruvuna et al 1988; Bhattacharya 1989). Male goats generally grow faster and are heavier with superior body conformational measurements than female goats. Age significantly affects body traits. On the basis of body size and height at withers the Tswana goat can be classified as a medium size breed according to one of the goat classification criteria suggested by Devendra and Mcleroy (1988).
Results on coat colours and hair structures revealed that Tswana are multicolored with a variety of hair structures. This is an indication that indeed the Tswana breed of goats has not been purified through selective breeding. The propensity towards white and/or white in combination with other coat colours, especially black and brown, eminently exhibited by goats used in the present study appears to be an adaptation to the pronounced seasonal fluctuations in the intensity and duration of light, heat and cold experienced in this region. The same holds true for the observed variation in hair structures. Coat colours and hair structures in goats have an important role to play in the adaptability of animals to different ecological zones (Banerji 1984). This argument is supported by the later assertion of Hemmer (1990) to the effect that animal domestication can be aided by the use of certain coat colours or patterns which are related behaviour through the common metabolic pathway of pigments and catecholamine neurotransmitters. Margetin et al (1988) reported a high incidence of short-hairedness (average 96.3%) among goats belonging to two different herds.
This study has revealed high frequencies of the bearded (65%) and horned (75%) conditions among Tswana goats. Goats affected by the reduced ear condition (ELr) were the least frequent (6%) while occurrence of long lopping ears was the highest (94%). There was a relatively small percentage of almost equal number of wattled female (9.9%) and male (10%) goats. These results are in conformity with those of other researchers. Margetin et al (1988) reported low and high frequencies of the dominant wattled allelle (0.193) and dominant standard ear length (0.920) conditions, respectively. Matassino et al (1984) studied samples of native goat populations in southern Italy and found that 67% and 65% of the goats in this study were bearded and horned, respectively.
On the basis of the information obtained from the present study it could be concluded that: the Tswana goat is a multicolored medium size breed with long lopping ears, short coarse hair structure and predominantly bearded and horned; the apparent wide variation in coat colours and hair structure among Tswana goats is indicative of the fact that the breed has not yet been purified through selective breeding and therefore great opportunities exist for its improvement; and that the propensity towards white coat colour and/or white in combination with other colours especially black and brown, appears to be an adaptive trait to withstand pronounced seasonal fluctuations in the intensity and duration of light, heat and cold.
The authors are very grateful to the ILCA Small Ruminant Network for the financial support, Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) for the transport provided during the surveys and to all the collaborating farmers who offered their goats to be measured during this study.
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