AFRICAN GOATS 

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 Introduction:

  The domestic goat (Capra aegagrushircus) is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the family Bovidae and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat. Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species, and have been used for their milk, meat, hair, and skins over much of the world. In 2011, there were more than 924 million live goats around the globe, according  the UNFood and Agriculture Organization.

  Female goats are referred to as "does" or "nannies", intact males as "bucks", "billies", or "rams" and their offspring are "kids". Castrated males are "wethers". Goat meat from younger animals is called "kid" or cabrito (Spanish), and from older animals is simply known as "goat" or sometimes calledchevon (French).

  Goats are among the earliest animals domesticated by humans.The most recent genetic analysis confirms the archaeological evidence that the wild Bezoar ibex of the Zagros Mountains are the likely origin of almost all domestic goats today.

  Neolithic farmers began to herd wild goats for easy access to milk and meat, primarily, as well as for their dung, which was used as fuel, and their bones, hair, and sinew for clothing, building, and tools. The earliest remnants of domesticated goats dating 10,000 years before present are found in GanjDareh in Iran. Goat remains have been found at archaeological sites in Jericho, ChogaMamiDjeitun and Çayönü, dating the domestication of goats in Western Asia at between 8000 and 9000 years ago.

  Studies of DNA evidence suggests 10,000 years BP as the domestication date.

  Historically, goat hide has been used for water and wine bottles in both traveling and transporting wine for sale. It has also been used to produce parchment.

  Goats are extremely curious and intelligent. They are also very coordinated and widely known for their ability to climb and hold their balance in the most precarious places. This makes them the only ruminant able to climb trees, although the tree generally has to be on somewhat of an angle. Due to their agility and inquisitiveness, they are notorious for escaping their pens by testing fences and enclosures, either intentionally or simply because they are handy to climb on. If any of the fencing can be spread, pushed over or down, or otherwise be overcome, the goats will almost inevitably escape. Due to their high intelligence, once a goat has discovered a weakness in the fence, it will exploit it repeatedly, and other goats will observe and quickly learn the same method.

  Goats have an intensely inquisitive and intelligent nature; they will explore anything new or unfamiliar in their surroundings. They do so primarily with their prehensile upper lip and tongue. This is why they investigate items such as buttons, camera cases or clothing (and many other things besides) by nibbling at them, occasionally even eating them.

  When handled as a group, goats tend to display less clumping behavior than sheep, and when grazing undisturbed, tend to spread across the field or range, rather than feed side-by-side as do sheep. When nursing young, goats will leave their kids separated ("lying out") rather than clumped as do sheep. They will generally turn and face an intruder and bucks are more likely to charge or butt at humans than are rams. (Source Wikipedia)

  Indigenous Southern African Goats:

  Goats also followed in the wake of sheep to Southern Africa .  The following 4 types of goats can be identified in Southern Africa :  

  The Xhosa Lobbed Ear Goat.  This type of goat is found in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa and is a fairly large framed goat.

A typical moonspotted buck

A moonspotted doe   

  The Boer Goat and Kalahari Red Goat were developed out of the Xhosa Lobbed Ear Goat.  The Boer goat has been exported to Australia and the US and is now spreading throughout Africa .  The Boer Goat is farmed commercially on a large scale in South Africa and Namibia.  I am, however, of the view that the Boer Goat has been improved too much and as a breed has lost a lot of its adaptive traits and maternal instincts.  

  The Cape Skilder Goat.  They were mainly found in the Northern Cape.  The Skilder Goat is a medium- to large-framed goat with large drooping ears.

 

A skilder patterned buck with an excellent conformation

 

A Cape skilder patterned doe

  The Mbuzi or Nguni Goat.  They were mainly found in Natal and the North of Southern Africa.  They are generally a smaller-framed goat than the other types of goats.  They are also the most numerous group of goats in South Africa.

  The Goats of the Himba of Namibia .  These goats are medium- to large-framed goats.  With their slender legs they are well adapted to the harsh climate of the Kunene region in Namibia.

  Dr. Phil Sponenberg also had look at our indigenous goats and he describes their wide range of colours and patterns as follows:

 The Indigenous goats reflect their varied background with a wide range of colours. Base colours still include red and black, but in goats it is more common to find dramatic combinations of black and tan areas with striped faces and legs. One important pattern is "moonspots" which are round pale tan spots in kids, but quickly fade to silver. Another pattern is "flowery" which has white flecking on the lower body and neck, and varies from dark to very pale. Roans are also present, if rarely. Another pattern of white resembles the Turkish pattern of sheep, but also includes small coloured flecks throughout the white areas. The small round spots of "skilder" also occur in goats.

All of these variants in colour should be noted and celebrated, but should also be guarded by the breeders to be certain that all of them can be available to future breeders. Past breeders bequeathed this wealth of variation and adaptation to the present generation and it is important that each generation guard the resource and present it to the next generation as a useful and viable genetic resource.


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