Goat Farm

Among the first animals domesticated by humans, goats have settled comfortably in the history of animal husbandry in the European geographical area. In Romania, goats represented a special field in animal husbandry, developing here a continuous justified interest for these ruminants, especially due to the high demand for milk.
The by-products, made by processing milk-raw material, have consolidated many new pages in the register of dairy products. From an economic point of view, more and more specialists consider goats as a model of financial-technological efficiency, through the production of considerable quantities of milk, with a minimum food consumption. In our country, the breeding and exploitation of goats registered a special economic importance, after the accession to the community space, due to the non-perception by the EU of some limiting production quotas, according to the cow’s milk model. On the Romanian territory, there are – according to the evaluations of the Ministry of Agriculture – over one million goats, and the state financially supports all breeders, with an aid located around the amount of 50 lei / animal head / year.

Business card, between the horns and the tail

More than 300 distinct breeds are exploited worldwide, and the life expectancy for goats raised in Europe is 15-20 years. Even if, in our country, most farmers involved in this activity raise goats from local breeds (Alba de Banat, Carpathian), it turned out that other high-performance breeds can be adapted here, such as the French Alpine, Saanen, German Noble or Toggenburg. One of the reasons for the easy adaptability is the climate in the countries of origin of these breeds, similar or very little different from that of Romania.

In regions with temperate climates, breeding activity is divided into two seasons, closely related to the length of daylight, as opposed to (sub) tropical areas where the estrus of goats is manifested throughout the year, due to abundant vegetation. In our country, the main season is considered the autumn season, when the light decreases to a ratio of 1: 1 between day and night, the secondary season starting in spring, when the duration of light reaches the same ratio.

Goats are equipped with two bone horns, different depending on sex and breed, with the role of defense, domination and preservation of the territory. Characterized by an ability to physically explore everything around it, the goat is unique among domestic animals, steep surfaces and uncultivated land representing real playgrounds, in their constant need for movement.

The strong and intelligent character makes them curious; the goats press and disconnect the technical devices, tear the clothes, swallow small inedible objects. Some of them climb trees, being known as very good climbers. Most species of goats, however, have a reduced ability to grow in the herd, which is why they are included in sheep herds.

However, we are talking about the species that occupies the first place in the top of milk-producing animals, in terms of weight and size. Many generations of people have grown up with goat’s milk, which has been recognized as important in the diet since ancient times. Unlike cow’s milk, goat’s milk does not spread the TB bacillus before heat treatment. Goat meat is very tasty, while hair and skin can become raw materials for various branches of light industry.

We are dealing with a herbivore adaptable to the environment offered, sometimes adapting to hostile growing conditions. The poor man’s cow accepts the fodder, in the absence of access to pasture; eat 2-3 kilograms of dry food a day. Not as much or in any case contrary to popular rumors, the goat is a pretentious animal, in terms of food variety, quickly turning away from a single feed.

Maintenance systems – short summary

In our country, the systems of breeding and exploitation of goats are customized by the number of animals existing in a farm and by the mode of maintenance (extensive, semi-intensive or intensive). The systems ordered according to the number of animals are:
1. with 4-10 heads each, next to the house;
2. 20-50 heads, raised in sheep herds and (less often) in specialized farms;
3. 50-200 heads, raised on farms.

Extensive maintenance (on pastures) is a method whose proper functioning is related to the rigorous planning and organization of grazing. After the first grazing batch, to which the mowing and silage are added, the plots go to rest, one by one, following a good restoration of the grass. You can opt for continuous grazing (70 days on the same pasture) or for rotary grazing , done on plots, but avoiding more than three passes on the same plot.

Goats are usually left for several weeks on the same pastures (30-45 days), from where they eat short grass, the plots shrinking as the grass grows: 100 goats need 3 hectares, in April, after which, in March, required 10 hectares. It is more than difficult a concrete assessment, number of goats / hectare / time period, important elements being the dependence on climate, soil and fertilization. On pastures, the load varies between 20 and 40 heads / ha, during the period of maximum grass growth. The result of the estimation is provided by the measurement of the grass, together with the evaluation of the appearance of the vegetal carpet.

The transition from stables to pastures psychosensorally involves goats, due to changes in diet and habitat. The replacement of the winter regime, based on fodder for very watery grass, rich in soluble nitrogen, also causes a change in the ruminal flora. For adaptation, the progressive integration of the new ration is necessary. A good ruminal transition lasts for goats for about three weeks.

Semi-intensive and intensive systems are much more complex, but direct and ultra-efficient. A maintenance carried out in shelters provided with automatic fodder distribution equipment, devices that feed the goats four times a day: at 9, 11, 14 and 19. They are offered coarse fodder (hay), juicy fodder (grass, leaves, alfalfa, clover) or concentrates (corn, wheat, barley, fodder peas, rye), presented in the form of fodder briquettes or grass mixtures. In the (semi) intensive system, the water must be at discretion, the milking being mechanized, at the pipe, towards the milk cooling tank.

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