By Dr Garba Saleh

Milk is a white liquid produced by mammary gland. It is the primary source of nutrients mainly protein for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early lactation milk contains colostrums which carries the dam’s anti bodies to young and reduces the risk of many diseases in the young. Milk contains some important nutrients which include fats, protein, vitamins, lactose, water and minerals. Some of the biological roles of milk in the body of man and animals are enormous which include; growth, repairs of worn out tissues, it also serves as food and anti bodies for young ones among others.
Most of the milk consumed by man comes from cattle but it is possible to produce milk from other animals such as small ruminants (sheep and goats), buffalo, camel among others.
Milk is very important in human diets, the precise components of raw milk vary by species and by a number of other factors, but it contains significant amount of protein for body growth and repairs, minerals and vitamins. Milk by – Products are Yoghurt, Ghee, butter, cheese etc.
In Nigeria, there is shortage of milk supply because majority of the populace relies on cow’s milk. Presently about 85 per cent of Nigeria’s 19.5 million cattle, are owned and managed by small holder, subsistent and nomadic herdsmen, leaving the remaining 15 per cent in the hands of medium and large scale farmers in managed pastures. Nigeria spends about $1.3 billion yearly on the importation of dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese and other milk derivatives, Therefore, this acute shortage of milk and it’s by – products could be solved with the improved management and exploitation of small ruminants’ milk such as goat. The potentials of goat’s milk have long been recognized. On a global scale, goat produces over 7 million tones of milk annually with mainly three quarters of this coming from developed countries.
This review attempts to highlight the potentials of goats for commercial milk production in Nigeria.
Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species, and have been used for their milk, meat, hair, and skins over much of the world. Goats also serve as a source of income for small holder farmers. There are more than 862 million live goats around the globe. The largest populations are found in Asia, notably in India, Pakistan and China. In Africa, the largest concentrations are found in Nigeria (72.5 million goats), Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia.

The goat’s population in Nigeria makes it to be the 2nd most important livestock species. Thus, with a population of 72.5 million goats in the country, only India could be said to possess more goats than Nigeria in the tropics and the subtropics.
Many different breeds of goats are milked and produce reasonable yields; there are four specialist dairy breeds of goats that have been used extensively worldwide for crossbreeding to improve the dairy production of indigenous goats. The breeds are: The Saanen, Toggenberg and Alpine originate from the mountainous areas of southern Europe while Anglo-Nubian originated from northern Africa.
Saanen: This is pure white or pale biscuit coloured large goat. Daily yields of milk can reach 3 litres with a butterfat of 3.5%. Kids make good meat animals.
Toggenberg: This is a black or rusty-coloured goat. It has white markings down the side of the eyes to muzzle, on the ear tips and on the rump and tail. Milk yield averages about 1 litre in the tropics.
Alpine: This is a black or rusty-coloured goat with white markings similar to the Toggenberg. Daily milk yield is around 1 litre with a 3.6% butterfat.
Anglo-Nubian: It is hornless and has short haired coat pattern with shades of black, rust, brown and white. Daily milk yield of 0.8-1.2 litres at 4.5% butterfat are common.
Breeds of Nigerian Goats:
Sokoto Red (Maradi)
This is the most numerous (about 17 million) and widely distributed breed of goats in Nigeria. It is characterized by its uniformly dark red coat colour, short and horizontal ears, and horns in both sexes. The mature body weight varies between 30-35kg in males and 25-30kg in females. The Kano brown and Borno white are believed to be strains of the Sokoto Red. The skin of the Sokoto Red goat, known as “morocco” leather is used in leather industries locally and abroad, and commands a high premium in world markets. Also, their milk is consumed in some areas.
​Sahel or Desert Goat
This is found along the Northern border of the country, particularly in Borno State. The coat is white or drappled, the ears are pendulous and the legs notably longer than those of other breeds. The breed is well adapted to its habitat; thus, environmental factors have little or no influence on its body weight. The breed is generally preferred by pastoralists. The mature body weight varies from 35-40kg in the males and 25-30kg in the females.
​West African Dwarf (WAD)
This is predominantly found in the coastal areas of the country. High temperatures and relative humidities (e.g. 300C and 60% R.H.) cause a reduction in food intake. The breed is believed to be trypanotolerant because it thrives in tsetse infested areas. The WAD goat is usually black but occasionally, all-white animals can be seen. The WAD goats in the semi-arid zone resemble the Sokoto Red goats in their body proportions. The ears are erect and the legs are short and thick. Mature body weight varies from 20-25kg in both males and females. Recent stories reveled that WAD goats produce up to one liter of milk per day under intensive production in the USA.
Possibilities of getting Milk from Goats:
Despite the low level of milk yield by Nigerian goats, they can still provide the populace with cheaper source of milk to supplement cow’s milk which may be costlier because of the comparatively high cost of maintaining cattle. Also in terms of nutrients compositions, goats have substantial amount of nutrients in their milk which can be compete with that of cow as shown in the table below:

Advantages of Goats milk over cow milk:
Advantages of goats’ milk over cow milk have been documented as follows:
➢ Goat milk competes well with cow milk in terms of nutritional qualities.
➢ Tubercle bacillus infection rate is very low in goat milk.
➢ Goat milk has fat globules and protein which are smaller in size than those of cow milk. Because of this, Small ruminants’ milk is more easily digested than cow milk.
➢ The high digestibility of Goat milk as well as high content of vitamin B1 makes it helpful in relieving stress like constipation and insomnia.
➢ Goat milk has medicinal value for treating pectic ulcer and other digestive troubles because of its high buffering qualities.
➢ Goat milk is good for children or people allergic to cow milk.
➢ Goats are cheap to acquire and maintain. Its feed requirement is not as high as that of a cow. Therefore, Small ruminants’ milk can be produced more efficiently using limited resources.
World Milk Production from Cows and Goats:
World cow milk production in 2009 stood at 583 million tones. 54.9% of the total production came from the ten top producing countries. USA is the largest milk producer in the world with the total production of 85 million tons (14.7%). India is the second largest milk producer in the world with the total production of 45 million tons (7.7%). While the annual goats milk production on a global scale stood over 7 million tones with mainly three quarters of this coming from developed countries. Because of its low milk production, Nigeria was not mentioned or rated.
Factors Affecting Goats’ Milk Production in Nigeria:
Some of the major factors affecting goat milk production in Nigeria are: breed, temperature, lack of milking techniques from the goat farmers and lack of proper nutrition.
Since different breeds have different yield potentials, it is advisable to have breeds that will produce considerable quantity of milk for consumption by kids and humans. Our indigenous goats are apparently not dairy breeds and neither selected nor developed genotypically for dairy production.

Temperature and season are important environmental factors that influence milk yield. Environmental temperatures ranging from -5 to 240C are a comfortable range for lactating animals. Beyond 250C, milk yield and constituents, e.g. fat are reduced owing to heat stress which can affect the secretion of regulatory hormones like thyroxine, growth hormone and insulin. Cooler environments therefore are necessary for lactating goats to express their potentials, but below -50C, blood flow to mammary gland is affected.

The need to properly feed a lactating animal cannot be over emphasized. No goat will fulfill its optimum milk yield unless it is well fed and provided with adequate clean drinking water. Unfortunately, there is insufficient supply of animal feed in Nigeria due to the climatic condition and lack of good pasture plan.
Strategies for Large Scale Milk Production from Goats in Nigeria:
​The Breed
There is need for crossbreeding of Nigerian indigenous goats with temperate dairy ones. This is to upgrade and increase milk yield of the indigenous stock to meet the demand for goat milk which is anticipated to increase with increasing awareness of nutritional and therapeutic importance of Goats’ milk. Dairy breeds of goats are Alpine, Damacus, Jampari, etc.
​The Farmers
Some of the major personal challenges that must be met by dairy farmers if failure is to be avoided in establishing dairy herd, these include;
1. Acquiring thorough, up-to-date knowledge of all aspects of dairying and dairy herd management.
2. Gaining practical experience in dairying.
3. Possession interest, motivation, and willingness to work hard, both physically and mentally and to make personal sacrifices, especially during early years of rearing.
4. Accepting dairying as a business as well as a way of life.
Availability and/or cost of needed resources or capital to purchase these resources may be a major challenge in establishing dairy herd. Major resources needed that require major capital outlay include:
(1) Dairy goats
(2) Facilities and equipment to house and handle the animals.
(3) Land for growing all or part of the forages.
(4) Marketing base in some areas.
Government should assist the dairy farmers in the following:
(1) Giving subsidy to dairy farmers in form of cash, equipments and facilities.
(2) Establishment of forage reserves especially in northern part of the country where there is shortage of feed resources especially during the dry season.
(3) Introduction of milk marketing board, this will help our goats dairy farmers to improve their milk production as well as reducing milk importation into the country.
(4) Introduction of improved breeds of dairy goats into the country for cross breeding purposes.

The use of non conventional feedstuff during the dry season will help in reducing the problem of feed shortage especially in the Northern part of the country. Also, privatization and commercialization of pasture in Nigeria will help in solving the problem of feed shortage.
Organized marketing system
In developing countries (like Nigeria) the aim of organized marketing has been to gather the fragmented small milk producers in distant rural areas into co-operative society, in order to provide them with extra income, and at the same time to supply milk to as many cities as possible. By far the most successful milk-collection schemes in the tropics, especially where there are many small suppliers, are the farmer owned co-operatives. In fact majority of milk sold in the world is handled by producer co-operatives. For example, in Kenya the largest dairy plant is co-operatively owned, where milk is collected around 50,000 smallholders in the semi-arid areas. Governments have a role to play in milk marketing by initiation dairy project and milk collection schemes, and regulating quality and price.
Milk is very important in human diets because it contains significant amount of saturated fat, proteins, calcium and as well as vitamin. In Nigeria, there is a shortage of milk supply because majority of the populace depend on cow milk which is in short supply. The problem of acute shortage of milk and its by-products could be solved if improved management and full exploitation of Goat milk is introduced and practiced. There are estimated 34.5 million goats in Nigeria. Therefore, this large number of Goats in Nigeria can supply enough and cheaper milk for the populace. The composition of Goat milk contain substantial amount of nutrients that can compete with that of cow. Numerous studies have shown that, breed, temperature, and nutrition are among the factors influencing Goat milk production in Nigeria.

For sustainable commercial milk production from goats in Nigeria this paper suggests the followings;
1. Cross breeding of Nigerian Goats with temperate dairy breeds may be desirable.
2. Farmers must up-to-date their knowledge in all aspects of dairying and dairy herd management.
3. Capital and resources must be available to dairy farmers through loans and subsidy by the government. Government should assist the dairy farmers in terms of subsidy for dairy equipments, land for grazing, introduction of milk marketing board, and effective breeding program and other policies that will assist the goats’ farmers in Nigeria for better milk production.
4. Proper nutrition for dairy animals should be provided by training the dairy farmers on how to prepare cheaper diets with non conventional feed resources available in our environment also, land for pasture should be made available by the government so that dairy farming will be encouraged to establish pasture.
5. Dairy farmers should form different co-operative societies in order to improve their production in terms of accessing grants/loans, marketing, updating their knowledge and so on.

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Dr Saleh is a Lecturer with the Department of Agricultural Science Education,
Federal College of Education (Tech) Bichi,
P.M.B., 3473, Kano State, and can be reached through his email: garbasalee@yahoo.com or


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