GOATS’ POTENTIALS FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMERCIAL MILK PRODUCTION IN NIGERIA 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
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:

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