University Dons have charged Nigerian farmers to embrace the rearing of KALAWAD goats for optimal meat production in the nation as well as the inclusion of poly-unsaturated fatty acid in the feeding of the West African Dwarf Goat in order to obtain optimum productivity of the West African Dwarf Does and Kids.
The first call was made by Professor Bamidele Oluwatosin, a Programme Leader and Ruminant Animal Specialist at the Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research (IFSERAR), while the second advice was given by Professor Olusiji Sowande of the Department of Animal Production and Health, College of Animal Science and Livestock Production (COLANIM).
According to Professor Oluwatosin, the breakthrough recorded in her on-going research on the cross-breeding of the Kalahari Red (KR) goat from South Africa with the local indigenous breed, called the West African Dwarf (WAD) goat, would encourage the rearing of the KALAWAD goats. The Professor said the idea of crossbreeding these breeds of goats was conceived in year 2011, to improve the small body size, reproductive performance, meat production and overall performance of the WAD goats. She disclosed that, KALAWAD is a name invented by the KRG research team in IFSERAR given to a breed obtained from the cross-breeding of the Kalahari Red goat with the West African Dwarf (WAD) goat.
She gave the features of the Kalahari Red goat as: fast growing, very agile, voracious, high twinning rate, hardy, of high meat, milk producer and less tolerant to prevalent diseases, saying the KR had adapted well to the environment. She further noted that since the animals arrived the University, members of the research team had engaged in various studies to determine their abilities to adapt to the prevailing environmental conditions. Apart from this, they have also analysed the mitochondrial DNA as an initial step to investigating the genetic structure of the breed. Baseline information is also available on the reproductive performance of the KR as it compares with the local WAD goats. She further debunked the perceived misconception by farmers concerning feeding them, because the goats though exotic, can be fed with locally available feed-stuffs and crop residues such as groundnut haulms, cassava peels and cowpea stover.
Professor Oluwatosin added that this year, her research would venture into the artificial insemination of the local goats using semen from the Kalahari Red goat, because there was high demand for the KALAWAD goats by farmers. She stated further that the main difference between the Kalahari Red goat and the West African Dwarf goat is the proportion of meat yield, which she said, was about four times. She buttressed this assertion by stating that results of second generation KALAWAD kids with average birth weight of 3.7kg have been obtained. This high birth weight of the goats has given them comparative advantage over the indigenous WAD counterpart with an average birth weight of 1.2kg. She expressed her profound appreciation to the University Management and most especially, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole, for his support for the project so far.
The Programme Leader highlighted some of the constraints facing the research to include insufficient funding, prevalence of animal diseases, environmental factors, and inadequate water to irrigate grasses all-year-round. She added that some of these challenges may be surmounted with sponsorship and collaboration with organisations like the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other foreign donors. She stressed that many FUNAAB students, under the World Bank-sponsored Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment (CEADESE), were already working on the Kalahari Red goat in their postgraduate research projects. Professor Oluwatosin summarised that results of the cross-breeding of KRG/WAD had given her research team an assurance that producing a Nigerian meat goat breed for high economic returns was achievable.
Meanwhile, Professor Olusiji Sowande of the Department of Animal Production and Health, College of Animal Science and Livestock Production (COLANIM), has called for the inclusion of poly-unsaturated fatty acid in the feeding of the West African Dwarf Goat in order to obtain optimum productivity of the West African Dwarf Does and Kids. Professor Sowande stated this while assessing the results obtained in his ongoing research titled, The Welfare and Productivity of West African Dwarf Does and Kids: Influence of Dietary Inclusion of Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acid.
He said that the West African Dwarf Goat are prolific and tolerant to many diseases. Yet, many goat kids die at birth and some before weaning. The University Don said that poly-unsaturated fatty acid, which is obtained from Algae biomass, has the capacity to reduce mortality, sustain the animals, enable the pregnant animal to carry the pregnancy throughout the gestation period without any hitch, stimulate the productivity of the animals by reducing oxidative stress in the animal (unseen internal metabolic stress), and ensuring the survival of the kids up to the weaning age. He added that a preliminary research, which was earlier done on pigs, sheep and growing WAD goats, showed positive and favourable response such as fast growth rate of animal feeding on poly-unsaturated fatty acid without giving them any drugs and enabled the animal to gain more weight, add more energy and increase the ability to resist and/or withstand parasitic infection, most especially, worms.
The University Don adduced the reasons for these attributes to the fact that the poly-unsaturated fatty acid were better because they can combine with free radicals to reduce lipase enzyme production, such that platelet aggregation, blood triglycerides, blood clots and cholesterol are reduced with improvements in cardiac and vascular function, mental health and reproductive functions. Professor Sowande explained further that the ongoing research would be looking into how to better the performance of the animal, how the poly-unsaturated fatty acid would affect the number of litter per birth, behaviour of the Does during and after pregnancy and the survival of the Kids in the first 90 days. He added that the management system imposed on the animal in the ongoing research was the intensive system. That is, confinement of the animal to a pen.
Professor Sowande itemized the challenges facing the ongoing research to include: inability to get all the animal pregnant at the same time and lack of sufficient pasture, adding that in order to sustain this research, the research team was collaborating with researchers from the University of Lagos, the New Castle University, United Kingdom and St. Cloud State University, United States of America. Multiplication of the goats through breeding would ensure that weaner goats are available for sale to farmers, to generate income for the University and to reduce the importation of animals into the country.