Livestock Research for Rural Development 17 (8) 2005 Guidelines to authors LRRD News

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Haematological and biochemical parameters of West African Dwarf goats

J O Daramola, A A Adeloye, T A Fatoba and A O Soladoye*

Department of Animal Production, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
*Department of Human Physiology, University of Ilorin, Nigeria


The haematological and biochemical parameters of West African Dwarf (WAD) goats were determined in twenty WAD goats consisting of ten adults (3 bucks and 7 does) and ten young goats (3 buck-kids and 7 doe-kids).

The means for Packed Cell Volume (PCV), Total White Cell (TWC), Red Blood Cell (RBC) and Haemoglobin (HB) were 29.4 + 0.8%, 13.5 + 0.8x103ml , 11.5 + 0.4x106ml and 9.8+ 0.3g/dl respectively. There were more lymphocytes (65.8 +1.1%) than neutrophils (33.5 +1.7%) in circulation. The values obtained for serum sodium, serum total protein and serum urea levels were 135.1+1.7mmol/L,7.1 + 0.1g/100ml and 2.7 + 0.3mmol/L respectively. The values obtained for the serum transaminases; serum Glutamate Pyruvate Transaminase (SGPT) and Serum Glutamate Oxaloacetate Transaminase (SGOT) were 8.9+0.9IU/ litre and 20.9 +1.2IU/ litre respectively; while Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) was 10.7+1.2 IU/ litre. There were significantly (P< 0. 05) higher Hb, Red Blood Cell (RBC) and Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration (MCHC) in adults goats. Lymphocytes percentage was higher (P<0.05) in male goats.

This study has indicated haematological and serum biochemical values and could serve as a baseline information for comparison in conditions of nutrient deficiency, physiological and health status of WAD goats kept under native husbandry system in Southern Guinea Savannah of Nigeria.

Keywords: Biochemical parameters, goats, haematological parameters, nutrition


The significance of determining haematological and biochemical indices of domestic animals has been well documented (Oduye and Adadevoh 1976; Oduye and Otesile 1977; Obi and Anosa 1980; and changes of these parameters have been studied in cattle (Ghergariu et al 1984), sheep (Kaushish and Arora 1977; Vihan and Rai 1987) and Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002). There is a great variation in the haematological and biochemical parameters as observed between breeds of goats (Azab and Abdel-Maksoud 1999; Tambuwal et al 2002) and in this regard it may be difficult to formulate a universal metabolic profile test for goats. These differences have further underlined the need to establish appropriate physiological baseline values for various breeds of livestock in Nigeria, which could help in realistic evaluation of the management practice, nutrition and diagnosis of health condition.

Goat production in Nigeria makes a major contribution to the agrarian economy. The West African Dwarf goats are found in the region South of latitude 14oN across West Africa in the coastal area, which is humid and favours high prevalence of diseases. The eco-zone is infested with tse-tse fly and the dwarf goats thrive well and reproduce with twins and triplet births in the ecological niche (Adeloye 1998), thereby satisfying a part of the meat requirement in this region. In Nigeria and West Africa, goat is reared traditionally at subsistence level. They are usually left to scavenge and cater for their own nourishment (Adeloye 1985). Domestic left-over which composition depends on the family menu may constitute part of the goat' diet. The totality of the goat' feeding pattern characterizes the native husbandry practice. Studies on the corpuscular elements of the blood and its biochemical attributes have not been well documented in West African Dwarf goats kept under native husbandry practice. The objective of this study was to determine the baseline data on haematological and biochemical values of West African Dwarf goats raised under native husbandry practice in Southern Guinea Savannah of Nigeria. Data so obtained could be used for diagnosis of disease, for criteria of adaptability as well as to elucidate some physiological mechanisms in the West African Dwarf goats.

Materials and Methods

Animal and Management: Twenty WAD goats consisting of ten adult (3 bucks and 7 does) and ten young goats (3buck-kids and 7doe-kids) raised on a private farm at Ilorin, in the Southern Guinea Savannah ecological zone of Nigeria were used. The live weights of the adult and young goats were 20.5+1.21 and 7.6+0.47 (kg) respectively. The animals were free from externals, blood and internal parasites. The study was conducted during the rainy season. The average annual rainfall was 1,340+0.65mm. The female animals were housed collectively and separate from male goats and provided with an open space. The animals were fed with kitchen wastes, dried cassava (Manihot esculentum) peels and allowed to graze on available pasture consisting of guinea grass (Panicum maximum) the usual practice in this eco-zone (Adeloye 1998). Animals were maintained in this condition for four weeks prior to blood sampling.

Data Collection

The goats were bled through jugular vein and 10ml of blood collected. 3ml of the blood samples was collected into plastic tube containing EDTA for haematological studies. The remaining 7ml of blood samples was deposited in anticoagulant free plastic tube and allowed to clot at room temperature within 3 hours of collection. The serum samples were stored at -20oC for biochemical studies. Total erythrocytic counts and total leukocytic counts were determined with the aid of Neubaur counting chamber (Haemocytometer) and Hb concentration was determined by Sahl's (acid haematin) method (Benjamin 1978). MCHC values were calculated from PCV, Hb and RBC values (Jain 1986). Serum Glutamate Pyruvate Transaminose (SGPT), Serum Glutamate Oxaloacetate Transaminase (SGPT) and Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) were analysed spectrophotometrically by using commercially available diagnostic kits (RANDOX® Test Kits). Sodium and Potassium were determined by flame photometry (Hawk et al 1954). Calcium concentration was determined according to Gindler and King (1972), and Phosphorus was determined according to Bauer (1982).

Statistical Analysis

Mean values and standard errors were calculated and the results were treated statistically using student's t-test assessing the mutual statistical differences between adult and young animals (Snedecor and Cochran 1982) and one-way ANOVA was used to assess the statistical differences between male and female animals.


The results show the haematological and biochemical values of WAD goats (Table 1).

Table 1 Comparative haematological and biochemical values of Nigerian small ruminants species


WAD Goats
(Present study)

Red Sokoto goat (Tambuwal et al 2002)

WAD Sheep (Oduye and Adadevoh 1976)


Mean + SE

Mean + SE

Mean + SE

PCV, %

21- 35

29.4 + 0.9

25.7 + 3.1


Hb, g/dl

7 15

9.8 + 0.3

11.4 + 1.6


RBCs, x106/ml

9.2 -13.5

11.5 + 0.4

10.9 + 2.1



32 - 34.6

33.1 + 0.1

44.7 + 8.2


Total WBCs, x 103/ml

6.8 -20.1

13.5 + 0.8

10.6 + 2.8


Percentage distribution of leukocytes


Lymphocytes, %

47 82

65.8 + 1.1

51.6 + 3.0


Neutrophils, %

17 52

33.5 + 1.7

36.4 + 2.5


Eosinophils, %

1 7

0.8 + 0.2

3.9 + 1.5


Monocytes, %

0 1

0.1 + 0.0

7.4 + 1.7


Serum biochemical values

Calcium, mmol/ litre

1.15 2.4

1.6 + 0.1


9.6+ 1.6

Phosphorus, mmol/ litre

0.58 4.5

2.4 + 0.2


5.7 + 3.2

Sodium, mmol/ litre

124 146

135.1 + 1.7

138.0 + 0.6

138.8 + 5.2

Potassium, mmol/ litre

3.0 6.0

4.8 + 0.1

5.3 + 1.8

5.3 +1.6

Urea, mmol/ litre

0.8 9.7

2.7 + 0.3

4.7 + 2.1

4.2 + 1.4

Total Protein, g/100ml

6.3 8.5

7.1 + 0.1

4.4 + 1.5

6.3 + 0.7

Albumin, g/100ml

2.8 4.3

3.4 + 0.7

2.5 + 1.8

2.5 + 0.3

Triglyceride, mmol/ litre

0.16 1.6

0.4 + 0.1



SGPT, IU/ litre

2 22

8.9 + 0.9


10.+ 1.1

SGOT, IU/ litre


20.9 + 1.2


67.9 + 4.9

ALP, IU/ litre


10.7 + 1.2

3.1 + 2.8

10.7 + 7.3

*Not available

Packed cell volume (PCV) was higher in adult WAD goats (Table 2) but not statistically different (P>0.05) from PCV of the young WAD goats. Haemoglobin (Hb), red blood cell (RBC) and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) were higher in adult WAD goats (P<0.05) compared to values obtained for young WAD goats (Table 2).

Total WBC counts differentials (Table 2) in adult WAD goats compared well with values obtained for young WAD goats (P>0.05). Serum Calcium (Ca),Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) levels were comparable in both age groups (P>0.05). Serum Sodium (Na) levels were however higher in young WAD goats compared to adult WAD goats (Table 2).

Table 2. Means (+SE) for some haematological and biochemical values in adult and young WAD goats.








PCV, %

28.1 + 1.7a

31.3 + 2.1a

25.3 + 1.2a

30.0 + 2.1a

Hb, g/dl

9.6 + 0.5a

10.3 + 1.7a

7.6 + 0.3b

7.9 + 0.1b

RBCs, x 106/ml

11.8 + 2.8a

10.8 + 1.0a

10.2 + 1.1b

10.1 + 0.4b


34.2 + 0.4a

33.9 + 0.2a

32.1 + 1.4b

32.8 + 0.6b

Total WBCS, X103/ml

15.26 + 3.5a

14.0 + 3.9a

13.1 + 1.4a

13.5 + 0.3a

Percentage distribution of leukocytes

Lymphocytes, %

75.1 + 12.1a

56.6 + 2.1b

73.0 + 2.0a

67.9 + 1.0ab

Neutrophils, %

24.7 + 1.2b

42.9 + 1.3a

26.7 + 2.2b

30.7 + 0.1ab

Eosinophils, %

0.1 + 0.1a

0.5 + 0.3a

0.3 + 0.1a

1.4 + 0.5a

Monocytes, %

0.5 + 0.1a

0.4 + 0.2a

0.2 + 0.1a

0.2 + 0.1a

Serum biochemical values


Calcium, mmol/ litre

1.6 + 0.5a

1.5 + 0.3a

1.8 + 0.2a

1.8+ 0.4a

Phosphorus, mmol/ litre

1.3 + 0.8a

2.6 + 0.2a

2.3 + 1.4a

2.7 + 1.4a

Sodium, mmol/ litre

129.3 + 1.3b

131.0 + 1.0b

138.0 + 0.1a


Potassium, mmol/ litre

4.5+ 0.3a

4.3 + 0.1a

5.3 + 0.1a

5.2 + 0.1a

Urea, mmol/ litre

1.9 + 0.5a

2.6 + 1.2a

1.4 + 0.4a

3.7 +  0.6a

Total protein, g/100ml

70.9 + 1.2a

70.6 + 12a

70.0 + 1.3a

71.3 + 0.3a

Albumin, g/100ml

34.7 + 2.1a

33.1 + 1.1a

29.7 + 0.5a

35.7 + 0.4a

Triglyceride, mmol/ litre

0.5 + 0.3a

0.5 + 0.2a

0.3 + 0.4a

0.4 + 0.1a

SGPT, IU/ litre

8.1 + 3.9a

9.1+ 1.4a

10.6 + 0.1a

8.3 + 0.5a

SGOT, IU/ litre

19.3 + 2.5a

24.3 + 1.4a

17.3 + 0.3a

19.7 + 0.2a

ALP, IU/ litre

11.7 + 1.4a

11.9 + 0.1a

10.2 + 0.b

9.9 + 0.8b

a,b Means with different superscripts for each parameter differ significantly (P<0.05).

Serum urea, total protein, albumin and triglyceride levels were comparable in both age groups. Similarly, serum Glutamate pyruvate transaminase (SGPT) and serum Glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (SGOT) levels were comparable in both age groups (Table 2). Serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels were however higher in adult animals compared to young animals (P<0.05). The results showed that the PCV, HB, RBC, MCHC levels and WBC count were comparable (P>0.05) in male and female WAD goats.

Lymphocytes were higher in male WAD goats compared to female WAD goats (P<0.05). Serum Ca, P, Na and K (Table 2) were comparable in male and female WAD goats (P>0.05). Similarly, serum urea, total protein, albumin and triglyceride levels were comparable in both sex groups (P>0.05). Also, serum SGPT, SGOT and ALP (Table 2) were comparable in both male and female WAD goats.


PCV in this study was higher than 25.7+3.1 (%) obtained for Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002). Earlier reports in Baladi goats (Azab and Abdel-Maksoud 1999) and Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002) show a PCV values of 27.25+0.59 and 25.7+3.1 respectively. The findings of this study support that PCV varies from breed to breed (Azab and Abdel-Maksoud 1999; Tambuwal et al 2002). In contrast, Rusoff et al (1954), Bianca (1955), and Patterson et al (1960) attributed increase in PCV values in cattle to increase in environmental temperature. This finding suggested that WAD goats have tendency for compensatory accelerated production (CAP) of PCV in case of infection. Compensatory accelerated production has been shown to return PCV to normal following an infection (Dargie and Allonby 1975). Similarly, serum total protein was higher than 4.4+1.5g/100 litre obtained for Red Sokoto goat (Tambuwal et al 2002) and 6.3 + 0.7g/100 litre obtained for WAD sheep (Oduye and Adadevoh 1976). Comparison of the results of this study with data obtained by these workers show that PCV varies proportionately with the serum total protein. This suggested that PCV is beneficial in assessing the protein status and possibly forecasting the degree of protein supplementation in goats at different physiological states.

Hb in this study fell within the range of high values obtained for Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002). West African Dwarf goats seem to possess relatively high Hb values, and this is an advantage in terms of the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.

The total WBC count was higher in this study than values obtained for Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002), cattle in Nigeria (Oduye and Fasanmi 1971) and Nigerian buffaloes (Olusanya et al 1976). WAD goats seem to possess protective system, providing a rapid and potent defence against any infectious agent and this is probably the physiological basis for the adaptation of this species to this eco-zone characterised with high prevalence of disease. In goats, like other ruminants there are more lymphocytes than neutrophils in circulation (Olusanya et al 1976). However, the values obtained in this study fell within the broad range recorded for Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002) cattle and (Benjamin 1978; Schalm et al 1975) and suggestive of well develop immune system of the WAD goats with such number of immune cells to proffer good health..

Serum Ca and P were generally lower than those obtained for WAD sheep (Oduye and Adadevoh 1976) and cattle in Nigeria (Olusanya et al 1976; Saror and Coles 1975). The low Ca and P levels were probably a consequence of the feeding regimen the animals were subjected to as no supplement was provided.

Perhaps the most outstanding feature was the low Na level obtained in this study compared with other breeds kept in Nigeria such as the Red Sokoto, 138. 0+0.6 mmol/ litre (Tambuwal et al 2002); and goats ,138.8+2 mmol/ litre Altman and Dittmer 1961) and sheep, 149. 9+4.9mmol/ litre (English et al 1969) in the temperate climate. In this respect, WAD goat is probably similar to man (Macfarlane et al 1970) and cattle (Oduye and Fasanmi 1971) which have been shown to have lower Na levels in tropical environment. This close association between tropical environment and lower Na level in man has been attributed to the variable dietary intake of salt and loss of Na and Chlorine ions in urine under tropical environmental condition (Macfarlane et al 1970). It will be a worthwhile exercise to determine the rate of loss of Na ions in the urine of WAD goats in Nigeria.

The serum K level was slightly lower in the WAD goats but did not differ from the values reported for Red Sokoto goat (Tambuwal et al 2002) and WAD sheep (Oduye and Adadevoh 1976).A high level of serum urea has been attributed to excessive tissues protein catabolism associated with protein deficiency (Oduye and Adadevoh 1976).

The relatively low values obtained for serum urea in this study when compared with other small ruminant species (Oduye and Adadevoh 1976; Tambuwal et al 2002) indicated the physiological basis for the superiority of WAD goats in its digestive capacity, efficiency of Nitrogen utilization, urea recycling and Nitrogen conservation (Silanikove 2000). This fact is evident in the high values observed for serum total protein when compared with Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002) and WAD sheep (Oduye and Adadevoh 1976).

The present study showed a wide variation in the concentrations of both alkaline phosphatase and the transeminases (SGPT and SGOT).

Effect of age on haematological and biochemical parameters

Age was observed to have a significant effect on Hb, RBC and MCHC values. Similar results were observed in Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002). The observed difference in adult and young WAD goats suggested that the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood was high in adult goats. Age was also observed to have a significant effect on ALP in this study similar to Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002).

Effect of sex on haematological and biochemical parameters

The PCV values obtained for female WAD goats were comparable to those obtained for male WAD goats. This observation is in contrast to values obtained for Red Sokoto goats in Nigeria (Tambuwal et al 2002) in which male animals have higher values than females. Sex was observed to have a significant effect on the lymphocytes and neutrophils. The male WAD goats had increased lymphocyte values compared to the female animals, whereas the female had increased neutrophil values compared to the male animals. This finding is similar to observation reported for Red Sokoto goats (Tambuwal et al 2002).

The comparative value of ALP in both sexes is in contrast to the findings of Tambuwal et al (2002) for Red Sokoto. Although ALP level can be influenced by pregnancy, blood pH and disease (Kelly 1974), the animals in this study were apparently healthy, non-pregnant, and these parameters could not have been influenced by these factors.



The Authors are grateful to Mr R O Kayode, Laboratory Technologist, Department of Animal Production, University of Ilorin, and Staff of Chemical Pathology Department, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital for their technical assistance.


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Received 15 May 2005; Accepted 6 July 2005; Published 5 August 2005

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