Livestock Research for Rural Development 26 (2) 2014 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Production performance of Toggenburg dairy goats in semi-arid and sub-humid areas of Tanzania

M Jackson, S W Chenyambuga, E E Ndemanisho and D M Komwihangilo*

Department of Animal Science and Production, Sokoine University of Agriculture,
P.O. Box 3004, Morogoro, Tanzania.
* Tanzania Livestock Research Institute, P.O Box 202, Mpwapwa, Tanzania


A study was carried out in Babati and Kongwa districts which have sub-humid and semi-arid climatic conditions, respectively, to compare reproduction and lactation performances of Toggenburg dairy goats kept by small-scale farmers in the two agro-ecological zones. In each district four villages were purposely selected based on the presence of Toggenburg goats and 10 dairy goat farmers per village who have been keeping Toggenburg breed for at least five years were randomly selected.

Age at first kidding of Toggenburg goats was higher in sub-humid areas than in semi-arid areas while kidding interval, litter size and kid mortality rate did not differ between the two locations. The goats kept in sub-humid areas had higher mean daily milk yield and lactation yield than those in semi-arid areas. Lactation length and dry period of does in sub-humid areas were not different from those of the does found in semi-arid areas.  It is concluded that Toggernburg goats produced relatively more milk in sub-humid areas than in semi-arid areas while those in semi-arid environment had lower kid mortality compared to those in sub-humid environment.

Key words: lactation, mortality, reproduction


Tanzania has 15.6 million goats (MLFD 2012), out of these the population of dairy goats is estimated to be 126, 000 (Kilongozi et al 2006) implying that the majority of goats kept in the country are indigenous goats. Indigenous goats have low growth rates, small mature size, low carcass weights and low milk production potential. Consequently, goat improvement strategies to alleviate poverty in rural areas have been based on the introduction of improved breeds, either pure exotic breeds (especially dairy goats) or their crosses. Dairy goat production under smallholder production system has been promoted in developing countries in order to increase consumption of animal protein and raise income of rural poor people through sales of milk, milk products, live animals and manure (Kosgey 2004; FAOSTAT 2010). In recognition of the importance of dairy goats to poor farming households, the government of Tanzania introduced dairy goat breeds, namely, Saanen, Alpine, Anglo-Nubian and Toggenburg in the country in the early 1960s (Das and Sendalo 1991). These breeds of dairy goats were imported mainly from Europe and kept in research stations and missionary centres. Smallholder dairy goat production in rural areas started to be promoted in 1980s as one way of mitigating the problem of malnutrition and improving the living conditions of poor households. It was envisaged that helping the rural poor people, especially women, to successfully raise dairy goats can have a very significant impact on their income, social status and even on the local environment (De Varies 2008).

Babati and Kongwa are among the districts where the Toggernburg breed was introduced. In Babati district the Toggenburg goats were introduced in 1989 by FARM AFRICA under the scheme of “loan in kind” for pregnant goats. In Kongwa district Toggenburg goats were introduced in 2000 by Heifer Project International - Tanzania. However, the introductions of these dairy goats in rural areas were done randomly without taking into consideration the prevailing environmental conditions. Studies done to evaluate the performance of this Norwegian breed and crosses in Tanzania (Kiango 1996; Safari et al 2008; Eik et al 2008) have revealed that the reproductive and lactation performances of the Norwegian dairy goats are influenced by genetic and environmental factors and interaction between them. The Toggenburg breed has been introduced in Babati and Kongwa districts, despite the fact that they have different climatic conditions. Babati district has a sub-humid environment with annual rainfall ranging from 500 to 1,200 mm while Kongwa district is located in a semi-arid area and receives rainfall of 400 – 800 mm per annum. Information on the performance of Toggernburg breed in rural areas of the two districts is scanty and, hence, it is not known whether the performances of the breed in semi-arid areas and sub-humid areas are the same. This study was carried out to assess the reproductive and lactation performance of Toggernburg breed in two different environments (i.e. semi-arid and sub- humid climatic conditions). The study assessed reproductive and lactation parameters as they are the major determinants of productivity and economic viability of goat enterprises.

Materials and Methods

Location of the study

The study was carried out in two districts; Babati (Manyara region) and Kongwa (Dodoma region). These two districts were chosen because they have been engaged in dairy goat production for many years and Toggenburg breed has been introduced in both districts. Babati district is located between latitude 30 and 40 south of the equator and longitude 350 and 360 east of Greenwich. The altitude ranges from 950 to 2,450 metre above sea level. Average annual rainfall ranges from 500 to 1,200 mm. The rainfall is bimodal and the short rains begin in November and end in December while the long rains begin in February and end in May. This period is followed by cool dry period from June to October. The average mean temperature ranges from 220 C to 250C. Kongwa district lies between latitude 50 30’ and 60 south and longitudes 360 15and 360 east of Greenwich Meridian. The area has an altitude ranging from 900 to 1,000 metre above sea level. The mean annual temperature is 26.5°C, and ranges from 18 to 340C. The district has an annual rainfall of 400 - 800 mm per annum. The rainfall pattern is bi-modal with short rains received from November to December and long rains falling from mid February to May.

Sampling design and sample size

A purposive sampling design was used to select villages in which Toggenburg dairy goats have been kept for at least five years before the commencement of this study. Four villages per district were selected. These were Gijeboshka, Gijedabung, Himiti and Haraa in Babati district and Mlanga, Ibwaga, Sagara and Mkoka in Kongwa district. In each village 10 small-scale dairy goat farmers who have been keeping dairy goats belonging to the Toggenburg breed for at least five years were randomly selected. Thus, the sample size was 80 households from the eight villages.

Data collection

Data were collected through a household survey. Household heads engaged in dairy goat keeping for at least five years were individually interviewed using a structured questionnaire, with both open- and close–ended questions. The questionnaire was designed to collect information on number of dairy goats kept, management practices, reproductive performance (age at first kidding, kidding interval, litter size and kid mortality) and lactation performance (daily milk yield, lactation length and dry period).

Data analysis

Data obtained from the questionnaires were coded prior to analysis. Qualitative data were analyzed using the option PROC FREQ of SAS computer programme (SAS 2000) to generate frequencies and percentages. Quantitative data (reproductive and lactation performance data) were analyzed using the General Linear Model procedure of SAS (SAS 2000) programme. The F-test was used to assess the effect of location on reproductive and lactation performances. Chi-square test was employed to assess the effect of sex and location on kid mortality rate.

Results and Discussion

Flock sizes

Average number of dairy goats per household was higher in Babati than in Kongwa  (Table 1). The difference in flock size can be attributed to differences in availability of forages in the two districts. Kongwa district is located in a semi-arid area where there is severe shortage of forages, especially during the dry season, and hence, farmers opt to keep few animals. Unlike Kongwa, Babati district has a sub-humid environment and the forages are readily available, even in the dry season, hence, farmers can afford to keep relative higher numbers of goats. Generally, the flock sizes in all households were small both in Babati and Kongwa. This is because the animals were raised under the “cut and carry” feeding system, in which farmers can afford to keep only few animals which they can manage to feed. The results in Table 1 show that the numbers of adult female goats were higher than that of adult males in both districts. This is because male goats are sold once the male kids are weaned to avoid inbreeding and female goats are kept and allowed to reproduce in order to increase the flock size. Most farmers did not have their own breeding bucks, instead they were using breeding bucks owned by a group or an association. The present study is in agreement with van Niekerk and Pimentel (2004) who reported higher number of female goats compared to that of male goats in Mozambique. Another reason for keeping high number of females as reported by farmers was production of milk for home consumption and sale. This concurs with Ogola et al (2010) who reported that small-scale farmers keep dairy goats mainly for milk production.

Table 1: Average number of dairy goats (± SE) kept per household




Female kids

2.1 ± 0.30

1.2 ± 0.11

Male growers

1.5 ± 0.29

1.3 ± 0.33

Female growers

2.1 ± 0.40

1.4 ± 0.18


1.3 ± 0.14

1.6 ± 0.36


2.8 ± 0.27

2.2 ± 0.19


7.2 ± 1.08

4.1 ± 0.35

Management practices

 The management practices were similar in the two districts. Most farmers practiced zero grazing system and goats were kept in sheds with raised floor. This production system has been adopted by most farmers simply because it was one of the criteria for a household to get dairy goats from the project. The major feeds for dairy goats were green fodders (36%), crop residues (19%) and supplements like maize bran (23%) and mixture of sunflower seed cake and maize bran (21%). Mineral block for licking by the goats was not commonly used by most farmers due to high prices of the block as reported by the respondents. Most of the farmers in the surveyed households reported that they supply water to their animals once per day, probably because of lack of knowledge that goats are supposed to have access to water always. The majority of the farmers used project breeding bucks for mating with their females and only few, either had their own bucks or hired them from their neighbours (Table 2).

Table 2: Management practices of dairy goats in the study areas


Babati (%)

Kongwa (%)

Overall (%)

Type of house




Raised floor




Normal ground floor




Feeding system




Zero grazing








Free grazing




Once per day




Twice per day








Water access




Once per two days




Thrice per day




Source of Buck












Own flock




Criteria used to select breeding bucks


Dam performance




Shape and conformation








Performance and colour




Project decision




There were more farmers in Babati who used their own breeding bucks or bucks hired from their neighbours for breeding compared to those in Kongwa district. The criteria for choosing the breeding bucks differed between the two districts. Most farmers in Babati district selected breeding bucks based on the dam performance while in Kongwa district the majority of the farmers depended on the project decision. This can be attributed to the fact that farmers in Babati have been keeping dairy goats for a relatively longer period, thus have more experience compared to the farmers in Kongwa.

Reproductive performance

 Age at first kidding (AFK) of goats found in semi-arid areas was less by about 1.6 months compared to the AFK observed in goats kept in sub-humid areas. The observed AFK in this study are lower compared to the age at first kidding of 20.5 to 25.5 months reported by Ahuya et al (2009) for Toggenburg goats, but they are more or less similar to those reported by Safari et al (2008) who found that Norwegian goats at Gairo in central Tanzania had AFK of 13.6 months. The AFK of Toggenburg goats observed in the present study is slightly lower than that of Small East African goats reported by Chenyambuga et al (2012) in central Tanzania. The differences could be due to breed differences and different management practices, especially heat detection and feeding.

The mean kidding interval of Toggenburg goats did not differ between sub-humid and semi-arid areas.  The results in this study are similar to those reported in Nubian goats and their crosses (Kamal and Nikhaila 2009), but are lower than those observed by Ahuya et al (2009) for the Toggernburg breed found in Kenya, and by Safari et al (2008) in Norwegian breed kept at Gairo, Tanzania.

Table 3: Comparison of reproductive and lactation performances of Toggernburg goats kept in Babati and Kongwa districts (LSM+SE)





Age at first kidding (months)

14.6 ± 0.28

13.0 ± 0.38


Kidding interval (months)

9.3 ± 0.37

9.2 ± 0.50


Kid mortality (%)




Milk yield (liters/day)

1.7 ± 0.08

1.4 ± 0.17


Lactation yield (liters)

276 ± 24.5

241 ± 38.6


Lactation  length (months)

5.4 ± 0.36

5.4 ± 0.49


Dry period (months)

2.2 ± 0.13

2.1 ± 0.17


Litter size




Litter size is an important factor which determines the reproductive efficiency of dairy goats. The present study showed that the average litter size of Toggenburg goats ranged from 1.2 to 1.3 with no difference between study areas. The observed litter size in this study was slightly lower than the litter size of 1.5 and 1.6 observed in Toggenburg goats in Mexico (Mellado et al 2011) and Georgia (Amoah et al 1996), respectively.

Kid mortality tended (p = 0.16) to be lower for the goats kept in the semi-arid area . According to Kamal and Nikhaila (2009) the difference might be caused by differences in rainfall amount and humidity. High rainfall and relative humidity are associated with high mortality rate because they provide favourable conditions for parasites and pathogens and, hence, promote occurrence of infectious diseases.

Comparison of lactation performance of Toggernburg goats kept in sub-humid and semi-arid environments

Toggenburg goats kept in sub-humid areas produced more milk than those in semi-arid areas (Table 3). The average daily milk yield in sub-humid areas exceeded that in semi-arid areas by about 0.3 liters per day. The differences are mainly due to relative availability of feed resources as a result of different climatic conditions. Babati has a sub-humid environment with more rainfall, hence, good quality feed resources are abundantly available while Kongwa is located in a semi-arid area and receives less amount of rainfall and has long dry period leading to scarcity and poor quality feed resources being available for the most part of the year. According to Midau et al (2010) milk output drops if the doe’s access to good quality fodder is reduced. The milk yields observed in this study was higher than reported for Toggenburg goats in South Africa, but lower than for the breed reported by Ahuya et al (2003) in Kenya.

Lactation length and the dry period were not different between study areas.



This study was financially supported by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). The authors are grateful to RUFORUM for funding this project. The authors acknowledge the cooperation and assistance rendered by farmers and Extension Officers in the study villages.


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Received 29 September 2013; Accepted 12 December 2013; Published 4 February 2014

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