Livestock Research for Rural Development 30 (7) 2018 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

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Production characteristics of Arabia goats in Biskra wilayah, Algeria

L Djouza and A Chehma

Laboratoire de Bio Ressources Sahariennes : Préservation et Valorisation, Faculté des Sciences de la Nature et de la Vie - Université Kasdi Merbah Ouargla, Ouargla 30 000 Algérie


The Arabia (Arbia) goat is the main indigenous population in Algeria. As the productive potential of this goat is unknown, the study aims to evaluate its growth performance, milk production and milk quality under the extensive breeding conditions in three farms in Biskra province (South-East of Algeria). The daily milk production (n=39) was 0.89±0.91 kg per day and the total production for a lactation of 170 days was 160 ±43 kg of milk. The milk (n=7) was characterized by an average composition of 3.5% of fat, 3.0% of total protein, 4.6% of lactose, 89.5 g / l total dry extract, 0.6% of salts, an acidity of 18.2 ˚D and a density of 1032.

Regarding the growth performances: the male kids (n=27) birth weight was 2.58±0.43 kg, the body weight was 6.0±1.15 kg at 30 days, 8.6±1.25 kg at 60 days, 11.5±1.4 kg at 90 days, 14.3±1.7 kg at 120 days, 17.4±2.5 kg at 150 days and 19.9±2.6 kg at 180 days. While the female kids (n=17) weight was at birth 2.37±0.34 kg, at one month 5.54±0.73 kg, at 3 months 10.7±1.6 kg, and 15.7±2.3 kg at 6 months. The average daily weight gain was for the males and the females respectively of 114±39 and 105±24 g between birth and 30 days, 97±46 and 90±3 g between 60 and 90 days, and 81±34 and 54±24 g for the period from 150 to 180 days. So, the Arabia goat had an acceptable production capacity in extensive breeding conditions, better than some other goat types. Possible improvements can be made to feeding and rearing management by means of support programs and also by selection and genetic improvement techniques.

Key words: Arbia, composition, growth, milk production, physicochemical character


The exploitation of goat herds for meat and milk is widespread around the world. For meat, it's much more in African countries. Its consumption is very concentrated in some regions of the world because of the eating habits and its particular taste (Pradal 2014). In terms of nutrition, it presents a source of animal protein and also an income for rural populations, especially in third world countries (Escareño et al 2013). It has favorable sensory characteristics and dietary virtues due to its low fat content (Webb et al 2005).

As for milk, the nutritional and digestive qualities are indisputable (Turkmen 2017), it is less allergenic and undergoes lactic fermentation more slowly than the cow milk and it is used as a medicine for the treatment of certain diseases (Morgan et al 2012). Also, it is highly sought for its processing skills, especially on cheese of quality (Park 2012), which constitute the main milk by-product besides yoghurt, creams and so on (Yangilar 2013). These properties are the result of the physicochemical and microbiological characteristics.

Breeds native to certain countries or regions are generally adapted to the prevailing conditions (climate, food ..) However, as breeds are rarely considered perfect in all points, it is common for productivity improvements to be desired anyway. In Algeria, the production performances of most exploited local breeds are poorly known because of the lack of characterization studies by which the animal vocation is determined, the best is selected and the conservation and improvement of its abilities is carried out. All these steps must pass necessarily by the characterization of the real production or reproduction performances. This is the subject of this study for the Arabia (Arbia) goat population (the main goat breed of Algeria) in its production environment.

Materials and methods

Our study was carried out in 3 private farms using an extensive breeding system in Biskra region (34.48 N, 5.44 E).

The dairy production estimation for 39 multiparous lactating Arabia goats was based on the weighing of the kids before and after feeding every week for six months using an electronic scale (maximum 40 kg).

For the characterization of some physicochemical parameters of raw milk, 7 samples were taken the same day from 7 Arabia goats. They were kept cold (-4 ° C) before and during the analysis period in the laboratory which was made according to the international standards and techniques (AFNOR).

The determination of the acidity was made by a sample of 10 g of each milk titrated with sodium hydroxide (NaOH of 0,1N). As a colored indicator, phenolphthalein was used. Acidity was expressed in degree Dornic. Gerber's acid-butyrometric method was followed to know the percentage of fat. The lactose, protein, saline content and density were measured using a lactodensimeter.

The characterization of the average daily weight gain is a part of the advanced production characterization. It was determined by a rhythmic control of kids (27 males and 17 females born from single births by multiparous) every 30 days during the first 6 months of age.

The descriptive analysis of the data were established using the Excel 2007 tool focused on the determination of the mean values, standard deviations, minima and maxima of the studied parameters.

Results and discussion

Milk production

Figure 1 shows the mean milk yield of the goats for 6 months of lactation (24 weeks).

Figure 1. Dairy milk production evolution of Arabia goats (n=39)

For a period of about 170 days, the lactation curve (Figure 1) shows that the milk production has two phases:

The daily milk production was estimated at 0.89±0.91 kg per day and the total milk production is about 160±43 kg of milk in 170 days.

The daily production of this goat is close to the “Makatia” goat which produces from 1 to 2 litres / day in Algeria (Hellal 1986) and very acceptable compared to the “Draa” goat (0,46 l / day) conducted in a permanent housing in Morocco (Boujenane et al 2010).

The yield obtained is acceptable compared to that recorded by Kerbaa (1995) for the “Makatia” goat in Algeria (80 kg in 120 days) and that of the Corsican breed in Corsica (150 kg in 150 days) (FAO 2000). But it remains low compared to the “Mozabite” goat (460 kg of milk in 180 days) and “Murciano-Granadina” (584 kg in 287 days) evaluated respectively by Kerbaa in 1995 in Algeria and Delgado et al (2017) in Spain.

Compared to milk-producing breeds such as Alpine goat (800 kg of milk in 280 days) and Saanen goat (900 kg in 280 days) (FAO 2000), the goat studied is very far from being a purely dairy goat.

Dairy production or milk yield is subject to the affection of several factors, among which we can mention those related to the animal (the female), among other things, its breed, body size, weight, age, etc. and/or related to the environment (temperature, kidding season, …).

The low milk yield can be explained by the poor body condition of the goats attributed to energy and protein deficiency in feeding based on grazing in arid and semi-arid areas characterized by low rainfall, and closely related to the practiced management systems (Morand-Fehr et al 2007). The period of parturition factor sometimes affects the milk production: in some areas the milk production of the lactation that starts at the beginning of the year is lower comparatively to that which begins later in the year (Zeng et al 1997). According to Butswat et al (2000), exposure of lactating goats to cold reduces the secretion of milk. Dairy breeds have a greater potential for milk production than mixed or meat breeds, which explains the genetic factor (Morand-fehr et al 2007). Zahraddeen et al (2009) have argued that milk yield is also influenced by prolificacy (litter size). It is of significant value for females giving birth to a doublet compared with those giving simple birth (Delgado-Pertínez et al 2009).

According to Peacock (1996), females of good body size and weight produce more milk than lean ones, and the peak yield is obtained between four and eight years of age. For the size and shape of udders, good attachment and development will lead to good milk performance (El-Gendy et al 2014). Soltner (1989) revealed the importance of age at first calving, and the parturition - mating interval for the bovine species. The health of the animal also plays a very important role; for Zeng et al (1997) subclinical diseases are more dangerous for milk production than clinical diseases.

The milk physicochemical characteristics

Some qualitative parameters of goat's milk are illustrated in the table 1

Table 1. Milk parameters





Fat (%)





Protein (%)





Lactose (%)





Total dry extract (g/l)





Acidity (˚D)










Salt (%)





The analysis of "Arabia" goat milk revealed that it was less acidic (18.2 ° D) compared to that of the “Kabyle” goat (20.98 ° D) studied by Amroun et al (2017). It has lower fat levels compared to the “Draa” goat (3.48% vs 4.16%) (Noutfia et al 2011). The salts rate was of the order of 0.63% for our study, so it is lower than that of the “Draa” goat (0.72%) (Noutfia et al 2011). In addition, the mean values ​​of the total proteins of studied milk and “Beni Arous” goat found by El Otamani et al (2013) were (3.01 vs 3.9%). 4.61% is the lactose content for the type studied by El Otmani et al (2013) and which is higher than ours (4.55%). The density was estimated at 1032, this is considered less dense compared to the goat milk analyzed by Mekri et al (2017) which was 1034. The studied milk was characterized by a mean value of the total dry extract of 89 g / l. which appears to be less than 118 g / l of the local goat's milk of the Tunisian arid regions studied by Gaddour et al (2013).

The factors influencing the milk composition are multiple; the differences can be of genetic origin (breed) (Antunac et al 2001), or related to the age of the animal (number of lactation) (Zumbo and Di Rosa 2007). These last authors have proved that the fat rate and the protein content are higher in primiparous than in multiparous (three calving) goats.

The milk quality may be related to the litter size (Ciappesoni et al 2004), stage or lactation period (Idamokoro et al 2017). For example, protein and fat are high in the colostrum period (Kandarakis et al 2001) and the fat content at the beginning and end of lactation is higher than in the middle of lactation (Mestawet et al 2012). But also it may be related to the effect of the season (Kljajevic et al 2017) that can come from the consumed food type and therefore the level of food and environmental conditions (Park et al 2007). According to Jenness (1980), in Mediterranean and tropical areas, the low-milk breeds produce a milk rich in fat, dry matter and protein.

According to Simos et al (1991), the milk content differs for the same day between morning and evening, and is depending on the animal health state (Jenness 1980), including udder health. El-Gendy et al (2014) found that udder characteristics (measurements) influence the composition of milk. The physicochemical characteristics of milk are affected by the duration and methods of preservation (freezing or otherwise) or processing into milk by-products (O'Connor 1994).

The growth

The table 2 shows the mean birth weight and weights at typical ages (1 to 6 months) of Arabia goat.

Table 2. Mean weights at typical ages of both sexes males (n=27) and females (n=17)

At birth


2 months


4 months

5 months

6 months

Male kids
average weight (kg)








Female kids
 average weight (kg)








(): standard deviation

The weight gains of Arabia type kids are given in Table 3

Table 3. The average daily gain of males (n=27) and females (n=17) goat kids







Males average daily
weight gain (g)







Females average daily
weight gain (g)







() : standard deviation ; m = month

Weights at birth are on average 2.37 kg for females and 2.58 kg for males (Table 2). The difference in weight between the two sexes at all ages seems remarkable.

The mean weight of the male kids was 19.9 kg and that of the females was 15.7 kg at 180 days (Table 2). From birth to 6 months the male kids weights at the typical ages seemed higher than those of the female kids (Table 2).

Compared to our results, the birth weight can vary from 3.5- 5.5 kg, 2.0 kg and 2.28 kg for Damascus goats, Creole goats and Croatian multicolored goats studied by Abdullah et al (2012), Alexandre et al (1999) and Mioč et al (2011) respectively.

According to Najari et al (2004), the shape of the growth curve is depending on the breed and on the genetic potential of the latter. The significant difference in weight between the two sexes with superiority for males is a result shared with Mioč et al (2011). While for birth weight, these last authors and Birteeb et al 2015 did not find a difference in weight between the newborns of the Croatian multicolored goat and the West -African Dwarf goat respectively. The birth weight is affected by several factors, including maternal nutrition during gestation (Sagot 2007), hence the importance of supplementation in the last third of gestation. Kids of the well-fed goats are heavier than those of the skinny goats. It is influenced by the breed type (Mourad 1993). Increasing the litter size is one of the reasons for the decrease in the kids’ birth weight. According to Gbangboche et al (2006), the weight of the single-born kid is greater than that of a double or triple litter. This can be attributed to the absence of intrauterine competition between embryos on nutrition and space for the simple litter (Deribe and Taye 2013).

Mothers' ages are considered influential factor (Laes-Fettback and Peters 1995); primiparous kids are lighter at birth compared to multiparous kids. The birth season also affects the birth weight (Deribe and Taye 2013). The latest decreases with the high temperatures due to the decline in the goats consumption levels. Rekik et al (2008) argue that in the sheep species, lambs born in summer were heavier than those born in winter.

The average body weight of the studied kids is far from that of the study of Mioč et al (2011) who found an average body weight for the multicolored type of 23kg at the age of 186 days. While the average daily weight gain was 115g from birth to 186th day. For Alexandre et al (1997) the average daily gains recorded between 10 and 30 days and between 40 and 70 days were 84.3 and 65.7g / day respectively for the Creole breed kids.

The kids growth is related to the mothers’ nutrition from pregnancy until weaning (Sagot 2007), and with the weaning age, in case of early weaning, the growth is slowing down (Soltner 1989).

The effect of the kidding season is significant; it is mainly due to pasture availability. According to Faye (2001), for sheep, animals born at the end of the rainy season are able to increase more rapidly in weight than those born in the dry season (malnutrition). The kids’ growth at the beginning of the milk feeding period reflects the level of milk production: the growth rate increases with the increase of the ingested milk amount during the first weeks of breastfeeding, i.e. during the preweaning period (Luginbul 2002). A positive correlation between the quantity and richness of Chami goat's milk and the kids’ growth was found by Economides et al (1989). The sex also has an effect on the average daily weight gain; the growth is greater and faster (rapid development musculature) in the male than in the female (Ameur 2016). For the birth mode, the growth rate before weaning is higher in simple litters than in multiples (Goetsch et al 2011).


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Received 11 March 2018; Accepted 2 June 2018; Published 3 July 2018

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