Livestock Research for Rural Development 31 (3) 2019 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Growth and reproductive performances of Begait goat under semi intensive and extensive management in western Tigray, north Ethiopia

Hagos Abraham1, Solomon Gizaw3 and Mengistu Urge2

1 Adigrat University, Department of Animal Production and Technology, P.O. Box 50, Adigrat, Ethiopia
2 Haramaya University, School of Animal and Range Sciences, P.O. Box 138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
3 International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), P.O. Box 5689, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


The current study was conducted in Kafta Humera district of Tigray region, (i) to investigate the status of growth and reproductive parameters of Begait goat under different management systems and (ii) to identify some non-genetic factors influencing these parameters. Data were collected from October 2014 to December 2016 and analyzed by using general linear model procedures of SAS version of 9.2.

The least squares means (±SE) for weight at birth, 3, 6, 9 and 12 month were 2.8±0.04, 11.1±0.43, 16.5±0.49, 19.6±0.37 and 24.1±0.48 kg, respectively under semi intensive management whereas in extensive management these were 2.6±0.03, 10.3±0.46, 14.8±0.57, 17.1±0.49 and 20.6±0.54 kg, respectively. Pre- and post-weaning daily weight gains under semi intensive management were 92.3±1.51 and 59.2±2.01 g/day, respectively while under extensive management these were 85.7±1.88 and 49.4±2.81 g/day, respectively. Under semi intensive management mean age at puberty, age at first kidding and kidding interval were 209.9±1.65, 415.1±9.01 and 233.8±3.12 days, respectively while these parameters were 219.0±1.63, 444.3±9.09 and 242.8±2.66 days under extensive management, respectively. Litter size of Begait goat studied ranged between 1 and 3 with the mean of 1.53±0.03 and 1.51±0.03 in semi intensive and extensive management, respectively. In conclusion, management system, sex of kid, birth type, parity number and season of birth had significant (p<0.001) effects on growth and reproductive performances of Begait goat.

Keywords: age at puberty, age at first kidding, growth rate, kidding interval, litter size, non-genetic factors


Goat husbandry is integral to livestock production in tropics and subtropics (Knights and Garcia 1997). This may have been due to their less initial investment, low input requirement, higher prolificacy, early sexual maturity and ease in marketing (Kumar et al 2010). Their preferred diet is principally ignored by other animals and they contribute substantially to the solution of food problems in many arid and semi arid areas, where hunger and malnutrition are prevalent (Musa 2015). On the other hand, increasing human population, urbanization and growing incomes coupled with changing consumer preferences are creating more demand for these animals and their products (Kosgey and Okeyo 2007). Thus, improvement programs are necessary to increase and sustain the productivity of goats. However, to formulate sound goat improvement programs, research efforts must be made to study the reproduction and production performance of indigenous goat types. Indigenous goats are tolerant to diseases and parasites, which have good flocking instinct, ability to walk long distances in search of feed and highly tolerant to adverse climatic conditions with high endurance to droughts and to low and fluctuating nutrient availability (Kosgey et al 2008).

Ethiopia has rich biodiversity of goat genetic resources, where distributed over widespread agro-climatic conditions that are kept for the purpose of food source, cash income generation, socio-cultural wealth and source of other valuable non-food products like: skin and manure. The latest estimate of Ethiopia’s goat population is about 30 million of heads (CSA 2016), excluding some pastoral areas of Afar and Somali Regional States, the indigenous goats being the most dominant population. They inhabitate all agro-climatic zones and production systems in these areas. Therefore, it is imperative to know reproductive and productive characteristics of the indigenous and adapted goats, which can provide primary information to understand their performance potential by using locally available resources. On the other hand, there is limited previous research report on the evaluation of both reproductive and productive parameters of most indigenous Ethiopian goats. This study was, therefore, undertaken to:

Materials and methods

Description of the study area

The research work was conducted in Kafta Humera district of western zone of Tigray National Regional State, Ethiopia. The study district is situated 1372 km away from the administrative center of Addis Ababa city to northwest direction. Geographically, it is located in between the latitudes 13°14'-14°27'N and longitudes 36°27'-37°32'E. The study district comprises kolla (lowland) and weinadega (midland) agro-climatic zones with an altitude ranging from 560 to 1849 meters above sea level. The annual precipitation in the lowlands and midlands is 448.8 and 1102.5 mm, respectively (EARO 2002) occurring between June and September. The mean minimum and maximum temperatures in the lowlands are 25°C and 27.5°C, respectively while the corresponding values in the midlands are 20°C and 25°C. The hottest months are between April and June with temperatures rising up to 42°C. Detailed descriptions of the study area are indicated in previous works (Abraham et al 2017).

Animal management and data collection procedures

Data for the current study were collected under two management systems specifically (i) semi intensive management system where Begait goats were maintained at Humera Begait animal species conservation, breeding and improvement ranch (14°06'N, 036°13'E and 889 m above sea level) and (ii) extensive management system where Begait goats were maintained at farmers’ houses in Adebay (14°12'N, 36°45'E and 660 m above sea level) and Rawyan (14°17'N, 36°37'E and 600 m above sea level) rural kebeles between October 2014 and December 2016. Animals at ranch were allowed to freely graze within the confines of the ranch in the daytime and housed at night. There were permanent water troughs and animals had free access to clean water. During dry season, animals were supplemented with sorghum grain, sorghum by-products (chaff and stover), harvested grass hay and agro-industrial by-products. Under rural kebeles, animals depend on native pasture grazing on communal areas without any supplementation. Farmers housed their animals at night. Ponds, borehole and River were sources of water for domestic use and watering animals. The reproductive and productive parameters under study were given below.

Growth parameters

Weight (kg) at birth and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months age for individual kids were recorded. Body weight of kids was taken by using a suspended spring balance having 50 kg capacity with 0.2 kg precision. Pre-and post-weaning growth rates were determined by using the formula:

Reproductive parameters

Data on reproductive parameters: kidding date, birth type, parity number with sex of kid was recorded within 24 hours. Age at puberty and age at first kidding were documented for those animals with known birth date. Age at puberty was estimated in days when does exhibited the sign of first heat by observing wagging tail, swelling and watery discharge from the vulva, jumping tendency to others and bleating (Hafez 1987). Age at first kidding was calculated as the difference in days between birth and first kidding date of does. Kidding interval was calculated as the difference in days between two successive kidding for all does with more than one kidding record. Litter size was defined as the number of total kids born per kidding per doe.

Data analysis

The overall numbers of animals used for the analysis of body weight traits were 638, 544, 535, 531 and 525 for birth weight, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months, respectively. Data for the study of reproductive parameters were based on 256, 217, 404 and 638 animals for age at puberty, age at first kidding, kidding interval and litter size in that order. Data validation and all necessary editions were made before making statistical analyses. Data were analyzed by using the GLM procedure of SAS (2008) and means of significant effects were separated by using Tukey’s HSD test. Growth parameters were analyzed by using management system, sex of kid, birth type, parity number and season of birth as main effects while for reproductive parameters management system, birth type, parity number and season of birth were fitted as fixed effects in the model. The following fixed general linear models were used.

Yijklm = µ + ai + bj + ck + dl + emijklm. Where; Yijklm = growth traits (birth weight, 3 month weight, 6 month weight, 9 month weight, 12 month weight); µ = overall mean; ai = effect of the ith management system (i = semi-intensive, extensive); bj = effect of the jth sex (j = female, male); ck = effect of the kth birth type (k = single, twin, triplet); dl = effect of the lth parity (l = 1, 2, 3, 4); em = effect of the mth season of birth (m = wet, dry) and εijklm = random error. Yijkl = µ + ai + bj + ck+ dl + εijkl. Where; Yijkl = reproductive traits (age at puberty, age at first kidding interval, litter size); µ = overall mean; ai = effect of the ith management (i = semi-intensive, extensive); bj= effect of the jth birth type (j = single, twin, triplet); ck = effect of the kth parity (k = 1, 2, 3, 4); dl = effect of the lth season of birth (l = wet, dry) and εijkl = random error.

Results and discussion

Growth performance

The body weights of Begait goat in this study are slightly higher than the values reported for other Ethiopian indigenous goats (Dadi et al 2008; Bedhane et al 2013; Deribe and Taye 2013).

As expected, semi intensively managed goats attained higher body weight at all stages than under extensive management system (Table 1). In the same way, goats under semi intensive management showed superiority at pre- and post-weaning daily weight gains (Table 2).

Management effect was highly significant (p<0.001), affecting kid’s body weight from birth to 12 month of age and weight gains. As expected, semi intensively managed goats attained higher body weight at all stages than under extensive management system. Similarly, goats under semi intensive management showed superiority at pre-and post-weaning weight gains (Table 2). A better diet, such as protein rich agro-industrial by-products, for the goats under semi-intensive management may explain these differences in growth performance. The findings of Paramasivam et al (2002), Kolachhapati (2006) and Herrera et al (2011) supported findings of the present study. In general, variation in supply and composition of feeds and fodder affects weight of kids at different stages of growth.

The weights at birth and at other ages, and pre-and post-weaning weight gains revealed that male kids grow faster than females and the differences between sexes were significant at all stages and in pre- and post-weaning weight gains. Similar results were reported by Gebrelul et al (1994), Husain et al (1996) and Akhter et al (2000). The significant effect of the sex of kid on traits related to growth may be due to the aggressive behavior of males during feeding and suckling (Hafez 1993) and due to secretion of different sexual hormones in males and females (Baneh and Hafezian 2009). That could be one of the important reasons in which females have smaller body and lighter weight compared to males (Rashidi et al 2008).

Among birth types, single kids showed the highest weight persistent from birth to 12 month and pre-and post weight gains than twins and twins than triplets. The results concur with previous findings (Husain et al 1996; Hary and Schwartz 2002; Kuthu et al 2013). Evidently, single born kids had better opportunities in the uterus of their dams compared to twin and triplet born kids and hence they were heavy at birth. The higher weights of single born kids were probably because of the initial higher weight gain by these kids. However, the disadvantage of the twin and triplet born kids on the following weight growth may result from weaker birth than the singles (Marbouk et al 2010). Birth weight of kids is considered as one of the most important contributory factors for survival and for improving growth performance of kids (Husain et al 1996). Normally, kids body weights decreased as litter size increase (Alkass et al 1996).

Parity number was only significant in body weight at birth and 3 month, and pre-weaning weight gain. Its effect on body weight at 3, 6, 9 and 12 month and post-weaning weight gain was not significant. Significantly higher body weights (birth and 3 month) and pre-weaning weight gain were observed in the fourth parity, whereas the lowest were in the first parity. This agrees with the findings of Bemji et al (2006), who indicated that body weight of does significantly increased with parity number which reflected on the birth weights of their kids. This should also have effect on their early growth rate. Older dams are larger in body and tend to be better milk producers (Stobart et al 1986) and accompanied by increased kid weight at birth and up to weaning (Negi et al 1987). The effect of parity of the dam on kids is, thus, imparted as maternal influence whose direct influence is limited to the nursing period (Deribe and Taye 2013). Despite of this, Husain et al (1996) and Al-Shorepy et al (2002) reported not significant effect of parity of does at kidding for all growth traits.

Table 1. Least squares means (±SE) for the effect of management system, sex of kid, birth type, parity of dam, season of birth affecting body weight at different stages of Begait goat
Factors Growth traits (kg)
Overall 638 2.69±0.03 544 10.71±0.44 535 15.60±0.53 531 18.03±0.43 525 22.36±0.52
Management P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001
    Semi intensive 290 2.81±0.04 269 11.12±0.43 265 16.45±0.49 263 19.58±0.37 260 24.13±0.48
    Extensive 348 2.59±0.03 275 10.32±0.46 270 14.76±0.57 268 17.06±0.49 265 20.62±0.54
Sex of kid P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001
    Male 329 2.85±0.03 264 11.71±0.36 259 16.77±0.48 258 19.31±0.57 255 23.32±0.50
    Female 309 2.52±0.03 280 9.77±0.48 276 14.50±0.43 273 17.35±0.47 270 21.45±0.39
Birth type P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001
    Single 262 2.91a±0.03 244 11.47a±0.45 241 16.57a±0.45 238 18.93a±0.46 235 23.11a±0.59
    Twin 202 2.48b±0.04 164 10.00b±0.40 160 14.87b±0.51 160 17.91b±0.48 159 21.77b±0.47
    Triplet 174 2.33c±0.05 136 8.55c±0.41 134 12.34c±0.53 133 15.98c±0.40 131 19.86c±0.50
Parity of dam P<0.001 P<0.001 P>0.05 P>0.05 P>0.05
    1 161 2.48d±0.05 127 9.65c±0.39 123 15.07±0.43 123 17.88±0.40 123 22.43±0.33
    2 177 2.62c±0.05 153 10.15c±0.48 151 15.32±0.42 150 18.14±0.46 146 22.39±0.47
    3 166 2.77b±0.04 145 10.99b±0.37 144 15.96±0.38 143 18.58±0.41 141 22.58±0.55
    4 134 2.95a±0.04 119 12.23a±0.47 117 16.11±0.48 115 18.65±0.58 115 21.96±0.41
Season of birth P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001 P>0.05 P>0.05
    Wet 410 2.81±0.03 376 11.29±0.32 369 16.70±0.41 367 18.44±0.54 365 24.42±0.57
    Dry 228 2.48±0.03 168 9.41±0.48 166 13.15±0.42 164 17.99±0.46 160 22.33±0.44
Values with different superscripts (a, b, c, d) in a column for each factor differ significantly; N: number of observations; BW: birth weight; 3MW: three month weight;
6MW: six month weight; 9MW: nine month weight; 12MW: twelve month weight

Season of birth had highly significant effect on body weights at birth, 3 and 6 month of age, but it had no influence on 9 and 12 month body weight of kids. Kids born during wet season were heavier than kids born during the dry season. The availability of unlimited quality forage during wet season could have contributed to this observation. Season of birth had a significant effect in pre-weaning weight gain indirectly through its influence on the dam's nutrition and therefore the amount of milk available to pre-weaned kids. During post-weaning period its influence is mainly related to its effect on the quality and quantity of pasture available to the weaned kids. In line with the present findings, Yaqoob et al (2009) reported significant effect of season of birth on weight at birth, 3, 6 and 9 month age, and weight gains of Dera Din Panah goat. The findings of other studies (Bedhane et al. 2013; Kuthu et al 2013; Mahal et al 2013; Hagan et al 2014) also supported the findings of the study. However, Mourad et al (2000) found insignificant effect of season of birth on body weight of kids.

Table 2. Least squares means (±SE) for the effect of management system, sex of kid, birth type, parity of dam, season of birth affecting pre-and post-weaning daily weight gains of Begait goat
Factors ADG-I (g) ADG-II (g)
Overall 544 89.10±1.54 535 54.24±1.75
Management P<0.01 P<0.01
    Semi intensive 269 92.57±1.57 265 59.18±2.01
    Extensive 275 85.72±1.88 270 49.39±2.81
Sex of kid P<0.001 P<0.001
    Male 264 100.72±1.32 259 68.65±2.16
    Female 280 78.15±1.83 276 40.72±2.45
Birth type P<0.001 P<0.001
    Single 244 97.83a±1.65 241 65.45a±2.03
    Twin 164 78.90b±1.62 160 41.43b±3.41
    Triplet 136 70.40c±1.43 134 28.93c±2.77
Parity of dam P<0.001 P>0.05
    1 127 77.66c±2.22 125 47.13±3.33
    2 153 82.50c±2.02 151 53.31±3.23
    3 145 91.85b±1.93 142 60.42±3.32
    4 119 106.47a±3.00 117 55.31±4.12
Season of birth P<0.001 P<0.001
    Wet 376 95.36±1.99 369 68.27±1.73
    Dry 168 75.10±1.40 166 23.06±2.90
Values with different superscripts (a, b, c) in a column for each factor differ significantly; N: number of observations; ADG-I: pre-weaning daily weight gain; ADG-II: post-weaning daily weight gain
Reproductive performance

Reproductive parameters considered were age at puberty, age at first kidding, kidding interval and litter size.

Age at puberty

The mean age at first sign of heat of female Begait goat was 214.6±31.20 days. This is within the range of values reported by Moaeen-ud-Din et al (2008) and Al-Saker (2013) for different goat breeds under diverse agro-ecology and management systems.

The results showed that the females under semi intensive management (209.9±31.65 days) reach puberty earlier than the females under extensive management (219.0±41.63 days) which may be due to better diet and other management practices. Robinson et al (2006) reported that puberty will occur with adequate nutrition and inadequate nutrition during the growing periods retards growth and delays puberty in the young does. Birth type also exerted significant effect. The single born female kids had faster growth rates and experienced their pubertal oestrus earlier than the twin and triplet born kids. In line with this result, El Hag et al (1995) indicated that body weight rather than age is the most important factor determining puberty of Damascus does. Parity of does, however, exerted insignificant effect on puberty. Similar reports were made by Luna-Orozco et al (2008).

Season of birth had a significant effect on age at puberty. The female kids born in the wet season exhibited early oestrus compared with those born during the dry season. This is due to quality and quantity of feeds available during wet season, which confirms that puberty depends on body weight rather than age (Zeshmarani et al 2007; Bushara and Abu Nikhaila 2012).

Age at first kidding

Age at first kidding is expressed as the age at which does kid for the first time. In the present study, the mean age at first kidding was recorded as 429.2±36.46 days. Findings obtained from the current study are comparable with results reported for Abergelle goats (Deribe and Taye 2014) and for Central Highland goats (Taye et al 2013). This is, however, shorter as compared to age at first kidding for Arsi-Bale goats under on-station (Dadi et al 2008) due to controlled breeding being practiced in the research center (Dereje et al 2015).

The results indicated that there was a significant variation in age at first kidding between the management systems (415.1±39.01 days Vs 444.3±49.09 days). Semi intensively managed kids kidded their first kid at younger age than extensively managed counterparts. This is due to the fact that female kids born under semi intensive management with better feed grow faster and attain puberty earlier and therefore, were younger at first kidding. The single born kids had attained earlier first kidding as compare to twins and triplets. Earlier sexual maturity of the does born as single than twins and triplets might be due to proper nourishment by their mother at pre-weaning stage that helps for earlier maturation of reproductive organs.

Season of birth significantly influenced age at first kidding. Female kids born during wet season gave birth to their first kids at a relatively younger age as compared to those born during dry season. Effect of season of birth on age at first kidding is in relation to availability of quality feed. Bushara and Nikhaila (2012) reported that female kids born during season with ample feed grow faster, attain sexual maturity earlier and give first kidding at younger age. However, parity exerted insignificant influence on the age at first kidding.

Kidding interval

In this study, it was observed that the average kidding interval was 238.8±22.04 days (Table 3). The obtained result is shorter than the findings of previous studies for other indigenous goats (Taye et al 2013; Deribe and Taye 2014). In contrast to that a short kidding interval was reported in Black Bengal goats (Hasan et al 2015). These differences might be due to the effect of different management practices, nutrition, lactation and level of genetic makeup on possibilities to prompt re-conception after parturition (Gbangboche et al 2006).

Statistical differences between the two managements were found for kidding interval. Kidding interval of does under semi intensive system (233.8±13.12 days) was lower than those of the does managed under extensive system (242.8±32.66 days). Insufficient food was possibly considered as the main reason for higher kidding interval under extensive management. Faruque et al (2010) revealed that malnutrition is one factor which lead to longer kidding interval.

The birth type significantly affected kidding intervals. Those does kidded single kids had shorter interval than those kidded twins and triplets. This might be due to the fact that twin and triplet born does need to produce much more milk to nurse their kids, which result in poor body condition mainly in dry season. However, the results on the effect of parity in kidding interval showed non-significant differences.

Kidding season was an important source of variation in kidding interval, perhaps due to more forage availability for consumption in wet season than dry season, with an advantage to those does kidding during wet season. This finding agrees with other studies (Dadi et al 2008; Taye et al 2013). Evidently, does require better feed before and after kidding to gain better body condition and come to heat again.

Table 3. Least squares means (±SE) for the effect of management system, birth type, parity of dam, season of birth on
age at puberty, age at first kidding and kidding interval of Begait goat
Factors Age at puberty AFK (days) KI (days)
Overall 256 214.58±31.20 217 429.24±36.46 404 238.75±22.04
Management P<0.001 P<0.05 P<0.05
    Semi intensive 125 209.93±31.65 122 415.09±39.01 140 233.77±13.12
    Extensive 131 219.00±41.63 95 444.33±49.09 264 242.79±32.66
Birth type P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001
    Single 120 209.56c±1.64 97 412.78c±7.23 258 231.67c±17.17
    Twin 83 218.25b±1.75 80 431.66b±7.37 95 242.18b±23.74
    Triplet 53 228.43a±2.27 40 440.38a±10.52 51 254.39|±28.52
Parity of dam P>0.05 P>0.05 P>0.05
    1 66 216.23±1.92 57 452.39±12.70 101 236.46±24.90
    2 67 215.42±2.22 57 442.17±14.44 93 240.14±33.66
    3 64 214.69±2.47 52 427.75±10.90 114 232.27±37.39
    4 59 211.68±2.96 51 419.64±12.16 123 245.57±32.10
Season of birth P<0.001 P<0.001 P<0.001
    Wet 150 206.98±1.36 127 406.54±8.89 259 230.44±22.50
    Dry 106 225.34±1.66 90 461.28±8.18 172 250.29±33.27
Values with different superscripts (a, b, c) in a column for each factor differ significantly. N: Number of observations
Litter size

Litter size in this study ranged from 1 to 3 with the mean of 1.52±0.02 kids per kidding doe. This is comparable with the values reported for Arsi-Bale goats (Dadi et al 2008) and goat populations in Gumara-Maksegnit (Alayu et al 2014), however, higher than the litter size of Central Highland goats (Taye et al 2013) and Abergelle goats (Deribe and Taye 2014). The high estimates for litter size obtained in this study suggests that Begait goat is a highly prolific breed suggesting that an appreciable rate of genetic response in litter size could be achieved through selection to increase the litter size of the breed.

The results showed that there was no effect of management (1.53±0.03 Vs 1.51±0.03) on litter size. Wilson et al (1989) indicated that litter size is not directly influenced by management, but by both genetic and environmental factors. Parity significantly affected litter size, with an increase in parity of the doe leading to increase in litter size. This is in line with earlier reports (Dadi et al 2008; Taye et al 2013), who reported higher litter sizes from the higher parities. This may be because of improved efficiency of reproduction as the doe matures (Levasseur and Thibault 1980 cited in Hamed et al 2009).

The results showed wet season kidders had maintained large litter size as compared to dry season kidders. The large litter size during wet season can be because of the accessibility of quality forage fed during this season, which resulted in higher body condition score and body weight at mating (Bushara et al 2016), where better body conditioned animals can shed more number of ova and fertilized (Mellado et al 2006).

Table 4. Least squares means (±SE) for the effect of management system, parity of dam, season of birth on litter size of Begait goat
Factors N Liter size (number)
Overall 638 1.52±0.02
Management P>0.05
    Semi intensive 290 1.53±0.03
    Extensive 348 1.51±0.03
Parity of dam P<0.001
    1 161 1.43c±0.04
    2 177 1.48bc±0.04
    3 166 1.52b±0.04
    4 134 1.65a±0.04
Season of birth P<0.01
    Wet 410 1.63±0.03
    Dry 228 1.41±0.04
Means with different superscripts (a, b, c) in a column for each factor differ significantly. N: Number of observations


From the present findings it can be concluded that growth and reproductive performances of Begait goat are better compared to other indigenous goats. Non-genetic factors under study, however, had major effect on growth and reproductive performance traits of Begait goat, indicating that these factors should be considered in the development of sound breeding schemes to raise production.


The authors gratefully acknowledge all farm households who participated in the monitoring study for their all round support throughout the study period. We are also grateful to Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development of Tigray for their interest in the research and allowing use animals of the ranch for purposes of this research. The support of all the ranch workers and Teklay Tekie during the data collection period is also highly appreciated.


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Received 1 October 2018; Accepted 4 February 2019; Published 4 March 2019

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