There are more than 3 .5 million goats in Zimbabwe, of which 98 per cent are indigenous breeds and owned by the smallholder farmers. Most of them are kept in the drier agro – ecological zones in Natural Ecological Regions IV and V and in Tse -tse infested areas .Natural Region IV has a low rainfall subject to periodic droughts and extended dry spells. Overall, the importance of goats increases as the rainfall decreases. Goats are hardy and easier animals to look after, which can survive under harsh environments.
Goats are reared under extensive farming conditions, mainly for meat (chevon) and to a lesser extent for milk. To some extent productivity of these goats is low due various factors such as high kid mortality and lack of good animal husbandry practices. Goats also provide skins of commercial importance and manure for gardens (and crop fields). In other parts of the world goats are kept for their wool (mohair).
Human populations are growing, and creating a significant and increasing demand for additional animal protein foods. The goat can play an important role in meeting these demands. This calls for farmers to put value in their goat enterprises by shifting from subsistence production to commercial production. It is easier to increase the population of small ruminants (goats and sheep) than large stock. In economic terms the opportunity costs are low for goat production.
“The goat was probably the first animal to be domesticated around 9000-7000 B.C. This long association between goat and human indicates the variety of functions the goat can provide.”
This manual has been written to provide information to farmers who are in need of knowledge to start a goat enterprise on a commercial basis, and goat husbandry. The information is not completely comprehensive, but combines experiences from authors and farmers.