June 23, 2023

By Penjani Nzima

MOST farmers that have delved into livestock production of goat rearing have done it with a sole purpose of reselling those goats for profits. But farmers who are now intending to participate in goat rearing as a business need to understand that goats come in different breeds.

I can be regarded as suicidal to a farmer who just engages into goat rearing for business and the type of goats in need are those for meat but due to insufficient knowledge on the different goat breeds this farmer just purchases the goats and ready to go only to discover too late that the breed at the farm is meant for milk in short, they’re dairy breeds.

Therefore, it is imperative that the farmer need to be well vested with the right information concerning the different goat breeds in order to choose the right one.

And in research done by this reporter, it verifies that the most common goat breeds in Zambia can be divided into three different groups: These are:

∎ Natural occurring or indigenous breeds.

∎ Meat breeds.

∎ Dairy breeds.

These breed types have individual characteristics, but they share some common features. All the goat breeds common in Zambia have the following characteristics:

∎ The gestation period is 5 months (or 150 days).

∎ Female goats(does) are ready for breeding at 9 months of age.

∎ Goats’ main birthing seasons are July to September. 6 Goat keeping basics.

∎ One male goat(buck) can serve 30 does. The common ratio for breeding is 1 buck to 30 does.

∎ Goats’ normal life span is 5 - 10 year.


Indigenous goats are naturally adapted to live in a specific area or region and have shorter coats. For example, Zambia is harsh, hot and dry in a lengthy winter and very wet in a short raining season.

These goats are culturally important and are typically used for meat production. The handling and production norms for goats vary from area to area and can be quite different.

Indigenous goats are usually referred to as Indigenous Veld Goats (or IVGs). They are uniquely adapted to the southern African climate and can recover more quickly from diseases native to the area, like heartwater, with minimal care.

Indigenous goats have the following unique characteristics:

∎ Their weight at birth is about 2,5 kg.

∎ Their weight when weaning (when kids stop suckling) is 12 - 15 kg.

∎ Females weigh 35- 40 kg when fully mature.

∎ Males weigh 45 -50 kg when fully mature.


The Boer and the Kalahari goats are typically raised for meat production. A typical goat meat meal (michoppo) is popular in large parts of Zambia. In general, these goats are more likely to catch diseases than the indigenous types.

Boer and Kalahari goats are bigger than other goats and an adult male can weigh up to 150 kg, while female adults can weigh up to 110 kg. The meat of these goats is very nutritious and tasty.

Meat, Boer and Kalahari red goats have the following unique characteristics:

∎ Their weight at birth is 3 - 4 kg.

∎ Their weight when weaning (when kids stop suckling) is 20 - 25 kg.

∎ Females weigh about 110 kg when fully mature.

∎ Males weigh about 150 kg when fully mature.


Many different types of dairy goats are bred around the world. Their products are primarily used to produce milk, and secondarily used to produce cheese, yoghurt, butter and even powdered milk products.

In Zambia, milk goats are Saanen goats and Toggenburg goats, which are almost all imported. These goats are specifically selected to produce milk from which processed milk products like cheese and yoghurts are made.

Milk goats have the following unique characteristics:

∎ Their weight at birth is 3 - 4 kg.

∎ Their weight when weaning (when kids stop suckling) is 13 kg.

∎ Females weigh about 60 kg when fully mature.

∎ Males weigh about 85 kg when fully mature.

In the next edition the author will look at Pasture Development as food is the cornerstone in the process of goat rearing.

Source:Goat Production Manual in Zambia Developed by Chris Els

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