Performance of Toggenburg dairy goats in smallholder production systems of the eastern highlands of Kenya
FARM-Africa, Kenya Country Office, P.O. Box 49502, Nairobi, Kenya; International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Box 30709, Nairobi, Kenya; University of Nairobi, Department of Animal Production, P.O. Box 29053, Nairobi, 00200, Kenya; Animal Breeding and Genetics Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University, Box 536, 20107 Njoro, Kenya
The use of exotic dairy goats in breeding programmes for smallholder production systems is popular in Eastern Africa. However, information on the performance of exotic breeds within these systems is scarce. This paper presents information on performance of Toggenburg dairy goats under smallholder production systems in a medium to high agricultural potential environment in Kenya under a community-based set-up as part of the characterization of its adaptive and productive attributes. Environmental factors affecting growth of 646 goats born in the environment, and fertility and milk production of 160 does from 1997 to 2005 were evaluated. Genetic parameters were also estimated for early growth traits. The average birth weight (BW) for 607 kids was 3.27 kg. Corrected weaning weights (CW), and average daily gain to weaning (ADG) for 646 kids were 19.12 kg and 136 g/day, respectively. The results indicated that the smallholder farmers were able to maintain comparably high levels of milk production in the first three parities (LMY), with yields of 475 ± 9 l in 201 days for 160 does in the first parity, 507 ± 9 l in 264 days from 130 does in the second parity and 513 ± 13 l in 296 days for 82 does in the third parity. Kidding intervals though initially long decreased with time to reasonable levels (302 ± 117 days). The heritability estimates obtained were low (0.23 ± 0.13 for BW, 0.18 ± 0.11 for CW and 0.14 ± 0.11 for ADG). Genetic correlations between the traits were also low. Genetic and phenotypic trends indicated little change in BW, CW and LMY over the years. The phenotypic trend in the kidding interval showed a reducing interval over time. The results demonstrated that the Toggenburg goats were able to perform and thrive reasonably well under the low-input farming conditions. © 2009.