Profitable goat farming
Dr. Dinesh T. Bhosale
Let me tell you story of Prithviraj Chavan. He is clear-thinking, simple-speaking, honest-minded, upright and industrious person, following the chosen path with utmost sincerity and dedication. Wai, at the foot of Panchgani, the hill station is a lovely old town with ancient temples on the banks of river Krishna. It’s also the place Bollywood has discovered and uses for all kinds of shoots. But Prithviraj’s village, Kavatheis situated much before the main town of Wai. He rears three stocks; pure-bred African Boer, which are the white ones with beige heads. They weigh anywhere between 80 and 100 kgs at adult age; the Rajasthan Sirohi which are either all brown or brown with white patches and weigh about 70 kgs and lastly, the local breed, which are nondescript, coming in various colours. They weigh the least at 35 kgs, but are hardy, not very tall and can resist the cold and the rain. Rearing these special goats is no easy task. It calls for hard work and much discipline. Looking after them is a full-time occupation.
One day in the life of Prithviraj Dilip Chavan He wakes up at dawn to be ready by 6 am to go feed the 200 odd goats that he has at his place at any given time of the year. The first meal of the day is goat feed pellets. Before he serves them their first meal, he shifts the goats from the resting area to the feeding area, clears the feeder trays and in systematic order drops the food in the trays according to the age of the goats, first the adults, then the kids. While the goats are munching away, he moves to the resting pen and sweeps up the area, cleaning it thoroughly from the previous night’s droppings, which takes him roughly two hours. From 6 am to 6 pm the goats stay in the feeding pens after which they are shifted to the resting pens where they will sleep, with not even water served. There are planks here upon which they climb and sleep, warm and snug, as in their natural habitat. Feeding goes on, every hour, in varied quantities, except for one hour in the afternoon when they are allowed to rest completely so that proper digestion takes place. Until 12 noon they are given dry fodder, like sorghum kadaba and only later in the afternoon, when body heat increases and water levels drop are they given fresh green fodder. There are four kinds of grass that he grows adjacent to the goat pens, in land measuring 20 guntas, which is 20,000 sq. ft. The four are Lucern, DHN 6 (Dharwad Hybrid Napier) and COFS 29 (Coimbatore Fodder Sorghum) and Dhasrat.
They weigh anywhere between 80 and 100 kgs at adult age; the Rajasthan Sirohi which are either all brown or brown with white patches and weigh about 70 kgs and lastly, the local breed, which are nondescript, coming in various colours.
“These combined are known as King of Fodder and are delicious, too,” says Prithviraj with a certain pride, that he offers his goats the best feed. He has tasted the grass.The last meal of the day at 6 pm again comprises a dry feed or husk of maize or lentil. Once he leads them back into the resting pen, the curtains are drawn to keep the draft out in the winter and moisture and rain sprays in the monsoon. Prithviraj makes sure his goats don’t fall ill. Vaccination and deworming is done regularly. A detail, individual record is maintained of each goat, systematically, carefully. Identification takes place according to the numbering through the ear tags, the purpose of which is recordkeeping.
‘Kidding’ happens from time to time. Which is when Prithviraj plays the role of ‘midwife’. Each female goat delivers twice a year. And these are a litter of two, normally. But if a third one comes along, then milk becomes an issue. Though nature takes its course and the milk capacity increases, the poor mother is hassled because only two can feed at a time, while the third stands aside bleating… And it usually happens that the stronger ones bully the weaker one where taking turns are concerned.But it´s not just kidding that keeps Prithviraj occupied; he also has to watch out for goat fights. And these take place suddenly. When one starts horning another can become dangerous, especially if a pregnant goat is around. Helping him keep an eye are his ´goat dogs´.
These goats never leave the premises. About Prithviraj Prithviraj graduated in BSc Agriculture from the Baramati College of Agriculture and did his Post Grad in ABPM (Agriculture Business and Planning Management) from Bangalore’s IIPM (Indian Institute of Planning Management). After his studies, for one year, he worked in Sangli with the Murugappa Group in 2010 and then started his goat-breeding business. He sells goats also for meat purpose. His startup to sell goat meat pickles was shortlisted and he is underwent eight weeks training at Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly.
(The author is the Regional Sales Director, AB Vista South Asia, Pune. Views expressed are personal.)