|Les tiques dans un monde en évolution - Ticks in a changing world - Las garrapatas en un mundo en evolución - 74/75 - 1993/1-2. (FAO, 1993, 32 p.)|
|The local Malawi goat|
J.W. Banda, J.A. Ayoade, S.K. Karua and L.A. Kamwanja
Drs J. W. Banda and L.A. Kamwanja are lecturers, and Dr S.K. Karua is Chief Technician at the Department of Animal Science, Bunda College of Agriculture, University of Malawi, PO Box 219, Lilongwe, Malawi. Dr Ayoade was formerly lecturer in Animal Nutrition at the University of Malawi. His present address is Department of Animal Production, University of Jos, Makurdi Campus, PMB 2373, Makurdi, Nigeria.
Malawi - whose background information has been described previously (Butterworth and McNitt, 1984) has a goat population of 631000, second only to that of cattle at 908000 (Anon., 1983). The flock growth rate is 1.8 percent annually. An estimated 30 percent annual offtake, 25 to 30 kg live weight and a killing out of 57 percent (Devendra and Burns, 1970; Devendra and McLeroy, 1982) gives 2700 to 3000 tonnes of meat annually, showing a low consumption of goat meat alone of 0.42 to 0.46 kg per head per year, with no change since 1960. Of all meat from domestic ruminants consumed, goat meat represents 11 percent.
Constraints to goat production in Malawi - apart from the communal landownership system - are the low genetic potential of the animals, problems of providing improved husbandry and management (such as disease control and housing), the absence of marketing policies, poor attitudes towards goat keeping and inappropriate extension strategies for goat keeping, only to mention a few. In 1971, a small flock of pure-bred Boer goats was established at Mikolongwe in southern Malawi for crossing with local Malawi goats in order to improve meat production in the country. A similar flock is available at the Bunda College of Agriculture, University of Malawi, for the same purpose. In 1983, the Malawian Government, in collaboration with the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, established a goat breeding ranch in Salima, central Malawi. Managed by the Malawi-German Livestock Development Programme (MGLDP), cross-breeding as well as selection programmes are currently under way there.
For any improvement of goat production to benefit the rural community and smallholder farmers through research and policy-making, the physical characteristics, reproductive ability, feeding systems, productivity and health aspects of goats must be understood. To this effect, some work has been done by the Ministry of Agriculture and the University of Malawi, but no attempt has been made to unite all of the available information.
This paper is meant to put together some of the available, but scattered, information on the local Malawi goats to provide basic information to animal scientists involved in the improvement of small ruminants.