Use of goats in poverty alleviation                              and             potential effects on the environment     ...
SummaryGoats are a powerful tool in assistance to alleviate poverty and they are also a powerful tool toutilize scarce veg...
IntroductionThe overall objective of Danish development aid is to alleviate poverty in the developingcountries. In additio...
Food insecurity is one of the dimensions of poverty and it encompasses food production, stabilityof supply and access to q...
crop systems.Relative trypanotolerance.Agility and capability of walking longdistances enables goat production from areasu...
Environment and land-useSome of the poorest people are found in parts of the world, where limited access to water,salinity...
FeedingGood nutrition is a prerequisite for good health, good reproduction, high milk yields and highgrowth rates, all nec...
BreedingTropical goat breeds are the result of hundreds of years of pressure by the tropical environmentthrough natural se...
Goat management and environmental impactLivestock and livestock production have a wide range of interactions with, and imp...
and feed them and they are let loose, then they are able to survive even in a dry area where noother livestock except for ...
Why keep livestock if you are poor? In: Livestock and Wealth Creation. Improving thehusbandry of animals kept by resource-...
Websites.Animal Production and Health Division of the United Nations Food and AgricultureOrganisation (FAO AGA):http://www...
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Use of goats in poverty alleviation and potential effects on the environment

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Goats are a powerful tool in assistance to alleviate poverty and they are also a powerful tool to utilize scarce vegetation in areas not suitable for other forms of agricultural production. If goats are kept in a wrong place and not managed well they may, however, destroy the environment.

According to this paper, financed by DanChurchAid, the solution to the dilemma between the very efficient and useful goats for the poor people and the potential very destructive goats for the environment is found in intelligent management of the goats and not in preventing poor people to keep goats. Education and training of the goats keepers combined with punishment for possible bad management may be a practical solution.

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Use of goats in poverty alleviation and potential effects on the environment

  1. 1. Use of goats in poverty alleviation and potential effects on the environment by 1 Jørgen Madsen, 2Mette Olaf Nielsen and 3Jørgen Henriksen 1 Department of Large Animal Science, 2 Department of Basic Animal and Veterinary Sciences Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C., Denmark 3 Henriksen Advice, Copenhagen__________________________________________________________________________Contents Summary 2 Introduction 3 Poverty and goats 3 Advantages and disadvantages of keeping goats 4 Key issues and concepts in relation to keeping goats 5 Socio-economy 5 Environment and land-use 6 Different kinds of goats related support 6 Special considerations to get the most benefit from a goat. 6 Goat management and environmental impact 9 Further reading 10 Websites 12 Copenhagen, October 2007
  2. 2. SummaryGoats are a powerful tool in assistance to alleviate poverty and they are also a powerful tool toutilize scarce vegetation in areas not suitable for other forms of agricultural production. If goatsare kept in a wrong place and not managed well they may, however, destroy the environment.Livestock keeping is of extreme importance for about 1 billion poor people in the world, andgoats are, by many poor people, considered a very very useful animal and goats can certainlycreate food security, cash income and many more services to the owners and it can sustain thesurvival of people in the very harsh and dry environments that is often left over for the poorpeople.There are many advantages and also disadvantages by keeping goats compared to other animals,but the small size and low cost of the goat and their ability to utilize vegetation in areas where noother animals can survive are important advantages. The main disadvantage is that they have tobe headed/looked after, fenced/stall fed or teathered/tied in areas, where they can destroyvaluable vegetation.The solution to the dilemma between the very efficient and useful goats for the poor people andthe potential very destructive goats for the environment is found in intelligent management of thegoats and not in preventing poor people to keep goats. Education and training of the goatskeepers combined with punishment for possible bad management may be a practical solution. 2
  3. 3. IntroductionThe overall objective of Danish development aid is to alleviate poverty in the developingcountries. In addition there are three cross-cutting objectives, i.e. improving the conditions ofwomen; promoting environmentally sustainable development; and promoting democratisationand human rights (Danida 1997). The use of goats as a tool in development assistance has toconform to these objectives.In the following it is in short described and discussed what poverty is. This is followed by a moredetailed description of how goats can be used to alleviate poverty and how the management isimportant for the goats’ influence on the environment. Other important issues not dealt with inthis report are how the situation of the women can be improved by being owners of goats andhow livestock projects can promote human organisation and democratisation.Poverty and goatsThe rich perceive poverty as deprivation of materials for well-being. However the poor perceivepoverty as a more multidimensional social phenomenon: it ranges from food and materialdeprivation to the psychological experience of multiple deprivations (World Bank, 2001).The multiple dimensions of poverty as described by the poor underscore the importance to themof livestock. Apart from producing several goods the livestock are also delivering many veryimportant services considered to assist in alleviating poverty. Goats are taken as an example inTable 1.Table 1 Goat products and services Products Services Meat (raw, cooked, blood, soup) Cash income Milk (fresh, sour, yoghurt, butter, Security cheese) Gifts Skins (clothes, water/grain, Loans containers, tents, thongs, etc.) Religious rituals Hair (cashmere, mohair, coarse hair Judicial role tents, wigs, fish lures) Pleasure Horns Pack transport Bones Draught power Manure (crops, fish) Medicine Control of bush encroachment Guiding sheepThe human-animal relationship is ancient. One of the main reasons for animal domestication,which started some 10.000 years ago, was to reduce the problem of unpredictability of foodsupply associated with unpredictable weather. The earliest livestock species to be domesticatedfor food were pigs, sheep, goats and cattle. 3
  4. 4. Food insecurity is one of the dimensions of poverty and it encompasses food production, stabilityof supply and access to quality food. Goats can assist in all three dimensions as landless peoplewho can not grow crops can keep goats, the goat production is less influenced by weathercompared to crop production and the milk and meat produced by the goats are of high quality inmost if not all aspects as protein, minerals and vitamins.Poor livestock-keepers use the smaller mammals and poultry more for food than the largerspecies. Smaller animals as goats are more prolific, have lower requirements in terms of capitaland maintenance costs and are less risky to keep. They are also easier to sell when cash is neededfor school fees or other purposes.In addition, small ruminants generally perform better under conditions where food availability isscarce compared to cattle.Advantages and disadvantages of keeping goats.Goats are relatively cheap and are often the first asset acquired, through purchase or customarymeans, by a young family or by a poor family recovering from a disaster, such as drought or war.Goats, once acquired, become a valuable asset providing security to the family as well asproducts such as milk and dairy products. The advantages and disadvantages of goats relative toresource-poor people are shown in Table 2.Table 2. Advantages and disadvantages of goats in relation to poor people Advantages DisadvantagesAble to use fibrous feeds, especially browse. Susceptible to predators and thieves.Efficiently use of marginal land. Small value often makes formal credit systemsEfficient use of water. uneconomic.Wide climatic adaptation. Small value makes formal insurance systemsRelatively cheap to purchase. difficult to administer.Security from several low value goats being Susceptible to broncho-pneumonia. less risky than one high value cow. Susceptible to internal parasites.Suitability to small farms and landless. Less easy to control than other species.Relatively drought tolerant. Food preferences and dental set-up makesFast reproductive rate quickly builds up herd. goats capable of inducing severe damage toFast reproductive rate ensures early returns vegetation (trees and brush) compared to other on investment and enables early credit ruminant species repayment.Small size enables easy and quick movement of households in emergencies.Easy for women and children to handle.Few facilities required.Lack of religious taboos against goat meat which often commands higher price than other meat.Small size allows easy home slaughter.Potential for integration into perennial tree 4
  5. 5. crop systems.Relative trypanotolerance.Agility and capability of walking longdistances enables goat production from areasunsuitable for other livestock speciesKey issues and concepts in relation to keeping goats.Socio-economyIn studying livestock keeping by the poor and the marginalised, we have to be conscious ofvarious key socio-economic concepts that are not necessarily relevant in commercial livestockproduction, but which has to be considered when supporting and interfering in the productionsystem.Ownership, control and access to benefitsIn a traditional small-scale livestock production system it is not always easy to decide who theowner of an animal is. Ownership is not a simple concept, but several rights that can belong todifferent persons. An example can be that the male head of a family assign ownership of aparticular animal to a wife or son but still make the important decisions regarding herding. Thehead may still have to be involved in decisions regarding slaughter or sale. The situation may befurther complicated if the animals belong to relatives who stay in town.KnowledgeThere is much important knowledge in communities that have specialised over generations inlivestock production. Those involved in assisting poverty stricken livestock-keepers need tounderstand and respect these traditions. But livestock systems change as production intensifiesand crop and livestock production become integrated, and needs for knowledge changeaccordingly. These new needs often have to be satisfied by livestock-keepers’ own evolvingknowledge, but in most cases, however, the changing systems require more thoroughdissemination of external knowledge and it requires access to other services to be efficient.MarketsMarkets affect all livestock-keepers as all sell livestock or produce and buy other necessities.Markets are now global and even if livestock-keepers sell only locally and do not use purchasedinputs, their prices are still affected by global prices of meat and feed. The global demand formeat is sharply rising but so is the price of concentrate feed for livestock. The cost of scavengingor browse feeds for goats is most likely not increasing sharply, but the importance of these feedsin relation to the environment may place limitations on their use as feeds for goats. The increaseddemand for meat should be utilized by the goat keepers to create an income. However, thisrequires that he market is organised and reachable by the farmers.GenderThe most vulnerable groups in societies are found to be female-headed households, singlemothers, orphans, men with large families, unemployed youths, adolescent mothers, casualworkers and women married to irresponsible or alcoholic husbands. In general it is these womenwho are the poorest and the ones that should benefit the most from assistance through livestock. 5
  6. 6. Environment and land-useSome of the poorest people are found in parts of the world, where limited access to water,salinity of soils, difficult climatic and topographic conditions make vast areas unsuitable for cropproduction, and where improvement of productivity of the local vegetation is difficult. Thealternative value of such areas is therefore close to zero, and grazing of the natural vegetationrepresents the only way to utilize such marginal areas for agricultural production. Goats can dueto their agility and feed preferences (browsing) thrive and (re-)produce in areas, which arelargely unsuitable for other livestock species. This is unfortunately associated with an ability ofgoats to also induce substantial damage to the vegetation, by debarking and ultimately destroyingtrees and bushes. Vulnerable grazing areas can therefore be increasingly destroyed byovergrazing and at risk of desertification.It is tempting to speculate that this problem could efficiently be overcome by persuading localfarmers to give up goat production. This is however a very unfortunate approach, which holdsvery little promise for success due to the long tradition and background for animal husbandrybased on this livestock species. If grazing areas have very low (if any at all) alternative value interms of agricultural production, asking the farmers to abandon livestock production is in effectequivalent to asking them to give up their foundation for subsistence. The solution should besought in alternative management practices to balance grazing pressure according to carryingcapacity of the grazing areas.Different kinds of goats related support.Support to the poor through livestock has been performed in different ways. Delivering of goatsto the poor is the most direct use of goats. Giving micro credit to the poor, allowing them to buysome goats is also a direct mean, but there are several other means to assist the goat production.Support to improved production and health (breed development, feed development, animalhealth-care, disease surveillance and public health), product development (processing, cooling,marketing) and institutional development (farmer capacity building, institutional development,improved policies and enforcement) as well as general extension services and training are allimportant for the goat production to be commercially successful. To benefit from theseadditional means of supporting the goat producers, it is a pre requisite that the poor owns a goat!Special considerations to get the most benefit from a goat.The improvement of the production and marketing of goats kept by resource-poor livestock-keepers can be the first step out of poverty. The basis of this improvement has to be a thoroughunderstanding of the existing system and a genuine engagement of the goat-keepers themselves.Without their involvement and motivation, outside interventions are doomed to fail.It is important to realize that improvement of the production economy/ reduction of risks can beone of the key incentives to motivate farmers to alter production practices, e.g. favouring a moreenvironmentally sustainable development.Goat farmers adopt a variety of strategies to manage goats, and especially to cope with the harshenvironment of the arid and semi-arid tropics, mainly very high temperatures (35-45 oC), lowannual rainfall (250-600 mm), lack of feed and water. Husbandry practices are therefore aimed atmitigating these elements; the rationale is the avoidance of risk. 6
  7. 7. FeedingGood nutrition is a prerequisite for good health, good reproduction, high milk yields and highgrowth rates, all necessary for a successful goat production system and the economicsustainability of the production. Goat farmers normally base their feeding of the goats on thenatural vegetation, which therefore varies seasonally, and the goat-keeper has only little, if any,control. Some farmers may also make use of crop by-products and try to feed their goats as bestthey can with what is available. Goat-keepers can reduce the seasonality in feed supply byherding the goats to different areas or by growing out-of-season forage crops or by conservingforage and other locally occurring resources, for example protein-rich tree fruits.The options for feeding the goats depend on the production system as illustrated in table 3.Table 3 Options to improve the feeding of goats Free grazing Tethered Stall-fedFeed supply Select grazing area Select best site. Select quality feeds Develop forage crops Develop forage crops Develop forage crops Mix feeds Supplement diet with Supplement diet with Supplement diet with energy, protein, energy, protein, energy, protein, minerals. minerals. minerals.Treatment of feed Conserve feeds Conserve feeds Conserve feeds Treat with urea Treat with urea Treat with urea Mix feeds Mix feeds Wilt wet feeds Wilt wet feeds Chop unpalatable Chop unpalatable feeds feedsPresentation Increase total grazing Ensure comfort and Feed at correct height time Safety Avoid contamination Allow time for Move frequently of feed with urine and Ruminating Allow sufficient time manure Ensure presence of to graze Present feeds in an Shade Ensure presence of accessible manner Select best time to Shade Ensure adequate graze space and access to feed for all goats Feed little and often Clean up waste feedWater Allow preferably at Allow frequent access Allow continuous least daily access Access. 7
  8. 8. BreedingTropical goat breeds are the result of hundreds of years of pressure by the tropical environmentthrough natural selection, combined with some selective breeding by their owners. As a result,goat breeds are well adapted to surviving in tropical environments with high temperatures, low-quality feeds, limited water and a high disease challenge.Breed improvement should only be considered if the standard of management (especially feedand health) can be improved sufficiently to take advantage of the greater genetic potential.However, it has been found that owning an improved goat potentially will stimulate owners toimprove their feeding and management if they have the means. Owners will quickly learn thatthe improved genetic potential, expressed as milk yields or growth rates, brings greater rewardsto better management, but it may not always be possible to utilize it.HealthIn most situations, the majority of the important diseases can be controlled through simplepreventative measures such as good feeding, clean water, clean housing, vaccination, drenching,spraying/dipping and foot trimming. If these basic measures are done when appropriate, 80-90per cent of the important diseases affecting goats can be controlled. Goats can get many differentdiseases but the efforts should be directed at establishing what the common and importantdiseases are in any area, and efforts should be focused on controlling them.Goats are more susceptible to internal parasites than sheep or cattle, perhaps because they arebrowsers, normally consuming vegetation above the height at which infective larvae are found.Goat farmers all over the world have found that controlling internal parasites is a keydeterminant of successful goat production. Management controls include: • Grazing kids separately from adults on ‘clean’ pasture or ahead of the adults • Prevent contamination of feed with urine and manure • Avoiding wet/swampy areas • Selecting bushy areas • Consider cut-and-carry feeding and wilting wet feed.Mange if left unchecked can kill goats and in certain circumstances can sweep through a flockcausing high mortality rates. It is vital to treat the disease early with an effective acaricidevigorously scrubbed into the affected sites.Other diseases may have to be controlled by tick control or by vaccination depending on the typeand seriousness of the disease in the area.When goats are introduced into a new area or interventions are put in place to improve goatproduction in an efficient and sustainable way it is important to train local goat keepers in simpleanimal health technics and methods to ensure proper health of the animals – is possible undersupervision of a veterinarian from a closets centre. Experience has demonstrated again and againthat it is too expensive to have veterinarians to do the actual health care in remote thinlypopulated areas. Similarly, there are many good experiences with local trained animal healthworkers, se for example Schreuder & Ward 2004. 8
  9. 9. Goat management and environmental impactLivestock and livestock production have a wide range of interactions with, and impacts on, theenvironment, which can have both adverse and beneficial consequences. The livestock influencethe atmosphere and climate, the land degradation, the water resources and the biodiversity.Goats as well as sheep, cattle and other ruminants produce methane, which is a stronggreenhouse gas. It is not possible to reduce the production of this gas without reducing thenumber of animals or by manipulating the digestion happening in the stomach of the ruminants,and this is not likely to be possible in the near future. With more efficient production, however,the number of animals can be reduced while keeping the production at the same level.Land and pasture degradation related to overgrazing by livestock is a frequent and well studiedissue. Pasture degradation can potentially take place under all climates and farming systems, andis generally related to a mismatch between livestock density and the capacity of the pasture to begrazed and trampled. Mismanagement is common. Ideally the land/livestock ratio should becontinuously adjusted to the conditions of the pasture, especially in dry climates where biomassproduction is erratic, yet such adjustment is rarely practiced. This is particularly the case in thearid and semi-arid communal grazing areas of the Sahel and Central Asia. In these areas,increasing population and encroachment of arable farming on grazing lands have severelyrestricted the mobility and flexibility of the herds, which enabled this adjustment. Pasturedegradation results in a series of environment problems, including soil erosion, degradation ofvegetation, carbon release from organic matter decomposition, loss of biodiversity owing tohabitat changes.The degradation can be classified as: • desertification (in arid climates); • increased woody plant cover in semi-arid, subtropical rangelands; and • deforestation (in humid climates).The capacity of small ruminants, in particular goats – to grow and reproduce under conditionsotherwise unsuitable for any form of agricultural production and other ruminant livestock –makes them useful and very often essential to poor farmers pushed into these environments forlack of alternative livelihoods. Because of their adaptive grazing, sheep and particularly goatshave extended their reach further into arid, steep and otherwise marginal territory than cattle.The browsing of goats affects land cover and the potential for forest re-growth. Underoverstocked conditions, they are particularly damaging to the environment, through degradationof vegetative cover and soil.What is special in relation to goat keeping and the environment is related to: • the goats, - and other ruminants -, special abilities to digest fibrous feeds • the goats ability to select the best parts of the plants • the goats feed preference for browse, incuding bark of trees • the goats curiosity and movement over large areas and distances • the goats ability to survive without water for longer periodsThese abilities of the goats make them very efficient to utilize the scarce and poor vegetation indry area that may not be utilized by other livestock species or humans. If no one looks after them 9
  10. 10. and feed them and they are let loose, then they are able to survive even in a dry area where noother livestock except for camels are able to survive. Because of this efficiency the goat hasearned a reputation of being particularly destructive to the environment- while the reason is thatthey are not properly managed and controlled by the goat keepers.It is true that goats can change the environment by eating large parts of the vegetation and evenremove the more fibrous bushes. This is used to clear land without using machines in landscapemanagement, but when it happens in areas where it is not intended, because people is notmanaging the goats, but just letting them loose in fragile landscapes, then the goats, - or morecorrect the goat keepers - are a problem.Goats can be let loose in areas where there is sufficient vegetation to be utilized as feeds andwhere they do not intrude into fragile areas not meant for grazing or browsing. In other areaswhere there is a risk that the goats will enter gardens or fields with crops they have to be herdedor even tethered if it is not possible to herd them in a manner where they are kept away fromcertain areas. There may also be situations where the areas available for the goats tograze/browse are so small that tethering or stall feeding is the only options. The goats will ingeneral grow slower and/or produce less milk if they are stall fed or tethered because of theirnatural habit of selective browsing. If the goats are tethered and forced to graze in stead ofbrowsing bushes then the chance of the goats getting a severe parasite burden is also increased.The story about the goats and the environment may be that the goats are accused of spoiling theenvironment, but it is the humans that should be convicted/punished if they do not manage thisvery efficient and useful animal well.In areas where the alternative value of the land is close to zero, and goats are the only means ofproviding agricultural production from the land and hence provide people a livelihood, thesolution is not to remove the goat but to introduce proper management. In fragile area, which cannot survive with goats running loose without proper herding, one could even imagine that thegoat owners should have a licence to keep goats, and if they do not manage them well then thelicence could be taken away from them.Further reading.Delgado, C., Rosegrant, M., Steinfeld, H., Ehui, S. and Courbois, C. 1999. Livestock to 2020:the next food revolution. Food, Agriculture, and the Environment. Discussion Paper No. 28,International Food Policy Research Institute. (IFPRI), Washington D.C., USA. 72 pp.Dorward, A.R. and Anderson, S. 2002. Understanding small stock as livelihood assets: indicatorsfor facilitating technology development and dissemination. Report on review and planningworkshop. 12th to 14th August 2002, Imperial College, Wye, UK. 4-7.Herts, M. and Buch-Hansen, P. 2007. Dansk udviklingsbistand – er der en fremtid? ForlagetThorup. 126 pp.Kitaly, A., Mtenga, L., Morton, J., McLeod, A., Thornton, P., Dorward, A., Saadullah, M. 2005. 10
  11. 11. Why keep livestock if you are poor? In: Livestock and Wealth Creation. Improving thehusbandry of animals kept by resource-poor people in developing countries. Eds: Owen, E.,Kitalyi, A., Jayasuriya, N. and Smith, T. 13 - 27Kjeldsen-Kragh, S. 2007. The Role of Agriculture in Economic Development. The Lessons ofHistory. Copenhagen Busness School Press. 412 pp.Martin, A. M. 2000. French research involvement in animal production and natural resourcemanagement in developing countries. In: Linkages, Livestock and Livelihoods. Promotingcoordination in livestock research for poor people. Proceeding of the First Interagency Meetingon Livestock production and Animal Health. Imperial College, Wye, UK. Eds: Hainsworth, S.D.Godfrey, S.H., Matthewman, R.W. and Richards, J.I. 67-71.Nell, A. J. Ed. 1998. Proceeding of an International Conference on Livestock and Environment.Wageningen. IAC, Wageningen, Holland. 294 pp.Nielsen, H. 1996. Socio-Economic Impact of Smallholder Livestock Development project,Bangladesh. In: Integrated Farming in Human Development. Eds: Dolberg, F. and Petersen, P.H.DSR Forlag. 64-70.Peacock, C., Devendra, C. Ahuya, C., Roets,M., Hussain, M. and Osafo,E. 2005. Goats. In:Livestock and Wealth Creation. Improving the husbandry of animals kept by resource-poorpeople in developing countries. Eds: Owen, E., Kitalyi, A., Jayasuriya, N. and Smith, T. 361-385.Schreuder, B.E.C. & D.E. Ward. 2004. Afghanistan and the development of alternative systemsfor animal health in the absence of effective government.http://www.oie.int/eng/publicat/RT/2301/PDF A-F-E/21.Schreuder.pdfSteinfeld, H., Gerber, P., Wassenaar, T., Castel, V., Rosales, M. and Haan C. de. 2006.Livestock’s long shadow. Environmental issues and options. FAO, Rome. 390 pp.World Bank 1998. Assessing Aid. What Works, What Doesn’t and Why? Oxford UniversityPress. 148 pp.World Bank. 2001. World Bank Development Report 2001. Attacking poverty:World BankDevelopment Report 2001. WDR 2000/2001. http://www.worldbank.org/poverty/wdpoverty/World Bank. 2005. Directions in development. Agricultural Growth for the Poor. An Agenda forDevelopment. 197 pp.Ørskov, E.R. 1993. Reality in rural development aid, with emphasis on livestock. RowettResearch Services Ltd., Bucksburn, Aberdeen AB2 9SB, UK. ?? pp. 11
  12. 12. Websites.Animal Production and Health Division of the United Nations Food and AgricultureOrganisation (FAO AGA):http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/home/en/home.htmlDomestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS):http://dad.fao.org/en/Home.htmEcological Society of America (ESA) Issues in Ecology:http://www.esa.org/sbi/sbi_issues/Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):http://www.ipcc.ch/International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)http://www.ilri.cgiar.org/Livestock and the Environment/Livestock-Environment Interactions:http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/LSPA/LXEHTML/Default.htmLivestock, Environment and Development (LEAD) Initiative:http://www.virtualcentre.org/en/frame.htmInternation Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)Livestock Services and the Poor: http://www.ifad.org/lrkm/book/english.pdf 12

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