Behavioural responses of four goat genotypes to successive handling at the farm
The objective of the current study is to compare the behavioural responses of Xhosa lob-eared, Nguni and Boer goats and their crosses to blood collection and rectal palpation. A total of 48, six- month old castrated male indigenous goats of the Xhosa lob-eared, Nguni and Boer goats and their crosses were kept at the University of Fort Hare Farm, South Africa for eight weeks. The goats were randomly assigned to four pen groups with each pen having three goats of the same breed among the 12 goats in each pen. Immediately after blood and faecal collection, behavioural measurements through vocalization scoring (VS), pen scoring (PS), crush scoring (CS), flight speed (FS) and flight time (FT) were recorded for each goat every forth-night for 8 weeks. The Nguni was the most temperamental (p < 0.05) and the Boer goats were the most calm. There were significant increases in the behavioural scores of the four breeds during the successive weeks of handling. It can be concluded that the Boer goats had the calmest temperament, followed by the crossbreds, and lastly the Xhosa the Nguni were the most combative.
Key words: Indigenous goats, crush score, flight speed, pen score, temperament, welfare.