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Characterization of Smallholder Sheep and Goat Farming in Bauchi, Northeastern Nigeria
The study was conducted to investigate and describe the smallholder sheep and goat production in Bauchi. Data collated was subjected to simple descriptive statistics. The results showed that majority (61.25%) of the farmers were males, and mainly adults (85.00%) attaining the age of twenty five years or more. About 57.00% of the farmers sourced their foundation stock through purchase while others obtained them through inheritance (7.20%), gift (13.60%) and other sources (27.20%). Farmers kept more sheep (58.75%) than goats (41.25%). The results also revealed that the extensive/ free-range (53.75%) was the predominate system of rearing sheep and goats. This was followed by those who practised the semi-intensive system (30.00%). The rest (16.25%) being for the farmers who used the improved production system. Farmers used various shelter conditions for keeping their animals; concrete house (21.25%), mud (23.75%), pen/tethering (35.00%) and no provision of housing (20.00%). However, majority of the farmers (65.00%) breed their animals through uncontrolled natural breeding method, while others relied on the natural controlled breeding method. There was no single farmer that was practising the artificial means of breeding. Most animals (52.23%) had poor body condition score (BCS 1 & 2), 39.03% average, 8.38% and 0.36% fat and obese respectively. Only about 30.0% of the farmers had all-year round feed and water supply to the animals and the rest complained of scarcity of either feed or water at point in time. There was a large number (63.75%) of farmers who give feed supplements, and a lot of farmers (51.25%) have no veterinary services in the business of keeping sheep and goats. The results showed that the major ectoparasites in the area were ticks, fleas and lice with incidence rates of 46.52, 19.79 and 10.34%, respectively. About 23.35% of the animals were free from these parasites. Disease occurrence showed that enteritis, foot rot, fracture/ dislocation, helmenthosis, mange/scabies, nutritional disorder, PPR, pneumonia and others having incidence rates of 8.39, 13.55, 3.87, 25.80, 5.16, 7.10, 20.65, 5.80 and 9.68%, respectively. These diseases occurred mainly (49.68%) in both dry and wet seasons. Others occur only in the dry (20.00%) or wet (30.32%) seasons. The average amount spent annually on diseases was generally less than ₦500 per animal. The study showed that animals under small – holder farming are exposed to numerous hazards, characterized by poor housing and nutrition, high incidence of diseases, poor breeding methods, among others. It is, therefore, suggested that great improvement in the husbandry of these animals should be realized if these constraints are successfully removed to enhance their productivity.