Influence of season on herd size and birth rate of small-holder goats in the Southern Guinea Savanna
The study aimed to evaluate the influence of season on herd size and the birth rate of goats in Southern Guinea Savanna, Nigeria. The study was carried out in Idah, Kogi State, Nigeria. A total of 54 households from 6 villages were used for the evaluation. Structured questionnaires on the socio-economic characteristics of the goat owners were administered. Data on the reproductive performance of goats were collected by visual appraisal. The data collected were on herd size, sex, number of pregnant goats, lactating goats and newly weaned kids. The result showed that more women (63.6%) were involved in goat rearing than males (36.4%), and about 91.6% of the respondents had a herd size of 1-20 goats, while only 8.4% had a herd size of 21-30. The goat herd distribution showed that the average herd size was 16.5goats, within the range of 7 to 30 goats. The herd structure was 391 females and 184 males. Three breeds of goats were identified, the West African Dwarf (WAD) goats being the dominant (397), followed by Maradi (Red Sokoto) breed (113), and the least was Pygmy breed (75). Season significantly influenced pregnancy and the number of lactating goats. There were more lactating goats during the cold-wet period and more pregnant goats during the hot-dry season. It was concluded that goat production is still at the peasant level, and goats were kept as a supplementary source of income. The conception rate was high during the cold-dry season, which was manifested in the hot-dry season. More awareness is still needed to increase the production of goats in the area. We recommend a reproduction program should be targeted during the cold-dry season where the conception rate is high.