Our traditional goat farmers have extensively practiced the art of selection and inbreeding for evolving definite breeds with specific or multiple functions. The country as a whole represents an important genetic reservoir of goat breeds for meat, milk, fibre and skin production. Some of these are well-known but more than half of the population is on non-descript type. The true productive potential of individual breeds has not been adequately documented. This has, in turn, affected a detailed description of the breeds, also their genetic potential and their more extensive use in development programmes. There are about 21 breeds of goats with specific characteristics. However, the majority of breeds are diverse and it is often difficult to classify them into breed groups for lack of descriptive data. Black and brown colours are common and dominant over white. There is very little differentiation between meat and milk breeds. As a general rule, breeding is uncontrolled. This is reflected in a large population of crossbred goats, a range of colours, ear and horn shapes etc. This is evident throughout the country, especially in extensive grazing situations.
It is very essential that the great genetic reservoir that we possess is properly identified for individual breeds consistent with controlled breeding and definite production objectives. Increased contribution from goat is possible only with breeding better quality animals and improved management practices.
Based on the region, Indian breeds of goats are classified into the following :-
a) Himalayan (hilly tract) region
This region comprises the states of J&K, HP and parts of UP.
(1) Himalayan breed (Chamba, Gaddi, Kashmiri)
Kangra & Kulu valleys; Chamba, Sirmur & Shimla in HP; parts of hilly regions of Jammu
Sturdily built. Tough skin. Horns are pointed at the apex. Long and coarse white hair 8-10 inches long. Roman nose. Tapering muzzle. Long, drooping, pointed ears. Mature body weight : 30/20 kg (M/F).
Castrated bucks are used for transport. Hair. Meat.
Found at elevations above 3400 m in the Himalayas, Ladakh and Lahaul & Spiti valleys of J&K.
Large-sized 60/50 kg. Ears are short and erect. Overcoat is gray and occasionally whitish-brown. The undercoat is 4-5 inches long, white, silky hair beneath the fur coat is “pashmina” fibre.
“Pashmina” yield is 25-50 gm/combing, max. 200 gm/year; used for manufacture of shawls & rugs. Meat. Draft. Small quantity of milk.
Mountainous ranges of Spiti, Yaksar & Kashmir region of J&K
Medium-sized 40/26 kg. Colour is a mixture of white and grayish-red. Horns are bent backward and upward.
“Pashmina” yield of 110 gm/year. Good meat. Small quantity of milk.
Ladakh, Lahaul valley of J&K
Small, dainty. White, occasionally brown & gray. Long, pendulous ears. Coarse hair on face.
“Pashmina” yield of 25-50 gm/year.
b) Northern region
This region comprises Punjab, Haryana and parts of UP. It has some of the important milch breeds.
Usually found in the Etawah district of UP, and in the tracts lying between Jamuna & Chambal rivers.
It is the biggest and most majestic breed of goat in India. Large-sized, tall & leggy; 65-86 / 45-61 kg. Prominent Roman nose. Large, folded, pendulous ears. Long and thick hairs on their hind quarters and a glossy coat. Horns are short and flat.
Dual purpose - milk and meat. Peak daily milk yield is 2.5-3.0 kg. Milk yield in a lactation period of 250 days varies from 250-300 kg with 3.5% fat content.
The breed ahs been extensively used to upgrade indigenous breeds for milk and meat (dual purpose) and has been exported to neighbouring countries for the same purpose.Have been used for evolving the famous Anglo-Nubian breed of goats in England.
Sialkot, Jhelum, Gurdaspur & Amritsar districts of Punjab.
This good dairy breed has evolved from the Jamunapari breed, and resembles it but is smaller in size 70/50 kg. However, it is superior to Jamunapari with regards to prolificacy, adaptability to various agro-climatic conditions and stall feeding. Roman nose. Long ears. Horns are spirally twisted and bent horizontally backward. Colour is red or black tan with white spots.
Dual purpose – milk and meat. Milk 1.5-2.0 kg/day. Lactation period 200-220 days.
Urban areas of Delhi; Aligarh, Etah, Etawah, Agra & Mathura in UP; Gurgaon, Karnal, Panipat & Rohtak in Haryana.
This breed has its origin from Berboa in Somali Republic in East Africa. Colour varies with white, red and tan spots being common. 36-45 / 27-36 kg. Small animals with compact body. Wide variation in coat colour, but white with small brown patches is most common. Ears are short, tubular and erect. Both sexes have twisted horns. Bucks have a large, thick beard.
Dual purpose – milk & meat. Yield 0.9-1.25 kg milk (5% fat content) per day in a lactation period of 108 days. They are prolific breeders and usually kid twice in 12-15 months. The outstanding quality of this dwarf breed is its habit of stall feeding, which makes it suitable for cities and towns where grazing facilities are lacking.
c) Central region
This region comprises Rajasthan, MP, Gujarat and northern parts of Maharashtra.
Marwar area of Rajasthan.
Derived from Jamunapari breed. Jet black colour with white speckled ears. Hairs are lustrous, 10-12 cm long. Small ears. Long horns. 25-35 kg.
Triple purpose – milk, meat, hair. Milk yield 0.9 kg/day.
Mehsana district of Gujarat.
Derived from Jamunapari breed. Greyish-black; white ears with black spots. Medium-sized. Roman nose. 10 cm long hair on body.
Triple purpose – milk, meat, hair. Good milker 1.5-2.0 kg/day.
Zalwad region of Kathiawar district of Gujarat.
Derived from Jamunapari breed. Colour ranging from pinkish-blue to black. Large-sized. Screw-shaped horns. Lustrous hair of 15 cm length.
Triple purpose – milk, meat, hair. Good milker 1.0 kg/day.
Nagpur & Wardha districts of Maharashtra; Nimar district of MP.
Tall and dark coloured.
Poor milk yielder 0.6 kg/day.
(5) Kathiawari (Kutchi)
Kutch, northern Gujarat & Rajasthan.
Black coat and reddish mark on the neck. Long hairs. Cork screw horns pointed upwards.
Triple purpose – milk, meat, hair. Milk yield 1.25 kg/day.
White and brown colour. Medium-sized compact body, Long, lope ears.
Meat. Milk yield 0.9 kg/day. Well sited to stall feeding.
Surat & Baroda districts of Gujarat
The breed is known to be a good dairy breed and is good for maintenance under complete confinement and stall feeding conditions. Medium-sized. White in colour. Highly developed udder. Both sexes have small horns directed backwards.
Average milk yield 2 kg/day. Crosses with Saanen have resulted in higher milk potential.
d) Southern region
This region comprises parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
(1) Osmanabadi (Deccani)
Osmanabad region of Maharashtra and adjoining regions. Originated from a mixture of goats of the plains.
Colour is black; mixtures of white and black or red are also found. Tall stature. Ears are medium-sized. All males and 50% of females are horned.
Poor milkers. Mostly raised for meat.
(2) Malabari (Tellicherry)
Northern Kerala incl. Calicut, Cannanore & Mallapuram districts.
Medium-sized. Colour- white to complete black. Males are bearded. Small, twisted horns. Medium-sized ears.
Poor milkers. Breed is reared mainly for meat purpose and their skin is popular with the tanning industry.
Pune and Ahmednagar districts of Maharashtra
Medium-sized. Colour varies from white to black/brown with spots of other colours. Ears are drooping. Both sexes are horned. Mature weight 38/29 kg.
e) Eastern region
This region comprises W. Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Orissa & part of Bihar. Variations in climate and heavy rainfall are not suitable for rearing high milk-yielding types of goats. The goats in this region manage to thrive on meager food.
(1) Bengal (Black Bengal)
Found in 3 colours : black, brown & white. Legs are short and body is deep. Wide chest. Upright ears. Short and soft hair. Both sexes are horned and bearded. Mature weight : 14-16 / 9-14 kg.
Breed is known for excellent mutton and skin quality. Does kid twice in a year; twins are common. Dressing percentage averages around 45.7%. Meat is very tender and has a good taste. Skin is of superior quality and is in great demand for the footwear industry. Milk yield is low.
Puri (Orisssa), coastal AP, south MP.
Colour – black/white/grey. Males bearded. Horns curved downward & backward. Small-sized, compact body. Mature weight : 35/28 kg.
Prolific breeder (litter size 1.8 kids); raised for meat. Poor milkers.
(3) Assam hilly breed
Khasi, Nagar Lushai hills of Assam.
Similar to the hilly breeds seen in Kangra & Kulu valleys of UP. White-grey colour. Short legged with long body. Mature weight 25-30 kg.
Useful for meat only. Poor milker.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT ON GOATS IN INDIA
All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Goats
This was launched a 5 centres by the ICAR in 1971 for developing high-producing strains with special reference to milk, meat and fibre production in different parts of the country. Alpine & Saanen were dairy goats were used for crossing with native Beetal and Malabari goats, and the crossbreds have shown high potential under average and special feeding conditions, with kids attaining a body weight of 25 kg at 6 months of age. Black Bengal and Jamunapari crosses have shown improved meat production. Pashmina goats have been successfully reared at higher and lower altitudes. Mohair has been produced from an Indian strain with 87.5% Angora inheritance at Rahuri (Maharashtra).
Central Institute for Research on Goats
This Institute is situated at Makhdoom, in between Mathura and
Agra, and was accorded research institute status in 1979. Its objectives
include : development of efficient goat farming systems, develop superior
strains with higher productivity, development of suitable package of practices
for different ecological conditions, study of important aspects of processing
technologies, and training and extension activities.
The principal exotic dairy breeds of goat are Toggenberg, Saanen, Alpine and Anglo-Nubian. They are well-known throughout the world on account of their high milk yield. They are being tried in India for evolving new breeds with more milk yield and for improving the non-descript breeds.
Toggenberg valley of Switzerland.
This is a hardy and productive breed. It is an important milch goat and is adaptable to a wide variety of climates. Brown with white colour on legs. Head is of medium length and size. The male usually has longer hair than the female giving it a rugged appearance. The skin of the doe is very soft and pliable. The udder is well-attached and carried high. Usually polled. Mature weight : 80/65 kg.
Average milk production is 5.5 kg/day with 3-4% fat.
Saanen valley of Switzerland.
It is famous for its high production and persistency of yield and is known as the “milk queen” of the goat world. Colour – white or light cream. Face is straight or slightly dished. Ears point upward and forward. Usually polled. Mature weight : 95/65 kg.
Average milk yield ranges from 2-5 kg/day during a lactation period of 8-10 months. Fat content 3-5%.
Originated from French, Swiss and Rock Alpine breeds.
No distinct colour has been established, and may range from black to white. Short. May be horned or polled. Erect ears and straight nose. Mature weight 60-65 kg. Breed is well adapted to mountainous areas.
Females are excellent milkers. Fat content 3-4%.
The breed is a cross between the Nubian goat (long-legged and hardy goat found in Nubia region of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia) and the Jamunapari goat (from India) with English parentage. It is one of the most outstanding dual-purpose (milk and meat) breed. Though its milk yield is not as high as that of the Swiss breeds, it has a higher fat percentage, thus earning it the title of the “Jersey cow of the goat world”. The breed has proved to be most suitable for tropical climates and has widely been used for upgrading indigenous stock in West Indies, Malaysia, Philippines and India.
The Anglo-Nubian is a big animal with fine skin and glossy coat, pendulous ears and Roman nose. Udder is capacious and pendulous. Mature weight : 65-80/50-60 kg.
Peak milk production is 6.5 kg/day. Average fat content is 4.5%.
Originated in Turkey or Asia Minor. It is believed that this goat was originally indigenous to the Himalayas.
Small-sized with short legs. Horns are spirally twisted and inclined backward and outward.
Produces valuable textile fibre known as “mohair”. The soft, silky hair covers the white body and most of the legs with close-matted ringlets. Average fleece weight is 1.2 kg.