Received: March 22, 2021; Published: April 21, 2021
Corresponding author: Somenath Ghosh, Department of Biotechnology, Assistant Professor and Coordinator, Rajendra College, Jai Prakash University, Chapra-841301, Bihar, India
Goats are the most important and beneficial animal for common rural people of India for their nutritious milk, delicious meat and leather. Goats are having huge potency to help the poor population of India as well as of rest of the world. Thus, at least for India, goats are regarded as “Poor Man’s Cow”. Despite of being such an economically beneficial animal, the health management of goats was mostly neglected by veterinarians for a long period of time. Further, goats are the ruminant short day breeders and seasonality in terms of reproduction and immunity is prevalent in this animal. Being the ruminant free grazing animals they are susceptible to different season bound diseases which are mainly caused by different viruses, bacteria and protozoan. Physiologically goats are very much similar to that of human particularly for gestation type and to some extent the duration. Similarly, in terms of immunity research the goats are emerging as more humanitarian animal model than those of rats, mice, zebra fishes and flies. But, till date reports are limited considering the immune regulation and reproduction in this animal model. Thus, goats can be an alternative and high throughput animal model not only for the benefit of common mass but also to act as an alternative model representing the human.
Keywords: Alternative; Animal Model; Immunity; Goats
Goats were the earliest animals to be domesticated during Neolithic times along with the cultivation of cereals. Following the domestication of cattle and pigs, draft animals such as horses and asses were also domesticated. The Harappa toys contain the representations of goats. Two seals from Mohenjo-daro show a wild bezoar goat with enormous curled horns and a bearded domestic male goat with side-spreading horns. The Gaddi goat, which greatly resembles the ancestral wild goat, was used as a beast of burden in the mountains and is still used in the Himalayan region of India for carrying salt and food grains. In the Indo-Gangetic plains, goats were among the first ruminants to be domesticated in 2000 BC. The wild goat (Capra hircus) was the chief ancestral stock from which the various breeds of domestic goats were originated. Then they had a wide distribution from the barren hills of Baluchistan to the western Sind. The domestication of the goat species, their movement and distribution across continents have resulted in the evolution of nearly 570 breeds throughout the world which includes pure and cross-bred goat population. Till date the available data regarding the goat breeds suggests that out of 570 breeds; 187 (33%) breeds are found in Europe, 146 (26%) breeds in Asia and Pacific region and 89 (16%) breeds in Africa (Scharko, 2008). All these totally comprise 422 breeds. But the exact data for remaining 48 breeds are under controversy. Speculatively they are either wild breeds or on the verge of extinction having only a few numbers of individuals are remaining (www.fao.org) . Goats are the most helpful friends to poor people because of their prominent role and contribution in the developing countries’ economy. Goats contribute to the subsistence of small holders and landless rural poor. Goats are short day breeder ruminant and taxonomically belonging to the class mammalia order Artiodactyla, sub-order Ruminantia, family Bovidae and genus, Capra. Goats are cosmopolitan and found across all agro-ecological environments and nearly in all livestock production systems . Goats are suitable for very extensive to highly mechanized production system . India is bestowed with 17% of total world’s goat population comprised of 21 recognized and many non-descript local breeds . Small ruminants are useful in many ways because of their role in income generation, food supply (meat and milk), and financial security for the poor goatherds in rural areas . With the expansion of human population coupled with urbanization, has created crisis of food materials and demand for meat per capita increased in recent years. Even if it is continued to produce livestock and their products at the current rate, there will be a lag between the production and demand of bio-food for expanding human population. In the tropics and sub-tropics, the interest in goat production has grown only in recent years. In the bio-industry, goats are underutilized and poorly understood resource even more under estimated in terms of veterinary research. A fair understanding of goat physiology and its industrial capabilities and economic outputs will be helpful in increasing the overall productivity of tropical goat farming systems. Despite of the large goat population, diversity and their economic significance, the caprine research in India particularly to the indigenous goats has been neglected by ruminant researchers. Although small ruminants are a major component of the livestock sector in most parts of the world including India, yet the information about goats and its physiology is very limited and fragmented. The importance of small ruminants for meat production in the tropics was well recognized by Payne (1990) . However, small-ruminant production has some constraints and disease, which are associated with high mortality, decline in productivity and reproductive performance and even public health concerns [7,8].
Due to increase in human population and increase in demand for additional animal proteins, ruminant livestock need to provide these proteins since ruminants convert inedible roughages and crop by-products/residues into desirable human food.
a. Goats can live in ecology where grazing material is scanty. In pastoral and agricultural subsistence societies, goats are kept as a source of investment and as an insurance against disasters to meet urgent family needs.
b. To develop a small goat farm the initial investment is much lower than cattle and buffalo. Further they attain low operating cost at semi subsistence level, smaller body size, docile nature, least manage mental problems and treatment cost are some basic economic issues which further go in favor of goat farming. c. Early sexual maturity, lower age at first kidding (10-12 months) and multiple births in well managed goats are economically most important. Goats in general are prolific breeders.
d. The genetic variability is much higher which helps in selection for improved productivity.
e. In drought prone areas and in cold alpine pasture region, and also in the migratory flocks, their mortality is comparatively high. But, due to their prolific breeding capability, goats recover their flock size quickly and thus, there is a less risk in goat farming.
f. Among small ruminants both male and female goats have equal values. Males and sterile females have high demand as meat animal while females are used to replenish the stock quickly.
g. Goat milk is a source of food for the poor goat farmers and also to many urban settlers for their household consumption. Goat milk has a higher content of vitamin A than cow milk. An important feature of goat milk is that unlike cow milk, it contains no precursors of vitamin A, the vitamin being present intact.
h. Small ruminants particularly the goats do not compete with human food and produce good quality of meat, milk, wool and pashmina. As a result, the cost of production is quite low.
i. It acts as seeding machine especially for hard-coated seeds of trees and grasses. While passing through the animal gut, the hard coats of seeds are softened and get pelleted. In monsoon such manure coated seeds easily germinate and establish.
j. Under proper management, sheep and goats can improve and maintain grazing land, soil fertility and reduce bush encroachment (biological control) without causing harm to the environment.
k. Smaller body size of goats makes slaughter and dressing of carcasses easier. Goat meat is lean in character, therefore, good for fat and energy conscious people.
l. Goat milk contains smaller fat globules which is naturally homogenized and is easily digested by infants. Many individuals, who are intolerant to cow or buffalo milk due to milk protein allergy, get relief from goat milk consumption.
m. Goats provide more meat and milk/unit live weight/year than that of cattle and camel.
n. Goat manure, rich in nitrogen and phosphoric acids, is a good bio-fertilizer. The urine is also rich in nitrogen and potassium.
o. Unemployment is a big problem in the villages. To partially overcome these problems, milch goats could provide gainful employment, especially for the women and children who can easily manage a small docile goat.
Threats to the Goat Farming Industry in India: The Veterinary Aspect of Significance
Goats are important species of livestock for India. Their role in the economy of the rural resource poor in India and economic losses due to mortality and morbidity at micro and macro level is important. Goats contribute more than 52% of households’ total income towards nutrition and food security of the family of goat keepers . Goats are especially important to underdeveloped countries as they can easily thrive in harsh climates where other livestock animals are not able to survive. There are around 502 million of goats in the world and majority of them (90%) are located in underdeveloped countries . But, as free grazing animals goats are susceptible to many diseases, even though they are often said to be the healthiest looking animals in India. Many diseases can be successfully controlled through good feeding, management and vaccination but conditions such as mastitis may be difficult to control. Thus, now it is contextual demands to list a number of diseases which are mostly prevalent in Indian goats (Table 1).
Some of the basic principles and practices are generally followed by the common goat raisers in India in reducing the potential hazards of goat diseases which are as follows:
a. The disease free animals are generally purchased and are kept isolated for a week (quarantine).
b. The disease free animals are kept away from infected animals as much as possible.
c. Health hazards until they are accurately diagnosed.
Vaccinations are an integral part of the livestock health management program. They provide cheap insurance against diseases that commonly affect sheep and goats. Probably, the only universally recommended vaccine for goats is CD-T. CD-T toxoid that provides three-way protection against enterotoxaemia (overeating disease) caused by Clostridium perfringins types C and D and tetanus (lockjaw) caused by Clostridium tetani. Seven and 8-way combination vaccines for additional clostridia diseases such as blackleg and malignant edema are available, but generally not necessary for small ruminants. For betterment of does and to provide passive immunity to their off springs through the colostrums; does are vaccinated 2 to 4 weeks prior to parturition. However, females giving birth for the first time are vaccinated twice in late pregnancy, about four weeks apart. Maternal antibodies will protect kids for about two months, if offspring have ingested adequate colostrums. Kids should receive their first CD-T vaccination when they are 6 to 8 weeks old followed by a booster 2 to 4 weeks later. If pastured animals are later placed in a feed lot for concentrate feeding, producers should consider re-vaccinating them for enterotoxaemia type D. If the kids whose mother was not vaccinated for C and D, kids are required to be vaccinated with some success at two to three days of age and again in two weeks. However, vaccinations in later age will be more successful since during much young stage, cloistral antibodies interfere with vaccinations and get failed. A better way is to vaccinate the offspring from non-vaccinated dams at 1 to 3 weeks, with a booster 3 to 4 weeks later. Anti-toxins can provide immediate short-term immunity if dams were not vaccinated or in the event of disease outbreak or vaccine failure. For the sore mouth (contagious etyma), a viral skin disease commonly affecting sheep and goats, live vaccines are effective. Since vaccines against sore and mouth diseases are live vaccine, handling must be proper with use of gloves. Foot rot and foot scald is one of the most ubiquitous diseases in goat. It causes considerable economic loss due to the costs associated with treating it and the premature culling of affected animals. Foot rot vaccines should be administered every 3 to 6 months and especially prior to anticipated outbreaks of hoof problems (i.e. prior to the wet/rainy season). Abortion is when a female loses her offspring during pregnancy or gives birth to weak or deformed babies. There are vaccines (individual and combination) for several of the agents that cause abortion in sheep: enzootic (Chlamydia sp.) and vibriosis (Campylobacter fetus). Abortion vaccines should be administered prior to breeding. Risk factors for abortion include an open flock and a history of abortions in the flock. Since the disease-causing organism is carried by domestic cats, the best protection is to control cat population by and keeping cats from contaminating feed sources. Rabies is one of the deadly diseases though the risk to goats is usually minimal and hence, rabies vaccination may be considered if the flock is located in a rabies belt. The cost of the rabies vaccine relative to the value of the animals should be considered as well. The large animal rabies vaccine has been approved to use for sheep but currently there is no licensed rabies vaccine for goat. Hence, the best way is to vaccinate all the dogs and cats. In order for vaccination programs to be successful, label directions must be carefully followed and vaccines need to be stored, handled, and administered properly. Only healthy livestock should be vaccinated. It is also important to note that vaccines have limitations and that the immunity imparted by vaccines can sometimes by inadequate or overwhelmed by disease. Scientists are currently working on vaccines to protect small ruminants against worms.
In India and almost all over the world the most extensive study has till date being conducted with special emphasis on immunization in ruminants and goats in particular. Thus, the veterinary significance of goat immunity can be regarded as partially explored. But, in rural India, goat farmers are not familiar with the vaccination against diseases and hence the goats’ mortality is quite high due to several lethal bacterial and viral diseases along with pneumonia in various forms (particularly pulmonary adenomatosis). Enterotoxaemia, anthrax, pneumonia, clostridia diseases and lumbar paralysis in goats result in high mortality. Internal and to some extent external parasites also cause large morbidity and economic loss to goat farmers in developmental countries like India. Most mortality is due to liver-fluke infestation due to which animals become quite weak and died of gastro-intestinal problems. There are several diseases that cause their untimely death in goats. Thus, it is need of time, context and obviously of economy to explore out the most details of immune organs of goats and to pin point the factors which regulates the multi-factorial regulation of open circuit of immune system.
Goat research in India as well as in the global scenario is an extremely unique and emerging field of research. However, as a limitation it is only confined to the enhancement of milk, meat and productivity development of this animal. But, as a striking animal which shares physiological similarity with human particularly in terms of immunity is a new field of research. Thus, further in depth research is needed not only to increase the mortality of this animal but also to use it an alternative model organism for immunity research for the benefit of human beings.
Instrumental gift to CH from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), Germany and financial support to SG Research Associate (CSIR-RA) by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi are gratefully acknowledged.
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