The aim of this study was to investigate the factors affecting the survivability of goat kids to weaning, in a small-scale communal grazing system. Goat kids are the most vulnerable component of communal goat flocks and increasing their survival could increase productivity. Some of the main factors which contributed towards kid survivability were evaluated and ranked and cost benefit analysis was done. Initially 20 farmers in Jericho District, North West Province, were subjected to a structured interview. The mean age of farmers was 68.9 years and the mean number of does was 11. Thirteen farmers remained in the trial throughout and were visited once a month. The average number of does for farmers remained in the trial was 13. Body condition scores of does were estimated, kids were weighed, faecal samples were collected and the veld evaluated. Management and socio-economic aspects were observed and informal discussions were conducted with farmers. Goat housing was evaluated using a housing checklist. Monthly precipitation and temperature data were recorded. Survivability to weaning of 63% of kids was recorded from the total number of kids born (131) from 170 does of the 13 farmers who remained in the trial. The flocks of goats examined were parasitised by Haemonchus contortus, Trichuris globulosa, Coccidia as well as Moniezia. Although faecal egg counts were relatively low, there was a significant correlation with kid mortalities. Three of the six goats submitted for necropsy also died of internal parasites. The species of ticks were Amblyoma, Hyalomma and Rhipicephalus spp. Lice species found were identified as Bovicola caprae, Bovicola limbatus and Linognathus africanus using scanning electron microscopy. Flea infestation was observed in three flocks, the flea species was identified as Ctenocephalides felis felis. Management was found to be suboptimal and in 92.31% of flocks, housing was inadequate. Build-up of faeces and poor drainage probably contributed to internal parasites. Other factors such as climate and feeding could not be correlated to kid mortalities. Cost benefit analysis suggested that strategic de-worming and improvement of hygiene and drainage in the housing would be the most affordable and effective way to reduce mortalities in kids.
Dissertation (MSc (Veterinary Sciences))--University of Pretoria, 2006.